‘Can you recommend anything?’ she says.
The doctor stares at her palms, at the intricate design of tendrils, petals and leaves that curl over her skin.
‘And you say this happened as you slept?’
Scepticism in the doctor’s voice. She attaches no blame for that. Seven doctors, three specialists, a holistic healer – all have seen the scars, all shook their heads, doubtful, doubting her honesty, her mental health. She knows some have suspected her of making the marks herself, of scouring the patterns with a razor, a pin, a knife, waiting for the wounds to heal to delicate threads and whorls.
‘It happens every night as I sleep.’
Every morning the same, the pain somewhere new – the base of her neck, behind her knee, the sole of her foot – and when she looks there it is, another flower, another leaf, a serpent, the scaly dragon’s head, wings outstretched, ready to fly from her back.
Suddenly she doesn’t know why she’s here, why she’s put herself through the scrutiny, the prodding, the intrusive examinations, only for the same bafflement to follow her from the consulting room.
She grabs her coat, mumbles an apology, makes to leave.
He grabs her hand, his cuff rising on his outstretched wrist. It’s then she sees it.
The same brown scars, the same curls – the same dragon’s head, beady eye winking.
‘We need to talk,’ he says as tears soak her face.