The Northville Review
an online literary journal
Therapy at Home

David Erlewine

For some reason I’m shocked when my dad shakes me to get up. I blink away the sleepiness. He points to the ground.

After 20 push-ups, my arms start to burn and my chest knots up. If I complain about chest pain, will he wait until I’ve finished to call 911?

He squats down, sticking his face close to mine. His breath smells like coffee creamer. “You had nine stutters at dinner, so you owe me 90.”

I pause at the top, letting the warm pain flow through my body. My head is light. This must be what it feels like on Everest. He says more things. His voice fades in and out. I think up and down, up and down.

The three therapy programs, each a fortune, failed. The last one, in Virginia, had me sounding like a robot until I got home. Since then I’ve been under his wing. He’s had me call hotels to ask for fake people, repeat my own name hundreds of times, tell jokes to neighbors. Soon he may have me holding my breath in the pool, hitting the punching bag until my hands break, jumping off the roof.

When I reach 90, he helps me off the floor, rubs my arms. He stands up, then quickly swoops in for a hug.

I can’t lift my arms, even when I try.

About the author

David Erlewine's stories appear or are forthcoming in Pedestal Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, Pank, Ghoti, Necessary Fiction (So New), and a number of other online and print literary journals. His sad little blog is