The aspie stands at the door, ready to go but mournful in the extreme. The clothes are in place (finally), the hair is brushed through, the face as clean as it's going to be without getting the cloth and washing it yourself. And still, there they are, just like they must have been at five years old when they didn't want to go to school.
'I don't want to go to work,' they say, like a sad robot on repeat. The shoulders slump and they wait, dejected, for you to throw them out into the cruel world.
'I know you don't,' is all you can say because, after what seems like hours of negotiation, you have reached the point of your aspie leaving for work and you don't want to jeopardise this success by showing any weakness.
And even so, after all these years of practice, you let slip the worst comment you could.
'It'll be fine once you get there,' you say, in a cheery voice, opening the door.
The aspie turns, aghast, every eye-widening muscle on overdrive, mouth open in complete disbelief. Your heart sinks. While your face registers mild regret at the slip, your inner voice is swearing like a pit clog.
'It will not!' the aspie manages at last, almost spitting in indignation (though not spitting, as that is vile and your aspie hates people who spit. Metaphorically spitting, then).
'I didn't mean it like that,' you sigh, trying really hard not to roll your eyes.
It doesn't matter how you meant it, it's what you actually say that matters. If you wanted to say anything worse, you may as well have said, 'Perhaps giant lizards will run in and eat you today and then you won't have to go to work,' but stating that it won't be so bad once the aspie arrives is tantamount to sending in the lizards yourself.
The aspie knows that it will not be fine when they get there. It will be just as bad as they expected. Even if Bob doesn't chew gum or wipe his hands on his trousers, even if Giselle stays in the bathroom to fix her contact lenses, even if the boss does not insist on making that coughing sound when there is no need to cough and nothing wrong with them - even if these (relatively) small things do not happen, the place will still be standing, the work area will be waiting, the overhead lights will still be lights, the phone will still ring, the work will need to be done, the clock will flaunt itself on the wall, doing nothing, the walls will stand and enclose, the doors only open for other people to leave and all of this will be structured by someone else into a span of hours which do not involve your aspie's inner self in any way. And you say it will be fine?!
You know, as you gently manhandle your aspie out of the door, that work is not dangerous and that aspies should not sit at home all day doing just what they like. There's a whole world out there and it has to be discovered. These small irritations which figure so large in the aspie conversation are nothing really and you know, you really feel you do know, that it will be fine once they get there.
You start the car, knowing the refusal will happen again once it's time to drop them off but understanding that having the aspie in the car means you are almost guaranteed they are on their way to work.
Your aspie knows it too. They sit, head down, hands in their lap so they can see the fingers and watch over them. The world rushes past as you drive and the aspie sees only this small part of it, their space where it is safe, just for a little while, until they need to get out.
Dropping them at the kerb you leave them with a happy smile, knowing they will be fine. Resigned, they walk the rest of the way to work and let the door fall shut behind them.