hobart logo
Self-Love is an Act of War photo

You stupid whore. You hateful little bitch. You’ll fuck anyone that buys you a vodka soda. Fresh lime essential. Everything is about you and if it isn’t, you’ll make it about you. Fresh lime preferred. You are a disgusting vampire. Fresh lime or not. If mirrors were still backed with silver they would ignore you and that would make you love them more.




You don’t deserve anythi-


“Who’re you talking to?”


Rolling a finger over the old blood bubbling from an older scar across her thigh. It split again when she’d sat down. She says, Who else.


“Why don’t you try me and not yourself?”


She breathes out and stares into the far wall, wondering: Why make everything real by saying anything at all?


“There is a small town: Centralia.”


Mr. Von Stabler. She laughs at his name every time. Mr. Von Stabler only looks up from his notes with his voice. One of those accents that Hollywood always gets wrong. That can only belong to the place they come from. New Zealand, South Africa. Maybe even Lebanon.


“During the 1960s, Centralia’s local landfill was burned off. These fires spread through unsealed tunnels into an abandoned coal mine before anyone could put them out. Those coal fires are still burning underground, out of sight, but this poisons the air. Most of the town evacuated. Only seven people remain. Not because they hope the fires will stop, but because they refuse to be moved.”


She butterflies her eyelashes, but Mr. Von Stabler doesn’t notice. He looks at what has been said and written down about her: Heart of a Kat.


“They get sicker every year.”


Self-love has a number of limits, she forgets to say.




It’s K-a-t-j-a.


“Is it Katja today?”


It’s Katja always. You don’t pronounce the ‘j.’




You pronounce the ‘j-a’ like ‘yah.’ You know this. I told you again yesterday.


Mr. Von Stabler looks up and over her for the first time that day.






He sets a small wooden pyramid down on the desk beside him. Pushes a button and its brass pendulum starts to swing from side to side. It ticks, so she looks at it.


“Did you know the human heart can keep beating even if it’s separated from the body? It has its own electrical impulse, so as long as it’s still got oxygen, it can keep going without you.”


Yes, Katja says, sore tongue swabbing her back teeth, imagining her cigarettes crumpling in her pocket. Yes I did know this. It’s also the first organ in the human body to burn in a fire.


“What do you think about that?”






Katja’s eyes bounce around the Wreck Room. The old lady who knows she is a Russian double-agent pirouettes with the gun of an adult colouring book held against her sternum, framed by the big and only window. Привет, Katja had said to the Kremlin’s favourite traitor on her first day. The old lady had looked at her blankly. “Bolshoi,” she replied. Brown-spotted eyes flaring: “I am ballerina, OK?”


Condemned to live in the world’s weirdest hotel. Daycare for matured delusions. Tearing between secretive and shameless, unscripted outbursts roll their credits by the afternoon. In the middle of act two. Primitive cinema watching the world go by instead. At least the movies playing all day every day are reliable. Predictable. Today it is the one about the man dressed up as a bat. The most convincing villains are convinced they’re heroes.


KG Ballerina lifts her tongue. A drawbridge of iron fillings and drool. Nestled in its moat of purple and pink, the nib of a pen. “You have, is gift. Always reading. Maybe want to write.”


How’d you get this? Katja wants to know and KG Ballerina hollows out her mouth and vacuums the air.


“State School 4.” The old lady twirls away into a flop onto the couch, unsettling a skinny youngish man wearing a blank dog tag. Licks remembered or imagined semen from around her mouth. Feline eyes. “Sexpionage.”


Hot spit sloughs over the ridges in Katja’s windpipe, déjà vu from the future filling up her empty stomach.




"You were raised by your mother.”


Katja is mesmerised by Mr. Von Stabler’s metronome. Pyramid mahogany, matte finish. Antique clockwork behind its mechanical wind-up pendulum and sliding weight. Swinging from side to side. Ticking with a timeless quality.


“What’s she like?”


My mother kept bees in the garden.


“That sounds nice.”


I’m allergic to bees.


“But you have a persistent fear of stairs. Bathmophobia, it’s called.” Mr. Von Stabler looks into a corner of the ceiling. Taps his pen to the rhythm of the metronome. “Not to be confused with bathophobia, which is a persistent fear of depths.”


I have persistent dreams, Katja corrects him.


