Ethan shifted in his seat and gazed around the room taking in the various items that decorated the walls and shelves. He was admiring a crucifix when his attention was brought back into focus by his name being called.
“Ethan? You seem distracted. I take it there’s something you want to tell me that you can’t quite seem to bring yourself to get out. I’ll remind you that anything you say in this room is privileged information. I would think you know by now that your trust in me is fully warranted.”
Ethan gazed into the kind eyes that peered into his own and a sheepish smile pulled at the corners of his mouth.
“Oh, I know that. You’ve always been so nice to me. I’ve confided so much in the past.”
He broke off eye contact again and seemed at a loss for words.
“Ethan, I can’t help you if you won’t be open. Please tell me what’s on your mind. I’m here for you.”
“Well…As I told you last time, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden. It calms me. I can be myself there.”
“Yes, and I think that’s wonderful. It’s done you a world of good. Go on.”
“I…that is…I’ve made some friends, you see?”
“Friends. Well that’s great Ethan. Do you want to tell me about them?”
Ethan began shifting in his seat again and put his hands in his lap. At last he looked up and tried to speak but became tongue-tied.
“Just relax, Ethan. Think about what you want to say. Take your time, and then let it out. You’re safe here.”
“Okay. They’re really nice. I’ve been going to visit them everyday. I’ve known them for almost a week now. They like me. They told me so.”
“I see. What does this have to do with spending time in the garden?”
“Well, that’s where they live, you see. At the bottom of the garden.”
“Your friends live in your garden? Ethan, are you telling me there are vagrants camped out in your garden? How did this happen?”
“Oh no, they’re not vagrants. They just live there. Amongst the plants I suppose. They’ve been there a long time.”
“They told you this?”
“Yes. They tell me many things.”
“Ethan, do your friends have names?”
“They said they do, but that I wouldn’t be able to pronounce them.”
“All right then Ethan. Could you describe your friends to me?”
Ethan began fidgeting in earnest and refused eye contact for more than two minutes while his confidant waited with patience for an answer.
“They…well, they’re sort of translucent. I guess that’s the right word. You can see through them when the light hits them just so.”
“Translucent? Ethan, people aren’t translucent now, are they?”
“Oh, they’re not people, they’re…well, the word we use is fairies, but they don’t call themselves that.”
“Ethan, you’re telling me you have fairies at the bottom of your garden and that you talk to them?”
“Ethan, now look…how long have we known each other?”
“Well, most of my life I guess…”
“Yes, that’s right. Ethan, have I ever lied to you?”
“No! You wouldn’t do that, you’re – “
“That’s right. Ethan, look at me. Listen well, there is no such thing as fairies.”
“See, I knew you’d say that, but I talk to them every day and they – “
“Ethan, listen to me. You’ve been under stress. You have issues that need to be dealt with. You know this. This is just a manifestation of your anxieties and insecurities. It’s not good. I have another person to see now, so I want you to go home, but please come back tomorrow and we can discuss this further.”
“Well, okay, but – “
“No buts, Ethan. You must put this foolishness out of your mind. Believing in things you can’t see and can’t prove exist is nonsense, Ethan. It’s superstition. It’s the sign of an undisciplined mind. We’ll talk more about this tomorrow.”
Ethan got up to leave, his head hung low. His confidant watched him go and then shook his head and stood up from his desk. The very idea, believing in fairies. Where did people get such notions? Superstition. Really, it was incomprehensible.
He called his assistant into the room.
“I have a meeting with the Bishop and won’t be back until late. Please take any messages for me in my absence.”