Crossroads

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Chapter 27

Chapter 27: Mia

“She narrows her eyes and studies me, her fingers still playing that invisible piano on her knee until a bright smile spreads across her face. “God, you’re good.”

“Oh yeah, I know. It’s frustrating, isn’t it?”

PRESENT

The universe must be against me.

Surely, it can’t be a coincidence that I ran into him again. In a matter of one week, I run into him twice, after having two years of utter radio silence.

You are ice-cold...

His words still echo through my brain, more often than I’d like to admit. But especially after seeing him last week, and after just now running into him, do I feel the pain again. It hurt just to look at him, even though he looked so goddamn handsome.

Because Lincoln has changed, clearly. He looked good, healthy. Probably healthier than I’ve ever seen him, I’ll give him that. But that doesn’t change the fact that I felt this giant boulder slam right into me the second he shook my hand, and I suddenly felt thrown back to two years ago, to that day on the bridge.

The truth is, as much as I was trying to forget him, to do as I told him, I couldn’t. I still can’t. I’d lie to myself if I acted like he never existed - and my mother raised me not to lie, not even to myself.

I just don’t know what to think of this. Couldn’t he just stay the fuck away? And why did I not know that he was Finn’s attending?

Granted, I never told anyone about Lincoln except for Pops. Mom obviously knew something, but when I visited them a few days after Pops’s death I think she just knew that something happened. Because the questions stopped that day, and in a way it actually was as if he never existed, the only reminder of his existence were Lincoln’s traces in my apartment.

I moved out of it after he left. Too much reminded me of him, and it was simply too painful. I just couldn’t live there anymore. Everything smelled like him, I never took down the decorations he hung on the wall, and groceries only he’d eat were still hiding in the kitchen cabinets. It was too much. I just needed a change.

Dad luckily helped me out by offering me one of the apartments he owned, I guess he thought I was just coping with Pops’s death, which I was, but he didn’t have the slightest idea about the actual extent of my pain. At least I live closer to my parents now…

“Ms. Esperanza?” A kind voice interrupts my reverie and I instantly look up, smiling at the friendly-looking woman in front of me. “Yes, that’s me,” I answer before getting up and shaking her hand.

“Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Clarice, I’ll show you to Dr. Avian’s office,” she says, opening the door to the waiting room and leading me outside. I study the grey, beige, and white walls of the hallway, multiple pictures and plants decorate the practice in a warm manner. The lighting is just as warm, it’s not the typical fluorescent light you see in every other doctor’s office. It’s almost yellow, like candlelight.

The whole practice gives off a calming vibe, even the employees seem extremely empathetic and nice. I mean, I’d be surprised if someone as famous as Dr. Avian went for anything but perfection in her whole practice.

“There you go,” Clarice speaks as she opens another door and waves me inside, “You have a great day, and good luck!” She winks before closing the door behind me, and I can’t help but smile when I notice the woman with ginger hair behind a desk, her face so familiar and yet so strange.

“Ms. Esperanza! Oh, I’m pleased to meet you.” She gets up from her chair and takes a step toward me, shaking my hand with a smile. My father always said you know a lot about a person from the way they shake hands. Dr. Avian definitely comes off as a strong woman, her shake is firm but warm nonetheless, it’s quite a fascinating experience. “Please, take a seat.”

We walk over to the large grey couch where I take a seat, while she sits down on the armchair opposite to it. “You have a beautiful practice,” I comment as I lean back on the way too comfortable sofa, the cushions perfectly adjusting to my body.

“Oh, thank you! I want to make people feel at home here. It’s important my patients feel comfortable when they come to me,” she replies, a warm smile on her lips when she opens the folder in her lap. “Alright, Ms. Esperanza. I hate cutting to the chase, but my schedule doesn’t give me much room for meetings like these, although I’d love to do them on a regular basis…”

“That’s fine, I totally understand that. You’re a very sought-after person, and your patients should always come first. It’s absolutely fine,” I reassure her. I mean it, too. I can only imagine how many people need her help and how important it is that someone like me doesn’t waste her time.

