Gripping the chair, she quietly stared out the window. The ticking of the clock reminded her of how much longer she had before Westfall came in here.
“What are you thinking?” Vera asked quietly.
“Are you deciding to also play therapist?”
“No, you've just been so quiet.”
Joan sighed, looking over at Vera. “I don't have anything to say right now, Vera.”
“Are you nervous?”
“Why would I be nervous? It's just Westnull. ”
Except she was a little nervous. One of the reasons why she asked Vera to be present was so nothing could be used against her. There would be nothing that Vera wouldn't know in the session. While everything remained confidential, she truly wondered about what kind of ethics Westfall believed in.
“I hope you feel comfortable with me here.”
“I don't think it's going to be comfortable either way, Vera. I'm here because you want me to be, nothing more.”
There was a soft knock at the door before it opened slowly, and Bridget entered. She smiled at the both of them, but Joan knew the smile at her was forced. Joan raised her brow, waiting to see how this would go.
“Good afternoon. I'm surprised you agreed to see me, but I'm glad we're able to work together,” Bridget said.
Joan smirked. “I didn't have much choice.”
“I see. Well, what matters is you're here. May I ask why you wanted Vera to attend?”
“I wanted a witness.”
“A witness?” She asked curiously.
“So she could see and hear everything we talk about.”
“Joan, I know you and I haven't always had the best rapport, but I would hope if you're comfortable later, that you can attend sessions with me on your own.”
Joan smirked. “This will be the only session I attend.”
“I believe the Governor and I have arranged for you to attend at least ten sessions, once per week.”
Her lips twitched, and she slowly looked over at Vera and watched as the smaller woman visibly shrank in her chair. Her eyes told her everything, and she shouldn't be surprised at this betrayal. She glared at Vera, wanting nothing more than to tell her how much she despised her for this. But instead she turned towards Westfall again.
“Very well, if that was the arrangement, then I'll comply.”
She watched Bridget nod in agreement. She looked at Joan curiously, with her gentle yet guarded expression.
“How are you feeling, Joan? Are you adjusting well?”
Ah, the stereotypical “how are you feeling?” As much as it annoyed her to be going through this, she knew she was stuck here. The last thing she wanted to do was look uncooperative. Especially since she was on remand.
“I think I'm doing fairly well considering the circumstances. How about you? How's Franky?” She smiled at the tightening of Westfall's jaw. She couldn't help but needle her a little more. She could hear Vera sigh in the chair next to her, and she looked at her as if to say: “what did you expect?”
“We're not here to talk about me, Joan. Your methods of redirecting the conversation back off of you are very interesting though. Do you do that often?”
She was a little taken aback by that question. “I was merely being polite. But no, I suppose you could say I don’t like talking about myself. I’ve already been through that at the psychiatric hospital.”
“I was very surprised you were released from there with your symptoms. How was your time there?”
These questions were going in a direction she didn’t want them to go. “My time there is irrelevant to now.”
“Why do you believe it’s irrelevant?”
“I was drugged most of the time I was there so I can’t remember everything. I suppose you could probably ask Vera a little more about it since she claims to have visited me there.”
“How do you feel knowing she visited you?”
Angry, embarrassed, ashamed…
“Nothing. It’s not unheard of to visit a patient, especially a former colleague.”
“So you felt nothing knowing she visited you? I find that hard to believe because of your former relationship. Vera’s presence here means something to you.”
She grit her teeth. “How I feel or felt at the time doesn’t matter.”
“Why doesn’t it matter?”
“I don’t remember her being there.”
“And how do you feel knowing she visited you when you don’t remember?”
She bit her lip, glancing at Vera from the corner of her eyes.
“I’m surprised by it.”
“You just said it’s not unheard of to visit a patient, so why did it surprise you?”
“Vera and I weren’t exactly on the best terms before I was arrested. But what does this have to do with anything?”
“Your relationship with Vera seems to be important to you. I would take a guess as to say that she’s here for more than just being your ‘witness’ to our sessions. You must trust her on some level. Would you agree?”
Joan pursed her lips. “Trust is hard to come by these days. I wouldn’t call it that,” she said quietly.
“Whatever it may be, you both still have some kind of bond. I would like to discuss that more later, if you’d allow me.”
Joan didn’t say anything, her brows furrowed in confusion and irritation. “I was really hoping you’d just get on with asking me how I’m feeling every day. So then I’d be able to tell you exactly what you want to hear, and then we no longer have to be around each other.”
“Is that what you want? Me to ask you how you’re feeling?”
Joan was beginning to lose her patience. “This is why I’ve never been willing to see a psychologist.”
“And why is that Joan?”
“It’s nothing but a waste of time. Whatever we talk about will have no change on the outcome of my trial, or what goes on in the prison.”
