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Untitled Drama

Early morning, inside a neatly organized bedroom, a cell phone alarm goes off. A delicate hand reaches up and turns it off. Sitting up is a beautiful raven-haired young woman. Dana is finishing her final year of community college, a semester and a half early. She is eager for this day, as she finally is able to receive funding for a full ride through a major university. All her hard work has paid off, taking on more than a full load of classes while working. She is as bright as she is beautiful and has such an amazing future ahead of her. She slithers out of bed in her shorts and t-shirt and prepares herself for the day ahead.

Another alarm goes off next door. A hand reaches up to turn it off but merely knocks the phone off the nightstand. “Dammit!” The young man’s voice bellows. He fumbles over the floor looking for the phone, tossing aside empty bottles and dirty plates. His room is a disaster. He has piles of junk and garbage all over his room, not to mention childish items such as comic books and statues. He sits up, with his mop of hair going everywhere, cascading in all directions. His face is acne ridden and framed with scraggly facial hair. His slight build is covered by a baggy t-shirt from the martial arts dojo he trains at. Standing up from his bed, he glances out the window and sees Dana step into sight. She is in front of her window in her t-shirt and volleyball shorts. Josh rushes to the window, trying to be discreet, and spies on the object of his obsession.

Dana has her clothes laid out, and grasps the bottom of her shirt, pulling it up her slim, slightly toned body. Josh feels his pulse quicken, and his heart beating almost bursting from his chest. The shirt reveals her stomach, moving farther up her body. Josh grows ever more excited, hoping his desires finally come true. Just before the shirt is pulled to chest level, Dana notices the blinds were left open. Her night was late and after work she must have come home and gone straight to sleep. Josh ducks, hoping she didn’t notice him spying on her. She closes her blinds to the disappointment of her neighbor. “Damn!” Josh then runs his hands through his dirty mess of hair and starts getting ready for school. It’s his fifth year of community college, and his parent’s told him if he get’s straight D’s again they will not pay for him to go back. He will also be forced to get a job and move out. He hopes he can coax Dana into helping him pass. He feels he can do well in school, but lectures bore him. That is, when he actually attends. In his mind, Dana is his girlfriend. She always seems to find reasons not to spend time alone together. She must merely be nervous about getting serious. Yes, that’s the reason Josh decides.

Dana finishes getting ready and sees a text from Josh asking for a ride. She cringes at the thought of spending any more time with him. She used to think he was nice, if a tad strange. But his constant obsession with her, and lack of enthusiasm for bettering his life has turned her off him. Not to mention his attempts at looking down her shirt and watching her through her window. She makes subtle comments to get distance from him, and hints to not violate her space but Josh doesn’t get it. Or maybe does not want to. Her hopes at receiving a scholarship will hopefully allow her to attend school out of state, away from him.

She goes to her car, and texts Josh reluctantly. His door swings open, and shambling out in a soiled button up shirt and baggy jeans is Josh. He attempts to look at her flirtatiously backfires, as she cringes looking away from him. He sees her look away and tells himself she must be having a hard time controlling herself around him. He knows in his heart that she desires him just as much as he does her. He approaches the car and sees a pile of books on the passenger seat. “Where do you want me to move these to?” He asks her. “Actually, Josh I was thinking you could sit in the back seat, so these books don’t get messed up. They aren’t mine and I don’t want to mess them up. I hate to mess up books that are loaned to me. I just feel it’s irresponsible.” An obvious lie, but she knows Josh won’t understand that she’s being untruthful. “Oh, ok dear, I would hate to do anything that upsets you. I just want to do anything that makes you happy.” Dana cringes and rolls her eyes. “Yeah, so just sit in the back please.” Josh gets in and Dana starts to drive. It is quiet for a few moments before Dana begins to talk.

“Josh, have you ever thought of seeing a tutor, so you can improve your grades? You have been attending community college for a while and are nowhere near a degree. You just don’t seem to have a direction. You can’t live off your parents forever, you need to put in some hard work to get somewhere. You haven’t even declared a major. Have you given any thought as to what you want to do at all?” Josh lets out a sigh and looks at her reflection in the mirror. “I’m trying, I really am. But I feel that my calling is in my martial arts. My instructor told me I am the best student in the school. I was thinking that I could open my own school and do some tournaments to gain credibility.” Dana sighs. She doesn’t know how to tell him how unrealistic this plan is. Josh is weak and frail not to mention how uncoordinated he is. The martial arts school he attends goes through the motions and isn’t a practical school or form of self-defense.

