A grey toxic haze hung over the Dubai skyline as I drove down Al Wasl Road. I didn’t know what I was going to say to this counsellor. A good start might be - I was 39 and three hundred and fifty one days old and a mess.
The traffic was appalling but what was I to expect with a major explosion at 7:15 am and a blazing toxic fire on going. A text had come from the school saying they were keeping the children inside all day. The air was heavy with chemicals and I couldn’t help thinking that it was something more than an accidental explosion in a fire works factory.
I eventually made to the clinic and hauled my body into reception. I didn’t want to do this. It would be better to just dig a hole in the sand and stick my head in it. What could any one say to me other than I was completely mad. I was delusional. I saw things that weren’t there.
“Mrs. Samantha, please take a seat. It won’t be a few minutes. We’re all running late because of the traffic.”
“Did you hear the explosion this morning?”
“Yes.” I really didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to talk about anything. I wanted to shop. That was it. I needed to shop. Shopping would make all of this go away.
The phone on the desk rang.
“The doctor’s ready to see you now.”
I stood up and looked at the door. Mango called my name. The mall wasn’t far and I remembered the little dress I saw just before I flew to Jakarta. A few quick steps and I would be out of here.
“It’s the first door to the left.”
I nodded and forced my feet that way and not to the car park on the right. This was what I was supposed to do. I wanted to fix my marriage didn’t? This was the first step, wasn’t it?
I put one foot in front of the other noticing the chipped black paint on my big toe. I should go have that fixed asap. I must put my priorities straight, toe nails were important. I hesitated before I turned the handle then walked in to see a small woman behind a large desk. I swallowed.
“Samantha, take a seat.”
I perched on the edge of the seat.
“I don’t bite.”
“Absolutely.” She smiled and I leaned back a bit in the chair. “So tell me why you are here?”
“I thought you said you didn’t bite.” I sat back up.
“I don’t but when you booked the appointment you didn’t tell the receptionist why you did.”
“No, so now is the time to tell me why you are here.”
“I guess.” I paused. I didn’t know how to say it. Did one just spit it out? “I…I don’t know really.”
“Somehow I don’t think that’s true but time will tell. So your form tells me tomorrow is your fortieth birthday. Do you have big plans?”
“No. No plans at all.”
“That is strange.”
“I’m sure your husband will have planned something.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure.”
“So you are here to talk about your marriage.”
My head shot up. There were no flies on this petite woman. “Maybe.”
“Yes, maybe indeed.”
“How do you feel about the big 40?”
“Shit.” I bit my tongue. “Sorry.”
“No need to apologize. So you are worried about aging and your marriage. Anything else?”
“Why don’t you tell me as you are doing well so far?”
She sat back in her chair and smiled. “You will tell me yourself in time. When did you notice trouble with your marriage?”
“Well, I guess the doubt solidified in my head about a year ago.”
“Is he having an affair?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t think he could keep it up at home and outside.”
“So there is no problem with sex.”
“No, none.” I looked at my hands. Why was everyone so concerned with my sex life?
“So if he is not having an affair that you know of what do you think is the problem?”
“I.” I looked out the window behind her. What was the problem? “Belief.”
“You have religious differences?” Her eyebrow rose.
“No, I don’t mean that.” I waited for her to ask me more but she sat there complacently as if she had all the time in the world. I prayed for something to happen. Anything would do, maybe another explosion. I didn’t want to talk yet she was leaving this gaping silence in front of me. I felt compelled to jump in and just start blathering like an idiot.
The phone rang.
Prayers were answered. I felt my shoulders return to their normal position.
“Sorry about that. The school has just called. I have to go.” The pint sized woman stood up from her desk.
“No problem. I wonder if they are closing my son’s school. Strange that I haven’t heard anything.” I followed behind her.
“There will be no charge for this session. Reschedule.”
I nodded. I didn’t want to but couldn’t slip past the receptionist without the doctor seeing me leave. I booked for next Sunday knowing I could cancel it as soon as I left the office.
It looked as though it was going to rain and air smelted heavy. My phone beeped as soon as I reached my car. A message from Tom glared at me.
Where the hell are you? I have been trying to reach you for the last half hour. There is no answer at home. School closed. Collect Ollie. I’m in a meeting and can’t leave.