Persistent dreams of a god throwing her into a ravine. The god knowing and so sure: If she dies this way she would have died soon anyway. A galactic breath while waiting, the god always impatient to correct their own creation. When Katja’s dirty little nails curl their bones over the ragged edge, the god exhales and intones: ‘You will be a daughter of war.’ Better than the god ever was before. The climb back to the sky was worth twenty years of being alive so she must be nothing less and maybe something more. And there she is. Hunched but somehow tall. A furious hellhound runs at her. Katja kicks this final test away. Lashes a heel into the beast's sternum. And she feels nothing. Numbed somehow inside her phalanx of a thousand suns. Only rags and ragged breathing, one of her eyes damaged red to melting: She feels nothing.


Whatever is left of me, Katja says, a demon is wearing my skin and it can’t see. I think that’s why I smoke so much. That’s how my breath must be.


“That sounds more like a memory.”


It’s a dream because it has to be.


“What do you mean?”


If it’s not, it will be the end of me.


“Marsha Linehan believed that acceptance is the only way out of hell. She invented Dialectical Behaviour Therapy,” Mr. Von Stabler says fondly.


Katja wags her face. Her teeth pick at her raw lips.


“Are you doing the work?”


Half of your work seems to be forgiving myself for the shitty things I’ve done so that I don’t hate my own shame and do more shameful things. When I was a kid, I was going to be an inventor. A ballerina. An astronaut! Cosmonaut, in my case, I guess. But I just drank ‘til I could remember to cry but forget why. Still awake from the day before in denial about the next one’s sunrise, and every afternoon in between felt like it should’ve been the last, but, surprise. ‘Today is the day,’ I’d lie to myself, still alive out of spite. Twenty four hours to me is a lifetime out to sea but it could never rock me to sleep. It was easier when I had something to do.


“Were you working?”


Every day, she says. Wiping down the window screen of another waking dream with cabernet sauvignon in a paper bag and 200 milligrams of quetiapine.


“When was the last time you slept without taking a pill?”


Not since. She fidgets. Things I can’t remember haunt me still.


“Do you want to talk about it, maybe that might-”


No, thank you. I already have to hear about it every night.


Mr. Von Stabler mouths ‘Embodied tragedy.’ Katja watches his head sweep over Heart of a Kat in time with the metronome. “Your mother used to show you full-frontal nude photographs of herself.”


When she was drinking, she didn’t like her body. She’d show me old pictures of her, sure.


“How old were you?”


Katja blinks.


Mr. Von Stabler studies her outline softly.


“How old are you now?”


Katja blinks again.


A man first fucked me when I was eleven. Those boys that try to love me now, at the age of twenty seven?


Mr. Von Stabler squints, double-checking Heart of a Kat’s first page.


Never quite the same, she continues. Drops her head, lifts it again. ‘Which is stronger,’ you once asked me. ‘Your anger or your shame?’


Katja thumbs the coin KG Ballerina had under her tongue that morning into the air. She doesn’t care which side it lands on or where it rattles to. Heads or tails in the dark is equally unfair. She looks at Mr. Von Stabler looking away from her, so she makes eye contact with the metronome again. The echo of the coin observes her from space.


When a rockslide happens, no one remembers the rocks. They’re afraid of the mountain. No one thinks about the fucking rocks. Why they came loose. Threw themselves off their own cliff. Into a ravine. Hurt people, crippled someone walking by. Ruined everything just to disappear. They’re still there and she taps her chest, tap tap tap. In time with the metronome’s tick, tick, tick. She taps her chest  and turns on her mind and its home movies she calls dreams play on the screen she pays not to see with shambling fatigue or medicated sleep: Little bruised legs, big carpeted stairs, hand over hand until one hand swats a big toe’s hair and its flaking yellow nail, itching, gripping at a clog. Tiny knuckles meet the mounting pressure of a wooden foot and the cruelty of its vow until there is a sob both then and now.


Katja taps her chest again, again in a bid to turn it all back off somehow and Mr. Von Stabler notices she’s bitten redness from her lips. She always moves her chair so she’s opposite his office door and he watches her fingertips wrench into the leather armrests with tangled thoughts of leaving.


“Why do we stay in unsafe places?”


There is wailing from the Wreck Room. Sofia Oni Mask’s imagined lotus foot binding is causing agony again. Katja’s stare still haunts the entrance’s perpetual exit.


Why do you?


She believes she sees a dullness coat Mr. Von Stabler’s eyes. Someone he couldn’t save. A girl like her he failed. He clears his throat, adjusts his knees.


“Here’s what I think: The strong wear their wounds lovingly. Then they die of the scarring in between the seams.”


Every top she owns, Katja realises, has always felt like it’s choking her.




