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Empathy

Ellen's Eyes Met Karen's, noticing her white Doctors coat. 

What you did, is serious Ellen. Cutting your own skin, trying to take you own life. What you're feeling is serious. I would like to help you understand it” said Karen kindly.

I can’t let people touch me” Said Ellen in a whisper.

OK, why do you feel like that?” replied Karen, careful to replicate the timbre of Ellen’s voice.

Ellen snappedIt’s not just a feeling” 

I’m sorry” Karen replied, “I don’t really..”

Ellen spat out the words “When someone’s skin touches mine, I get a feeling. I get their feelings. I mean... I know how they feel, inside. Its passes to and It lives inside me.”

OK” Karen said, wanting to reply in the correct manor, “what does that feel like to you?” the psychiatrist's fail-safe question.

Exhausting” replied Ellen.

People’s faces, whatever they're pretending to feel, I know how they really feel. People share their vulnerability with me, without realising. And it stays. I can’t shift the feelings they share. It’s crippling”

Karen shuffled on the edge of Ellen’s bed, noticing for the first time how Ellen flinched at the possibility that accidental contact may occur.

Look, I know how that sounds, but you f**king asked” Ellen barked.

I did” Karen replied calmly. A brief moment of time passed and she said “And I believe you. I’m processing how that must impact on you?”

The stronger the feeling, the longer it stays. It covers me like a blanket. Sometimes its days, sometimes its weeks. Sadness always lingers. Ellen snorted out in frustration.

So...” Karen said calmly, conscious of her words “what prompted you to attempt...” leaving the words dangling, but glancing once more at Ellen’s wrists.

There’s a kid. I think she’s about 8 or 9? Lives in the flat below me with her Mum and Step Dad” Karen noticed Ellen’s eyes as her pupils dilated slightly.

Karen resisted ever urge in her to interrupt, letting the silence encourage Ellen to keep speaking.

She...” Ellen wiped her eyes “she was playing in our communal gardens yesterday. I looked at her as I walked past her. She grabbed at my leg. Not a grab maybe, but a touch with her hand. Deliberate. And the feeling, well I knew that feeling. It’s a dark, dark sadness, a fear, confusion, real empty pain, all those things.”

Karen instinctively went to reach her hand out to Ellen’s, but thankfully she thought better of it.

My Step Dad gave me those feelings too, the first time he came into my room at night, when my mum was out, when he touched me, when he was on top of me, when he forced me...” Tears trickled down Ellen’s face.

I want to die, because I can’t carry those feelings for both of us”.

Elliot Black 

@Elli0tBlack

Views: 87

Comment by Shakes on October 27, 2014 at 17:22

As you've said yourself, there's more horror in the mundane reality of some unfortunate people's lives than in anything us writers could devise. Carefully handled.

Comment by Steffanie on October 31, 2014 at 21:29

That was nicely handled. Well done.

Comment by Elliot Black on November 1, 2014 at 9:37

Thanks to you both, had some slightly negative feedback about the story, so I appreciate you taking the time. Guess you can't please everyone all the time! 

Comment by Paul Jameson on November 1, 2014 at 12:21

Don't know why you got negative feedback - I thought it was excellent; real too!
Kept my attention to the end and I have trouble reading so awesome going :)

Comment by Steph Ellis on November 1, 2014 at 23:41

A sensitive topic very well-handled.  Never was a title more apt.  Well done.

Comment by Ronnie Capaldi on November 2, 2014 at 16:51

I had no idea where this story was going and then the dawning of the story happens in the final quarter. This is really good because it impacts well with the actual subject matter. Also liked the good earthy feeling of the dialogue throughout.

Comment by Elliot Black on November 2, 2014 at 17:26

Thanks very much Ronnie. I struggle a bit with dialogue in my own mind so I appreciate the feedback. 

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