[For a synopsis of the story so far, click here]
Jane Summers shifted in her seat uncomfortably, like she was watching an unpleasant movie. “Look, I’m only here because Gary said I needed to do this.” Her tone was sharp. “I told him I wasn’t going to go on disability, I didn’t need a — ” she spat out the word — “diagnosis.”
On the other side of the large wooden table, Dr. Patel Singh leaned back in his chair, the spring at the bottom squeaking under his weight. He tried to look as reassuring as he could, as he brought his palms together, fingers interlacing under his bearded chin. “The only thing that Gary asked of me, was that I talk with you, Miss Summers. Gary’s trying to help you, and what he told me was, he doesn’t know what to do next. So that’s why he gave you my name — to help you, not diagnose you.”
Patel waited for Jane to reply. He had heard Gary mention her name several times, and although she hadn’t recognized her face when she arrived at his office that afternoon, he knew it was likely that they had both been at Gary’s home at least once over the years. Gary had always spoke fondly of Jane, had seemed comfortable, even grateful, for the role he played as her surrogate father. (He reminded himself to ask about her biological father — deceased, two years, cancer, if he remembered correctly.) When Gary had contacted him that week about Jane, Patel had reminded him that he was a psychiatrist, not a psycho-analyst, and that any help that Jane would need with stress or grief management would be better served through a practicing therapist. Gary said he’d realized that, but also knew how Jane felt about therapy. She’s only going to speak with someone she trusts, Gary had said. My saying you’re a good guy will go a long way with her.
And then there was the issue of her, as Gary called it, condition. It’s — unique, he said, and would say no more. It was that last bit of intrigue that had convinced Patel to speak with her.
[Updated 9/17/2013 — changed doctor’s name and relationship to Gary