"And how can we help you today?"

Dr. Rust’s office was polished, and clean. It shined like a pretty lie. The woman untied a green silk scarf that was knotted under her chin. Waves of chestnut-colored hair fell around her shoulders.

The girl beside her stared at the floor. Daphne had just turned eleven.

“It’s my little girl”, the woman said. “She’s been acting up lately. She’s not eating well. Or sleeping. She’ll go a whole day sometimes, and not say a word. Then it’s like somebody throws a switch, and she’s talking a mile a minute. In a whisper, the woman added, “Sometimes, even talking a blue streak.”

The girl looked at Dr. Rust, and stuck out her tongue. Daphne turned over her chair. She ran in circles around the room, and chanted the word cunt.

The woman dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief. Her deep-necked top was a light peach color, tight as a second skin. She leaned forward, and touched the doctor’s arm.

"I am just at my wit’s end Dr. Rust. My nerves are just…I don’t know what’s wrong with my little girl, so I don’t sleep well either…"

"I would be…ever so grateful", she said, and ran her finger over his hand.

They smiled at one another.

Daphne rolled her eyes.

Dr. Rust opened the door to an examination room and said, “Why don’t we step in here.”

Daphne waited. She made up a song, about things she’d seen killed on the road.

They left the doctor's office. The woman took a small notebook out of her purse, and crossed the name from a list. Then she turned to Daphne, and smacked her across the face.

A welt rose like a pretty lie.

“I’d knock the holy crap out of you”, she said, “if you were really my daughter.”