Unwanted Advice

“Taking Risks”

by Kristina England

 

Oat had a dry personality. His wife attributed it to his name.

 

“What was your mother thinking?”

 

Oat shrugged, which was often his response to most questions.

 

His wife used to love his laid back attitude. Now she just called him “aloof” and “disenchanted.”

 

He rubbed his chin and put down his fork.

 

Leslie stopped mid-chew.

 

“What?”

 

“Well, did you ever think I’m not that bland?”

 

“Honey, a snail is more riveting to watch.”

 

Oat frowned. His forehead creased in thought.

 

He wore this expression to bed. He wore it when he showered the next morning. He wore it while he brushed his teeth, drove to work, drank coffee, sold insurance, ate lunch, sold more insurance. He wore it when he drove home. And he wore it again over dinner.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“What’s wrong? I’m duller than drying paint and you want to know what’s wrong?”

 

Leslie stared at him.

 

Oat got up and paced the dining room. He stopped.

 

“I need to see someone.”

 

“Like a therapist?”

 

“Yeah, unless you had something better in mind.”

 

***

 

Oat fidgeted with his button-up shirt. He had expected a couch, not a chair.

 

But that was three sessions ago and here he was sitting up and waiting.

 

“Oat, what did I tell you about therapy?”

 

Oat looked up at Stanley.

 

“That it helps to talk,” he replied.

 

Stanley stared at him. Oat glanced up, scanning the room for a clock. Clocks had hands. The hands moved. It was time in motion. Without the clock, he was motionless.

 

“Oat, what are you hoping to get out of these sessions?”

 

“A fix.”

 

Stanley nodded. “Because you’re boring.”

 

“Because my wife thinks I’m boring.”

 

“Right…”

 

Stanley bent down and shuffled through a briefcase. He pulled out a piece of paper.

 

“Your homework.”

 

***

 

Oat stood in the supermarket. He stared at a package of crab. He loved crab cakes but didn’t know the first thing about making them.

 

He started to walk away, then remembered his homework.

 

He went on his phone and searched for crab cake recipes. He walked through the aisles, collecting all the ingredients. Then he walked around picking up other consumable items he had never tried but debated.

 

He walked up to the cash register with a full carriage.

 

“I’m going to make meal upon meal this weekend.”

 

The cashier looked at him.

 

“I’m going to spice up the kitchen. Then, I’m going to take up running. And maybe skydiving.”

 

The cashier looked nervously towards the manager station.

 

“Sorry. I’m trying to be more exciting. Got to work on exciting versus creepy. Go ahead and ring me up.”

 

Oat walked out of the store, filled his car full of groceries.

 

He decided he would get some wine from the liquor store across the street.

 

He walked up to the curb and went to look both ways.

 

“No, stick to the homework,” he said and walked out into the evening traffic.

 

Unfortunately, he should have looked both ways.

 

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