“Do you really think that will pay your bills? Something like that isn’t always in demand. Maybe getting help studying for computer classes would be better. Any sort of computer degree is in high demand and you will make decent money.” Josh shakes his head. “I’m just not into stuff like that. Besides, I feel we would pay the bills just fine with your career as a psychologist.” Dana cringes at the assumption of a shared life between the two. “Josh, you can’t always rely on someone else. Anything can happen in the future separating people.” She doesn’t know any other way to hint to him. In his deluded mind, they are a couple despite her attempts to show him otherwise.

As they drive, Dana passes a corner with a few high school boys. One, a few years younger than Dana catches her eye. He is far more muscular than most teenagers, with model good looks. She figures he is about 16 or 17. But has an air about him of pure danger. He appears to be selling drugs to the other boys. Dana shakes her head, trying to deny herself of any attraction to someone not only younger, but delving into a life of deviancy. It astounds her that someone can not only break laws so easily but deny a life of service to god. Her faith and devotion to religion is the basis of what she is and how she lives her life. Anything different from that is foreign to her. Another reason why Josh and his directionless life confuses her.

The car slowly pulls into the school parking lot, which is packed. Being the first day, several students are adding and dropping classes last minute. As they park Josh grabs his things and leans over the seat to Dana. “Can I get a quick kiss before I head to class?” Dana cringes and turns away. “I don’t like public displays of affection, it’s not very Christian. Besides I need to meet with my advisor before class. Something about a possible scholarship to a big university.” Dana quickly gets out of the car and grabs her books. Josh follows, grabbing his backpack. “Well let me know how it goes my dear. Maybe we can have a nice lunch together.” Dana walks away quickly, attempting to avoid him further. “Yeah maybe. Look I need to go, and you need to get to your class.” Josh watches as she walks away, wondering why she never seems to show any affection towards him. Then he convinces himself that she would be unable to control herself if she showed any tenderness towards him. He knows deep down that a single kiss would cause her to lose all bearing and throw herself at him like in the movies he watches on his phone. This, Josh decides, is the reason.

Dana heads across campus to her advisor’s office. Upon her arrival, she signs in with the secretary before having a seat. She looks over her notes for school while she waits. She works ahead frequently, giving her an edge in her studies. It is because of this that she is the top of her class. A pure straight A student on her way to incredible things. As she looks over her notes, several male students walking in and out of the office cannot help but stare. She is stunningly beautiful and doesn’t even have to try. She wears very little makeup and has deep brown eyes that sparkle when under certain light. Her high cheekbones set off a facial structure envied by other girls on campus and her lips catch the attention of everyone around her whether she is speaking or not. She dresses modestly, but that only seems to increase her sensuality. Her cross hangs low, just above her cleavage, inviting many stares at her slim body. Men all over campus desire her, and not just students. Professors and even janitorial staff admire her from afar and think forbidden thoughts when she is in view on campus.

As she studies, a well-dressed older woman comes out of a nearby office and moves towards the young woman. “Dana thank you so much for coming in before class.” Dana looks up from her notes and smiles, flashing her perfect teeth. “Hey Mrs. Delach, it’s no problem at all. I was excited that you emailed me. I was hoping for some sort of aid when I transfer. I don’t want to take out any loans if I can avoid it.” She stands and walks towards the older woman. The woman smiles and motions Dana towards the office. “Oh, Dana it is so much more than that, I’ll tell you the exciting news once we are in my office.” The two walk the short distance into the office, and the older woman closes the door behind them.

Dana takes a seat across from the professor’s desk as the woman hands her a stack of papers. “Dana, due to your excellent grades and advanced understanding of the psychology field, those of us in charge of the associate’s degree program for psychology recommended you for a paid internship at the Gateway Rehab Center near campus.” Dana looks over the paperwork and shakes her head. “Mrs. Delach, I’m incredibly flattered but my studies have only been in general psychology. I don’t know anything about rehab counseling or drug addiction. I’ve never even touched a cigarette.” “Dana, you’re a smart girl and are fantastic with people. You have immense compassion plus you have said before about the programs you run at your church. You will do fine and will be under the guidance of some of the more experienced counselors. You won’t be expected to run any rehab sessions on your own until you feel ready. You can even just hang back and follow what the other counselors tell you to do. But this will look amazing on your transcripts once you transfer. Plus, you can save money through the internship to pay for anything the scholarships don’t cover. Have you even decided on a university yet?” “Well, no, but I’ve considered going out of state.” “In that case, you can use the money for a down payment on an apartment, or a deposit for a dorm if you choose to live on campus.”

