When you walk into a psychologists office

they offer you a seat

a glass of water

and a stupid question:

 

how are you?

 

Fine.

 

How to begin?

At some point I learned how to walk,

younger than most, started out running

my Nana tells this story about an open front door and me halfway down a country lane in a nappy and my t-shirt

At some point I knew how to begin.

One foot then the other

Until you are running,

Fall,

Get back up.

How are you?

Bleeding?

How are you?

Screaming.

How are you?

 

Once on a family holiday when I was eight I tried to win a race to the picnic place but missed the turn and kept running for forty minutes until I was so lost my mother basically carjacked some lads to find me. My father was so scared he couldn’t speak. His silences can scream.

How are you?

Fine.

How to begin?

 

At some point I learned how to talk.

My first word was door.

Through hundreds of locked bathroom stalls, hundreds of people would ask me ‘Orla what’s wrong now?’

‘I’m fine.’

I become graffiti, words words words, on walls, signifying nothing too inconvenient.

 

How are you?

I haven’t moved in hours

How to grow flowers, plants seeds and wait.

Patience is a virtue unless you’re bleeding out on the floor, patience will turn to riots more and more.

 

How are you?

Tired.

How are you?

Lying on the floor. Looking you in the eye is a chore, so suddenly tired, too tired to stand, too tired to speak, so suddenly ready to scream and scream and scream

How are you?

Fine.

How to be flowers, how to be a tree, how to be a riot, how to have roots and grow and grow and know that that is enough.

How to begin.

How to be.