“If Edward had been called down, Dilly was very late. She waited outside for a moment, very close to the front door, perhaps only an inch from it. She could feel her breath against the wood. The smell from her mouth was like pickle. She could see cracks in the red paint. Inside one was the tiniest insect – its legs poking out, awkwardly. She put her hand on the knob. She took it off again. Sometimes doors could seem impossible. Impossible to open. Impossible to walk through. She felt as if she was the door, as if her own body was shut. Her hair was wet and stupid. Her coat was dripping. Lordy! Have you been for a dip at the river club, Dilly? She could hear cars on the street, the squealing brakes of a bicycle as it slowed at the bottom of the hill.
Recently, Mummy had arranged a session with Merrick, the psychoanalyst who lived at number 52, to talk about things like this, and give Dilly “a bit of a boost”. You can tell me anything you like, Merrick had said. Anything about anything. It had seemed almost like a riddle, the way he’d said that. Should we start with why you came back from London? Merrick had been wearing terrible socks with orange diamonds on the ankles, perhaps in an ironic way. It was strange seeing him away from Mummy’s parties, where he was usually dancing, or flirting with Cleo. His practice was in the basement of his own house, and Dilly could see the shoes and legs of people walking past on the street above. She even saw the red-tipped, winking underparts of a dog. The furniture wasn’t leather; it was suede, mustard color. There was a painting on the wall that was abstract but looked like a woman with a whirlpool in her stomach. Was it supposed to look that way, Dilly had wondered, or did it look like different things to different people? Was it, in fact, a kind of test?
Dilly had prepared things to say to Merrick, all very carefully thought through, but she hadn’t said much in the end. After my bag was stolen, I didn’t feel very safe in London. The truth was, no single cataclysmic incident had occurred. It was more a series of daily stumbles, problems she couldn’t solve alone. The forgetting of meals, not forgetting exactly but being defeated by so many options, and rent payments, not making the milk convert to perfect, solid foam in the cafe where she worked. Merrick had looked rather skeptical and bored for most of the hour, then, towards the end, disappointed. He’d finished the session with a little talk about boundaries and identity within a family, he’d used a fishing-net metaphor, and Dilly had felt uncomfortable and was glad when it was over. Mummy hadn’t asked her about the session.”
(Verhalen. Stuk uit “The Grotesques”)