by Amy Barnes
My therapist is a bird woman.
When I arrive, a caged parakeet sits in her office. Carrier pigeons arrive and leave with rolled-up charts.
The walls are covered with large framed bird prints. Rows of bottles filled with beige seeds march on window-sills. The hunched woman who leaves before me clutches a bottle with her name chicken scratched scrawled on it.
I enter the office and lay down. The couch seems comfortable, but is full of birdseed and used newspapers, stuffed into velvet cushions.
The therapist scratches out notes.
Let’s do word associations.
She pokes at me with each word, scratches into my skin and psyche, opens up scabs and old wounds. Before I can answer, she moves to the next therapy.
Let’s role play. You be your anxiety and your anxiety will be you.
How will that work?
The front-desk parakeet knocks at the door with a loud peck peck.
“Your session is over.”
The therapist tells me, her beak-like nose announcing it with a honking alarm, her cackle laughing me out onto the street.
When I leave, pigeons circle on the sidewalk, pecking at the fresh wounds, bringing fresh blood. I brush them away and remember I haven’t scheduled next week’s session. Before I turn around, I look in my purse to find a white feather appointment card and my own bottle of labeled birdseed.
Amy Barnes has words at a variety of sites including: FlashBack Fiction, Popshot Quarterly, Flash Fiction Magazine, X-Ray Lit, Stymie Lit, No Contact Mag, JMMW, The Molotov Cocktail, Lucent Dreaming, Lunate Fiction, Rejection Lit, Perhappened, Cabinet of Heed, Spartan Lit, and others. She is an Associate Editor at Fractured Lit and reads for CRAFT, Taco Bell Quarterly, Retreat West, NFFD, The MacGuffin, and Narratively. Her flash collection, “Mother Figures” is forthcoming in 2021.