“… a good person. It’s only the habit that makes me bad.”

Frederic shifted on his chair and fought the urge to look at his phone. Instead he composed his features into a semblence of benevolent acceptance. A gentle half-smile curved on his lips like a scimitar. The woman, one of his oldest clients, was Alicia. He hated and despised her.

But she paid $250 an hour and that was worth the sour roiling churn in his belly whenever he saw her.

A pause in the monologue.

He had no idea what she had been saying. Random phrases entered his mind. He selected a safe option.

“It seems you put a lot of yourself into this pattern.”

Alicia looked blank. He could feel his smile slipping, becoming strained.

“One day, I swear to God, I will tear your stupid shiny lips off with a set of pliers.”

The words hung between them like a stream of arterial blood. Frederick was unsure which of the two of them had said them. They stared at each other. He realised he did not even know if they had been spoken.

It was clear that Alicia was in a similair quandary.

Frederick’s smile revived itself.

“Tell me again of that conversation you had with your mother last night,” he said.

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