Dana, feeling her head spin, wonders if she is in over her head with this offer. “I don’t know. This is all so sudden.” The woman walks over to her and places a hand on her shoulder. “Dana, just think about it. Take your time and talk it over with your parents. You have so much potential and those of us in the psychology division feel you can do anything you set your mind to. But don’t feel the need to do anything you aren’t ready for. You are still young and there is no need to rush into any job or life altering event you feel you aren’t prepared for. You finished a two-year degree in under a year, you still have plenty of time for career altering choices.” Dana smiles and nods her head. “Thank you, Mrs. Delach, I will try to keep that in mind. I have to head to my first class now. I still have time, but I want to study my notes before class. That way I can make conversation with the professor if I have any questions.” Dana stands and grabs her books. Mrs. Delach looks at her and smiles. “Dana it’s only the first day, don’t push yourself so hard. You want something left in the tank once you transfer.” Dana starts walking out the door and turns. “I know, Mrs. Delach. I just want to make sure I always do my best. I can’t let my standards fall. I don’t want to look back and think I could have done things better.” “Well ease up on yourself somewhat. Too much pressure isn’t good either.” “I will keep that in mind, I promise.”

At lunch, Dana cautiously walks through the cafeteria, hoping not to be noticed by Josh while keeping an eye out for the few friends she regularly talks to. She is far too busy for a social life, but there is a select group she enjoys some leisure time with. At the far side, she sees one of them. A bubbly blonde named Amelia, laughing as she tries to steal jello from her boyfriend Danny. The couple are almost the spitting image of one you would see on television, right down to their perfect looks. Dana approaches them, and upon noticing her they sprint towards their friend. “Dana where have you been?” “Sorry Amelia, work kept me busy over summer.” Danny laughs and wraps his muscular arms around his friend. “You need to learn how to relax between semesters. Work when you’re old! That’s what we plan to do.” Dana laughs as she takes a seat at the table. “I need to pay for school. Not everyone gets their tuition paid for by being a personal trainer. Amelia chimes in on the conversation. “Well whenever you look like Danny, people will pay top dollar for his fitness secrets. You should have seen the number of clients he had over summer. And some of them were grown women. I almost had to beat them off my boyfriend with a barbell. They were all over him!”

Danny peers around the cafeteria and laughs. “Speaking of being all over people, how is your boyfriend?” Dana cringes at the thought. “Don’t even joke about that. He makes my skin crawl.” Amelia laughs. “Have you told him to buzz off? I keep thinking you’re being way too nice to that weirdo.” “I try to do it without hurting his feelings, but I don’t think he’s getting it. Plus, I’m pretty sure he was trying to watch me change out of my pajamas this morning. It is totally creepy.” Amelia gags while Danny just laughs. “You need to tell his family about this. Get them to board up his window or something. That’s a complete violation of privacy.” “I know” Dana says, “But I don’t want to humiliate him, and he has enough problems at home as it is.” Amelia replies “He should have moved out long ago and that is probably where his problems stem from. He’s what, like 25 and still lives at home?” Dana shakes her head. “I don’t understand it. His parents are such wonderful people and he’s…him. He’s an alright person and all, just has no clue as to how to behave in this world. It’s like he is in his own dream world. He’s very delusional and in some ways narcissistic. But he is also compassionate. He would do anything for people. He just needs to grow up.” Danny laughs and adds “And take a shower while he is at it. Maybe lift a weight once in a while.”

