Dr. Puck apparently did house calls. In his words: “Why should a famous actress have to come to me when I can come to you?” Famous, my fat ass–but it was kind of nice to not have to leave my new house.
Hopefully I looked okay. Not that I gave a shit.
It was kind of surreal, seeing him right outside my door. I was so used to going to his office, so many years ago.
“Guess you found the place,” I said.
“How did you afford this place, on your salary?”
I rolled my eyes. “My asshole dad has too much money.”
“Is he an asshole, if he apparently cares for you enough to provide you with a home?” Dr. Puck’s voice was sharper than I remembered.
I snorted. “Yeah, he’d like to believe that money could buy him a woman’s affection. Maybe he’d still be married.” I led Dr. Puck into my new house. Was this the kind of place he pictured me living in?
“…Since when do you own alien-monkey hybrids?” said Dr. Puck, taking a detour into the kitchen. “Is–is that one sick?”
“Nah, Garbage is always that ugly. And careful, he’ll scratch the shit out of you if he doesn’t like you. My couch is over there.” Dr. Puck wasn’t usually so easily distracted. And I pictured him as more of an expert on cat breeds for some reason, especially ugly ones.
It was weird, sitting next to him. Usually he sat across from me.
“Do you enjoy being an actress, Galatea?”
Weird question to start off with. Usually he let me lead by asking what was on my mind and all that shit. I kept mentally saying usually, even though it’d been years. “I guess. I’m good at it–better than Rhys, anyway.”
He raised a brow. “Is that so? …And when was the last time you called your mother?”
Weird segue, but okay. “Like I talk to that frigid bitch if I have to.”
He flinched. “…Frigid bitch?” Had he forgotten all our old sessions? He’d always been on top of things. Or maybe he’d forgotten my potty-mouth.
“Well, yeah. She’s a shit mom–her kids might as well not even exist. Or maybe we’d have been better off without her.”
“Would–would you rather she be gone?” he whispered. “And your father as well?”
“Gone–as in dead?” When he didn’t answer, I added, “I just want them both to fuck off forever.” But part of me–a small part–felt bad about saying it.
“Do you recall, Galatea,” he began in a strangely quiet voice, “what a miserable little brat you could be? How you smashed priceless antiques and racked up enormous balances on your mother’s credit card? How you tore pictures of your uncle in front of her in hopes of making her cry?” He took a deep breath. “And yet who do you think tried so hard to get you help?”
He went on, this time quoting my mom and mimicking her almost perfectly despite the much deeper voice: “‘What should I do, Rhys? Does she want to live with her father? Am I not paying enough attention to her? What should I do?’ Does hearing that make you happy, Galatea?”
I’d never heard Dr. Puck get so worked up before, no matter how hard I’d tried to shock him or piss him off. “…No.”
He let out a deep sigh, then offered me a tentative (hopeful?) smile. “…I’ll see you again next week?”
I just nodded.
“Ah,” he said, stopping himself from standing at the last second. “One last question–you’re a young woman, aren’t you? How would you offer comfort to a grieving peer without intruding on her grief or making it about yourself and your own desires?”
“I wouldn’t,” I said immediately. I’d never seen him look that disappointed, but it wasn’t exactly professional to ask a patient for advice, especially if this was about another patient.
Still… “…Maybe just listen if she wants? Otherwise fuck off and leave her alone. But if she needs someone to talk to…just be there, I guess. Don’t abandon her when she needs you the most.”
It seemed to be what he wanted to hear, judging by his smile before he left. I felt good about myself, at least for a little while. The wonders of therapy, maybe.
I just sat there for a while, on my couch. Alone. Trash, Garbage, and Rubbish were off doing cat things, I guess. Now that I was in a much bigger place, I saw a lot less of them–except when the little fuckers were hungry.
The doorbell rang. Maybe Dr. Puck forgot something, or maybe my dad was sending me some stupid shit as a housewarming gift.
But when I looked through the window in my front door, it was the last person I expected to see on my doorstep.
I flung the door open and stepped outside. No way was I letting him in. “The fuck are you doing here? And how the hell did you find out where I live?”
“Sorry,” Bas mumbled, looking away. Maybe he couldn’t stand to look at me. “My pops works for your pops, and, uh, I’m here for work…”
Of course he was. It wasn’t like he’d see me if he wasn’t getting paid for it. “What, then? Make it quick. I have important shit to do.” If cleaning three litter boxes counted as important shit.
“Got a client,” he said, finally meeting my eyes. “She–she sees a fae in her dreams. Sometimes while she’s awake, or so she says. You’re the only fae I could reach on short notice, and–”
“You think all fae know each other?” I scoffed.
