Sabin’s Point of View
I forced my way back home, treading through grass and along sidewalks where I planned on continuing the date. Guilt ate at me like heartburn that I couldn’t settle. Alma was left to return to her dorm without the date even coming to a proper end. There were plans to get ice cream from the Irish parlor they had only ten minutes away, but the incessant ringing in my pant pocket reminded me that I wasn’t yet allowed that flexibility.
“How was it, man?” Otto asked. His body turned in the couch and his head rested on the cushion.
All I could do then was whip my phone out of my pocket and sigh.
He knew what I was doing.
My room was a mess. Clothes were sprawled all over a bed that hadn’t been made in weeks. On the bright side of things not going too, too well on my date: I wouldn’t have brought Alma over to see the pig sty. As the alarm on my phone sounded again, I grabbed my laptop and brought it to my desk.
After logging in, the calendar application didn’t waste time in reminding me that I missed a call from NCRodriguez151. Quickly before the pop-up came up again to tell me it had been ten minutes, I clicked on the username and waited for the dial tone to connect me.
An image of a woman in a blazer showed up on my screen. Mine was a small box in the corner, but to her it was blown up. She could probably read my disappointment in every crease on my face.
“I was starting to get worried, Sabin,” she began. I saw her flip to a new page in her notepad. The notepad that she had marked “Sabin McKenna”.
“Well, as long as you’re here. I was just curious since you’ve never been late—not even by a minute—to our appointments.”
She was right. Then again, I couldn’t remember the last time I went on a date. Better yet: the last time I actually felt something for someone.
“How’s your medication, Sabin?” She asked, quickly scribbling down notes. The scratching of her pencil on the notepad startled me.
I glanced at the orange bottles on my nightstand. The sight of them made my stomach turn. Those tiny pills were aids that left him feeling dependent. Some days when the nightmares were too much, I took them. When the nightmares stopped, I looked the other way.
“You should be running out in the next few days. I’m going to write you a new prescription, okay? You can pick it up at the university pharmacy. I know they have Zoloft on them. Have the nightmares been okay? Easing up a bit with the new dosage?”
I sometimes wanted to break down and tell her like I did the first time we met. There were many dreams that tormented me, but it was always the face of Captain Williams that never let me be. He told us to watch each other’s back when crossing the field. The chances of mines being in the field just—
“I sense you want to change the topic.”
“Sorry I was late,” I finally said. I figured it would be appropriate.
“As long as you’re okay,” she smiled. “I get the feeling this appointment pulled you away from something?”
Now I couldn’t hold back a small smile. I remembered her smile and the way that her hair brushed against an exposed shoulder. It was Carmen all over again only this time I didn’t feel like I was only seen as a military brat. This time a woman appeared to feel something for me without knowing what happened. This time, she didn’t know what I did. My weird quirks were somehow forgiven, but I didn’t know how long I could keep it up.
“That girl,” I started, “that I meet at the café after some of our appointments.”
“Alma, am I right?” She asked.
I nodded after shifting my laptops position. “I took her out tonight.”
I caught Dr. Rodriguez scribbling away on her notepad. Knowing her for years, I established this as her thinking it was an important move in my treatment. My stability with Carmen, the last woman to be intimate with me, was questionable. Things weren’t left off right, because when I hoped for a future with her, her dreams were somewhere else. Somewhere that didn’t include me in the picture.
The thought irked me, so I leaned back in my chair and ran my hands along my short hair. There wasn’t much that I could do once I’d be forced to tell Alma everything. I never liked secrets, and if this somehow ended up developing into something more, then how could I keep her in the dark? I’d scare her. I should have done this a long time ago. Honestly, telling her was one of my “healing” assignments, but when I saw her face each night, I couldn’t tear her away from talking about her day to telling her that I watched my squad captain get blown up by a landmine.
I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Dr. Rodriguez looked at the screen and her lips parted in a small smile. “And you’ve told her about your PTSD, correct? It takes a lot to bring something like that up, and even more to be strong and supportive of someone going through what you’re going through.”
Through clenched teeth, I nodded. “Had to.”
Unfortunately, I had a hard time following these assignments when my mind was more mesmerized by Alma’s smile than the twisted mess inside my head.
But I knew I would have to.
I’d tell Alma everything there was to know about Sabin McKenna.