In the end you always find yourself in the same place, in the waiting room, after all that becomes of you has become and you have nowhere else to go. You come around when the receptionist calls your name, snapped out of the long day dream that a moment ago was very real. It starts to fade from your memory as the room takes its place, all white with a long wooden bench where some others are sitting, quiet and patient.

“He’ll see you now.”

For whatever reason you know just what to do, you get up and go to the door to the right of the receptionist’s window. Inside he’s waiting at his desk, and he speaks as he always did before.

“It’s good to see you again, please take a seat.” So you sit. Then he asks you, “So, how would you like to go back?”

“Go back?”

“Yes.” He answers as if you didn’t need any clarification, and really you don’t. Go back. Go back to the world.

At first you’re hesitant, you don’t want to be rude and ask too much. But once you begin speaking you find the words come all on their own, as if you had quietly catalogued all your regrets as they came and hid them even from yourself so they would be fresh for this moment. You sense something from him as he watches you, he’s holding something back behind his patience—exasperation and amusement. It makes you feel childish. When you finish he’s still staring in the same way, and you have to ask. “Did I choose wrong?”

“No, you can’t really.” He chuckles and his lightness draws all the tension out of you, as you’re sure he intended it to. “It’s just we’ve been doing this for some time now, and you always have some fantasy or another ready. I wonder if we’re getting any closer.”

“To the perfect life?”

“No, why that’s all we’ve ever been through isn’t it? I’m waiting for you to get past that. I keep hoping that at some point you won’t really know what to say anymore.”

“And then what?” But you already feel yourself slipping into life as you ask.

“Then you’ll stay here with me.”


chrishamblin at fas dot harvard dot edu


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40 Dundee Rd
Arlington, MA 02476