Her movement was swift and graceful as she slowly lifted one foot behind her while the other was a crutch for her statuesque body to stand upon. Melodies from a flute filled up the room signaling the beginning of a story in a song. Eyes closed, she lowered the raised foot, toes pointed drawing circles on the floor. She turned into a statue before crossing the room like a ballerina figurine that spins in circle when the little key on her back is turned. She ended the routine by lying on her side, her head and feet tucked in, arms crossed and face shielded to her chest. Sophie stayed motionless until she heard clapping from behind. She quickly jumped to her feet and turned the music off of her IPod.
"I'm Dr Hart, you must be Miss Darlington."
She nodded, her fingers clutching on the fabric of her pants.
"You missed our first session the other day, I wasn't sure you were still on board with the therapy." Raphael slowly moved and averted his eyes not to alarm her on their first meet.
"I'm sorry Dr Hart. I can't say sorry enough for missing on our first session. I wish..."
Sophie said with genuine remorse in her voice that Raphael let out a smile and nodded.
"What happened the other day Miss Darlington?" His eyes studying the woman who left a heartfelt apologetic message after a no show on her first session that Raphael replayed the message few times before he returned her call for a make up session.
"I... I had another lapse, I fell asleep" she said running her arms up and down.
"I came by and I didn't see you"
Raphael replied and noticed how her voice shook.
"Let's calm down just a bit, sit down" he said and led her to the sofa that Jeanette was perched in like an empress in her throne last time he was in that living room.
"You were here the other day? Dr Hart, I'm so sorry I didn't know" she said in a hoarse voice
Raphael sat her down and ran to the kitchen as if the corners of the house was freshly embedded in his mind.
Sophie glanced up when Raphael moved around the kitchen as if he'd been there.
"Thank you Dr Hart. I should've been the one..."
"Just drink your water and relax, let me do the work"
She nodded and drank the whole glass.
"Do you remember anything about your lapse?"
She shook her head
"What about what triggered the lapse? Did something happen?"
"I don't remember anything next thing I knew I was in bed."
"Sophie, part of this process is team work. You need to be 100 percent honest with me."
She nodded while holding the glass with both palms.
"Did you have a previous therapist that you worked with before?"
"you knew?" She asked
"How long ago was that?"
"5 years ago"
"Did you complete all the sessions?"
"No, I didn't. He said he needed to refer me to another therapist and I never heard from him again"
"I don't know, he refused to take my calls. The therapist that he referred me to deemed me as sane enough to function and I was fine."
Raphael stood with his back against the wall, arms crossed on his chest.
"I'm sorry i didn't tell you I was afraid you wouldn't take my case"
"You never found out why?"
"I called his office and the receptionist said something about his license being suspended that was as far as I could get from her. I didn't understand what was happening"
Raphael thought it would be best to wait inquiring about his recent visit in this house.
"Ok what about the lapse?"
"I'd stay in bed for a day and it would go away but it's gotten more frequent. I'm scared Dr. hart, what if I can never leave my house, what if I never dance again? I don't want to be crazy." Her timidity replaced by outbursts and constant feet tapping against the floor.
Raphael reached out and took her hands in his.
"Sophie, who's Kathleen?"
"She was my mother, she... died a year ago"
"I'm sorry to hear that, how did she die?"
Sophie cleared her throat twice before she answered, straight back and hands in her lap. Raphael noticed how her body language meta morphed, executing her every movement so graceful the way she danced, it almost felt habitual as if it was a heritage that was passed on.
"She died of overdose from painkillers and alcohol. By the time the paramedics arrived she was already dead."
"Did you go to her funeral?"
She shook her head.
"When I heard about it, I was scheduled to dance at a major award show, but I made it to her funeral instead."
"How was your relationship with her?"
She shrugged, "as close as mother and daughter could be"
The graceful dancer in her as if her shoulders were made of armoire while her lips sewn tight leaving no room to smile.
"What about your dad? Is he still around?"
"I never met my biological father, he was never in my life, not that I ever looked for him. Kathleen said he was her first love until he told her he wasn't ready to be a father so they split up and Kathleen moved back to her parents home"
"You called your mother by her first name"
"She wasn't a conventional kind."
"She never remarried?"
Her eyes went blank as memory took her to the day when her mother looked in a jewel crusted gown, her blonde locks in French chignon with a floor length veil shadowing her move. Her blue eyes shine like sapphires against the chandelier lights in the grand ballroom at a five star resort.
It was one of the moments when Kathleen became the paragon that she once was.
Sophie remembered standing in her blossom colored dress and a black sash around her waist drowned in a sea of royal blue chiffon and velvet while Kathleen and Omar did their first dance.
She didn't see Kathleen until she returned from her whirlwind honeymoon until the newlywed moved to the groom's home country in Turkey. The paradise didn't last for long not for Omar's insatiable appetite for new companionship. Kathleen packed up her bags and moved back to the states. Having to faced the embarrassment of not being on the centerfold of the socialites, Kathleen resorted in new circles, alcohol, painkillers and anything to stop time and nature from her face and body that Sophie barely recognized the woman whose beauty and presence were envied and adored every time she was in a room.
By that time Sophie was on her rise in her career, performing for shows and a promising teaching position which what she'd been dreaming for.
When Kathleen died, it was a merciless exit as opposed to be found in a stranger's bed. Even as she was laid in a casket, she was like Venus in a painting before they stored her in a tomb showered with gardenia roses. The sound of cars honking from the outside brought Sophie back to her present.