The one about the vicious shape-shifting alien is playing again. On repeat. Trapped inside its cage high up on the wall doing horrific laps of the same story. People are people until they’re not what they seem, their forms assumed by an unknowable thing somewhere off-screen. Skins ripping, bones cracking, faces splitting.


Who chooses these movies? Katja muffles into her hand.


Nurse Geronimo sighs “Good Lord not this again” and slaps her magazine down, getting up to change the view. The Wreck Room complains in unison, a rising Greek choir that descends when more comforting scenes take the stage. Gruesome fiction becomes a documentary’s real atrocity. There’s a bearded man sitting cross-legged on the floor. He isn’t what he used to be, anymore.


Katja peeks between her fingers and decides: This is worse than before.


At some point in Vietnam, I became 10,000 years old and I died and whoever I was before left a long ways behind, and was replaced by… whatever there is left.


Off, Katja says. Palm spearing into her head. Kill it before it can walk.


KG Ballerina shushes her, flattening against the wall and looking both ways. “You vill blow our cover.”


Sorry, Katja says.


Strings of thick medicated spit when KG Ballerina blooms open her lips. Bubbles of lithium carbonate and refined sugar when she flashes Katja the lollipop under her tongue.


“Show mouth,” KG Ballerina urges. Assessing Katja’s gums. “Sweet enough,” she decides, metalled molars massaging the candy to mush until only its stick is left.


Broken promise lollipop between her teeth, Katja imagines it is a cigarette before realising it is part of something else. The white noise of a million whispers wants to be the collage of cursive she was asked to make on her first day. About her intrusive thoughts. About him. About her unique story told hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of times by others:

Have fun with the sex

especially sister fucking

something more

to kill my self over

literally cracking

bruises on

both my knees

for you

only good to fuck yeah ?




We need to at least

Sit down

I love you so much

i’m so sorry

Can we at least

Sit outside

This will never happen


Did you get my flowers

i don’t remember anything

Nothing went wrong

Obviously care I got


you will call

and make proper amends

I’ll leave for good

As you know or

Have forgotten

I’ve been raped

at the end of the day


What did I say before

it’s over

You don’t care

Remember that morning

I’ll see other people

if you really want





By the time she finishes ripping into the table, the pen nib is sharp. Sweet enough on the end of its lollipop stick.




Katja wears her black bras as blouses. One of her nipples, struck through with a bar, always visible against the lace. She waits for Mr. Von Stabler to notice and is angry that he never does.


“Not everything we do can be justified by the pain we’re feeling,” he’s telling her. Katja’s head swings from left to right alongside the metronome’s pendulum. “We can choose how we react,” he’s saying.


Like in that fucking book you made me read by that old Roman man.


“Meditations.” Mr. Von Stabler smiles.


When someone hurts me, I want them to know how badly they hurt me, but I don’t want them to feel as bad as I do every day, Katja says. Conscious of the mess of snakes underneath her skirt, she daydreams about stubbing a cigarette out between her eyes again. Sorry. Katja shakes her face into a smile. Do you think I’d look good with a bindi?


“What’s it like.” Twisting his pen from side to side. “To be you, for a day.”


The metronome ticks extra loudly in the air.


Someone’s stabbed me and I hate myself for bleeding everywhere.


“Why would someone stab you?”


People who get too close trigger me the most.


“You feel compelled to seek intimacy and then escape it at any cost.”


Katja shrugs. Black holes turn stars into ash, she says.


“Hallucinatory wish psychosis, Freud called it.”


Being alive is a maladaptive daydream.


Mr. Von Stabler leans forward, watching the space above her head. “Do you feel like you’re dreaming?”


I’m tired. Katja’s shoulders shrink behind her. I’m tired of this, me. I’m tired of my feelings. I’m tired of being a burden. I’m tired of being treated like a child, even though I’m tired of being a child trapped in an adult’s body. I’m tired of being unlovable even though I’m tired of having too much love to give. I’m tired of being selfish. Mostly, I’m tired. Can you induce a coma? I never get it right. She sniffles. I throw up when I cry. She titters. I’m even sick of my own sadness.


“Nurse Geronimo tells me you’ve stitched together your curtains. That you greet the dawn with obscenities and curses. No sun comes into your room, so there’s mould growing on your walls.”


Drugs are my sunshine. That and cigarettes, wine.


“Nicotine and alcohol are drugs. Love and sex, too.”


Katja purses her lips under the storm clouds of her eyebrows.