The group sits there eating, as Dana pauses and pulls out some homework. Amelia looks at her and chuckles. “Don’t tell me you are gonna study while you eat. And on the first day no less!” Dana rifles through her papers until she finds her target document. “No” Dana states. “I want you two to take a look at something. I was blindsided by this when I got to campus today.” Danny perks up “What could it be? You’re basically Ms. Perfect. I don’t think I’ve seen you get anything lower than an A on even a pop quiz.” “It’s nothing like that. I just don’t know what to make of this.” Dana hands them the paper. The pair scans it, before looking up at their friend. “This would be a huge step for me. I don’t think I’m anywhere near being able to counsel people, let alone people with addiction issues.” Dana states. “I don’t know, you are pretty good with most people.” Amelia tells her. “Besides, it’s just a paid internship, you’d be basically doing on the job training. It’s not like you would be a sole counselor or something,” “Yeah” Danny adds “Don’t get overly excited and start putting pressure on all of this. It’s basically just something for your transcripts once you go to grad school and apply for jobs. They’re not going to put someone’s life in your hands with this.” “Yeah I suppose you are right. I just don’t know how to act around people who live that sort of lifestyle. I’ve never been tempted to do anything I shouldn’t” Danny laughs and adds “So you haven’t been giving into your passions with little Josh?” Dana glares at him “Never in a million years. I would never touch him, and I would especially never do anything before being married to the man I’m supposed to be with.” Amelia looks long at her friend before responding. “Dana, you can’t live your whole youth as a glorified nun. Once you meet someone you love, you should give in to your feelings. That is what love is all about.” “I could never. Ever. I made a promise to god to remain pure until I marry the man he sent to me. It’s how he wants his children to live.” Danny laughs “You sound like an after school special.” Amelia elbows him. “Hey, leave her alone. She may be overly sheltered but that’s her choice.” “I’m not sure if I should thank you or not.” Dana says with a laugh.

As they continue with their lunch, Josh wanders into the cafeteria. His face has a large red mark across his cheek, as if he had been sound asleep on a rigid surface such as a book or desk. His hair is even more of a mess than previously, and he seems almost in a daze. He wanders the cafeteria looking for Dana, desperate to find her. His phone is dead or else he would text her, but he forgot his charger again. He would probably forget his head if not for it’s attachment to the rest of his body. At the far end in the corner he sees his target, seated with her friends and eating fruit. He watches her, her mouth especially, move as she consumes her food. Only Josh would turn something so simple and mundane into an image of arousal. His deluded mind leads him to fantasize, and his tunnel vision causes him to wreck into several other students much to their annoyance.

Danny looks up and sees Josh wandering over and clears his throat to get Dana’s attention. “Don’t look now, but your stalker is on his way over.” Dana looks up, already emotionally drained. “He should be in class. His mom asked me to memorize his schedule to make sure he made it to class.” “Well, knowing him he skipped it.” Amelia adds. “It’s only the first day, he has no reason to skip at all but especially now.” Dana says. “It’s stuff like this that makes me not want him around.” Josh approaches the table, and sits down next to Dana, pretending to only accidentally brush his body against hers. She leans away from him to get space between them. “Dana, my sweetheart, how is your first day going?” Ignoring the unwanted term of endearment, Dana slides her chair away and responds. “Well I was offered a paid internship as a counselor at the rehab center, so I have to decide if I want to take it or not. I’m unsure if I’m up for such a huge responsibility.” “And we keep telling you that you won’t have some sort of life or death responsibility as an intern. It’s a great opportunity and you’ll be fine.” Amelia adds. Josh moves closer to Dana and flashes a smile. “Well no matter what I think you can do great with anything. You’re smart and the most amazing woman ever.” Despite their dislike in general for Josh, Amelia and Danny can’t help but be charmed by Josh’s comment. Dana, however, rolls her eyes as usual. He then attempts to put his arm around her, making her move forward to avoid any contact. For the first time, Amelia and Danny begin to feel bad for Josh, realizing his intentions are pure despite his unnerving behaviors. For the first time they see Josh does have a good heart, and a genuine love for Dana.

Dana feigns looking at the time on her phone and springs up from her seat. “I have to get to my next class. I want to make sure I have all the lab notes in case we start the first study after we go over the syllabus. Experimental Psychology will probably be my hardest class this semester.” Dana grabs her books and purse and turns to her friends. “I’ll call you both later. Josh, my last class ends at 2:50 at Chambers Hall, I need you to make sure to meet me there as soon as you’re done with class. I don’t want to be waiting all day for you like last semester.” Josh looks up at her and smiles. “I promise I will be there and won’t be a minute late. Why would I be if it meant a minute less that I get to spend with you.” That cinches it for both Danny and Amelia. Neither one of them have ever heard anything so genuinely sweet. They both exchange knowing looks with one another, almost reading each other’s minds. Dana just groans, however and walks off. Danny and Amelia remain silent for a few moments before Danny begins to speak.

