Introducing Lane

Something about today didn’t seem right, as if her morning stroll along the boardwalk differed to every other.

There were the usual yuppies still being shifted from bar to bar along the Neptune. Her yogi pals were following the lead of Mermaid Man’s upward-facing dog pose. Lane passed her oldest mate Roxanne picking up the dive bars daily mail and putting out the glass bin full of last night’s punters ambivalent memories, in one movement.

Lane’s pants swished as she shot a glance at her old stomping ground; Luna Park. The Wonder Wheel, juxtaposed against the beachfront. She lifted her chin and soaked the sunrays in with eyes closed, breathing out with satisfaction.

“I am enough”

Lane’s morning mantra slipped off her tongue and into the air moving gently across the waves licking at the shore.

It was a phrase she had practiced saying to herself in front of the mirror a hundred times or more. She’d been practicing this cheesy statement ever since her therapist Jackie had spoken her through “the process of changing thought behaviour”.

She rolled her eyes.

Lane’s sun-kissed and wavy crimson locks radiated under the light of the morning sun, her bare feet smoothed through the sand. She held her phone in one hand checking her emails and appointments, the other ruffled her hair into a storm.

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She took a deep breath in, attempting to calm the chaos running riots through her veins. She had a hectic day awaiting her. A group session to facilitate first thing, with a new Vet joining them today, it was going to be tough enough, let alone the assessment report she had to complete for the Courts by 2pm.

New Veterans were tough work, half the time they only turned up to please the military, and the other half generally didn’t engage and put all walls up before any therapeutic interventions could be instigated.

She grabbed at her duffle bag she had found at a cute little flea market in the Phi Phi Islands a couple months back. She found herself rifling amongst a variation of crap she hadn’t seen since then for her pouch of organic tobacco, hemp paper, and matches. It was a habit she’d tried to break too many times and her last attempt three years ago had worked a treat, only having caught her off guard 4 months ago when… well that didn’t matter right now.

She lit her rolled jig, and headed for the organics store. She always did her grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, but her learnt preparation had recently gone out the window and now she needed to grab a packet of granola bars, coconut bites and fruit before heading to work. If she forgot again today she wasn’t going to see food until 7pm tonight.

“Hiya Suga!!” Enthusiasm hit Lane without warning, and knocked her sideways as Roxanne bounded towards her as she headed from the store. “How are ya sweetness, haven’t seen ya around the Neptune lately, Poker’s just not the same without ya doll, how have ya been travellin?” Roxanne’s passionate husky tone hadn’t changed a wink.

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Lane didn’t have time to explain right now, it was her first day back since her break, Lily her co-facilitator and the placement student had covered the groups and individual sessions between them so Lane could take time and do some travelling. “Oh hi there Roxie, sorry darling, will have to fill you in a little later, I’ll be late for work if you get me started! Catch ya later?”

Her car was around the corner still waiting in her driveway where she’d left it almost two months ago. Thank goodness for her neighbour Max or Mermaid Man as all the locals knew him, he’d kept it going for her while she was away. He was a gem, and with too many tequila’s one night, he’d agreed to keep an eye on everything for her.

She rounded the corner, grabbed for her keys and jumped into her 1967 Chevy Stingray, starting it up first pop.

Salt-N-Pepa blasted through her rustly radio speakers, Lane struggled to get to the volume button and turn it down without having a mild panic attack. “Fucking hell Max!” She took a deep drag of fresh air and exhaled, letting out a deep, uncalculated sigh.

“I am enough”

She was not ready for this.

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Just as she was about to turn the keys and head back inside to the comfort of her bed, her phoned started, it was Lily.

Shit, she better get going if she was going to make it to Brooklyn to start her shift early enough at the hospital to set up the equipment for group. That new Vet was going to hate Art Therapy, she could feel it.

“Don’t forget, the new manager is against barefoot sandals Lanie, at least grab some jandals for those tootsies of yours! See you soon moonchild: D xx      Lil.”

“Shit”

The barefoot sandals were going to have to do, at least she’d made an effort this morning, even managed to pull her long, unkempt looking hair into a messy and overflowing bun with strands of hair springing out. Like at least she washed it this morning. Curls bounced against the cool breeze forcing its way through her open windows.

It was nice being back in her trusty car, the Stingray was well built and versatile with just a hint of rebellion built into it. She flicked through radio stations until she found T-Rex, a good jam was an understatement. Lane fucking loved this song.

The ride over went fast, with Lane mulling over in her head how she was going to set up the art room for her first group session back and which therapy music might be the appropriate choice. She was careful in her deliberations, making an extra effort to consider how to best make sure the new client was going to feel at least not insulted that he was in hippie dreamland. Lane settled on some gentle background white noise.

As she made her way through to the first floor staff room to key in, she heard Lilies anklet tinkling as she headed down the corridor.

“There’s my gorgeous, well-travelled gypsy! How are ya sweetheart?” Her arms flew up in the air, and pulled Lane into a tight squeeze, Lane half-heartedly returning the hug. Lily let go, and saw Lane eyeing her anklet “Hey, deep down we were both Baby Boomers from suburbia. Ankle bells are in!!” She retorted

“Sorry sweetness, no judgement from me, just feeling a little strange being back, that’s all”. She threw a smile at Lily, hoping that’d fix everything, and reached into her duffle bag. “Here ya go darling, a little pressie from Mongolia. Thought of ya as soon as I saw it, now let’s get cracking, we’ll be late if we don’t get a start on the set up!”

There was no point in checking whether Lily liked her gift as Lane was determined to get out of there and was around the corner and gone before Lily could even look up.

“I am enough”

Lane popped her head in a doorway, “Morning!” Jackie jumped, lifted her head from a screen full of appointment schedules and got to her feet, face red and embarrassed by her startled response. “Hi Lane, I was just about to give you a call to see if you were still going to make it in for your session today!”

Jackie was a little older than Lane, and very well put together, often leaving Lane feeling slightly inadequate and tacky, although Lane knew it was all in her head. “What do you think Lane?” Jackie’s blonde crop swished as her head tilted to the side, but moving ever so rigidly.

Again. She was very well put together.

“Sure, why not, as long as you have enough time, I can see your schedule is about as full as mine today, let’s see who makes it out the door first tonight!” Jackie laughed as Lane headed off and down the corridor to the right.

Pushing her way through two large doors to the studio where group meets once a week, she set out to gather the items for today’s session, taking extra care to slow down as she worked.

“I am enough”

She whispered to herself one last time before either of the other two bounded through the door and heard her. How embarrassing would that be?

She turned toward the radio, finding herself flicking through the selection of music and pressing play on the “Soul Café” playlist. She rolled her eyes again.

Maybe she wasn’t ready to come back yet.

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