I found this in my dark, deep files and decided to finally post it.
Kenna nods, reading the guy's contact number. "He's really good. Mary recommended him."
"Mary and Francis see a marriage councillor?" Bash asks dubiously, retrieving the leaflet for himself to read.
Kenna scoffs lightly, shaking her head as she continues to eat her dinner. "No," she says, pausing to take a bite, chew and swallow. "She uses him for her anxiety attacks but he specialises in children's therapy and marriage woes too."
"Dr Stephane Narcisse," Bash tries it out. "He sounds like an evil villain from a movie, Kenna."
She laughs a little, tutting and taking the leaflet from his hand. "It wouldn't hurt to see him. We've not been doing so well..."
"Bash, if our niece can see that something is wrong with us, then there is something wrong."
"Anne is five-"
"Anne is just as observant as her parents who are also just as curious about our cracking marriage," Kenna struggles to get out, tears stinging her eyes. "It wasn't me who even suggested the therapy, Mary... Well, she gently put it to my attention."
Bash sighs heavily, leaning back in his seat. "Kenna, we don't need therapy."
"Said everyone who needed therapy," Kenna says. "You went to therapy!"
"Yeah, because my mother had mental health issues and tried to strangle me and my father thought it would help," Bash replies, covering his face. "Having therapy for childhood trauma is different from marriage woes. There's nothing wrong with-"
"We haven't had sex in eight months."
Bash's eyes widen as he almost chokes on air. They're both blunt, stubborn, sarcastic and he almost forgets just how alike he and his wife are. They are brutally honest, having requested that they should see each other's heart when they said their vows on their wedding day four years ago.
How everything has turned upside down.
"I've been busy," he mutters.
"You rejected me for sex, Bash. Even when you weren't busy," Kenna informs him. "Do I not do it for you anymore? Have I lost the novelty that I had?"
Bash doesn't meet her eyes. "It's not you-"
"It must be if you are always quick to say that you're tired or not right then or whatever excuse you have," Kenna cuts him off. "I might as well be invisible!"
She dares not bring up the idea of an affair. She trusts Bash wholeheartedly, he's not the type to go around messing with other women when he has one at home that he's bound for life with. She's considered it, shamefully, and sought guidance from a priest at the Church they try to frequent and he suggested that talking to Bash would help. Oh, and a little prayer doesn't hurt either.
She tried but he doesn't like talking. And praying seems to go unanswered. So then Mary's therapy suggestion is the next best thing.
His phone beeps with a text and he takes it from the table, scans whatever it says and turns his phone face down.
That, Kenna thinks. That's the sort of thing which makes me suspect you. He's never been secretive when it comes to her. They are the most open couple in the world in terms of telling each other things, well, when he's willing to.
But if his phone is upside down and not upright as it's normally, then the level of trust she has for her husband is starting to decrease and she can't have that. She can't lose her husband because she loves him.
Tentatively, Kenna places a hand on his tense hand and he relaxes at her touch, meeting her eyes.
"I love you," she tells him. "And I want this marriage to last or else..." What are we doing here?
"Book the appointment."
The man is dressed sharply, eyes behind black-rimmed glasses and his fingers play with his pen and notepad as Bash looks around the room, trying to spot the differences this guy has from the other therapist he hasn't seen in a decade.
Kenna runs her thumb across her nails on her left hand and she blinks in surprise when Dr Narcisse writes something down. "Wh-What are you writing?"
"Don't worry about that. It's to... help me," he says, giving them a comforting smile. "What seems to be the issue? I have an outline from when we spoke on the phone but it seems to stem into a tree of some sort. Branches building a tree of issues."
Kenna turns to Bash. Shall I tell him or will you? They had discovered their little trick to read each other's minds after their first year of dating. Lately, it's been underused or misunderstood.
Bash speaks much to her surprise. "We're missing something. In our marriage, I mean."
Kenna looks down at her hands. "We've not been able to spend time with each other... Or have sex in eight months."
Narcisse nods at them, his pen lid to the corner of lips. "I see. And what do you both do? If you don't mind me asking."
"I'm an event planner," Kenna states, turning to Bash.
"I work with my father. Business. A lot of travel, that sort of thing," Bash replies, frowning under Narcisse's raised eyebrow. He feels Kenna's hand on his knee and she just knows he feels attacked.
Narcisse clicks his tongue. "And you are away from home a lot?"
"Okay," Narcisse replies, writing some more. "How long have you been together? Tell me your story, how you met."
Kenna smiles a little, rubbing circles on Bash's knee cap. "We met as kids when I was five and he was eight. Our fathers are close friends with my best friend's late father. Every year, us girls would be sent to stay with Bash and his family for the summer holidays. Fast forward thirteen years, we decide to go to France for university and Bash and his brother helped us move into our apartment and the next thing I know, we're on double dates to humour my best friend and his brother who are together and we start dating eventually ourselves."
Bash smiles, meeting her eyes. "It was originally to make our parents happy. They said something about us being a good match so we just went for it and ended up falling in love. We dated for the three years she was at university before I proposed and we got married a couple of months after. We had our fourth wedding anniversary last month." And barely celebrated it as I was away and she was dealing with a difficult client.
"Seven years," Narcisse mutters. "And when did you start seeing the cracks?"
"T-Two years ago," Bash admits.
Kenna's brows raise. So he does realise, she thinks with a sigh. "Yeah, two years ago."
"Was there anything that happened two years ago?" Narcisse asks.
Bash nods. "I got promoted at work. Kenna's business expanded so we were pulled around the world multiple times, days or months on end. At first, we'd make an effort but lately..."
"We don't," Kenna mumbles. "I rarely take on clients because I suffered a miscarriage eight months ago, leaving my staff to run things in my semi-absence so I guess the distance between us has hit me more than I expected it to."
"So, it doesn't seem like communication is the issue. Just distance," Narcisse says as if it should be a relief.
And it is because Kenna genuinely thinks there is more to it. "There must be more to it, though. Right?"
"I don't know, you tell me," Narcisse replies. "I only know what you let me in on."
Then Bash pipes up with, "Do you do solo appointments?"
"If you want," Narcisse says. "It would be a better way to improve your marriage. Get through personal things you believe you can't tell your spouse or if you're not ready to tell them yet so you can then better yourself for your marriage as a whole."
Bash nods slowly. "Okay."
That unnerves Kenna and she plants a tight smile on her face as she asks, "Can children or a lack thereof affect a marriage?"
"Children," Narcisse states. "Well, seems like you're going to need continuous appointments..."