“Drugs never tell you enough is enough. People certainly do,” Mr. Von Stabler says. “We think we want sex. It’s not always about sex.”


Are you about to tell me it’s intimacy I want? To be touched. Looked at. Admired. Smiled at. To laugh with someone. Feel like someone really gets me. Feel safe?


Mr. Von Stabler nods. Katja’s mouth pulls to the side.


I demand praise and favours from a cold, remote place.


Mr. Von Stabler stops nodding. Katja sighs her eyes closed.


“Let’s talk about that place.”


It’s cold.


“How do you stay warm?”


Light other people on fire, she thinks but pretends not to, wearing her own paleness as a burn victim. Afraid the ashes of everyone she’s ever hurt are snowed into her skin.


“You wrote a letter to him.”


She remembers.


“In your own blood?”


Murder red pantone that dried to opaque couché. Dirty, tar, death. A sewage-tinged hue of green and brown. Officially the world’s ugliest colour. Minimal appeal and maximum perceived harm. Experts use it to discourage smoking. She starts laughing. Mr. Von Stabler waits for her to finish.


“Do you remember what you wrote?”


She does.


“I hate you.”


I hate you.




...leave me.


“Did he?”


Did he what.




Leave who.




After a certain point of drinking, my behaviour is a lottery, he said to me. A roulette wheel. Dug up in Tunguska.




The shittiest part of the Soviet Union where the largest impact event on earth in recorded history ever happened, he laughed at me. Katja breathes out through her nose until her ribs cave in on her lungs. This free show isn’t worth it, she tries to say he said.


‘Letter opener,’ Heart of Kat reminds Mr. Von Stabler.


He made me do it, she says.




An emotionally arrested toddler in an adult body, he called me.




He told me he wasn’t a fucking flight attendant for emotional regulation.


Mr. Von Stabler is tapping at the personal alarm he keeps in his left breast pocket. 


The way to healing you is pity, he fucking said. Do you think it’s the worst that sometimes people only realise how much the past doesn’t matter, how simple and easy it is to forgive and forget, when someone’s about to die? How people only say they love you when-


The office door blows open.


Do you think it’s the worst? Katja is shouting between two orderlies and they’re covered in her blood and the taste of her tears is a bitter alchemy with that blood inside her mouth. Type O Negative, I know I should donate, she’s shouting. Her crippled brain has tried to find a vein with the shiv of a lollipop stick’s remains. She’s cut across and down again, and she would let herself faint but she hasn’t managed to break anything on her way out and feels incomplete. Stupid little rehab shoes rolling off her feet, heels and linoleum squeaking into screeches. She slips free from the orderlies and screams down the corridor. Dragging the white walls with her by the hands of murder red pantone. She dances a lap around the Wreck Room. Spins up onto a table, sprinkling from the wrists. Red rain is coming down! bellows Sofia Oni Mask, fanning Katja as she evades the three men and one woman in their strange beige and goes screaming back. Red rain! Back along the corridor to repaint the drying ire she’d left behind with a fresh coat of love me love me love me. The orderlies subdue her just inside the doorway to Mr. Von Stabler’s office but not before she grips its hinges, rips her fingers and she says:


You made me do this.


Mr. Von Stabler’s thumbs press against his temples.


You made me do this.


Tick, tick, tick.


Does this thing ever stop? she seethes at the metronome, eight rough hands hauling two bare skidding feet over the way they left and came.


“Time never stops,” Mr. Von Stabler says to himself. He thinks about the girl like Kate he couldn’t save by being too ethical and then it was too late. “We do.” He nods into his chest. “Or we can.”




The room with a space on the wall where a mirror used to be. Taken away so she can’t stand naked in front of it watching then hating then leaving her body. Better on tippy-toes, the worst when her feet were flat on the floor and she’d marked each day of confinement with her acrylics. Legs and arms. Mummified in raised scars that open when they itch. Nails raw and cold where Nurse Geronimo has now clipped them too short. Wrists hot and red. Strapped to the bed they’d made out of cardboard to stop her from fucking anyone. Books on everything, everywhere.


The world’s oldest dildo, she’s seething behind her teeth, was created 28,000 years ago. It predates religion, marriage. Fingers flexing in their leather cuffs. Civilisation! She clears her throat so she can finally explode, but there is only enough steam left to hiss a whisper:


Go fuck myself and in the space between sleep and a teardrop, the footsteps of orderlies in the hall click so perfectly in time they could decide a song. Click, click, click and they pass their shade underneath her locked door and unlock something more. What happened from the age of six to nine that only stopped because she lost an eye. The tremors of unnatural disaster: Why she stabbed a man when she turned thirty five.


