Standing on the dock, looking out at the mossy green basin, she discards her clothes, and jumps in. Half-way across the lake she looks up, and notices there is no gate in the distance. Just as she is beginning to gage her sense of timing to get to the other side, a motor sounds off to the right from the lagoon. Dr. Lion comes toward her or “Guru” as he likes to be called. She calls him nothing.
He has respect from his colleagues, for his papers on depression and isolation. He alludes to having traveled extensively, to lecture about the pressures of society. No one is allowed access to the institution, without his express permission. Dr. Lion is viewed by his clients with fear and trepidation. Like a drill sergeant, he demands that they live by his rules. There is a list next to each bed: 1. Rise at seven, 2. Ten minute showers, 3. Twenty minute breakfast, and it goes on to account for the day with twelve more items. When it was time for therapy, clients would sit on the metal chairs, in order by appointment; they were alphabetized. No talking, no listening, the room outside his office must be silent. Each client is allowed to read the books he has chosen for them.
After 10 years of solitude, Carlotta had all but given up on the ability to imagine life with a man once more. This time of absence was her own doing, though it was largely the fault of the menopause; which was now nearing its end. The curse had turned into a bitter coming of age story. As her words shot out of her mouth, laced with turpentine just at the tips of the letters, that would leave a mark on anyone she had an opinion about. And these days this was just about anyone. Her pheromones would emit a scent, that was not enticing any more than if she had been a rotting corpse left out on a table to dry. One by one her friends had walked away, too tired of the dark energy that stood near her, even though they too were in the crisis of aging.
Each woman can only tolerate their own pain and each man is looking for one who is not yet touched; if he is lucky. She saw herself as a hag, up in a tree in an apple orchard, throwing barely ripe fruit down; on people who came near her. She tried to explain to people what was going on; to no avail. How could anyone understand a personal crisis which is designed for the individual? While they all know that the Grim Reaper, with his sickle, can come to call any day, and this is expected, most try not to think about it until the time comes; and then it is too late. When the old woman begins to emerge, it is like looking out your window one day and noticing the neighbor has installed a new walkway, that he had been working on for weeks and you had ignored. One day Carlotta had looked in the mirror and wondered who had suddenly appeared before her.