I glance hesitantly at the small slip of paper on which Dr. Carasco has written the name of this child psychiatrist. Kate Capella the note informs me in barely legible writing. Supposedly I am meant to yet again hand over my daughter to strangers. I have to admit that I feel better that this subsequent so-called specialist is a woman. I’d hazard a guess on her being much younger than Dr. Carasco as well, which can only be an improvement. Hopefully she’s of better use. Sighing, I reach for the phone with one hand and pick up a paperclip with the other.
“Daniel?” I say tentatively.
“Yes, who’s speaking please?” he says with that authoritative tone of voice I used to find so attractive.
“Oh for God’s sake, can’t you recognise the voice of the woman you were married to for fourteen years??”
“…Jennifer. How are you?”
“Oh fine Daniel, I’m just fantastic. Did you happen to remember that you actually have a daughter? Because if you did, or happened to ring her at some stage, you may have noticed that she’s not doing so well.”
“What? What do you mean? What have you done to her?”
I grit my teeth and bend the paperclip, concentrating on the feel of the bend and not letting the words slip out instead.
“Absolutely nothing Daniel.” I say guardedly.
“Then… what is it? What’s wrong with her?” he asks nervously.
“I…don’t know. Neither does the psychologist she was seeing.”
“He felt that he could no longer meet Sasha’s needs.”
“So, what happens now?”
“Sasha’s been referred to a child psychiatrist who specializes in working with teenagers. I’m going to take her and hope for the best. I just thought you would like to know.”
Okay? In disbelief, I stare at the earpiece of the phone which no longer has a voice attached to the other end. The paperclip breaks in two.
I’ve had a smile plastered on my face all day. I feel like a sixty watt light globe. An idiotic-looking one at that. Surely if this was effective advice it would be working by now. Stupid Wiki-how. I don’t even know why I bothered; surely my powers should be enough? Although, I wonder. What would happen if I combined the two? I conjure up a perfect Spring day, the sort that makes couples act in nauseating ways and single people hang their head miserably at their aloneness. At the same time, I focus on altering Tyler’s feelings. Finally, something works. He turns to me smiling and starts walking towards me. A shiver runs along my arms at the extent of my power. He steps out from the huddle of guys, who tease and push against his shoulder so that he stumbles slightly. He brushes them aside, crumbs flicked from the table. Then, before I know it, we’re sitting beneath a ghost gum, talking and laughing as if we’ve known each other forever. Which I guess in a way we have. He is, after all, exactly what I wanted.
In the late afternoon, I pull up to the front of the high school. While I wait, I take a few minutes to admire the grounds. Simple brickwork forms seating areas for the teenagers to sprawl on, grassy grounds and a range of different species of gumtrees. I roll down the window and breathe in deeply the heavy scent of eucalyptus. For just a moment, it calms me. But there is an underlying tang as well-what is that? It can’t be weed? Suddenly I’m fifteen again, hiding behind a friend’s shed at a party, alternating between coughing and giggling. Panicking, I search the slump of teenagers for her. Past the couple making out, past the group of guys kicking a footy, past the girl leafing through a textbook; my gaze swiftly travels. I finally settle on a form that I think is her, but I can’t be sure. Using my hand as a shield against the brilliant sun, I squint into the distance.
It is her. Irritated, I glance at my watch. I told her I would pick her up twenty minutes ago. I am about to step out of the car, slam the door and begin my warpath, but something makes me pause. Sasha seems to be in deep conversation. Her eyes are bright and she’s laughing. I haven’t seen her laugh like that…well, since Daniel left. For a moment I feel relieved. Look at my beautiful daughter, laughing and engaged like that. Of course there can’t be anything wrong with her. The only thing is, when I look closer, there’s no-one there with her. 21 months ago