Katja refuses any bedding and sleeps with no clothes on. “Not even a sheet?” Nurse Geronimo wants to know every time the lights go out. “Don’t you feel exposed?” Invincible not vulnerable, Katja tells herself, but the truth is an unholy flame: No one ever tucked her in at night so it doesn’t feel right. Her flimsy cot is the bare mattress on the floor where she learned to stay awake listening for footsteps in the hall to appear under her door. Only prickling skin and emergent pubic hair, it was easier to skip being stripped and wait naked for a midnight march to the edge of the stairs. Her mother would hum Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy before her shadow blared to life from the heavenly light and its false hope. “You will be a daughter of war,” she said every time. The woman she wished she was. A woman who could’ve fought back. Used violence to keep safe but instead was forced to raise a child of rape. That night, Katja’s retina detached and when her dog ran to comfort her, Katja finally attacked. Another night much later, when a lover searched her eyes with dreams of being together until they grew old, half the time they were pleading with a glass hole. Tonight she can see every single childhood scene her memory’s deleted.


The only reel she plays on repeat is wishing she could crawl inside the small comfort of each pockmark on her bedroom ceiling. Her heavy breathing’s so much more than dreaming and the place she now calls home’s flawless plasterboard is what brings back her voice until she’s screaming:


Is it




too much




to live with this




the worst of it?




I’m not gonna harm anybody, and there’s nothing wrong with me. And if there was, I’m all better now.




You’ve got my promise.


Mr. Von Stabler dips his head at her hair, still plaited into that afternoon’s long black noose.


Fuck, she explains.


Mr. Von Stabler’s lips flatline. He whips his pen against Heart of a Kat so sharply it tears the paper. Katja flinches, rain beading on her cheeks.


I’m not going to kill myself, OK?


“Sometimes, it means smoking cigarettes, hoping to get cancer. Jaywalking without looking. Sleeping with strangers or not sleeping at all. Not eating. Being cruel to the people that love you. If they leave, you’ll have less reasons to stay. Going out until your body gives in. Not setting an alarm so you get fired.” Mr. Von Stabler smiles heavily. “Putting yourself in enough painful situations that maybe, just maybe, one of them will be the last straw.”


Katja’s light drizzle becomes a passing storm of laughter.


I’ve just realised that being alive is a sexually transmitted, terminal disease that has killed about 117 billion people. And some people still love it.


Mr. Von Stabler’s smile is too heavy to support itself.


“Are you enjoying my poetry books?”


The Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami. You play his films sometimes in the Wreck Room. He said, ‘In the total darkness, poetry is still there, and it is there for you.’


Mr. Von Stabler makes a note in Heart of a Kat.


“Maybe poems are something you could focus on.”


And people are more likely to believe something if it rhymes.


Mr. Von Stabler crosses out his note, loud enough again to disguise a sigh. His pen drops to the paper. The metronome seems to chime.


“It’s your birthday tomorrow.”


Tomorrow is always coming but it never arrives and every day feels like a desperate lie, Katja decides.




“We have a word for the day after tomorrow: Asatte,” says Sofia Oni Mask from behind his or her fan. Flutters it shut. “Or is it hòutiān?” Splays it open again.


Despite her books on culture and identity, Katja does not know what they are or where they come from. Not anywhere far east of here in the ways that they pretend. Sofia Oni Mask has a lady’s name but a man’s voice. Their fan is a paper harisen but they wear a silk ao dai without the pants. Hairy legs but hairdo up in two exquisite braided buns. A beautiful offence to God, Katja thinks.


“So that.” Sofia Oni Mask fans Katja’s eyes closed, their tears bleeding away. Her fringe wafts up into the air. “Puts even more of a quandary on your point.”


Too lucid to make any sense of her own presence and instead everyone around her starts to make startling sense. Found by thoughts of unsafe behaviour, she feels sick and so she commits to being awake during the surgery of time’s reminder. Mr. Von Stabler’s metronome fading in and out of her ears. KG Ballerina tugging at her arm trying to show her the surprise under her old tongue: A sliver of mirror but Katja can’t stand looking at what she might become. Tick, tick, tick. She tried to lie about the real date of her birthday but they knew what it was anyway.


Play my song, is all that she will say until Nurse Geronimo does.


