Once and Again
Gardenia

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Gardenia

Soliloquy Karen describes the experience: "Picture 'stop.'" Picture 'listen.'"

Karen stands there at the counter, looking as if she could tumble over at any second, and struggles to follow Rick's words as he asks whether Jessie could come for the night on Thursday instead of Friday because he and Lily have plans. Karen responds that she and Jessie are going to Fields, some department store that has its winter clothes on sale. Jessie and Rick bombard her with alternatives to that scenario, while Karen tries not to scream and light her hair on fire. Rick trails off, but Jessie approaches Karen slowly, talking softly as though she were moving toward a dangerous, unpredictable animal. She suggests that she and Karen could go shopping on Thursday, and they could make pizza Friday, which means Jessie could stay with her both nights. Karen doesn't light up like you'd expect.

Soliloquy Karen explains: "Sometimes you can't make the pictures, so you count to get through. One...two...."

Karen makes herself take a breath and says, "Okay," with affected excitement. She forces herself to turn and face them. She puts a smile on her face. "Great!" she says through it. Jessie relaxes and smiles, giving Karen a hug. Rick watches Karen closely, evaluating. He says a cautious thanks. As he and Jessie leave, Karen's smile slides. Her face glazes over, and she finally finishes making the coffee.

Dude, I need a nap just from watching that. And now that you mention it, a cup of coffee, too.

We fade over to Karen at her therapist's office. That's right. Her therapist's office. He's okay, but he's no Dr. Wise-Ass. Although, with the ears he's got, he should be a decent listener. Slap on a hunting cap and a speech impediment, and you're basically looking at Elmer Fudd. Karen relates that her mother also suffered from bouts of depression, although as kids, she and her sisters didn't know that's what it was. They always referred to it as, "Mom's resting." Dr. Fudd asks if her mother got help, and Karen snorts at the idea, saying, "My mother made her own ketchup. She was very self-reliant." Ah, so Karen's a splinter off the old ass-pole. The Fudd asks how her father handled it, and it turns out that he didn't. Dr. Fudd then asks how Rick handled Karen's down times. Karen struggles to remember for a second and then says, "He made models. He'd go into the basement and make perfect, little architectural models." Dr. Fudd smirks, "So you've had a lot of support for your emotional life over the years, huh?" Karen allows herself a chuckle. He asks how it's going with her "meds." She says she can't tell, but she's felt "some fatigue," she's not hungry at all, and she gets dizzy. Dr. Fudd replies, "Fun, huh? And we don't even know if that's the side effects or the depression, but if you can stick with this, these things go away." Karen doesn't look wholly convinced. She stares off for a moment and says, choking up, "I want to remember...what it felt like when things mattered." "Exactly. How would you feel about going up fifty milligrams? It's one more blue pill." Karen sighs and wryly says, "One pill makes you taller." "One pill makes you small," the doc says, smiling. Karen asks where all of it is leading -- whether she'll wake up one morning and "everything will be wonderful." She sounds dubious. The doctor smiles and shares an old saying from those wascally wussians: "If you wake up morning and feel no pain, then you know you're dead." Karen chuckles through her sniffling and tries to buck up, because if the Russians can do it, anybody can. The doc does his part by handing her a new prescription.

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Once and Again

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