Dr. Maddox was silent throughout his tale, and after he finished the silence stretched for minutes. He was glad for that at first, but it stretched too long and he turned around to make sure she hadn’t fallen asleep.
She had just been hoping he’d continue, “I’m sorry, Arnold. I had no idea.” She gathered herself and continued professionally. “I do have a few questions…if you’re ready?” He nodded. “Do you know why it was rose petals?”
Arnold shook his head, he had no idea. He knew that Freud had something to say about that at least, but she knew more about that than he did.
“Okay, I’ll talk with my heart and the others…perhaps they will know. The second question is…when did you fix your watch…I know it was working when you came back home.”
Arnold removed his hat solemnly and looked down at the watch. It was ticking softly and had the accurate time now, “I never did anything to it. It just started to work again by itself.”
The doctor mused about this for a few moments, and then asked, “Why do you think that it wasn‘t working back then?”
“I don’t know…but I have a few theories about that…the simplest one is that this was all in my head.” Maddox just smiled at him briefly for that. “If it was real then maybe it was a realm where watches don’t work or gears don’t turn. Or maybe it was a realm where nothing metallic works.” Arnold paused for a moment…he wasn’t sure he wanted to say what he was really thinking since it bordered on the concept of him being born of nothingness.
In the end he decided to say it anyways, “Or…maybe it wasn’t working because it was still a thing of time.” Arnold gestured to what he was wearing with his hat. “I brought it and my clothes with me to that realm somehow. But it was still a thing that belonged in time and without time it couldn’t move, let alone function. It was just frozen in place forever.”
Arnold waited for her to berate him, but when she just sat there looking thoughtful he asked, “What do you think?”
The doctor tapped her lips twice and then nodded, “What I think is that you were personally traumatized by this event. In your head or not, Arnold,” She added as he opened his mouth to protest. “And I’m going to do my best to help you work through it.”
He didn’t let her end it there though, “I don’t think that I was traumatized by that. I had hairballs as a kitten. It wasn’t much different.”
Dr. Maddox shook her head, unconvinced, “The way that you’re talking about them tells me otherwise. They hurt you.”
Arnold stared at her quietly for a few moments, and then turned back to the window and the setting sun. “I’ll admit that they eventually got to me in a way I wasn’t expecting…but not until I ran into them again later.”