“I knew it was a stretch,” he said sheepishly. “Says his name is, uh, Sunflower…or Darius.”
Darius. “…I might know a Darius.”
“…Yeah? Think you could, uh, contact me if you, uh…find out for sure?”
“Maybe. If I feel like it.”
“…Thanks, Gal. It’d mean a lot. …To my client.”
I waved awkwardly at him as he walked away. Stupid. I felt even stupider when he looked back over his shoulder and saw me.
And then he kept walking. God, I hated that guy.
…But not as much as I hated my only source of information on “Darius.” Why was I even considering helping him out? I wasn’t an expert on fae baby names–there could be a million Dariuses out there.
Besides, Bas was the private investigator–he should fucking investigate. He was the one getting paid, not me. I tried not to think about it when I went to bed that night…
…But woke up really early to stress-eat chips.
When was the last time you called your mother?
I hadn’t seen her since I moved out. Had I called to wish her a happy birthday, like Finn made me do with Dad? No, it wasn’t like Rhys had reminded me to, and her birthday was probably fake anyway.
…I was only doing this for Bas. I had to make up for feeling up his junk in a public place, that’s all–and then I’d never talk to him again.
Mom picked up on the second ring. “Galatea? Did something happen?” Her voice sounded way more alarmed than I’d ever heard it.
“…I just wanted to talk to you. Is that so weird?”
She went quiet. “I’m in Starlight Shores, if you’d like to visit me at my hotel.”
“Wait–you were in town and didn’t tell me?”
“…Would you have wanted to see me?”
I didn’t have a good response to that, so I just got her hotel info instead. It wasn’t too far, and it wasn’t like I had anything better to do (after I shoveled shit out of the litter boxes).
What should I even say to her? What if she asked me if I’d gained weight since the last time I saw her?
I felt like a little kid again, too afraid to knock on her mommy’s bedroom door when she knew who was behind it.
It was strange, seeing her up close again after so long. She hadn’t changed at all–still as beautiful and perfect and thin as ever.
“Galatea,” she murmured. “I’m so glad you came.” She smiled at me–a real smile, not one even a renowned stage actress could fake.
“What’re you even doing here?”
She turned her head toward the window. “Something told me I should be here. Let’s talk outside, shall we? It’s a lovely day.” That was weird too, but maybe she thought the Starlight Shores air was better than the congested San Myshuno. I followed her out to the balcony, where we sat at a little table together.
“Tell me about your show,” she said, almost immediately after my ass hit the chair. “Do you enjoy it? Are things going well?”
“The ratings are trash,” I said. “It’ll probably be cancelled, honestly–and I’m not sure they’ll even air the entire season.” I shrugged. “I guess a few people watch it, though. Sometimes when I’m trying to buy a damn taco at a food truck or tampons from the drugstore, someone’ll come up to me and tell me how their fat daughter thinks I’m ‘so inspiring’ or some shit.”
I steeled myself for criticism–my diet choices, maybe, or my language, or even my choice in projects.
“I like your character,” she said softly. “She’s very sassy. And it’s nice to see you working with your brothers.” No, she probably said brother, singular.
“…You watch Blood and fucking Bishops?”
She looked down at the table. “Is it such a surprise I might want to appreciate my children’s work?”
“I don’t know, I thought you’d tell me how fat I look on camera, or that my acting is shit next to Rhys’s, or…”
She sighed deeply, cradling her face in her hands. “I only wanted to spare you the pain of being a wingless insect in a butterfly garden…of having your every weakness identified and used against you. I wanted you to be happy, as I never was. But maybe fae aren’t meant for motherhood…”
Maybe she was right. I knew I wasn’t fit for motherhood either. “…Uncle Darius was an actor too, wasn’t he?”
She raised her head, a wistful expression on her face. “You never would’ve known it from meeting him, but he was a gifted actor–far more talented than me. Sometimes I wonder what would’ve become of him, if he’d never left…”
I didn’t want to get her hopes up, especially not for whatever weird shit Bas had gotten into now. “Do you have any pictures of him?” Pictures I hadn’t shredded in front of her…
“Many. He modeled too, back in the old days… I can give you a couple before you leave, if you like.” She smiled at me, maybe for showing interest in my uncle for the first time in my life.
Bas would appreciate pictures, probably. Maybe he’d smile at me again. “Sure. …But I guess we can talk for a little while longer.”
But a little while stretched out into a whole lot longer than I expected…
But for once, I was in no rush to get away.