“Hey Josh, how would you like to come to the gym with me sometime? I’m sure it would help with your martial arts.” Josh looks up, almost surprised at the invitation. “I would like that a lot actually. I’ve always wanted to learn how to lift weights and put on muscle. It would help my skills a lot.” Amelia chimes in “Yeah and girls like guys who are in shape. And I can help you get a better look. Better skin care, and a haircut that would fit your facial shape better. And we can both help you study.” Josh shakes his head. “I don’t know about the studying, I don’t think I need it.” “You need some sort of education, it looks good on anyone’s resume and if you do well you can repeat the classes you did bad in and finally have the grades replaced on your transcripts.” Amelia replies. “Yeah” Danny states “You can then transfer somewhere else. Even if you plan on taking over your Karate studio- ““Dojo” Josh says, interrupting. “Dojo, sorry. You still would benefit from having a secondary education. Plus, who knows, maybe you will decide on being a doctor or something.” “I dunno” Josh says. “I don’t think I’m smart enough.” “Is that why you never tried getting a tutor before?” Amelia asks. “Yeah. I keep enrolling because I’m expected to. But I just don’t feel like I’m smart enough for school. I pretend it isn’t important but I’m honestly so worried about putting all my effort in and failing.” Danny and Amelia sympathize with the man they once found a nuisance, and now make it their full plan to help him. “Danny and I can show you how to study. Just give us your schedule and maybe we can even go over your classes with you or find friends of ours who have taken them.”

 Later that day, Dana steps inside her house, and sets her purse and books on a table. Walking around lost in thought she passes her mother who is scheduling the youth events at their church. She is one of the elders and the Sunday school teacher. They add to the expectation that Dana is heavily involved in all church activities. Noticing her daughter is in a daze, she calls out to her. “Hey kiddo, school didn’t fry your brain already, did it?” Dana turns to her mom and smiles. “It’s not that. Mrs. Delach told me today that the psychology department is recommending me for a paid internship at the rehab center.” “Gateway?” “Yeah.” “So?” “I don’t know if I can handle something like that.” Her mom laughs and wraps her arms around her. “Dana, it’s not like you will be expected to cure addiction. It’s a paid internship to put your major to use in a guided environment. You’ll be fine. If you can follow directions at your job, you can handle an internship.” “That’s what Amelia said.” “Well Amelia has her moments of clarity and brilliance. This is one of them.” Dana pulls away from her mom slightly. “Yeah, I just want to make you and dad proud.” Her mom runs her hands through Dana’s raven locks. “We are proud of everything you do and always have been. No matter what, we will always be your biggest fans and biggest supporters.” She kisses her daughter’s forehead and Dana smiles. “Thanks mom, you have no idea how much that means to me.”

Dana sits at the dining room table, with the internship paperwork in front of her and her cell phone in her hand. Looking at the contact information, she begins dialing a phone number. She hesitates and takes a deep breath. She continues to dial and hears the phone begin to ring. After a few rings, someone on the other end picks up. “Hello, I’m calling about an internship offered to me. Yes, I’m a student of Mrs. Colleen Delach of the psychology department.” As Dana continues with the call, she hopes deep down that she is making the right choice. Something deep down nags at her, telling her that her life is about to change. But she isn’t totally sure this is a change she will be happy with.

The next day, Dana arrives at the rehab center. Placing her car in park, she gathers her papers and letters of reference and steps out. The building looks a tad intimidating to her. She has seen it in passing on the highway but has never had a reason to be this close to the building. She walks in and is immediately intercepted by a burly security guard. His uniform is stained, and his beard has crumbs strewn about. His arms are covered in second-rate military inspired tattoos and he smells of cigarettes. Dana tries to stifle a gag but cannot help herself. The guard attempts to lay on the charm as he does the preliminary questioning. “Well hello miss. Are you by chance here for me?” “No.” Dana replies with a laugh. “I’m here to meet with a Dr. Smith. I was offered an internship through the community college.” The guard steps towards her. Dana steps back. “Well, beautiful, before you go anywhere, I just need to search you. Make sure you don’t have any weapons, and I gotta scan you with a metal detector. Maybe give you a pat down.” He smiles and winks at her. Dana grows worried and looks around for anyone else to help her. Out of a nearby office comes another guard. He is older but almost as large but much more professional looking. His uniform is neatly pressed, and his girth doesn’t seem to be as untamed. His thinning hair is cut close to his skull and his only facial hair, a moustache, is neatly trimmed.

