October 13, 2010 in Q
“So Harold, how are things with you today?”
As usual, Harold’s gaze was directed to the patch of light on the grey carpet. Most days Clara snapped him out of this anti-social habit. Some days, when she was feeling soft, she let it pass. He was a man much weighed down by life.
“Quell, thank you,” said Harold on this day. “Everything is quell.” As he spoke, he raised his eyes to meet Clara’s with a quiet confidence.
Clara cleared her throat.
“Harold, you know that quell is not the right word for this context don’t you. What word do you think you really mean to say?”
“I mean to say that things are quell. I am feeling quite as quell as I ever have and I want to thank you, Doctor, most sincerely, for helping me become so quell!” Harold’s cheeks flushed red with excitement.
The clock ticked gently and from outside Clara could hear the call of nesting magpies. Such a beautiful song for such a violent bird.
Clara cleared her throat again, flexing her fingers around the cool surface of her fountain pen.
“Now Harold, let’s try that again. So, how are you today?”
The afternoon sun danced on Harold’s silver hair as he lifted his face, stretched out his arms and smiled the broadest of smiles.
“I am most magnificently quell!”
This outburst done, silence hung heavy in the room. Clara spoke.
“It’s swell you moron! Do you hear me, You’re swell. Swell. Swell! Repeat after me. I am swell. I am swell! Come on Harold.”
Harold’s lips twitched and he glanced towards the door. His eyebrows furrowed and his tongue thickened as he tried to hang onto the magical word in his mouth. But Clara was strong and beautiful in her anger and it was only through her good work that he had come so far.
So in spite of every quell ounce of his being, and at odds with the quell confidence that had brought him to this session today – with the intention of saying good-bye, farewell and thanks to Doctor Clara – Harold forced his tongue to the roof of his mouth and pushed out the word.
“Swell,” he whispered. “I am swell. I am swell.”
“Pardon Harold? I can’t hear you very well.”
“Swell! I am swell! I am swell!”
Some forty-five minutes later the door to Clara’s office opened and Harold exited, a swell, broken man.
“Excellent work today Harold. Things are coming along very nicely. See you next week!” Clara waved her bright, chirpy wave.
And Harold stepped out in the street, eyes to the pavement, muttering his way into the spring afternoon.
“I am swell. I am swell. I am swell.”