Fern, a psychiatrist with food and family issues, must evaluate the sanity of her newest patient, Ida Mae, a snarky college professor who has starved herself into cardiac arrest for the sake of artistic empathy. At their sessions, Fern is purely professional, but afterward….
Fern kicks the wastebasket under her desk so hard that the Snickers wrappers inside it jump and flutter. Ida Mae has slithered under her skin. Even now, as Fern puts her hand to her bloating stomach in a gesture of self-loathing, a sneering Ida Mae crawls around inside her.
“That snake. I should never have gone to see her first. I should have made Dr. Glick’s room the last stop on morning rounds so that I could have immediately drowned her with lunch and three cups of coffee. But no, I had to go there first, subject myself to that smug, glib….”
She growls and reaches into her drawer for another candy bar. “I’m pathetic.” She takes a bite of the chocolate. “But I can’t help it. I want her to be sick. I want her to go into the bathroom after every meal and throw up. I want her to wither, her teeth to rot, her veins to collapse, her bones to thin, her hair to fall out, her nails to chip and flake away, so that she’ll beg for my help, be at my mercy, so that she’ll let me into that cast iron skull, so that I can control her.” She takes another bite, unaware of the chocolate smudges forming at the corners of her mouth. “Truly pathetic, Fern. Wishing a patient sick. You’ve never done that before, not even with an anorexic, but damn it all, Ida Mae isn’t like other patients.”
Fern devours the final piece of candy.
“I was wrong about her. She’s no mere bitch. She’s the devil, the devil with frizzy brown hair and a skinny body. And worst of all, she’s the devil with a Ph.D.
(From Shadows and Ghosts © 2011)