Episode 9 Transcript

09 - PATIENT #13-A-3 (CHLOE)
BY LAUREN SHIPPEN

Dr. Bright: Patient #13-A-3. Session 5. Both the patient and I have continued with our meditation and mindfulness exercises with moderate success so far. I have also made sure to move the patient’s appointments so she does not have contact with any of my other patients. She has reported being able to hear thoughts somewhat more clearly, which was demonstrated last session when she was able to pinpoint the thoughts of the lawyer in the office above mine. Progress to be certain. But I am hoping we can move forward more rapidly from here so that she might be useful in a few months when-

[sfx: knock on door]

Dr. Bright: Come in. 

[sfx: opening door]

Chloe: Hi, Dr. Bright! Sorry, I know I’m a few minutes early. 

Dr. Bright: That’s alright, Chloe, come and take a seat. 

[sfx: Chloe sitting]

 

Dr. Bright: How was your week?

Chloe: It was good! Great, actually. I finally talked to Frank! 

Dr. Bright: Chloe, I thought we decided that Frank was a distraction. That you were going to focus on learning to control your ability better. 

Chloe: I know, I know, but he’s not a distraction. Really. I just had to say something.  Every time I walk past him - which is a few times a day, to be honest I’ve started just taking walks around the neighborhood to see him - but every time in the past two weeks he’s been thinking about his paintings. And at first it was paintings he had already done - ages ago, before he joined the marines - but in the past few days, it’s been about projects he hasn’t done yet, projects he wants to do. And they’re amazing. 

Dr. Bright: How can you tell the difference? Between paintings he’s already done and paintings he has yet to create?

Chloe: Oh, well, I don’t know. I just can. 

Dr. Bright: So he is thinking about them in that way? Dividing the two categories in his own thoughts? 

Chloe: No, not exactly. It’s not what he’s thinking about as much as how he’s thinking about them. I don’t know, maybe I understand better because I’m an artist too? I know how I think about something I’ve already made versus something I want to make and…yeah, that’s the difference I guess. The thoughts take a different shape in his mind. 

Dr. Bright: A different shape? So it isn’t a difference in color or taste or feeling like you’ve described before, but a shape?

Chloe: Mm, I guess shape maybe isn’t the right word? More like a path? Remember how last session I said that it was easier to figure out whose thoughts I was hearing if I held onto it and followed it?

Dr. Bright: Yes, the literal train of thought. 

Chloe: Yes, exactly. It’s sort of like that. Like a thought has to start somewhere and then it follows a path until it turns into something else. So when Frank is thinking about something he wants to paint - or when I’m thinking about what I want to sculpt - it’s coming from a different place than if we were thinking about art we’d already made. So I can tell the difference because they’re following different paths - creating different shapes. Does that make sense? I thought I was getting better at describing these things. 

Dr. Bright: Yes, that makes sense. And you are getting better at explaining the processes. You’ve come very far in the past five weeks. We’re pioneering a very ambiguous and subtle new field - the vocabulary isn’t going to be perfect right from the get go. 

Chloe: Yeah, you’re right. It is pretty cool isn’t it? Thinking about all the different ways that people think and feel things?

Dr. Bright: It’s incredibly cool, Chloe:. You are extremely lucky - as far as we know, you’re the only person in the history of the world that has been able to see inside the brain this way. 

Chloe: Ha, no pressure though. 

Dr. Bright: I just meant that you are very unique. And I’m happy that you’re beginning to understand and appreciate that. 

Chloe: Yeah, I guess I am. I mean, even when it first started, I felt special, you know? Like the angels had picked me to talk to - to tell secrets to. Even though I know it’s not angels now, I still feel that way a bit. That I was chosen for something special. 

Dr. Bright: Maybe you were. I don’t know how much angels have to do with it, but I think you are very special and I think you’ll have the opportunity to do something special with this ability. 

Chloe: Well, that’s why I wanted to talk to Frank! I think I’m meant for him. That my ability is meant for him. 

Dr. Bright: What do you mean?

Chloe: His paintings! It’s a whole series - seven paintings, enormous oil paintings. And they are breathtaking. I mean, really, really amazing. Like, “could be in a museum” amazing. And he has no way of painting them. They’re just trapped in his head, trying to get out onto canvas. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sorry, Chloe:, I don’t understand. What does that have to do with you? 

