The Trouble with Charles

The Trouble With Charles …

The trouble with Charles

Charles was eleven when his mother decided he should be in therapy. She wasn’t sure exactly what type of therapy Charles needed, but she asked some friends at her church what they recommended and was given the phone number for Dianna Evans, a licensed therapist. Dianna was well-liked by members of the West Virginia First Baptist Church for being a good church member, a half-decent listener, and for bringing her homemade spinach quiches to events. She was not known for being clever. Indeed, some of the church members secretly questioned the validity of her licensure, but if they were overly concerned, they didn’t show it. Dianna Evans was West Virginia First Baptist Church’s therapist.

At Charles’ first appointment, Dianna offered him a cup of mint tea and a seat in a large chair across from her. And that day, for reasons not understood at the time, Charles felt compelled to let his guard down. He told her everything. The floodgates of his life opened; their waters absolving him in his first confessional.

When he had finished, the shared space between them was saturated with weighty words. Charles did not hear her gentle responses. His senses were overwhelmed with his emptiness; his ears popped and rang with his soul’s decompression.

“I think maybe your mother and father should hear this. I’ll schedule a family session for your next appointment.”

He thought to himself – that sounds like a horrible idea, but you’re the specialist.

But he was right. It was a horrible idea.

One week later, he found himself back in Dianna’s office, but this time there were four chairs- two additional for his mother and father.

His father looked disengaged, as he always did, and said very little. The battle royale took place almost exclusively between Dianna and his mother.

“Oh you can’t be serious?!” his mother screeched, “I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and his salvation is the only thing I need for my mental health!” Her face contorted in disturbed angles that Charles recognized as her burning rage. He knew that face all too well and it struck a terrible fear in his abdomen.

“Ma’am, it’s my professional opinion that you should be seeking medication-assisted therapy for yourself. What Charles has told me… I believe it warrants getting you a diagnosis. I’m not qualified to do that, I can only do talk therapy…Mrs. Sanders, NO! Put that down!”

Charles stared in horror as his mother swiftly and violently grabbed the chair she had been sitting on, raised it above her head, and slammed it into the ground. The plastic snapped loudly, and two newly birthed halves bounced off in different directions.

In that moment, Charles knew that he would never see Dianna again, and although their relationship had spanned only a couple of hours, he felt an unbearable sense of loneliness as the realization set in.

On the car ride home, Charles closed his eyes and rested his head on the window while his mother continued her tirade.

“Oh! That woman was a fraud! What a phony! Charles honey, we’ll find someone who can help. Someone who knows how to fix what’s wrong with a boy like you!”


© 2022 Elizabeth Mathews

‘The Trouble With Charles’ was written by Elizabeth Mathews,  one of our newest members. Watch for more posts from her. You can find her author page here on The Creative Exiles.


Elizabeth Mathews
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Elizabeth Mathews

I work in AI development, ecological restoration, and map making (GIS). I love to write poetry and short stories, and make art through collage and AI generation.

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