Episode 8 Transcript

08 - Patient #11-A-7 (Caleb)
By Lauren Shippen

[sfx: click of recorder]

Dr. Bright: Patient #11-A-7. Session 13. The patient’s friendship with a fellow student has yielded impressive results. The patient is much more balanced and able to filter incoming feelings better, though this does not seem to extend to everyone. He expressed having great difficulty at his school’s Sadie Hawkins dance and almost got into an altercation with another student who was frightening his date. No physical contact was made but the patient was nearly overwhelmed with fear and anger. See log 12 for details. I am hoping that further exposure to Adam will continue to help the patient gain control. 

[sfx: footsteps]

[sfx: opening door]

Dr. Bright: Afternoon, Caleb. Come on in. How are you feeling today?

[sfx: closing door]

Caleb: Uh, fine. God, Sarah is pretty stressed, huh?

Dr. Bright: Is she?

Caleb: Yeah, she’s, like, totally frazzled. 

Dr. Bright: That’s strange. She seemed fine this morning. It must be the wedding.  

Caleb: Why would the wedding be stressing her out? Does she not want to get married?

Dr. Bright: No, of course she does. But wedding planning can be extremely time consuming and stressful. 

Caleb: Really? I thought that was just something they made up, like,  in movies. 

Dr. Bright: I’m afraid not. 

Caleb: Was your wedding like that? Wait, are you even married?

Dr. Bright: No, I’m not. 

Caleb: Oh. Why not?

Dr. Bright: Caleb, these sessions are not about me. 

Caleb: Yeah, sorry, I wasn’t trying to get into your business or whatever. I’m just surprised because you’re, you know…

Dr. Bright: What? Old?

Caleb: No, no, not old. Just, you know, most people your age are married. 

Dr. Bright: I suppose so. I guess I’m one of the rare ones then.  

Caleb: You never wanted to get married?

Dr. Bright: Caleb, what is this sudden concern with my love life?

Caleb: Sorry, sorry. It’s just, my parents were celebrating their hundredth wedding anniversary or whatever this week and then your secretary is all wedding crazy and I guess it’s just on my mind. 

Dr. Bright: You’re a little young to be thinking about marriage don’t you think? Unless there’s someone special you haven’t told me about?

Caleb: What? No, of course not, that’s insane. 

Dr. Bright: Caleb, I was kidding. 

Caleb: Oh. Right. 

Dr. Bright: It’s perfectly natural for you to think about things like marriage at your age. You’re entering the phase of your life where you begin to have adult relationships, so it makes sense to wonder about long term commitments. 

Caleb: Yeah, exactly. Spending the rest of your life with someone seems a little nuts. 

Dr. Bright: Is that something you’re worried about? Do you think your ability would negatively affect a long-term relationship? 

Caleb: Yeah, I guess so. But I think that maybe I could get used to someone’s feelings well enough to be with them. I mean, I already live with my parents and my sister and manage okay with that. 

Dr. Bright: That’s very true. And then there’s Adam. 

Caleb: What do you mean?

Dr. Bright: I just mean that you’ve managed to balance his emotions fairly well. And as you’ve been spending more and more time with him, it’s been getting easier, hasn’t it?

Caleb: Yeah, it has. 

Dr. Bright: It’s been a few weeks since we really talked about Adam. How are things going with him? 

Caleb: Um, they’re good. They’re really good. He’s actually a pretty cool guy. 

Dr. Bright: Is he?

Caleb: Yeah. I mean, he’s still kind of angry and sad a lot of the time, but I think you were right. I think maybe he just, you know, needed a friend. 

Dr. Bright: And would you consider the two of you to be friends?

Caleb: Uh, yeah, I think you could say that. I mean, we do spend most of our time together. 

Dr. Bright: You do? 

Caleb: Uh, yeah. At least in the past few weeks. 

Dr. Bright: Does he hang out with you and your other friends? 

Caleb: Well…I don’t really have a lot of other friends, do I? I mean, I’ve got the football team, I hang out with them sometimes after practice, but I haven’t really been spending a lot of time with other people this year. 

Dr. Bright: That’s true. Given your ability, it’s natural that you isolated yourself for a time. 

Caleb: Yeah. Exactly. 

Dr. Bright: But now Adam is a good friend?

Caleb: Yeah, he is. I mean, I don’t need to isolate myself from him, not really. He sort of makes sense of everything. When I’m with him, things just…

Dr. Bright: Fit?

Caleb: Yeah, exactly. 

Dr. Bright: And he isn’t sad anymore?

Caleb: No, he still is sometimes. His- his family isn’t the greatest. Like, his parents sound like the opposite of my parents. They’re really hard on him, expecting a lot of him and all. I mean, he’s smart, he's like, really, really, really smart, so I don’t get how he’s not good enough for them but, I don't know, that's just how that feels. 

Dr. Bright: Is that something he told you or something you felt?

Caleb: No, he told me. I mean, I could feel that he was sad, but I couldn’t tell why. And then he was complaining about his parents and it sort of clicked into place. 

