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Andrea

The tenpenny presses against her lips, not hard, just enough to keep it in place. Andrea smells the fresh tang of metal. She wants so badly to take a taste.

“Good, Andrea,” says Dr. Baum. “Thirty more seconds and you’ll get a treat!” Her hand is on the spray bottle, humiliating, a punishment for cats.

“Pica” derives from the Latin for “magpie.” Birds, cats, hunting. If they did this to a starving man it’d be torture, or at the least interrogation, but Andrea has no answers to give. She’s just hungry. Ten seconds. Without iron inside her, she knows she’ll break.

Cathy

Cathy remembers being able to assign emotions to the changes she sees in eyebrows, mouths and nostrils–she just can’t remember the trick of it.

There must be a trick.

“Try it,” soothes Dr. Baum. She puts the pencil gently into Cathy’s hand. “Draw me a happy face. Good! Now a face that’s angry. That’s broken. That’s brilliant.”

Cathy looks at the paper, but all she sees is dots and lines.

On her way out she notices her chart, halfway out of its slot in the wall. She laughs, involuntarily, to see a diagnosis and half of her name:

ASPERGER’S?
CAT
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