Chloe: I can help him paint them. 

Dr. Bright: Chloe, this man isn’t your responsibility. Who knows how long he’s been living on the streets - he doesn’t sound stable from what you’ve told me. He could be dangerous. 

Chloe: But he’s not. I would know if he was dangerous. He’s not. Not like that patient of yours-

Dr. Bright: Chloe, we’ve talked about this. My patients are my business - you have no right to invade their privacy when they’re here seeking counseling. 

Chloe: What do you mean, I have no right? You don’t get to pick and choose who I listen to. It doesn’t work like that. I’m always invading someone’s privacy. I can’t help it and your patients are not off-limits. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sorry - you’re right. I can’t tell you what to do with your ability - that is entirely up to your own discretion. But for my sake - and professional boundaries - I would prefer it if you did not mention my other patients to me. 

Chloe: Okay. That’s fair. I’m just worried about you. 

Dr. Bright: I know. And that’s very kind of you, but you have nothing to be worried about. Let’s get back to Frank. You said you spoke to him?

Chloe: Yes! And I didn’t really know what to say, so I just gave him a few dollars and thanked him for his service. I know it’s not much, but it’s a start! And he looked me in the eye - a little confused I think, he probably couldn’t figure out how I knew about his military career - and he said thank you. You know, I figure I can just start saying more and more to him every day and maybe get to know him a bit. Maybe get him to go to the VA or something.

Dr. Bright: Right, you said that he was in the marines?

Chloe: Yeah, for six years. And it really messed him up. 

Dr. Bright: Why do you say that?

Chloe: Well, I think he’s got that post-trauma thing - the P- the PT-

Dr. Bright: PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Chloe: Yes, that. 

Dr. Bright: That’s very likely. Many people who have been in a war zone develop some level of PTSD. You’ve mentioned before that you see violence sometimes in his thoughts. Are they images of the war?

Chloe: Yeah. It’s really horrible. Some days are worse than others. I usually try to avoid him on the days he’s thinking about the war. I know that seems cold, but I have the worst nightmares if I listen to him for too long when he’s like that. It’s not easy to get out of your head once you’ve seen it. 

Dr. Bright: I can imagine. 

Chloe: And it’s hurt him so much. That’s why he’s so confused and angry and scared most of the time. And that’s why he needs to paint. Because when he thinks about his paintings, it’s like he’s almost happy. 

Dr. Bright: I still don’t understand what you’re supposed to do about that. Are you planning on buying him the supplies he needs? Provide him the space? Taking responsibility for someone of his situation is a very big undertaking, Chloe. 

Chloe: No, I know that. And it’s not like I’m planning to adopt him. I just - I want to help. But getting his paints and canvases wouldn’t be the way, I don’t think. I’m pretty sure he can’t paint anymore. 

Dr. Bright: Why not?

Chloe: There’s something wrong with his hands. I don’t know if it’s an injury or just that he’s - they shake a lot and it frustrates him. Sometimes he just thinks “these damn hands, these damn hands” over and over and over again. I can hear him thinking about how he wouldn’t be able to hold a brush steady enough to paint. Oh God, that makes him so sad. 

Dr. Bright: I’m very sorry to hear that. But I still don’t see how you come into this. 

Chloe: Well…I was thinking I could paint for him. I mean, I can already see what they’re supposed to look like. And it’s not just that - I know what his thought process is behind it so I think I’d be able to mimic his technique. I’m not a painter - it’s never been my strength - but I think I could do it. With him. I think we could make something really beautiful. 

Dr. Bright: Well that’s- that’s a very nice idea, Chloe. And actually, I think that could be a very useful exercise for you. A way to really get into someone’s thoughts and put them to use. 

Chloe: Yeah…I guess. That’s sort of an odd way of putting it but, yeah. Yeah, I have this power and maybe this is the something special I’m meant to do?

Dr. Bright: Maybe. At the very least, I think it will help you gain more control. 

Chloe: I think you’re right. Just spending more time around him has definitely made it easier to hear his thoughts more coherently. It’s like I’ve gotten used to the way he thinks so I’m able to pick him out of the crowd better and piece his thoughts together. 

