Fiction

12 Subsidised Medicare Sessions

Session one

“This sort of thing really isn’t for me. Oh, I do respect what you do, mind. I had a Great Uncle Albert, the head of the family, really, and one ordinary Tuesday he woke up convinced he was Martin Luther. Kept offering to translate Bible passages into German. So I am familiar with the industry. I don’t think what happened was as sufficient a big deal to warrant this whole production, but que sera, sera, I suppose. I’m doing this to keep the peace, really. That old story. How did you get into this line of work?”

 

Session two

“Did you watch that imbecile on Sky last night? Jesus. The thing with guys like that is that they never actually have to encounter real people. You know? They sit behind their desks and blither at the camera about the working class but they’ve never had sweat on their collar or had to scrub dirt from their fingernails. They don’t give a flying you-know-what, really. The only working-class person they’ve ever encountered is the poor gardener at their kid’s private school who left a rake in their path on parent–teacher night and got an earful about it! What? No, I know I’m not technically working class.”

 

Session three

“Yes, yes, I have no problem talking about the thing that happened at Christmas. I’m just saying in the hierarchy of things I could possibly want to talk about it has not been the most pressing so far. All right? So, would you answer my question? Should we be forgiven for our sins? Is there a sufficient amount of penance that can ever dissolve the dread of the loss of heaven? Should Hey Hey It’s Saturday really be allowed to come back?”

 

Session four

“Do you know the show Succession? Did you watch the last episode? Oh, okay.”

 

Session five

“The good thing about Succession is that it could be about any family. You really should watch it. They’ve got all this money and power and there’s mad things like murders and Congress is always threatening to send them to jail and all the rest. It’s all very American, but they’re still going through all the same regular stuff. Wait, it’s American but I think it’s written by an Englishman. Hmm. Hang on, I might just look this up. Let’s see. One moment. Ah, yes, I was right. He is English. See here? Yep. He’s the creator. Anyway, it really could be about any family. You really should watch it.”

 

Session six

“That’s the thing people don’t talk about, the thing that people don’t talk about is that Succession is all about yearning for validation from a patriarch that just won’t come! It will never come! They’re just like any family! They’ll be waiting forever! It’ll never come!”

 

Session seven

“What do you mean I need to start talking about real-life people?”

 

Session eight

“Okay, well, this is ridiculous, but the thing about the Christmas tree was that yes, it was on fire and yes, technically the fire was started by me, but I never thought it would catch so quickly. How could I? I wouldn’t have done it if I thought it would spark into the air and spread to the curtains. Why would I start a fire I couldn’t control?”  

 

Session nine

“Yes, well, the Christmas tree incident has rather introduced a tension of sorts into the family, but I think when we objectively look at the evidence leading up to it, it is clear that Daniel provoked me. Why give me socks with strawberries on them when you know I am deathly allergic to strawberries? Why chuckle as I’m opening it? If I had even one seed of a strawberry on my tongue, my throat would almost immediately close up and I would die in the most horrific way possible. Well, not die, maybe, but my throat would be very, very sore.”

 

Session ten

“The rebuild on the house is going fine. No, I’m not defensive, I just don’t know why you need a biweekly update on construction progress. Daniel has also insisted on moving all the gas lighters out of the house now, which makes lighting the stove a real pain, I don’t mind telling you. You get the urge to cook something, you want to follow through with that plan and then, unfathomably, the tools you need to facilitate that are unavailable to you. I refuse to set foot in the kitchen until this is rectified; it’s an extremely simple request. What was that for? No, I do know the difference between a repressed sneeze and a sigh, thank you very much.”

 

Session eleven

“No, I don’t think I need a full hour to dissect my relationship with Daniel. I have made it quite clear that I will tell anyone who directly asks me that he is my son. Because he is.”

 

Session twelve

“Have you seen The Sopranos?”

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on January 8, 2022 as "12 Subsidised Medicare Sessions".

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Sinéad Stubbins is a writer and editor from Melbourne. Her debut book, In My Defence, I Have No Defence, was published by Affirm Press in 2021.

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