Careers Advice

The careers advisor smiled and clicked her pen. I spoke.

“I want to be a child again.”

“We can’t-”

“I know. I don’t want to be responsible. I don’t want to work. I don’t want to need relationships or ambitions.”

“Are you okay?”

“No. I had a stroke last year and it left me paranoid from the neck down.”

“You mean-”

“I have these strange turns. I feel like I’m upside down. I want to stand up. I feel like my glasses shouldn’t stay on.”

“Because you’re upside down?”

“I’m going to fly away. I’m not. Clinically there’s nothing that stops me working. It doesn’t make me sad.”

“That’s good.”

“But it doesn’t fit. I don’t like the adult world. I never have.”

“I don’t think anyone does.”

“Well. It doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“Why not?”

“Why is it as it is? I just want to pick things up and do them and for people to not want things from me.”

“If this is a mental health concern I can book an- appointment with a doctor.”

“Yes. But then. I don’t know what they can do. I can work. It just has no meaning to me.”

“Why is this?”

“Like I said. I had a stroke. It changed a lot of things.”

“What else did it change?”

“I used to be a man.”

“You are now.”

“See.”

The careers advisor seemed to oscillate towards and away from me.

“I don’t. I just – I just. I’m confused. I don’t see things as I used to and I remember nothing. You know my grandmother had a stroke at the same age. It made her who she was. But I’m not sure of anything any more.”

“Right.”

“It’s difficult because I’m not mad enough for them to help me but I’m not sane enough to be… happy in myself.”

“That must be tough.”

“It is. I’ve got it fine you know. Other people have much worse problems. I just feel very strange. And I can’t convince myself that I’m completely human.”

“I suppose no one helps you or hurts you because you don’t pose a threat to anyone.”

“Yes. No. That’s true. I can make myself toast if I want it. I have quite a good diet actually.”

“Yes, You look healthy.”

“Technically I think I am. But I don’t want this… this… I don’t this… want this to be my life.”

The two of us watched the birds for a moment. “I wish I had a full head ahead of me. In me. On me. I wish I was a full head.”

“What about your family?”

“I haven’t told them anything. I don’t drop in that often. I’ve probably got a few more months before they start to worry. I can write an email if I… redraft it enough. Let it stew.”

“I could probably find you something. If you send in your CV.”

“You’d do that?”

“You’re clearly not well.”

“No. Thanks. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“Does anyone?”

“I don’t know.”

“That was a joke.”

“Oh.”

There was an awkward pause. I stood up.

“I hope I don’t walk into a parked car on the way out.”

“Are you not going to stay?”

“I’m just confused. Thank you.”

“You sure you’re going to be okay?”

“No. But I have to go.”

“I can get someone to drive-”

“You’re busy. I’ve got to go and be weird somewhere else.”

“Then why did you come?”

“I don’t know. I don’t really know anything. I mean I had a stroke. I – I – I. My brain is undiagnosable. They don’t see how I am and how I’ve changed.”

“Please don’t run away-”

“-I must. Goodbye.”

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