“Excuse me, sir?” Dana calls out. “Can you help me?” The man looks up from his newspaper and sees Dana, and the other guard hovering over her. He walks over and taps the guard on his shoulder. “George, why don’t you go do a round outside? You haven’t been spending enough time moving around.” A clear dig at the other man’s weight, but he cannot reply to his boss. It is clear, however, that he is irritated. Maybe even angry. “Roger that.” The slob guard states and walks out the front door. The older guard looks after him before turning his attention to Dana. “Sorry about that miss. How can I help you?” “I’m here for an internship.” The man’s eyes light up. “Oh yes, they told us to look for you. I’m Mark, the head of security here. I have to do a quick scan of our metal detector and then check your purse. After that I’ll show you how to get to Dr. Smith’s office. He should be out of his step session by the time we are done.”

The older man leads her to a cubicle with two chairs and several camera screens. He motions her to sit down and points to a camera above them. “That camera, just for your own safety is always recording in case something were to happen. All I will do is search your purse, as I said. Just make sure that you aren’t carrying weapons or any contraband. Plus, I have to verify your identification before you move from this point. We had a few instances of drug dealers posing as therapists, old boyfriends coming in pretending to be priests. So, to avoid any trouble, we can’t let anyone beyond this point until we have word they are supposed to be here.” The man puts on a pair of rubber gloves and begins searching through Dana’s purse. “Is there anything else unusual that happens here? I’m sorry I just don’t know what to expect. I’ve never been around drug users before.” Mark chuckles and looks at her. “Kid, you name it, we have seen it. People taping drugs to their bodies before coming in to be admitted, counselors manipulating patients and beginning relationships. Patients calling their dealers during phone time.” “How can people live like this, I just don’t understand.”

Upon finishing the search, Mark leads her down a long hallway to a series of offices. “I just want to let you know, if you ever have any problems with the guards you can let me know. Some of them have no boundaries and get a bit unprofessional at times. One hits on patients quite a bit and is on the verge of being fired. Even fined. Another has been caught watching dirty videos while on duty.” Dana cringes at the thought. “How do they still have their jobs?” Mark looks at her and shrugs. “This place doesn’t pay very well. The guards don’t get any respect, so we have a hard time keeping decent people. It aggravates me but there isn’t much I can do. I ask them to increase the pay for guards, but they won’t. They don’t see this job as being very high risk or very difficult, so they see no reason to give raises. Because of that, we lose the very good few that apply to Sheetz.” “I’m so sorry.” “Don’t be” Mark tells her. “I’m retiring in a year so I’m just doing my best until I leave.”

They come to a door covered in inspirational posters and movie quotes. “This is it” Mark tells her. He knocks on the door and turns the knob. Sitting at the desk is an older man with gray hair and goatee. He is reading a book on psychophysics while Beach Boys music plays low in the background. “Hey Doc, your intern is here.” Dana walks in as the man stands up, placing his finger in his book as a makeshift marker. His other hand shoots out like a piston, shaking hers with enthusiastic force. Dana feels almost rattled but is amused immediately by the man’s energy. “You’re Colleen’s student! She told me about you. It’s an absolute pleasure!” Dana laughs and glances back at Mark, who quietly steps out of the room. She turns back to Dr. Smith who motions her to a nearby chair. “Go ahead sit down, make yourself at home!” Dana smiles and sits as he rushes back to his chair. He spins around and mutes his radio and sets his book aside.

Facing her, he pulls out a folder which he hands to her. “Here are the basic orientation packets. They just go over basic information regarding the internship, the pay, HIPAA along with a few legal documents. One thing I have to go over with you in person is patient/staff relationships. We had a few instances in the past where staff began romantic relationships with patients and I shouldn’t have to say, it is absolutely forbidden. It’s just unprofessional, puts staff in a bad spot plus with these people recovering from addiction, they aren’t in the best frame of mind so they can be easily manipulated and that is what ended up happening in the past.” “I understand.” Dana tells him. “Yeah, it also makes the facility look bad and could cause us to lose funding. Plus, all the legal issues, we just need to make sure all staff knows we have a zero-tolerance policy. Oh, we also can’t have staff dating other staff. Just leads to all sorts of problems, conflict of interest.” Dana nods as she flips through the other paperwork, scanning it briefly. “That sounds very sensible to me honestly.” She tells him. “I don’t understand why anyone would get involved with a co-worker, no matter what the job is.” “Well” Dr. Smith begins, “In some cases I feel you can’t judge too much. I met my wife when we were both professors and began dating. Some places it just isn’t a good idea.” “I understand.”

