art by Tihomir Tikulin-Tico
by Melanie Rees
Hunched on the waiting-room floor, a gargoyle clasped a chair leg with razor sharp talons. Its ridged spine protruded through its leathery skin.
I glanced at Ms. Shipley at the reception desk.
"That is your ten o'clock appointment." She handed me a manila file. "Case of vertigo," she whispered.
"Excuse me!" blurted a man, sitting cross-legged with his arms folded across his chest. "We've been waiting for ever." At the other end of the bench, a woman in a baroque dress bounced a baby on her lap.
"Come in..." I looked at the patient file. "...Mr. and Mrs. Charming."
Mr. Charming stormed into my office, plonked himself on the couch and tossed down his crown.
"Why don't you take a seat, Mr. Charming?"
"Hurry up, dear." Mr. Charming gazed at his wife, oblivious to my sarcasm.
"Ms. Shipley can take care of the baby, if you like?" I said to Mrs. Charming.
"I'd rather hold her. Although, I'm sure my husband would love it if I left her outside. Maybe left her out in the woods." Mrs. Charming rocked the baby in her arms.
"I am sensing some resentment," I said, picking up my pen and notepad.
"Resentment? Not at all, doctor. I don't resent my arrogant two-faced husband."
Whaaah! The baby erupted into a chorus of screams.
"Hush. Don't cry. There, there, my sweet baby girl," whispered Mrs. Charming.
"Let me hold her." Mr. Charming extended his arms.
"Oh, now you're going to step in for your fatherly duties?" Mrs. Charming glared at him. "How noble of you. How princely."
"Might I interject at this point? Let's take a deep breath." I massaged my temples. "Mrs. Charming, how about you begin?"
"Thank you, doctor. I just don't feel like I get any respect for what I do around the castle–"
"What! Your servants do all the cooking, shine the silver, polish the mirror–"
"Mr. Charming, you can have your turn in a moment," I said. "Let Mrs. Charming have her say."
"Have her say? Have you seen those ruby red lips? They haven't stopped wagging since the day I kissed them. And I do plenty around the kingdom."
"Oh yes, it is so hard sitting on your white-maned horse, waving to the peasants as you trot down the forest path each day."
"Shall we go down that path for a moment, dear?"
"Don't start that nonsense again," said Mrs. Charming.
"Nonsense! Perhaps we should ask the doctor whether he notices anything peculiar about our baby. Doctor, can you see how small my wife's baby is?"
"Mr. Charming, please calm down. Let's get back to the issue–"
"She's a baby." Mrs. Charming paced the room, bouncing the small bundle in her arms. "Of course she's small."
"Really? When was the last time you went trotting into the woods, dear?"
Mrs. Charming glided towards the couch. "How dare you accuse me of–"
"Don't deny it. That mirror of yours told me everything."