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In Session

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“Miss Malter, are you aware of what an exhibitionist is?”

“I’m not an exhibitionist.”
“I didn’t say that you were.”
“You implied it.”
“Did I, Miss Malter? Or are you projecting your own feelings onto me?”
“Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s you. And stop calling me Miss Malter.”
“What would you prefer I call you—Daisy?”
“Well, that is my name.”
“Very well then, Daisy, let’s get back to the matter at hand, shall we? Do you know what an exhibitionist is?”
“Isn’t it, like a flasher or something?”
“Actually,” he says, clearing his throat, “I was thinking in the more general sense, as in someone who likes to draw attention to himself…or herself.”
“Huh. Interesting.”
“Say, by jumping naked into a fountain…”
“All right, first off, I wasn’t naked; I had my underwear and stuff on, and second it was really hot out. And you know, my aunt would have, like killed me if I’d gotten that dress wet so really I was just doing the responsible thing.”
“You thought it was responsible to jump in a public fountain?”
“No, I thought it was responsible to take my clothes off beforehand.”
“And the other times?”
“I only jumped in that fountain once.”
“I mean,” checking his notes, “the numerous suspensions, two arrests, and single suicide attempt.”
“That wasn’t a suicide attempt.”
“What was it then?”
“An accident.”
“You’re sure?”
“It wasn’t about a boy? One named,” he references the notes again, “Jordan?”
“How the—no, it wasn’t about him.”
“But you admit it was about something.”
“What? No! It wasn’t—I didn’t—” She sighs. “Never mind.”
He sees this line of questioning will get him nowhere, “So how do you feel about your aunt?”
“Your aunt. How do you feel about her?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Well, you said she would kill you if you got your dress wet?” He ends every sentence as if it’s a question, even if it technically isn’t.
“We’re not on the best terms.”
“And why is that?”
“Well, for starters, she’s making me talk to you.”
“Nobody is making you talk to me Daisy; you’re doing that on your own accord.”
“Whatever lets you sleep at night, Sigmund.”
“Excuse me?”
“You just called me Sigmund.”
“Yeah, you look like Freud and you’re a shrink, so I figure Sigmund is a good name for you.”
“I look like Freud?”
“Mm-hmm. I think it’s the goatee—the accent helps too though.”
He reaches his hand to his chin and pets his beard like he never realized its existence. “And you really think I look like Freud?”
She flashes a Cheshire Cat grin in response and he realizes he’s been duped. “But that’s really beside the point. Other than her insistence you talk to me, why do you not get along with your aunt?”
“I don’t know. She’s family; we don’t need a reason to not get along.”
“So in your experience, family members generally don’t like each other?”
“You don’t sound very definite about that.”
“No matter what I say you’re just going to twist it around anyway, so I might as well agree.”
“That’s not how this works Daisy.”
“That’s not my problem.”
What an odd case. He doesn’t get interesting ones like this very often; most of his practice consists of slightly hyperactive children in need of Ritalin and the occasional bored housewife.
“So tell me about your mother.”
“What? You’re just going straight from my aunt to my mom?”
“Tell me about your mother.” It is a command, not a question.
“You’re not serious, are you? Tell me about your mother? That’s, like the most obvious shrink trick ever.”
“Are you going to answer it?”
“Do you feel uncomfortable talking about her?”
“Why would I feel uncomfortable talking about my own mother? You’re just trying to trick me into saying something so you can twist it around.”
“Why would I do that Miss Malter?”
“It’s Daisy. And you’re asking me because you like to think you’re so smart with all these diplomas on your wall and that you can just make me believe whatever you want me to.”
“I’m not trying to do that, I just want to know how she died.”
“Why?” She says it like an accusation instead of a question.
“Well, according to your aunt, she died when you were quite young, didn’t she?”
“Yeah, actually, she did. You have any brilliant theories about how that’s messed me up?”
“I never said you were ‘messed up’ Daisy, you did.”
“You’re thinking it.”

“I assure you I’m not.”
“That’s such bulls***. Everyone thinks it. I mean, that’s all they see crazy, obsessive…” She trails off into little sobs.
“Who’s they?”
“Everyone! You and my aunt and everyone!”
“And Jordan?”
In barely more than a whisper, “Him too.”
“Daisy, how did your mother die?”
“I don’t want to talk about her.”
“How did she die?”
“I don’t know… she overdosed.”
“On what?”
“Sleeping pills I think. It was an accident.”
“Your aunt said it wasn’t an accident”
Any gentleness she displayed disappears in an instant. “My aunt doesn’t know anything about it.”
“Your father seems to agree with her.”
“My father is an idiot.”
“And you’re not. You know more than any of them about someone who died when you were five.”
“Daisy, I understand that…abandonment…can be hard to deal with, but I really think you need to let go of this notion your mother accidentally swallowed a bottle of pills. Now, your aunt thinks, and I agree, that maybe some time away…you know there are some very nice facilities—Daisy? Daisy! Where are you going? Miss Malter!”
Before he can finish his spiel, she slides off the couch and grabs her bag, heading for the door.
“Screw you, Sigmund.” With that she opens the door, walks out, and slams it behind her.
He follows her down the hallway. “Miss Malter, I really think this is a mistake. Now, I understand that you’re upset, this can be a very emotional process, but—”
“Stop it, all right. Just stop!” They are now in the waiting room; his other patients glance at her furtively over the tops of their magazines. This isn’t nearly as common as you’d think. “I don’t need you. I don’t need your weird goatee or your fake accent and I definitely don’t need you talking about my mother because you know nothing about her, and you definitely don’t know anything about me.”
“Daisy, I’m very sorry. Really, I’m sure we can work something—”
“No. No, we can’t. Nobody can.” She leaves for good, slamming yet another door behind her.

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