“Colleen tells me you were also offered a full scholarship for your bachelor’s degree.” “Yeah, any university I want. Not sure exactly where I want to go yet but I’m thinking somewhere out of state.” “Looking to gain some independence from your family?” “Sort of, but I also can’t bear the thought of being away from them.” “I can understand, but sometimes you need that separation to see who you really want to grow into.” Dana smiles and nods. “So, just to give you an idea of what you will be doing, your first few weeks will involve sitting in on the juvenile recovery unit. You will assist the counselors with their therapy sessions. You will also learn how we go about helping them cope with their choices and develop a will to resist the temptation to use again upon discharge. If you feel up to it, you can begin creating sessions for them, and act almost as a support for them when here, get to know them and their backgrounds so you can find the best ways to discuss their habits and find alternative interests for them. Different hobbies, sports, what have you.” “That doesn’t sound too bad.” The doctor notices the apprehension in Dana’s voice as she responds. “You’ll do fine. Remember, this is all based on your level of comfort with the interaction. You’re still a student and still learning so don’t place too much pressure on yourself.” Dana can’t help but laugh. “You’re not the first person to tell me that this week.” “Well it’s true. Just relax. You’ll be fine. There should be a session going on now. I’ll take you in and introduce you before I give you a tour of the building.”

The two arrive at the juvenile group room and Dr. Smith holds up a hand, halting Dana. “Just one second, I want to make sure we aren’t interrupting anything.” He pokes a head in before stepping inside. Dana stands outside and picks lint off her polo shirt. A nervous habit of hers. She looks around as staff members pass by sporadically. Male staff turn their heads as they pass by, unable to keep from admiring her. One tall guard walks past and whistles as he looks her up and down. Dana grows more uncomfortable until Dr. Smith opens the door, motioning for her to come in. The room is filled with several young men and women all high school age. The male students whisper inappropriate things to one another about Dana. The female students ignore her. Dana looks around, familiarizing the faces of the patients but one stands out. A young man, muscles bulging out of a retro “Slayer” t-shirt and ripped jeans. Features much stronger looking than most teenagers. His strong but beautiful looks are hard to forget. Large muscles twitch and ripple every time he makes a slight movement. She has seen this young man before. And just like before, she almost feels her knees go weak just by looking at him. She tries to ignore it and steps to the front of the room with Dr. Smith and the session’s counselor.

Dr. Smith looks around the room and begins to speak. “Alright guys, I want to introduce you to our newest intern. Dana here is studying psychology at the community college, going into her last semester before transferring. She’s here as a kind of listening ear if you have any problems or need advice. Treat her with as much respect as you would the full counselors. And please don’t scare her away. She’s a good kid and I’m hoping to help her along in her career.” Dana, bashful, smiles and waves to the patients. Dr. Smith turns to her and nudges her. “Don’t be so shy. Tell them some facts about yourself.” “Well I’m heavily involved in my church, was on the bible quizzing team. I play soccer and volleyball. I love to run and work out. I’m a big reader, both Christian fiction and science books.” One student chimes in “Favorite ice cream?” Dana smiles and proudly proclaims “Mint chocolate chip.” Another asks, “You got a boyfriend?” The others laugh, making Dana’s face turn red. “No, I don’t really have the time to date right now. I want to finish college first, maybe my master’s degree before I even think of dating.” She looks over, and sees the muscular patient staring at her, almost undressing her with his eyes. She tries not to show it, but she feels more aroused by his eyes just being locked on her than she ever thought imaginable. She shrugs it off and continues taking questions from the group.

 Danny stands above Josh, grasping an unloaded barbell. “You ready?” “No.” Josh responds. Danny can’t help but laugh. “You’ll be fine. I’m right here and it’s only 45 pounds. On three.” Josh inhales deeply and presses his heels into the ground. “One. Two. Three!” Josh presses the barbell off the support pins and lowers it to his chest. Arms trembling, he presses it up until his arms are nearly straight. “Good” Danny tells him. “Now give me five more.” Josh strains, but manages five more bench presses, albeit barely. Danny takes the bar and helps Josh put it back on the pins. “How was that?” Danny asks him. “Heavy.” Josh states between breaths. Danny chuckles. “It will get easier. I promise. In a few months we may have you bench pressing your body weight.” Josh takes a drink of water and looks up.

Submitted: April 01, 2019

© Copyright 2022 Albert Mann. All rights reserved.


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