Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
My mind is bouncing all over the place with this one. Get ready for some purely random writing.
Frigid. I grew up where winters were truly frigid. I didn’t mind it. There was always plenty of snow, and we were out playing in it until our clothes were soaked. Then we’d go inside, take off multiple layers of jeans, socks, mittens, and our wet coats and drape them over the radiators to dry them out. This was before the advent of the snowsuits kids wear today. It was also before people were worried about every single thing, like whether or not our tunnels would collapse. If that ever happened, I didn’t know anything about it We just had fun. Snow forts, snowball fights, snowmen and snow angels. Sliding, when there was any kind of a grade available. The lucky ones had sleds. We used cardboard or whatever else gave us something to sit on and slide down whatever hill we could find.
How cold was it? I dunno. Cold. Red noses, chapped cheeks, blue fingers and toes cold. Didn’t matter. As soon as everything was warm and dry, we’d put it all back on and get right back out there. We stayed warm because we kept moving.
Frigid. Some time ago, I had some new clients come in for their first appointment. He was nervous. She was cold. I imagined the coldness of a body on a slab in the morgue. She wouldn’t smile, wouldn’t shake my hand, would barely look at me.
It was as if we were lifelong enemies forced to be in the same room, and I’d never seen her before, so it really made no sense to me.
I did all the things I usually do to make people comfortable. Sometimes they come in expecting to lie on my couch while I put on my Freudian spectacles and sit outside of their range of vision, taking notes. They were ill-at-ease because they don’t know what to expect. But this woman was a walking deep-freeze, and none of my usual tricks warmed her up even one degree.
So I decided to meet ice with a blow torch.
“Okay, look, Mrs. Such-and-So. You are like an ice berg, and I have no idea what I’ve done to make you so cold. If you aren’t even going to try to communicate with me, we’re wasting our time here. If you’d rather leave, then I won’t charge you for the session. It seems to me that you and your husband need my help, and I’m willing to give it. However, there has to be a little bit of return on your part. So what are you going to do?”
She was shocked. Utterly. Apparently she wasn’t used to people being so forthright with her. I didn’t say another word, just watched her and waited for some–any–response. And I prayed. “Lord, did I just do a terrible thing? I don’t know where to go next here. Please help us!”
As I watched, I was startled to see a tear forming in her eye. In just a few seconds, tears were streaming down both cheeks, and her husband patted her back awkwardly while she wept. I handed her a box of tissues. She mopped up, took a deep breath, and began to tell me one of the most horrendous stories I’ve ever heard. I can’t say any more about that because it is confidential, and needs to remain that way. I will tell you that her coldness came from fear. She had learned to fear everyone, and her frigid appearance was a defense mechanism.
Things aren’t always as they seem to be. We need to learn to look beneath the surface.