Chapter 1: Once Upon A Time...
“Tell me about your Grandmother,” The therapist speaks up, her blue inked pen scribbling something down even before I’ve spoken.
“About what?” I mutter, my fingers fiddling mindlessly at the lace hem of my white and black stripped shirt.
“Tell me what happened the last time you saw her.” The therapist asks, knowing that I don’t want to speak about that day. Her index finger and thumb lift up her thick black glasses as she stares intently at me. Her coolly calculating brown eyes intently focusing on my lifeless expression.
“It was a normal day; we spent it outside. I helped her with her garden until it got dark and rained.” I shrug being as vague as I can. If I had the choice, I would be home watching Psych or reading a book, but Mom says that to heal from loss I have to talk about it. I think everyone deals with loss in their own way, my mother's is by micro-managing my life. My father’s way includes spending his days at work in the lab and nights ignoring the obvious problems around him.
“And when it rained? What did you do?” She pushes and I focus more intently on the stray thread on my shirt.
“Like usual, when it rains...we made cookies until the stars came out." I whisper hollowly.
"When it stopped raining?" Yet another nudge.
"She told me a story as we sat on the dock. ” I say begrudgingly.
“What story, Ms. King?” She pushes farther and it's as if my skin begins to crawl at the memories.
“She spoke of the dragonflies. Some old fairytale about our ancestors.” I finally let out. My eyes wander to the slowly ticking clock on the wall just above her many proudly displayed certificates for child psychology. I only have to last a few more minutes until the clock gives Dr. Claudia permission to no longer be nosey.
“Ms. King?” She pulls my attention from her glorified wall.
“Can we talk about something else?” I ask, hoping she will give up with fixing something that's not broken.
“Ms. King your mother said you have hardly cried since the disappearance of your grandmother seven months ago. We are both worried your lack of grief and emotional distancing from the problem is a sign that you are growing emotionally unstable.”
She warns me and once again I feel like I’m a young girl in the 1800′s being accused of witchcraft. I know it sounds like I’m avoiding the problem and the fact my Grandmother has been missing for months but I also know I haven't cried because I can't. Like an emotional dam exploded inside of me letting the water go yet there was no water to begin with.
My mother worries because I was really close with my grandma and I miss her absurdly every day. I can't help but imagine her venturing off, considering her wandering personality. In my head I can't help but think she's enjoying herself off in the tropics or something like that. Yet I also know the truth, I know she isn't enjoying tequila on the beach. I know she won't return but it still felt wrong to mourn her like she was still here, hiding just out of sight. I glance back up at the clock and notice that we are in fact one second over the hour.
“As always, I thank you for you incessant prying into my life but you can tell my mother that I don’t have some deep-down trauma that needs to be healed through talking. I’m okay, but like always I’m sure I will see you next Wednesday for another session." I say as I stand and adjust my shirt. Just as always Dr. Claudia just shakes her head and casts me a disapproving glance.
I head out of her stale-aired office and into the waiting room, that sits with a dozen empty soft cushioned chairs all except for one in which a pale, elderly lady who is knitting carelessly as she waits. I give the woman a gentle smile as she does the same, the both of us acknowledging we are both here for help. Although I would bet her visit is far more willing then mine. I push through the glass door out into the brisk afternoon summer night.
I stop on the curb as my auburn eyes search for my mother's car. Suddenly I hear the off putting sound of her horn in a parking space a few spots over. My mother's favorite color is light lime green and as such, her car is the same color. She drives a small VW bug that she likes to call "Pickle." My eyes land on her small frame in the driver's seat. Her broad smile and piercing spring green eyes catch mine. No matter how much she annoys me with her prying into my life, I can't help but smile back at her.
My mom was raised on the beach in California until she was 10, when as my Grandmother put it, "She heard a calling on the wind to move to New Orleans." Although my mother says they moved after Grandmother had a rather bad confrontation with the townsfolk, due to her enjoyment of birthday-suit yoga on her deck in the mornings.
I slip into the tiny car and pull on my seatbelt. "How was it darling?" She chimes out. Knowing my mother, she won't move the car until I tell her something.
"It was good but I think me and Dr. Claudia are still at odds over my diagnosis." I speak up honestly. My mom just rolls her eyes as her long black hair falls easily over her shoulders. She turns to look over her shoulder as she puts it into gear and backs up. Her tanned arm reaching across to the passengers seat to see better.
"You know, Dr. Claudia did go to Harvard, darling. She probably knows what she's talking about." My mom defends her and I know she's trying to act like she doesn't know exactly what Dr. Claudia says I have. Like I said before, my mom can't help but be nosy into my life. I understand she's her mother's daughter and she can't help but care. With the loss of grandma my mom's had no choice but cast that extra worry and love once for my grandma on to me.
"Just so you know, Ted Kaczynski went to Harvard too, and he became the Unabomber. " I point out. My mom glances over at me as she begins driving down the mostly empty road back home.
"What?" She asks baffled by my odd knowledge.
"He was a Harvard alum just as Dr. Claudia, yet he killed three people." I say looking at her as she squints at me a little concerned.
"Just 'cause she went to Harvard doesn't mean she isn't crazy or stupid; it just means she's good at deception." I tie them together with a slight smile at my mom's surprised face. I watch as a little smile hits her face at my almost too valid point.
"Okay, if Dr. Claudia turns out to be a crazy killer, then you can say 'I told you so' and we will ignore her diagnosis." My mom gives in with a smile and I can't help but laugh at the conversation. In truth my mom's always been easygoing and fun just like Grandmother was. But while my grandma didn't care about social norms or what others thought Mom has a better hold on her wild flares.
As we pull into the rock driveway and up to our two story house surrounded by the beautiful New Orleans forest, I can see the lights in our house are brightly lit, letting me know Dad's home from work. The house is a simple white with the doors and shutters painted a pastel dark blue. The house is surrounded by willow trees often swing in the slight gusts of wind. Tonight is no different. I wait as my mother parks the car before I undo my seat belt but stop when I notice that Mother hasn't moved. When I look at her usually carefree face and see the worry on it, I know it has to do with Grandmother.
"What is it?" I ask her. My mom fiddles with her fingers as my heart begins to pick up in fear of what bad news we will get.
"Honey, You know your father and I love you! But we worry about you, we know after you grandmother disappeared you acted fine.." She speaks up in concern and once again, she makes me feel broken and frustrated.
"Mom, I'm fine really-" I try to stop the lecture but she continues.
"Yes, you said that before. But then you had your incident. We just don't want to see you go down that path again." Her large eyes stare at me like I'm a bug she's trying to study under a microscope. I swallow down my frustration and irritation of her bringing the incident up once again.
"Fine, I'll take the meds." I mutter, pushing open the door and walking to the front door alone. I know my parents mean well, yet they refuse to believe that I'm okay. They don't seem to understand that the more they push me like this, forcing me to take medication and make up crap to make them feel better only makes me feel worse.
In honesty I haven't felt normal or right since Grandmother left. It's like everyone's watching, waiting for me to lose it or something, and soon I just might. I head up the stairs to my room, ignoring as my father calls out a warm welcome in his deep voice.