East/West Health Services


Ryan lay on the padded table and tried hard to pretend he was lying on a tropical beach.   It shouldn’t be too difficult to manage, given his therapist’s choice in music.  The soft cheerful sounds of ukulele and drum wafting through the examining room should have provided an easy escape from the cold dampness of the world outside.   But it couldn’t ease his troubled thoughts.

He shifted restlessly.  His leg was feeling wonderful at the moment, warm and practically pain free, just as it had in the shower.   But elsewhere, ripples of a tingling warm numbness radiated outwards from the dozen or so needles that were scattered across his skin.

Wherever the spreading ripples intersected one another he was aware of disconcerting surges of energy, prompting random memories that sparked and faded, seemingly without pattern or purpose. Stupid things, most of them.   Inconsequential. Like part of the route he had taken every day to his first after school job.  Or the taste of blueberry pie.   A snatch of a song that he’d been listening to on the drive over. Or that funny little catch he’d heard in his mother’s voice when he’d called, after his injury, to tell her not to worry.

It was as if a lifetime’s worth of memories were stored in your body’s cells, he thought uneasily; preserved there forever, like insects trapped in amber.   As though the past was something you could never really get away from.   As though you were doomed to carry all the pleasures, all the pain--all the mistakes you thought you could at least learn something from--around with you for the rest of your life.  No possibility for a fresh start, a clean slate, a second chance, a last minute reprieve.

It was a sobering thought, dour and daunting.   Depressing as hell.

He took a deep breath and tried to relax.   He tried to ignore the memories that kept cropping up, but it was impossible.  His attention was snagged again and again by the jumbled images and his muscles were tight from the effort he was making to keep from jumping off the table.

"How’re we doing Mr. Henderson?" the cheerful voice of Brent Hoffman, his therapist, intruded.   Ryan opened his eyes and glared at the man.  With his grizzled, shoulder length hair and beard and his bright aloha shirt Hoffman matched the decor of his office, but little else on the mainland.

"Fine."   Ryan grated the word through clenched teeth.

The other man chuckled as he pushed aside the curtains and entered the cubicle.  "I still think you’d find these treatments a lot more comfortable if you didn’t tense up your muscles like that, you know."

©PG Forte 2005
Sound of a Voice That Is Still

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