Disinfected, smelling like their bathroom, the surgery is hot, brightly lit.  Erin skips to the black leather chair, climbs up, wriggles on the slippery seat. The doctor smiles, her mother hovers next to her, a comforting presence. Instruments clink, a tap runs into the basin. Something hard is pressing against her head as the doctor tucks her hair behind her ear,
“OK Erin, let’s get this nasty wax out.”

A thin metal finger sliding into her ear, a whooshing sound like jumping into the swimming pool, but not nice, painful, pressing against the soreness in her ear.  Feeling giddy, wanting to be sick.  And then the whooshing again, really sore this time.

“Mummy it HURTS, please make him stop!”

But he doesn’t stop.

Silenced, her mother holds her shoulders down and it happens twice more. Water trickles down her neck, soaks into the top of her jumper. The room spins.

“All done – you can get down now.” As if nothing had happened.

Climbing down from the black chair, clutching on to the arms for support, looking at the dirty water in the comma-shaped silver bowl, black bits floating in it. Wobbling, trying to get her arms into the sleeves of her red coat, wrap the woollen scarf with rabbits on round her head.

“Everything will be much better now.” The doctor’s voice coming from far away…

Bowled over by the giddiness and being sick over her shoes, the new ones with the silver buckles. Sobbing while her mother bends and clears up the mess with a white cloth the doctor hands to her. Still not able to hear properly, as though she has cotton wool in her ears.

Looking at her mother, no longer her protector.  Stepping out into the freezing night, taking the smell of Dettol and sick home with her. Holding her mother’s hand but seeing her with new eyes.

Forced to go back there.

Several times.