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The Counsellor

[The Counsellor, 835 words, Genre: Realistic Fiction]

* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn

As he sat in his office chair, he stroked his moustache. It had been well groomed; he shaved meticulously to produce a clean presence. For now he was working in the school, tomorrow he did not know. Sometimes he questioned his position, thought that it shouldn’t exist. But when the schoolchildren thanked him for his assistance, it would always serve as a reminder that his position was necessary. There was one child who questioned him, who made him question everything. Adam was just another high school student. Another high school student who skipped classes and was already venturing off into the wider world. He despised the school work that the faculty forced upon him and the objected to the student body’s mode of conformism. They had signed him up to the counselling services that were state issue. And now, once a week, for one hour at a time; he sat with the counsellor and they discussed things.

“Adam, your class attendance is making the teachers worry about you,” the counsellor was attempting to explain his position. Attempting to reach this child of sixteen years old.

“The teachers worry about me because they’re paid to worry about me. And for that matter so are you.” The counsellor could not necessarily state that the boy was correct, he had to keep things professional and despite whatever assistance that telling the truth in a situation like this would help. Such action could potentially result in a lawsuit. Or more likely, the termination of his own position as a counsellor within the school.

“Tell me,” Adam asked, “why did you get into work like this?”

“Because I wanted to help people. People such as yourself.”

“So you’re just a great guy, some upstanding guy who helps people?”

The counsellor shifted in his seat, there was some apprehension in answering this question. He had his problems just like the next person. He always attempted to do what he thought was right and although he had made some mistakes along the way, he always viewed his actions in a positive light. “I try to be Adam, I try to be. But this isn’t about me. This is about you and your serial offences of truancy.”

“Look, it’s true, I’m naïve about the world. I know that much. That’s the one thing that I do know. I know that I know nothing.”

“Was it Plato or Aristotle who stated that wise men say such things?” The counsellor asked.

“I don’t know. Sounds like altruism to me. Doesn’t matter who says such things as long as they represent some form of essential truth.”

“And that’s the problem right there Adam. If you went to class, you would know such things. Education is how people get ahead. Education is where we can distinguish ourselves in our achievements.” Adam remained silent at that comment and the silence remained until the counsellor spoke again. “I’m attempting to help you out and provide you counsel so you can make the right decisions in life.”

Adam sat there in his seat as if he were contemplating something. The question that plagued the young youth’s mind was unspoken. He did not voice it out aloud. But eventually he gave in with a statement of submission. “Okay, I trust you. You seem like a nice guy.”

And like that it was almost magical. Adam started attending classes and his brief spell of truancy had ceased. He became a model student and applied himself well in his course of studies. The counsellor distinguished himself well with the student body and went on to higher courses of study.

Ten years later the counsellor was walking through the city. He had an appointment with a dentist that he had to attend. The city was full of vagrants, people and lost souls begging on the side of the street. Attempting to make their way in the world that was full of selfish souls. For the most part, the counsellor ignored their desperate pleas. But he paused for a moment when he recognized someone. It was Adam. Adam who had done what he was told, Adam who had gone through the academic system and was now being spat out the other side.

The counsellor as he walked by said a little prayer to himself. Hoping that Adam would not recognize him. But it was too late. Adam had recognized him and now he was coming up to him, the counsellor. “Hey, I know you. I know you. You’re a nice guy, can you help me?”

“Only if you pay me,” the counsellor stated.

The statement took Adam, who had become a vagrant, off guard and allowed the counsellor to walk away hassle free. ‘In the end,’ the counsellor thought, ‘the boy would have been better off following his own intuition rather than becoming a dependent on the ideas of others. But it’s a dog eat dog world and if I had told him that at the time, I would have been out of the job.’

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