Dr. Bright: That makes sense. He’s become a distinctive voice in your head. 

Chloe: Exactly. Like you. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sorry?

Chloe: Well, the more I come in here, the more I’m able to hear your thoughts. I mean, not like I’m trying to listen. I’m trying to respect your privacy and professional boundaries, and all that. Really. But yeah, every session I’m able to hear a little bit better. You’ve become a distinctive voice too. It’s funny, at first I could barely hear anything from you. It’s like your thoughts were behind this weird fog.  

Dr. Bright: That’s- that’s probably because my singular focus was you - I wasn’t thinking about much else. I can’t imagine the thoughts of someone actively listening to you would jump out. It would just sound like an echo chamber.

Chloe: Yeah, I guess so. But anyway, now I can hear things a little more clearly. I’ve been able to sift through the fog a little bit. Like, I can hear you’re worried right now. What are you worried about? Is it your patient agai- no, it’s not that. It’s me? Why are you worried about me?

Dr. Bright: Chloe- 

Chloe: You don’t want me to hear you? Why? I promise I won’t tell anyone anything, I swear. 

Dr. Bright: Please, Chloe, this is counter-productive. Listening to me will not help you.

Chloe: I’m not listening anymore - I’m not trying to anyway. I can’t help it sometimes, you know that. Why are thinking about hiding something from me? What are you hiding from me?

Dr. Bright: I’m not trying to hide anything from you, Chloe. But I have a lot of sensitive information about other patients and I’m just trying to maintain patient confidentiality.      

Chloe: No. You’re lying. You don’t care about patient confidentiality. You’ve already broken it. That’s- you just thought that! You’ve told someone about me! 

Dr. Bright: I haven’t. You’re confused, Chloe. You’re getting your wires crossed. 

Chloe: I don’t think I am. Who did you tell about me? What are you trying to do?

Dr. Bright: I’m trying to help you, Chloe. That’s all I’m ever trying to do. 

Chloe: No, you want to use me for something. I-I don’t understand. 

Dr. Bright: Chloe, I promise you. I don’t want to use you for anything. I haven’t told anyone about you. Just my recorder. 

Chloe: Your recorder? You record these sessions?

Dr. Bright: No, no, of course not. I take audio notes about my patients. Their progress, exercises I might want to try. But I am the only one who hears them. No one else knows, I promise. 

Chloe: Then why were you thinking about how pleased someone was going to be that I was gaining more control?

Dr. Bright: I- I was thinking about your mother. I know she’ll be so relieved to hear that you’re improving. 

Chloe: Oh, okay. Um, all of this has made my head hurt a bit. I think we should call it day. 

Dr. Bright: Are you sure, Chloe? I promise you, this is a safe place. We still haven’t done our meditation exercises for today. I don’t want you to hinder your own progress. 

Chloe: Yeah, I’m sure. It’s just- it’s been an overwhelming day. I’m sorry for yelling at you. I think I just need to go home and think about some stuff. 

Dr. Bright: Alright, if that’s what you think you need. If you want, you could come back tomorrow and-

Chloe: No, that’s alright. I’ll um, I’ll call next week about setting up another appointment. I’m, um, I’m thinking about getting back into classes so my schedule is going to get all weird, so…I’ll call Sarah and work something out. 

Dr. Bright: Okay. Just make sure you do it soon. We don’t want to slow down now that we’ve gotten the momentum going. 

Chloe: No, no I guess we wouldn’t. Okay, well, I’ll see you soon, I guess. 

Dr. Bright: Okay, feel better. And don’t forget to keep up with your exercises. 

Chloe: Sure, right. I’ll just- bye! 

[sfx: opening and closing door]

Dr. Bright: To say we narrowly avoided disaster would be an understatement. It is far too early to talk to Chloe about the project and it must be kept from her while she is still this volatile. I think I was able to suppress my thoughts quickly enough but there is definitely some broken trust there. I will have to make sure to follow up - perhaps even introduce myself to this Frank fellow. We are too far along to have things start falling apart now. 

[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 Chloe is Anna Lore. 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 more information and additional content, please visit thebrightsessions.tumblr.com. For any questions or just to say hi, email us at thebrightsessions@gmail. Thanks for listening and stay strange.