David started laughing. At first he was nervously chuckling to himself, but within a few seconds he was emitting enormous belly laughs, gasping for air. The counselor smiled at him and patiently waited for David to regain his composure. He was still snickering and trembling slightly when he responded.
“I didn’t kill myself. You’re being absurd. This is all absurd. Tell me where I am.”
“You’re in my office.”
“And who are you?”
“I’m the counselor. Your counselor.”
David stood up and leaned hard against the desk shouting, “TELL ME WHERE I AM.”
“David, sit down.”
David felt the anger flush from his body, replaced by waves of nausea. He leaned back from the desk and took his seat in the easy chair. Small pieces of yellow stuffing squirted out of the holes and floated along the draft in the room.
David had heard the counselor’s voice change when she told him to sit down. He knew that voice. It was so familiar, yet he couldn’t put a name or a face to it. Flashes of artifacts, a picture frame, a blurry photo. David couldn’t pull a tangible memory from them. He looked at the counselor and saw she was sitting completely slack in the chair. Her eyes had gone milky white and her eyelids were fluttering. David was paralyzed. She spoke again in the same voice, but he didn’t see her lips move.
“Why did you kill yourself, David?”
“I didn’t kill myself,” he struggled to respond.
The lights in the room dimmed and came back up. David looked at the counselor and saw the color had come back to her eyes. She was leaning forward with her elbows on the desk, resting her chin on folded hands. Her voice had returned to normal.
“We have a lot to talk about.”
David felt control return to his body and bolted from the chair. He ran to the door and grabbed the knob. It was frozen solid. When he pulled his hand away, half of the skin on his palm and fingers peeled off. He screamed from the immense pain and clutched his hand. Tears welling in his eyes, he turned back to the counselor.
“Your hand is fine.”
The pain in his hand immediately subsided, and when he turned up his palm he saw no trace of injury.
“David, please. Please, sit down.”
“I want to go home.”
“I want to be 10 pounds lighter from shitting gold coins.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means we don’t get what we want.”
“I can’t remember where I live.”
The counselor stared at David with cold eyes, but her face radiated warmth. He still clutched his hand as he shuffled back to the easy chair and took a seat.
“I know this isn’t what you expected,” she said through a smile.
“I don’t even know what this is.”
“This is your life.”
The counselor started giggling uncontrollably, cupping her hands over her mouth. David heard the opening notes from the 1950s television show, “This is Your Life.” The counselor stood up and pantomimed as the announcer broke in over the theme music. “This is your life! America’s most talked about program brought to you by America’s most talked about cosmetics! Hazel Bishop long running lipstick! Hazel Bishop long running nail polish! Hazel Bishop long lasting complexion glow! And now Mr. This is Your Life himself…” The music stopped and the counselor stood still with a fixed gaze on David.
“This is your life, David Coleman.”