You have always avoided the psychiatristís couch up until now because of the temptation of lying there with your eyes closed was to go to sleep and let the psychiatrist rattle on in his monotonous drone. However, this time with the added pressure of your father onto the situation you lie on the black leather couch with your eyes closed as suggested by the psychiatrist whose name you have already forgotten. You feel the leather beneath your head. Your long hair is a mess, unbrushed that morning because you didnít feel the need to brush. The nursing nuns insisted you bath the night before; they stood over you and Sister Maria scrubbed you hard and insisted you wash between your thighs. You smell flowers and polish. The psychiatrist sits nearby; you can hear his breathing. His words touch your ears, but the meaningís not there. The words take off again like disturbed butterflies. You cross your arms over each other. You saw your mother laid out like that after she died. Coins were on her eyes. Someone had tied her jaw shut with a cloth knotted at the top of her head. Least she wonít shout out with pain anymore you thought at the time. When old Bronton died, they stuffed all her orifices up with cotton wool. You had seen it all after the doctor and his assistant had left. Not like old Bronton at all. Some stranger lying there. The psychiatrist speaks again. Something about Motherís death. Long time sick, you utter. Wasting away. Skin like stretched cloth. Yellowish. You hear him shift in his seat. He wants more. Deeper levels. Effects? How did her dying make you feel? Like the absence of a pain in the arse, you say softly. He sighs. Impatience not a virtue, you think but do not say. Motherís dying was a long time coming, you tell him. The smell of flowers reminds you of death. Did you not love your mother, Elsa? He asks. You take his words one at a time, pick them up, and turn them over in your mind like small fragile toys. Mother was mother. Word association. What word comes to mind with the word mother? Smell of sickly soap. Hairbrush for brushing your hair hard and smacking. He leans close and utters more words. Father is paying him a good fee no doubt. You lick your lips. You wonder what his wife is like this psychiatrist. You didnít studying him particularly well when you entered the room. The clean-shaven cleanness of him struck you first. No face hairs, no moustaches, no beard. You smile. You canít help it. The thought of him shaving his pubic hairs beneath his pants makes you smile. He sighs again. Did you love your mother? He asks once more. You could have quite easily held her down under the water in the bath those last weeks. But you didnít. Mother favoured your sister Clare more than you. Clare was seldom smacked. Clare had the best of clothes and you were left with the cast-offs. The psychiatrist changes the subject and asks about your father. Father stiff and solid as a wall. You think that but do not say it. Father never smacked, shouted, or screamed. Did you love your father, the psychiatrist asks. The man is hung up with love. His every other word has love in it. Maybe his wife doesnít satisfy. Maybe she leaves him short. You wonder if he would want you if you suggested it. You open your eyes and stare at him. He is looking out of the window. His profile is pale and thin. You cannot imagine him wanting anything to do with you unless he was paid. The psychiatrist turns and looks at you. Do you love your sister?† There is that love word again. No, you reply straight away. Why? He asks. She smells of success and self-esteem, you reply coldly. Arenít we all seeking success and good self-esteem? He asks. Have you children? You ask. He frowns. No, he replies. I had a daughter, you say. He sits up interested. Where is she now? He asks looking through the papers in front of him. There is no mention here of a child. You look away and close your eyes. Sheís buried. Buried? Thereís no mention here, he says, sitting forward searching the papers. The garden at my fatherís house, you utter. Garden? You think of poor little Nesta. Small, frail. The fairest of hair on her head. The thin limbs. The tiny features. The psychiatrist smells a story and his words rush from his lips like water from a tap. How? Why? When? Where? You smell the flowers again. The scent of polish. The water clear and still. You hold little Nesta beneath the waterís skin. Her tiny mouth opening and closing like a small fish. Bubbles and bubbles. Silence. He tries to grab hold of your words and store them away, but they slip through his fingers like eels. He stares at you open mouthed, his eyes searching you, his hands scribbling down the words before they are gone from his memory or leave the room. You open your eyes again and gaze at him, gaze into his eyes, enter as deep as you can. You can see nothing there except the reflection of two small pictures of you staring back with the coldness of ice, with the silence that follows from a long discourse. The psychiatrist looks down at his papers, his hand moving over the page, the pen scribbling words after words like small black frightened birds.