Doctor’s Office

Do you know why you’re here?

Because I can’t remember things.

Almost. Dr. Shaeffer puts her hands
together and leans over her knees.
You’re here because your parents love
you, and they want you to know
you’re safe.

Mom nods. Yes, Pumpkin. You know
you can tell me anything.

But I can’t tell you
what I don’t remember.

Mom looks at Dr. Shaeffer
in a way that means I told you so.
Dr. Shaeffer is a friend of Dad’s
I think. She’s tall and wears bright
dresses with flower and her office
is small, and the chairs
make my butt hurt.

Okay, well, let’s start
with what you do remember.

Yes, ma’am.

Do you remember coming here today?

It didn’t happen today.

When was the last time it happened?

I look around the room. The walls
are the same color green
as the walls at school.

A week ago, I say. Everyone says
my mom’s best friend Joanne was here.
Everyone says we had family dinner.
I just remember I was watching
TV with my brother in the afternoon,
and then the channel changed
and he was gone and my mom was yelling
I had to go to bed.

Mom sighs. Dr. Shaeffer looks at her.
From the next room, Mom says.

And you don’t remember any
of Joanne’s visit? No conversations,
no family fun at the park?

No!

They look at each other
and Dr. Shaeffer holds up a little
Polaroid picture. Not even this?

I look at it. There’s Mom and Dad
and my sister and brother and Joanne
and me
on the living room couch.

I’m not really smiling in the picture
but I’m not mad.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do
so I keep looking at it.

Sweetheart, my mom says, this doesn’t look
familiar at all?

I don’t know what else to do, so I shrug.

Okay, Dr. Shaeffer says. Let’s try
something else. What about
the ice cream?

Now, Mom jumps in, you know
you can tell us anything
and nothing will happen. We just want
to hear the truth.
One little ice cream bar doesn’t matter
as much as the truth, Pumpkin.

Don’t call me that
out here.

I’m sorry, sweetheart. Please,
just tell me you took the ice cream
and I promise, we can go home….

She looks down the window
to the post office. And if you tell
the truth we can even stop
at Dairy Queen.

I think I get it.
Grown-ups want
their own truth.

Okay. I take a deep breath.
I took the ice cream
from the freezer.

Mom exhales. Dr. Shaeffer smiles
and puts down her clipboard.

Now can we go get some more?

Added: January 9, 2013 | Last changed: January 23, 2015