You know what they say. The best stories are the true ones.
Mia looked 35. She was dark and pretty. She had short bouncy hair and was wearing a neat shirt and jeans.
She leant forward. The coffee table and a world separated us.
The coffee table was gleaming blondwood with crisp moldings. I felt the difference.
Can you? persisted Mia. She was quietly spoken but persuasive. I had only been to three therapy sessions with her. But I had already discovered she was very open. She also had a strong presence. She had both sympathy and strength.
I don't know, I said.
It's just ... I'm autistic. I've been in hospital. They said I had acute schizophrenia. I had ECT. I've lost jobs. I've never been in love, no-one would have me..
What are some of the things you have done? asked Mia.
Nothing. My response was quick, final.
You've won civic awards. You own your own house. You're on disability and arts committees. You wrote an autobiography. You didn't give in. Through all those years and problems you never gave in.
There was a silence.
It's time for something new, she said.
You can be yourself. Mia's hands fluttered in her lap when she was excited. She looked at me.
Maybe I can... I ventured.
No, I feel stupid.
Can you? asked Mia. She smiled, then suddenly looked serious and intense.
I could do therapy with you, I said, weakly and faint.
Maybe we could try it. I could do it. Despite myself, I felt my voice stronger and saw Mia's dark eyes fixed on me.
I thought of the past. Mum's fury, Dad's drinking. The violence, school beatings. I thought of the sackings, the rejections, laughter and derision.
I could... overcome... my parents... all those problems... the medication. I might. I think. Yes I could do it, I finished.
I can. I can.
Mia looked intently at me for a second, and I actually felt myself smile. She also briefly smiled, swallowed and looked away. She then gazed down at her lap. Her hand scurried blindly across the coffee table and found the tissue box. She took a tissue and wiped her eye.
You know, Lawrie, she said.
Sometimes this job is really worthwhile.