Saturday, April 19, 2008

How Are You Going to Fix It?

After finishing her coffee and giving herself plenty of time to calm down, Sami gets up from the kitchen table and slowly makes her way to the sitting room, fully expecting her husband to be engaged in one of his favorite activities. She is not disappointed as EJ is sitting on the couch, pouring over both the Salem Spectator and The Wall Street Journal. He puts down the section he’s been reading as Sami enters the room.

EJ (frustrated as he sees the look on her face): “You didn’t come to apologize, did you, darling?”

Sami (honestly as she stands in the doorway): “I don’t think I should be the one saying I’m sorry.”

Sami (relinquishing): “If you don’t want to talk to me, EJ, you don’t have to. I mean, it’s not like I’m trained to handle this sort of thing anyway. You can see a specialist.”

EJ (rolling his eyes): “I am not talking about my childhood to your mother.”

Sami (walking over to him): “I didn’t mean my mother, and you know that.”

EJ (harshly as he gestures): “Indeed. Well, the world of professional help is vast, sweetheart, so which school of thought should we go with, eh? Freud? Jung? How about the pop psychology route that’s so popular? ‘I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay?’ Or ‘I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me?’ Better yet, we could save ourselves both some time and just watch ‘Good Will Hunting.’”

Sami (shaking her head at him): “Be serious, EJ.”

EJ (folding his arms across his chest): “Fine. If I contented to this, you’d speak to your mother. She would refer me to a specialist who, after evaluating me and considering the nature of the trauma, could conceivably send me to a child psychologist regardless of my actual age. And after years of sobbing while diagramming with blocks and play acting with puppets what happened to me, I’d finally be deemed recovered after wasting countless hours of my life, not to mention thousands upon thousands of dollars.”

Outmatched by his bluntness, Sami stares EJ in disgust.

Sami (annoyed): “Why do you have to be so intelligent?”

EJ (smirking): “To better combat you, my dear.”

Before she can come back with a retort, EJ abruptly takes Sami’s left arm and gently pulls her down to sit beside him.

EJ (quietly as he changes his tone): “Look, Samantha, I know what you’re trying to do here, but it’s not that simple.”

Sami (imploring): “No, you don’t. I’m trying to help you.”

EJ (furrowing his brow): “I know that.”

Sami (pressing): “No, you don’t. You don’t want to talk about how Stefano raised you because you don’t want to think about it.”

EJ (completely disagreeing): “No, because it’s irrelevant.”

EJ (staring down at the floor): “I know what my father did to me, Samantha. I spent most of my life trying to be the son he wanted, trying to make him happy. But that’s all in the past. It’s all over.”

EJ (moving his head back to look at her again): “And now I have you and our children. I can make them happy. I can make you happy.”

Sami (asking the obvious): “And what about you?”

EJ (confused): “Making you happy makes me happy.”

Sami (exasperated): “That can’t be it, EJ.”

EJ (annoyed): “Why would it be anything else?”

Sami (insistent): “You have to want more than that. More for yourself.”

EJ (waving his hand): “And that would be what, exactly? You are what I want. This is what I want. This is all I’ve ever wanted.”

Sami waits for her husband to see the fallacy in his declaration. When he merely watches her instead, she shakes her head again at EJ.

Sami (purposefully): “Just because you’re not cooperating doesn’t mean I’m giving up.”

EJ (just as firmly): “There is no way I am seeing a specialist or psychiatrist or a psychologist or any other kind of therapist.”

Sami (accepting): “Fine. But you need to talk about it, EJ. About everything.”

With the imperative given, Sami surprises herself with her resolve. Could he handle it if she forced him to further delve into what he should have never had to endure? Could she?

EJ (simply): “I don’t need to do anything. I’m fine.”

Sami (uncomfortably): “No, you aren’t.”

EJ (surprising her): “Okay, I’m not.”

EJ (tilting his head): “Because I am my father’s son…whether I want to be or not.”

Sami (puzzled): “But you aren’t. You’re nothing like him.”