“Thank you. Saying you understand is one thing, actually doing so another. I feel like you do,” she shoots me another warm smile, “So, why don’t you tell me exactly why you’re here? I’ve read your essay, but I have to be honest, I don’t exactly know how we can help you.”

“Oh, you read that?” I can’t help but ask, suddenly feeling awe-struck as hell. When someone like her reads your work, you better make sure it’s on point.

She just laughs, her red hair falling over her shoulder in the process as she nods her head, “Of course. I’m obviously very intrigued by your thesis topic. The impact of discrimination in our line of work needs to be further explored. But again, I don’t really know how I can help in that aspect. You know I can’t let you watch the sessions with my patients.”

“No, no, of course not. I know that,” I immediately interject, hoping she understands that I did know about patient confidentiality, “I was just wondering if you were willing to share your own experience. I know you are a busy woman, and I totally understand if you can’t help me out here. But I’ve watched too many people being disrespected because of their sexuality, gender, or disability. I can’t watch it anymore. Frankly, I’m sick of it. I want to do something, I want to help. I want to raise awareness, and writing that thesis is just step one of that process, and you’re the perfect fit.” I take a deep breath, only now realizing I’ve basically ranted my heart out.

Very professional, Mia.

But she just smiles and leans back on her chair, her hands folded on her knee while she moves her fingers, almost as if she’s subconsciously playing the piano.

“You mean because I’m gay?” she asks, and I can’t help but smile at her directness. “Yes, I mean because you’re gay. You did it, Dr. Avian. I mean, look at you. You’re doing it all. You’re the role model for so many people, coming from nothing and now having this insane career, you got married, adopted a kid…” I stop when she shoots me another amused look. “Yes, I stalked you. Sorry, not sorry. What I’m saying is… I’d be honored to get your insight into the matter.”

“And by insight you mean…”

“By insight, I mean an interview. I know I can’t take up much of your time, but I’d love to get your assessment on my recent findings and hear a bit of your opinion about the whole matter. I’d love to be able to reference someone who not only excels at what she does, but also lives in the current century and knows what she’s talking about from personal experience. I’m pretty convinced you would’ve loved to have something like that when you wrote your thesis, right?”

She narrows her eyes and studies me, her fingers still playing that invisible piano on her knee until a gigantic smile spreads across her face. “God, you’re good.”

And I can’t help but smirk at that. “Oh yeah, I know. It’s frustrating, isn’t it?”

That makes her laugh, and she shakes her head as she replies, “It is. I love it, though. You’re driven. That’s great, and honestly, very refreshing.”

“Thank you,” I say, genuinely feeling flattered from the compliment. I mean, never in my life did I think that one of my greatest idols would talk to me, let alone tell me she finds me refreshing…

“Okay, Ms. Esperanza, how about this?” she gets up from her chair and grabs her calendar, flipping the pages until she finds something, “Come back next week at five P.M., I can spare an hour before I need to pick up my daughter from her grandma’s.”

“Oh my god, really?” I can’t help but squeal. God, how much I need this win today…

“Yes, really,” she laughs, scribbling something into her calendar before looking back up, her pen pointed right at me, “Come prepared. Don’t waste my time.”

“I won’t. Promise.” And I really won’t. She may come off as a heart-warming and kind person, but I get the feeling she doesn’t take any bullshit professionally.

“Good. You don’t look like someone who would,” she says again, and again I get a warm feeling in my chest, the sense of pride and satisfaction filling my senses.

I think I’m in love with this woman.

“Alright, I have to get going now,” she says while standing up and I immediately follow her notion, shaking her outstretched hand with way too much enthusiasm, “It was really nice to meet you, Ms. Esperanza. Keep that energy going, it’s good for you.”

“Thank you. I’m looking forward to next week.”

And just like that, I scored an interview with one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. I almost can’t contain my happiness when I get into my car, this utter feeling of content running through my veins.

Because I needed this, today. After my encounters with Lincoln, I feel like my world is shaking again. Like it’s crumbling apart. I can’t let that happen. I need solid ground, an environment filled with love and stability, instead of lies and insecurity.

I need to live my life.

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