‘I’m not sure how it all began,’ said Carrie. She bit her bottom lip, a gesture she made subconsciously when anxious.
‘Take your time,’ said Betty.
Carrie stared at a fleck in the carpet. It was the shape of a hyena. No. Not a hyena; a horse. And now a camel. Weird. The longer she stared at it, the more it changed. She wondered if anyone else who’d sat in this chair noticed it.
‘That spot,’ she murmured.
‘Hmm?’ Betty asked. ‘Go on.’
‘On the carpet. There,’ she pointed. It was no use; Betty wasn’t paying attention. Fine counsellor she turned out to be.
‘OK, Carrie. Let’s focus on you, not the carpet. I can glean from your evasiveness that you’re not ready to talk much. Shall we schedule another appointment and I can give you work to do at home?’
‘Sure,’ said Carrie, as she shrugged her shoulders. She doubted they could solve this problem of hers, no matter how much time they dedicated to it. ‘I’m not going to do it though.’
‘The homework. I’m not going to do it.’
‘Oh, why not?’
‘Because I pay you to help me. Here, now. Not for you to fob me off twenty minutes early and get me to do all the hard work at home.’
‘I see,’ whispered Betty. ‘Is that what you think is happening?’
‘Well, yes. By my reckoning, there’s still twenty minutes left in the appointment. But you’re ushering me out of the door, with paperwork to go through at home. What other conclusion could there be?’
Betty breathed deeply through her nose. She opened her mouth to speak, then clamped it shut again.
‘I think maybe I’ll refer you to a colleague. I don’t think this is going to work.’
‘Good plan,’ agreed Carrie.