The cake is wheeled into the Wreck Room. A muddy store-bought afterthought. Wait, wait, wait. This isn’t happening. I haven’t done anything. An obscene chorus singing happy birthday over the top of Leonard Cohen and she thinks about where homeless people sleep when it’s raining and if she wasn’t banned from her mascara for weaponising it, everyone would know where her sorrow goes. She can’t find the breath to snuff out the tiny crying flames in between her heaving. There are too many. The Wreck Room gathers around to do it for her. On the third Hip-hip, a Hooray of sour pharmaceutical wind and halitosis rolls over thirty-six candles. Sofia Oni Mask waving that fucking fan again. There were too many.


“No one hosts a pity party quite like a Cluster B,” Nurse Geronimo whispers to an orderly.


“One minute you’re young and fun. The next, you’ve got a fetish for your body’s own stress response,” the orderly whispers back.


Katja asks them to play Everybody Knows again. She likes to think it’s about her. Sofia Oni Mask chuckles to a man weighed down by too many medals who’s never been to war: “It’s about AIDS.”


Nurse Geronimo smirks and puts on Don Henley’s Not Enough Love In The World instead.


For you girl, theres just not enough love in this world.


Nurse Geronimo, Katja thinks, would’ve been a sweet summer child. No, autumn. With her burnt orange curls and freckles and a frail girlish body before it was a big red rotten apple. Only loss hollows us brown. Hollows us opaque couché. Into a thing that falls to the ground, but can’t be eaten. Hems our own fire around the hole in our ice.


“Happy birthday, Kate.” Nurse Geronimo pats her on the back. “You’re never the same twice.”




Patti Smith said those who’ve suffered understand, and therefore extend their hand. A stovetop wiped all the lines off my palms so I don’t think that I can.


Springtime blares in through the window, rendering Mr. Von Stabler a scribbled silhouette.


“The caterpillar turns to mush before it is a butterfly. Despite becoming nothing, the butterfly lives. Lives but only briefly. You can see this as inevitable, or a reminder that we must treasure those times we are at our most alive.”


Fuck your easy analogies, Katja says. No one has ever kneeled and put their arms across my knees and looked up at me and asked, ‘What’s going on behind your eyes?’ She laughs. I mean, eye.


“What about.” Mr. Von Stabler sets Heart of a Kat aside on the desk. “What do you want?”


Katja blinks.


“Your needs,” he says. “You were living with relatives of relatives before you came here. Do you want a home of your own? An apartment, maybe a-”


House, Katja says. A house would be nice. A safeish place to be. With friends in it. At least, people who don’t think I’m just good to fuck with or fuck. Immoral but loving. She rolls her tongue around her teeth, puffing her mouth into possessed alien shapes. Like if I left a suicide note that asked them to comment on how much they loved me and explain in detail how special I was to them, they would. At my funeral.


“Your funeral.” Mr. Von Stabler glances at Heart of a Kat but only fidgets with his pen.


A cat, too, as a pet. Sorry: Companion animal. She’d be a she, and black, all black. Some kind of decrowned princess. Castaway angel in a nighttime disguise. I’d probably hate her but she’d be mine, something I’m stuck with, so I’d do my best with her. She wouldn’t notice this or appreciate any of it and she’d be a piece of shit until she died, but she’s a cat so I guess I would have a good idea of when that might be.


Mr. Von Stabler looks at her. Not over or around or above. His irises are green.


“EMDR,” he says. “Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It’s a way to get past your past. Breaking in so we can break out.”


Katja frowns and nods, each rise and fall in time with Mr. Von Stabler’s metronome.


“It’s an eight-phase treatment: History taking, client preparation, assessment, desensitisation, installation, body scan, closure and re-evaluation.” Mr. Von Stabler taps his pen one, two, three, four, five on Heart of a Kat and drops it to the pages. “I think you can guess what phase we’re at.”


His hand motes over the metronome and pats its pendulum silent. Katja stops nodding.


“It’s not unusual for sleep to be impacted. Vivid dreams are common as well as feeling more sensitive to interactions with others and to external stimuli.”


He holds his other hand up in front of her and begins to wave from side to side.


“Knock on every door, Kate, and remem-”




“Katja. And remember: If it’s your door, someone will be home.”


Humming Leonard Cohen to herself. Trees, birds, sunshine, street. Knocking on every door, remembering but wondering about who it might be: Someone will be home if it’s my door.


Now Ive heard there was a secret chord


The first house along, not this one.


That David played, and it pleased the Lord


The second, no.


But you dont really care for music, do you?


The third, nobody home.


It goes like this,


The fourth. It fits.


The minor falls, the major lifts


A baffled thing proposing:


Mother. I’m here.