Dr. Bright: Does that happen a lot? You’ll feel something and then he’ll share a piece of his life and things will begin to make sense?

Caleb: Yeah. And sometimes if I’m feeling something strong from him, I’ll just ask him what’s bothering him. But it’s okay - he’s not suspicious about me or anything. I mean, how could he be? That would be a really specific thing to be suspicious about and, you know, he’s my friend and I can tell when he’s upset so it’s not creepy or anything.  

Dr. Bright: Of course. Asking after a friend’s emotional state is a normal part of life. Whether or not you already know the answer. 

Caleb: Exactly. 

Dr. Bright: Do you spend a lot of time talking about your feelings?

Caleb: Geeze, don’t make it sound so girly. No, I mean, look, mostly we do, you know, like, normal stuff. Like play video games, study, listen to music, just goof off. Adam’s actually- he's got a great sense of humor once you get to know him, you know? 

Dr. Bright: I have to say, Caleb:, I’m delighted by all of this. It sounds like you’ve done a very good thing for both you and Adam by pursuing a friendship. 

Caleb: I guess so. I guess you give pretty good advice sometimes. 

Dr. Bright: So kind of you to say, Caleb. 

Caleb: Sorry. I just mean, you know, that I don’t know if I would have approached him on my own. So, you know, thanks. 

Dr. Bright: You’re welcome. How are things going outside of your friendship with Adam?

Caleb: What do you mean?

Dr. Bright: I mean, things seem to be going very well with him. You’re able to control your own emotions better, and balance them with his. Has that carried over to your interactions with other people?

Caleb: Uh, not really. 

Dr. Bright: You haven’t been getting into more trouble have you? That incident at the dance almost landed you in the principal’s office again- 

Caleb: No, I know. And no, I haven’t gotten into more trouble. Though, to be fair, that incident did land me in the principal’s office. 

Dr. Bright: It did?

Caleb: Yeah. He called me in last week. He just- he wanted to get my side of the story. And I explained everything. Well, obviously not everything, but you know, how I was getting drinks for me and Caitlin and Henry was harassing her and trying to grab her and everything. And she was really scared and he was acting, like, really fucking aggressive - I mean, anyone could see that, you didn’t need to be me to know that - and so I pushed him away and he tried to hit me and then the chaperones got there, okay?

Dr. Bright: And what did the principal say?

Caleb: He understood. I mean, he was pretty cool about it all in all but I don't know, I guess Henry’s parents complained because apparently he comes from a family of dicks-

Dr. Bright: Caleb-

Caleb: -sorry. But anyway, Mr. Stevens was pretty annoyed at the whole situation and then I got really annoyed and I was sort of rude so he gave me detention. 

Dr. Bright: Caleb. 

Caleb: I know, look, I know! But I couldn’t help it. I mean, normally adults are easier, but I had just had lunch with Adam and I felt good and normal for once, so I wasn’t really paying attention and he just sort of got the better of me.  Sometimes it’s just fucking hard to keep everything in. 

Dr. Bright:
I know. It’s okay to slip up now and then. Nobody’s perfect. But tell me: do you think you would have had the same problem if Adam had been in the principal’s office with you?

Caleb: I don’t know. 

Dr. Bright: Have you tried hanging out with Adam in a group setting? I think it’s worth seeing how he affects you when other people are around. 

Caleb: I mean, we still have class together. And he still drowns out everyone else for the most part. Except now he’s calmer, more focused.  Well, and some- sometimes…

Dr. Bright: Sometimes?

Caleb: I don’t know. Sometimes I feel that- sometimes I feel that butterfly feeling that we were talking about a few weeks ago. 

Dr. Bright: And you think it’s coming from Adam? Caitlin is in the same class, isn’t she?

Caleb:Yeah, but after the whole Sadie Hawkins disaster, she hardly pays attention to me. No, I’m pretty sure it’s coming from him. I mean, I’ve gotten used to the way his feelings feel. The butterflies don’t bother me the way they do from other people. It feels kind of…nice. But I don’t really know what that’s about. I don’t know what he has to be nervous about. 

Dr. Bright: Do you only feel it when you’re in class together?

Caleb: Um, no. No, it happens other times too. Like when we’re eating lunch or studying or…it’s actually pretty random. 

Dr. Bright: And what is Adam doing when you start feeling this butterfly feeling?

Caleb: Um…I don’t know if I’ve- I don't know if I've ever really noticed. There doesn’t really seem to be a pattern - it just sort of happens. 

Dr. Bright: Hm. And do you ever get nervous yourself when you’re with him?

Caleb: Um…yeah, I guess so. 

Dr. Bright: Why is that?

Caleb: Well, I don’t know, I guess I’m still not totally sure if he likes being my friend. Like, it just sort of happened really quickly and we’ve never really talked about it. So I guess sometimes I get nervous asking him to hang out or whatever. 

Dr. Bright: Because you think he’ll say no?