“Are you concerned about what will happen with you in General?”
“Why would I be concerned?”
“You said it won’t change what goes on in the prison. I’ve read your file recently, and talked to Medical about your condition.”
Joan felt some of the blood drain from her face, as if she could forget she was pregnant or that others would know about it. Especially someone like Westnull.
Quietly, she traced her hand in her lap. She lifted her eyes once again to Westfall’s and took a deep, shaky breath.
“This baby’s safety is paramount. Isolation isn’t healthy for me at this time, so I have to make a choice on what is best.”
Bridget’s eyes were surprisingly gentle. “I imagine this is very difficult for you, and not to mention very frightening.”
Joan swallowed her pride. “Yes, it is,” she said softly, and she felt her eyes water at the sudden weight lifted off her shoulders once she admitted that.
“How are you feeling right now?”
Joan blinked furiously. “I don’t know how I feel,” she said tightly.
“It’s okay to feel your emotions.”
“I thought you said I was a psychopath.”
“While there are similar traits, perhaps I was mistaken.”
Joan didn’t know how to respond to that, so she didn’t. She caught Vera’s eye who smiled gently, but Joan was still angry at her. She looked back at Westfall. “Well, I see you got what you wanted. A weak, emotional display from me. Does it feel good knowing you accomplished this?” She sneered.
Bridget's expression didn't change, much to Joan's irritation. “I’m not sure I understand your question. Do I take pleasure in your pain? No, I don’t. The fact that you were able to show a little emotion in front of me does show some progress. That’s not a bad thing,” she said gently.
“I’m surprised you haven’t asked me more about being pregnant.”
“We can save that for other sessions, but how you feel is important.”
Joan bit her lip hard, so hard that she tasted blood.
“Joan, you’re bleeding,” Vera said softly.
Joan glanced at her, and then to Bridget who looked concerned now. “Joan, I know how difficult this is, but you’re safe here. Let me get you something for your lip.”
She licked her lips, holding up her hand. “I’m fine. Can I go? I think that’s enough for today.”
“Of course, we can continue this another time. With or without Vera here. Whatever you’re comfortable with.”
Joan left her office, followed by Vera. “I think that went well, don’t you think?” Vera asked.
She didn’t say anything, leaving Vera in the hallway as she made her way back to her cell. Passing by Kaz, she sighed at her worried look.
“You all right, Joan?”
Kaz followed her into her cell. “I don’t like them either, you know. All the probing questions they ask.”
Joan sighed. “Kaz, I would like to be left alone, please.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t--”
“It’s all right. I just don’t want to talk right now.”
She actually understood what Kaz was trying to do but she didn’t have the energy for it. She didn’t want more sympathy or attention on how she felt. She didn’t need to be the weak one, no matter how much it would benefit her. Not now at least.
Closing her door, she shook with anxiety over the entire session. It had given her a lot more things to think about than she realized.
It was going to be very dangerous for her to have this baby at her age, but also within the prison. The other women hated her, and that didn’t matter before but now it made it complicated.
Resting in her bed, she thought about how it would be for her, and how she’d be able to keep her baby safe.
It would be so much easier to not have this child, but she didn’t want to lose something that was now part of her. She gently touched her stomach. “You’re all I have,” she whispered.
Her door slowly opened, and she rolled her eyes thinking of how she told Kaz she wanted to be left alone. But instead Vera walked in, staring at her with her gentle and nervous blue eyes. Joan’s mouth set into a straight line as she glared at Vera.
“Vera, you should leave.”
“Joan, I just wanted to see how you were doing.”
Standing up, she towered over Vera, using her full height to her advantage. She almost smiled when Vera backed up.
“You never told me that you wanted me to see Westfall for more than one session. You deceived me.”
“Joan, you have to know that’s usually part--”
“I don’t care what’s usually required. You and I made an agreement, and I trusted you.”
“I was just wanting what’s best for you.”
“You don’t know what’s best for me. I want you out of my cell.”
Vera looked hurt, but Joan ignored this, her expression hardening even more. It slightly faltered when Vera grabbed her hand. The soft and affectionate touch was almost her undoing.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. It’ll be all right. I’m here with you, I promise I’ll see you through it.”
Trust was so very important, and Vera should have known this considering she’d just told her she didn’t know who she could trust. She quickly pulled her hand away. “Get out.”
“I said get out!” She snapped.
Vera’s lips trembled, and for a moment Joan felt sorry for her. She watched her walk away, quietly closing the door after her. As she slid down to the floor with her back to the wall, she knew it was going to be another lonely night in her cell. She didn’t want Vera to go, but she needed her to understand how betrayed she felt.
If Vera didn’t learn from the consequences of what she’d just done, then they would never be able to trust each other again.