"Kathleen said age is a person's worst enemy. No matter what century you are in perfection always wins" Sophie said as she pulled the elastic band tighter on her ponytail.
"What about any family member?"
She shook her head,
"Kathleen was an only child in her family, an English rose since she was a little girl with horses and a castle to live in. When her first love didn't want to marry her, she flew home and stayed in until a little after her baby was born. My grandparents took care of me before they died"
Raphael watched the way her eyes grew tired by the minute, he decided to call it a day when an unexpected visitor deterred his plan to end the session when he heard humming coming from the living room.
"Hi" he said.
She startled, her hand went to reach something on her chest that he couldn't see.
"My name is Dr. Hart, I was just visiting a patient when I thought I heard someone."
"Yeah, her name is Sophie Darlington, she lives on 1A or so I thought. Do you know that name by any chance?"
"Hmmm, I don't recall..." She sounded unsure with furrowed brow.
"Or maybe you've heard of Kathleen Darlington?"
As if a light switch was turned on in her thoughts, Veronica's eyes grew wider
"I used to work for a lady named Kathleen in a big house where she partied with the rich and famous with a band playing."
"Sounds like you've witnessed something that exists in the movies."
"No that wasn't it. Pardon me, little things escape me now and then, it's been awhile since I heard their names aloud. I was a young girl of 17 fresh out of a farm in Georgia when I got a job as a maid in a nice house with a rich white family. I was star struck at the big city folks with parties in their house and a swimming pool on the back."
"How old was Miss Sophie?"
"She was a toddler when Miss Kathleen brought her to the States after she married."
Raphael pulled out his pocket book out of his pocket.
"What was her husband's name?"
She pondered for a moment before he spoke,
"It wouldn't be a foreigner by any chance?"
"No sir, his name was Jonathan Granger, he was born and raised in Jersey and made his fortune in stocks and bonds. He even carved his initials on his front gate. He married Lady Kathleen shortly after they met at a party. He was 20 years older than she was, never had a family of his own if you know what I mean."
"How was their relationship?"
"He let Lady Kathleen did whatever she wanted. He wanted a pretty wife in his arm and in his bed while she wanted to be in the spotlight."
"What about his relationship with Sophie"
"He adored her. He never suspected he'd care for a child that wasn't his but he cared a great deal even when he tried to act like he didn't. I used to make them chocolate cake when Lady Kathleen wasn't around."
"She had them on a diet?"
She shook her head,
"She didn't want Miss Sophie
to be wheeled out of her from having too much sweets."
Raphael sat with knitted brows and quizzical look in his eyes.
"They let all the staff go before Lady Kathleen and Miss Sophie moved out of the house. I tried to stay as long as I could but Lady Kathleen called me in with my last check before they left."
"Did they get into a divorce?"
"Oh no, they had to leave because the bank came to take everything from the house."
"What happened to the husband?"
Her hand reached up to the invisible cross necklace on her upper chest.
"He killed himself, God have mercy."
"Did they ever find out why?"
"Lady Kathleen and their attorney were the only people knew but they kept their secret to themselves. Lady Kathleen stopped throwing parties for people in silk and tux
The house became so empty you could hear your voice echoing through the halls.
I never heard from them again."
Raphael was ready for more questions when his new visitor asked to use the ladies room.
He went to fill up 2 glasses of water in the kitchen when he saw Veronica emerged with creamed wine shaded and penciled over and on the outside the shape of her mouth and a penciled eyebrows few shades deeper than her ivory canvas, both reminded him of a child's drawing on a coloring book.
"I brought you a glass of water."
Veronica drank the water almost to the last drop in the glass.
"Pardon me, the heat made me thirsty."
"Miss Sanders, can you tell me more about the suicide?"
"There was a gunshot coming from his home office, Lady Kathleen didn't know he was home. He's been gone for days until she found him with a pool of blood oozing out of his temple in the midst of files and papers.
"Why did he commit suicide?"
"He was deep in debt. Some said he was more afraid to come to his wife than to come out about his situation.
"You said he'd been gone for days"
"Yeah he did. He was always out and out on business trip but he always came home. Miss Sophie had been asking about her step dad for days but nobody knew where he went. The day before he disappeared, he came home early and went with Miss Sophie on a trip. He asked me to pack them for a day's trip with picnic blanket and food. So I did, I even snuck in my chocolate cake. I didn't know where they went but Miss Sophie couldn't stop talking about the day spent together. They were always close but they never spent a time together without her mother hovering over her.
"Poor Sophie" he muttered
"Yeah Miss Sophie must've been traumatized when she walked into the scene."
"What? she was in there too?
"Oh yeah she was. She walked right in when she heard her mama screamed. She stood by the door until her mother said to take a good look at the room they were in so she could see what happened to the man who decided to take the easy way out"
Not long after, Veronica pleaded she had to be someplace else and rose from her seat. Raphael noted the way she walked relying heavily on her left leg and hummed a lullaby before she almost lost her balance when he caught her. Her eyelids grew heavy until she was nothing but a soft weight with too many scars inflicted in her eyes. Raphael laid her gently in her sofa and left the house with a mixed of anticipation and sorrow.
He was still noting her file a little after dinner time that he didn't hear Jacques, his partner of 2 years stood behind him.
"I'll be right in" he reached out to place Jacques hand to his lips before he finalized his notes on Sophie's 1st session.