My guidance counselor sat with his feet on the desk, rocking in his leather office chair, looking through a Sports Illustrated while sucking on a lollipop.
I cleared my throat to make myself known. He jumped from his seat and flashed me a smile.
“Miss Morrison!” he said, gesturing to enter.
Henry Bias is a man of medium height who bears a striking resemblance to actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. Think Snow Dogs. Outbreak. Pearl Harbor. He sounds just like him, too.
He sat again as soon as I parked myself in the blue interrogation seat. He shoved the Sports Illustrated into his desk drawer. “Some boy left that here,” he totally lied. He straightened his tie. “And how are you today?”
“I could be better.”
His office makes me a bit claustrophobic. It’s almost entirely occupied by his enormous desk, some posters and his master’s degree. One poster on the wall above his head read,
“Psychology: know everything about everyone.”
That explains a lot.
“Good, good,” he said, pulling out my file. “Now, Adonia, you’re here because you want to talk.”
“I’m here because you want to talk,” I noted.
He looked at me with his permanent grin. “Right, right…” he said between his teeth. He took a deep breath and said, “Okay! How’s the boyfriend doing?”
“We broke up a month ago,” I reminded him.
“Oh,” he said sympathetically. “Do you want to talk about that?”
“It’s good to talk about things that bother us!” he said enthusiastically.
“It doesn’t bother me.” Jake-the-horny-toad Andrews was the last thing I wanted to discuss with him.
“Do you want to talk about anything that does bother you?” he asked, blindly turning pages in my file.
“How’s Lilly? Your best friend? That’s her name, isn’t it?”
Figures he wasn’t sure. Half the time I talk to him he’s in another dimension, staring above my head with that grin. “She’s going on vacation.”
I shifted in my seat. “I’m kind of jealous.”
“Oh. So you want to talk about that?”
I shrugged. “I don’t want to....”
He looked above my head and nodded, stroking his chin with his thumb and index finger. “Good, good. Go right ahead, I’m listening.”
My head fell into my hands. The next time I looked up he still smiled at the wall behind me; at a poster of two hula dancers on a Hawaiian beach.
Why couldn’t he schedule his stupid appointments during math? I’d rather be confused by Mr. Bias than be confused by math.
“So you don’t want to talk?” he pressed once his vacation was over. “It’s confidential!” he exclaimed, grinning ear-to-ear.
I heaved a sigh. “My mom’s never home. Lilly’s mom is more of a mom to me than mine ever was. What does that tell you?” I pondered.
He held his chin and looked up thoughtfully. “That Lilly’s mom is a housewife and your mom isn’t?”
This guy’s got the most useless job on the face of the earth!
He held up a finger and searched frantically through my file. “She is a housewife, right?” He laughed nervously. “Well anyway, your mom’s career is clearly very high priority. She’s just doing the best she can. Have you considered your career path?”
“Yes... And it makes my head hurt.”
“Good, good. That’s what I like to hear.” He scratched his head and thumped the eraser side of a pencil on his desk. “So, which university did you apply to?”
“I applied to the one in British Columbia.”
“Sick of Alaska?”
“It’s not that,” I said. “I just want to get away from home.” Far, far away.
Mr. Bias nodded. “Well, I moved up here for work,” he said, “and I can’t afford to leave!” His smile evaporated for a second as he stared, teary-eyed, into oblivion.
When he was back, his smile returned. “Any others?”
“No.” How many colleges do I need to get into, anyway? In the end, I can only attend one.
He laced his fingers and rested his hands on the desk. “How do your parents feel about that school?”
“I don’t know.” And I wanted to add, “I don’t care.”
“How do you think they feel about that school?”
My expression was blank.
“Well, let me rephrase that. How do you feel about how they might feel?” he asked with little hand gestures.
“I don’t know,” I repeated.
“Do you want to talk about it? This is a very confusing time for you, no question about that!”
I rolled my eyes. It’s funny how he thought he had to tell me that this was a ‘very confusing time’ for me.
“Well then, I’ll see you next week! Unless you have other things you’d like to discuss today...?” He raised his eyebrows skeptically.
“No thanks,” I said, about to bolt out of there.
“Good, good. Feel free to come by any time you’d like to talk. I’m here to help!”
My parents, college, Jake, decision-making—everything I didn’t want to talk about, he brought up.
He even defended my poor excuse for a mother!
God, what’s that man paid for?
Excerpt from "My Best Friend's Brother".
Copyright © 2015 by Chrissy Favreau. All rights reserved.