Caleb: Right. Like, this past week, I asked if he wanted to come watch me play football. And Adam doesn’t really like sports so I sort of thought he’d say no. 

Dr. Bright: But he didn’t?

Caleb: No, he said yes.

Dr. Bright: But you were nervous to ask him? 

Caleb: Yeah, like, really fucking nervous. And then I was nervous when he came to the game. And it just- it was so weird because, normally, all I can feel on the field is the focus and the aggression of my teammates. And sometimes the nerves of the other team. That’s actually how I know if they’re about to make a risky play.  

Dr. Bright: Caleb, please don’t tell me you use your ability to cheat in football. 

Caleb: No, no of course not. I mean, I can’t really. It’s not like I can read their minds and see the plays. I can just tell when I should be paying extra attention. But God, can you imagine if I could see the plays? That would be awesome. 

Dr. Bright: You were saying you were nervous when Adam came to the game?

Caleb: Yeah and so was he. That’s the weird thing - I could feel him over the whole team. I could feel how nervous he was. But it was really strange, ‘cause he was nervous for me. Like, it was his emotion but it almost felt like mine because it was aimed at me. 

Dr. Bright: Do you know why was he nervous for you?

Caleb: I think he was worried I would get hurt. He thinks football is “a barbaric game for idiots who can’t afford to lose more brain cells”. His words not mine. 

Dr. Bright: I see why were you nervous to invite him. 

Caleb: Ha, yeah, exactly. But I think- I really think he had a really good time. Once I started playing, it’s like…like he was in awe of me or something. Like he thought I was really impressive. Almost like- almost like he was proud of me. 

Dr. Bright: That must have felt wonderful. 

Caleb: Yeah, it did. And I think- I think that’s what helped me win the game. It’s like he was there with me, rooting me on or something.

Dr. Bright: His faith in you was encouraging. 

Caleb: Yeah. Yeah, that’s it exactly. 

Dr. Bright: It sounds like the two of you have quite a connection. 

Caleb: Yeah, I guess we do. 

Dr. Bright: What happened after the game? Adam must have been happy that you won.

Caleb: Yeah, he was! He ran up to me, and he was smiling like I’ve never seen him smile before and it felt…I don’t know, it felt like I was on the top of the world. And I couldn’t really tell who was feeling happy - if it was him, or me, or both of us - but, I don’t know, it didn’t really matter. 

Dr. Bright: Was the butterfly feeling back?

Caleb: Yeah. Why? 

Dr. Bright: The only other time you’ve talked about that feeling, it was with Caitlin, whom you admitted wanted to date you. Do you think it’s possible that it’s the same for Adam?

Caleb: What? No, no we’re friends. 

Dr. Bright: You know, Caleb, it’s okay if you and Adam like each other in that way, it’s perfectly-

Caleb: I know it’s okay. But, it’s just. I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend like this. Not really. I don’t want to fuck that up with a bunch of other stuff. 

Dr. Bright: I understand. It’s a lot to process. 

Caleb: And like, he might not even feel that way. I mean, I’m still getting to know him and getting used to his feelings so who knows what he’s thinking when he gets all nervous like that. I mean, I’m still trying to figure out what feelings are even mine and I don’t want to-I don’t want to-

Dr. Bright: Overwhelm it. 

Caleb:  Yeah. It’s a little- it's too much to handle. I’m not saying that I haven’t thought- or that he’s not- I just can’t- I can't really think about that right now. 

Dr. Bright: I understand, Caleb. And you don’t have to. You and Adam don’t have to be anything more than what you are now if both of you don’t want that. It just sounded like maybe that’s what you were thinking about. 

Caleb: I really hadn’t thought about it all that much. I was just getting used to actually liking someone enough to spend time with them. 

Dr. Bright: Of course. 

Caleb: Can we- can we maybe do some meditation or something? I- I don’t know if I feel like talking anymore. 

Dr. Bright: Sure.

[sfx: ticking clock]

(time passes)

Dr. Bright: Alright, Caleb, our time’s up. Don’t stress about Adam too much - just focus on getting your own feelings under control as always. You’ve made so much progress and you should be very proud of that. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. 

Caleb: Yeah, okay, I won’t. 

Dr. Bright: Good. I’ll see you next week?

Caleb: Yeah. 

[sfx: opening and closing door]

Dr. Bright: End of Session 13. Another very productive hour. The patient is making excellent progress in controlling his ability. I think I will soon be able to grade him as a Level 6. I have to say, I’m very proud of him. 

[sfx: click of recorder]

[music & credits]

Lauren Shippen: The Bright Sessions is written and produced by Lauren Shippen. The voice of Dr. Bright is Julia Morizawa. The voice of Caleb is Briggon Snow. Special thanks to Elizabeth Laird for her advice as both a psychologist and fiction lover, to Elizabeth and Matthew Harrington for their enduring support, and to Anna Lore for our graphic design. For additional content or to donate to our podcast, please visit thebrightsessions.com. For any questions, or just to say hi, email us at thebrightsessions@gmail. Thanks for listening and stay strange.