EJ (smiling halfheartedly): “That’s a nice story. Sometimes I like to believe it myself. But I am. And I’m not. Both at the same time…which is understandable because this is not normal in any sense.”

EJ swallows hard and looks at Sami apologetically.

EJ (cautiously): “In…asking me to tell you about my past, there’s something you’ve overlooked.”

Sami (wondering): “Which is?”

EJ (sadly): “Samantha…you presume I want to be fixed.”

Sami’s eyes widen as complete and utter surprise ripples across her face.

EJ (continuing): “Remember not so long ago when you called me strange? I told you then that I preferred unique. I know I’m not normal, sweetheart.”

Sami (not liking where this is going): “What do you mean you’re not normal? Of course you are.”

EJ (dryly as he shakes his head): “I hate to break it you, darling, but being raised as a weapon in order to carry out a decades old vendetta against an opposing lineage is not exactly a typical background.”

Sami (defending him): “So? It’s not that weird compared to everything else in this town. Everyone has problems.”

EJ (agreeing): “Exactly. Everyone has issues. Mine are different than most. And they define me. If I hadn’t been raised by my father, I wouldn’t be who I am. I’ve made more than my share of mistakes, which you know better than anyone, but I am that man. And I like who I am.”

Sami (trying to understand his position): “You’re afraid? Of remembering your past?”

EJ (narrowing his eyes at her): “Hardly.”

Sami (challenging): “I know your nightmares scare you, EJ.”

EJ (pointing dismissively): “Bad dreams are exactly that, bad dreams. Don’t tell me you’ve never been terrified by anything you’ve dreamt.’

Sami (raising an eyebrow): “That’s not a good comparison.”

EJ (not accepting): “No, it is. So as for my actual memories, and not the utter nonsense my unconscious mind comes up with, I think about them the same way I think about the capital of Spain and the square root of two. I know what they are, but I don’t dwell on them. Remembering living under my father doesn’t hurt me. What…frightens me is trying to make any more sense out of those memories than I already have. To find some sort of meaning beyond…to come that epiphany you want me to have. Because if I do, I’ll cease to be who I am.”

EJ takes Sami’s right hand in his and leans forward.

EJ (softly): “I don’t want to be anyone else, sweetheart. I know you want me to find some sort of internal healing through all of this, and that’s fine for regular people, but I…I cannot be them. I don’t want to be.”

Sami (taken aback by his reasoning): “What do you mean by regular people? What does that have to do with anything?”

EJ (worried): “It has everything to do with it. That’s why you asked me to talk about what it meant to be raised as a DiMera in the first place. You want to rearrange the puzzle pieces of my psyche into something else, something social norms consider healthier, whatever that supposedly is. You want me to fit your definition of better, and then I’ll be changed.”

Sami (encouraging): “You’ll still be you, EJ. You just won’t have to carry all that pain around inside you anymore. How can you being happy possibly be a bad thing?”

EJ (anxious): “I’m already blissfully happy with you, Samantha. But clearly you’re not if you need me to change.”

Sami (reassuring): “I chose you, EJ. I don’t want to be with anyone else.”

EJ (pleading): “But that’s what you’re asking of me.”

EJ (openly): “I’ll do anything for you, Samantha. I’ll even do this if I have to…but I don’t want to. Please don’t make me.”

As EJ tightens his grip on her hand, Sami wavers at the dread in his eyes.

Sami (instantly): “Okay.”

EJ (endlessly grateful): “Thank you.”

The matter resolved, EJ leans backward and visibly relaxes. Sami waits until he is comfortable before speaking again.

Sami (deciding): “I’ll wait until you want to.”

EJ (surprised and irritated): “I’m never going to want to.”

Sami (smiling): “I don’t think so.”

EJ (chuckling in spite of himself): “I know so.”

Sami (slyly): “Well, I guess we’ll just have to see who’s right then.”

EJ (amused): “Yes, shall we?”

Sami (equally amused): “Let’s.”

As they sit side by side, EJ and Sami regard each other and wonder which one of them will break first.

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