Tafelberg Nature reserve in the Gooi, The Netherlands

Begonia Séu opened the doors of her practice. Since she was in The Netherlands, she could very well spend her time working. Her first client was Adriana Humaine, who lived in the Massif Central in France. She was the daughter of Ada Wong, the grand lady of Dutch photography. Begonia hoped that Adriana did not want to see her only to talk about her mother again. If Ada Wong was feeling mentally unfit, she could forget about forging a deal with Patricia and her publishing agency.

Begonia stared at her screen and pulled up the electronic dossier. A.M.A. Humaine, Adriana Magdalena Antonia, was the name she looked at. Born in France, Hauts-de-Seine (Paris), 13th of December 1972. Begonia was born in 1973; so Adriana was one of her generational twins. Who would she be if she was born in France? A femme fatale? Or would she be a dull psychologist? No, she would be working at a vineyard. Who knew? She forced herself to read the profile in a serious manner. The first mention of Adriana was dated December last year. In December, she arrived with Ada Wong, who was totally lost and could not speak lucidly. Fortunately, she met psychiatrist Penguin, who drugged Ada so that she could she sleep. Afterwards, she could not do anything anymore, but that’s all in the past.

Strangely, she saw an entry on a neighborhood quarrel. It seemed that even in France, one could still bicker around with one’s neighbors, not withstanding that they lived thousands of yards away. But she must admit that it was about a peculiar matter, really. The plot of land that belonged to Adriana was a slope that ended in her full-figured neighbor’s garden. When torrential rain occurred, the garden of this particular gentlemen went underwater. This was enough for him to throw stones through her windows.

Begonia decided it was time to see some patients and fetch Adriana. Bego saw that Adriana sat uncomfortably in the waiting room. This was essential information; an uncomfortable position usually foreshadowed a difficult conversation. ‘Hello Adriana, please follow me,’ the therapist said, waving her hand towards her room.

Adriana stood up and nodded faintly. ‘Hello, Bego. Have you heard anything from sir Penguin?’

Begonia thought for a moment. O god, that must have been those cell phone calls she hadn’t answered, when visiting Marcia Lapidis. ‘Sorry, I haven’t talked to him since I’ve returned from holiday.’

‘Doesn’t matter. I’ll tell you what’s wrong.’

They entered the consultation room and delighted themselves over Jasmin tea. ‘Please, talk to me, Adriana, how are you?’

‘This time, I don’t want to talk about myself,’ Adriana said. ‘My mother, you know the photographer, has made it known to Desassossego that she likes him. After one too many drinks, she has kissed him on the lips.’

‘I don’t see the problem here?’

Adriana casted a serious glance. She told Bego that her mother did cross a certain border.

Bego in turn tried to calm down Adriana. ‘It is really a most beautiful and compassionate woman; Ada Wong wouldn’t hurt a fly, let alone Desa.’

‘You are not seeing the problem. We - Desa, I, Meringue and Bracha - think that Ada is becoming OCD again.’

‘That is not a condition she has been diagnosed with.’ Bego moved within her chair. She did not want to declare Ada Wong mentally unfit. Especially seeing what was at stake, Patricia’s publishing company and all.

‘Whatever you want to call it, Ada is losing it again.’

‘The world’s losing it, too, Adriana. And I don’t care. Ada Wong knows how to play it cool. I really have faith in her.’

‘You haven’t seen her. Ada has totally gone haywire.’

‘I think you are exaggerating. I haven’t got any reports from the official authorities.’

Blaricummerheide Nature reserve

‘O.K. Maybe I am overprotective, but I have reason,’ Adriana conceded. ‘Meringue, who - as you know - studies Meds, thinks that Ada Wong is protected because of her pills. But don’t you agree that she is a woman with a stain?’

‘A stain?’

‘Well, how do you put it? A woman with a disorder?’

‘That sounds more like it. But really: in Ada’s case, it is not such a big issue.’

‘Big issue?’

‘Well, I have had my share of patients who were terrible. Ada Wong has stayed true to her character and only has a slight handicap.’

‘I am pleased to hear that, Bego.’ Adriana beamed and pulled an item out of her Louis Vuitton bag. ‘Desa did write the strangest poem. He always says his poems are insignificant and just a jotting down of thoughts, but please read it anyway.’

Bego looked at the yellowed paper and read in the neatest handwriting: ‘Ada, dominating. The laws of Tantalus. Torture. Step back. Ear-deafening silent applause. Biscuit.’

Adriana did not say anything and forced Bego to ask: ‘Doesn’t the biscuit refer to Desa’s assistent? Come on, what’s her name? Jeanette?’

Aggravated, Adriana said: ‘She goes by the name of Jasmin. But it’s not her he is describing.’

‘Pardon me.’ Bego moved on her egg-shaped chair and fiddled in her pearl blonde hair. It’d best not meddle in relational matters, she thought.

‘Well, I am going to explain it to you once more. The biscuit refers not to the tender, love and care of Jasmin, but simulates War. In the first half of the forties, nobody had the luxury to eat biscuits, as you very well know.’

Bego did not quite buy into this explanation, but to please Adriana she concurred with: ‘Indeed, that’s beautiful symbolism.’

‘This is not a symbol. It is a metaphor.’

‘OK,’ Bego said and became upset. ‘Have you ever considered that this poem is about you?’

‘No, I am called Adriana, not Ada.’

‘It could be an equivocation. You are Ada jr.’

‘What are you implying?’

‘Well, I see a sort of protectional father in this poem. Ada keeps an eye on Desa, who in turn keeps out of the picture.’

‘Are you serious?’ Adriana’s composure began to relax and Bego could see the beginnings of a smile.

‘Yes, I am serious,’ Bego said, whilst suppressing a deep sigh and revealing a smile.

‘You have helped me such a great deal, Bego. Could I call you if there is anything wrong with Ada?’

‘My doors are always open.’

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