-By Raelea C Phillips
I’m watching the squirrels at play in my backyard. I’ve already thrown a few handfuls of peanuts outside but it is never enough. They like to jump on my screens and pounce on the back door to get my attention. None of which is needed to do so since I am always sitting here near these windows that overlook the backyard and bird feeders. My desk is a little square bistro table made of pine that I painted yellow a few years back. I spend much of my time here for work. One lone chipmunk also enjoys stuffing a few peanuts in its cheeks. It always comes alone and it is extremely skittish. The squirrels just stare at me tossing the peanuts but the little chipmunk scampers off like I’m a predator. The chipmunk needs to worry more about the hawk that frequents these premises daily.
Day in and day out I am here. I never leave this house. I haven’t left my home in over three years. It makes for a strange lifestyle, I admit, but it is manageable. I have Ben, my dobie/lab mix. He is my only roommate. He is loyal but still looks forward to Tristan coming each day to walk him. I’m also entertained constantly by the wildlife in my backyard. My neighbors keep the bird feeders and birdbath cleaned and filled since I stopped going outside. I used to be able to walk around my yard and catch a few rays of vitamin D but those days have long since left me. Even if I could go outside my pale sensitive skin would surely burn from the harsh summer heat. Excuses. I guess I will try again in the fall.
Jenny called me yesterday. She wanted to come by to give me the good news. I wasn’t up for visitors so we hung up rather quickly. She was annoyed I didn’t want to see her so she wouldn’t share the news over the phone. I may hear about it from Susan anyway if I don’t see Jenny until next week. Susan never pushes me to try anything. She has been a good friend for years. I know Jenny cares and only wants whats best but her persistence on “my recovery” isn’t helping. It has been a long time and I find myself slowly accepting that I may never leave this house.
I’ve had six cups of coffee at The Flying Biscuit Cafe. Tristan has been here with me for the duration. We are both dancing around conversations like a nine year old who hasn’t taken his Ritalin for a week. Together, we can come up with some brilliant ideas. We both want to open a non-profit consignment shop. The shop would operate much like a Goodwill and provide services such as psychotherapy to troubled children. Social workers are both overworked and underpaid. We were hoping to lift some of that burden from the state and get some of these kids going in the right direction. I, of course, would be one of the therapists. Tristan has all the business sense and plans to be president.
There are several others who want on board once we establish funding; Jenny will be the first we hire. She is a music and art therapist. Her skills will do more than come in handy especially with moody teenagers who possess the talent of an instrument or vocals but the temperament of a musician as well. Jenny plays severals instruments and composes various genres of music as well as pieces for small wind and string ensembles. I can’t wait to get the ball rolling. There is so much to plan.
I left the cafe feeling like I snorted a few lines of coke. I don’t miss those days when my heart raced and my mind wandered the galaxy. I’m sure this heat will help me sweat out the caffeine. Walking along the sidewalks of Hotlanta in July means carrying a gallon of water. I feel like I cannot drink enough! It seems like Atlanta summers are getting hotter every year. Piedmont Park is buzzing with canines and their people. Various sized pooches yapping and smiling at one another before smelling each others assholes. Dogs. I miss having one. I keep saying I am going to go to the animal shelter but never get over there. I have too many clients and my last one leaves at 8PM. I’m not a big fan of walking the streets alone at night but fortunately in the summer we have daylight at least until 9PM.
I notice a note taped to my front doorknob as I walk up the six steps to the front porch. Maybe a client came by? I grabbed the note, unlocked the front door and went inside. Ah, air conditioning. I turned on the ceiling fan in the family room and lied down on the couch with the note still folded on my chest. I sat up against the arm cushion and noticed my bicycle next to the door. I need to get the tubing replaced in both tires. I’ve been meaning to do it but the world’s biggest procrastinator lives here. I unfolded the note and glanced quickly down the page. I didn’t recognize the hand-writing and it was signed Yours, ShyGuy.
Being a therapist cooped up in her own home doesn’t do much for society. I am reminded everyday by the media of the neglect and abuse so many children suffer here. Why do people have so many unwanted children? I simply don’t get it. There is no excuse. Birth control is free in many clinics in Atlanta. You’d think that this would be enough motivation for me to change? I have tried. I do try, still. I open the front door everyday, maybe once, but I do. I cannot walk out. I do miss the city. I miss the puppet theater. I miss the outdoor amphitheater concerts in the Botanical Gardens. I miss my clients!
Today, MY therapist comes over for an hour session. He usually stays longer and drinks a bottle of wine with me after; sometimes dinner too. We work on my fears; the fear of stepping outside, the fear of the wind, the fear of the sounds of the city, the fear of people. I am overridden with fear. Ridiculous to think that so many go out into the world everyday and nothing happens. They return home maybe more stressed than when they left but they do return. I know this. I know the same would be for me. I know my return to a “normal” life must happen someday according to my network of human relations. I simply cannot see it happening. I see myself old, white-haired, with a cane, stumbling through this house meaningless, hopeless, a coffin waiting to seclude me more. I am content with inevitable death and being buried. I find comfort in that space of permanent sleep; worms and insects crawling throughout my body feasting and reproducing until I am gone and free from harm. I don’t fear that unknown. I am not afraid while I am home so why should I be miserable out there?
David walks in silently and doesn’t even look at me until he puts down his leather bag as I close the front door. He turned to me wanting to say something different than what comes out of his mouth, “How are you, today?”
“I’m ok. I opened the door only five minutes before you arrived.” Mistake comment number one.
“Good, then lets go do it again while it is still fresh.”
I stepped away from the door allowing him to control the situation. He grabbed the doorknob asking if I was ready. I nodded and he slowly opened the door. As the door opened wider the heat rushed in as if to chase away the cool air inside. Maddening heat in such a hurry to replace my air but my air not so willing to leave it rushes upstairs.
“The crickets and birds seem quite happy.”
“Yes, they do. Would you like to join them just to the mailbox?”
“Not really.” I grinned at his sarcasm.
“Okay, how about two steps today?”
He wasn’t going to quit. It had been a few sessions since his last attempt and I only see him twice monthly. I looked down at my feet which were neatly placed in socks; toes right at the bottom door jam.
“I want you to close your eyes, feel the humid air, listen to sound of nature and imagine those sounds are like armor, protecting you as you step one foot out...” David continued speaking as my mind wondered through file after file of memories of the outdoors. I remembered camping trips with my family. I remembered getting drunk and skinny dipping in the lake with my college buddies on weekends. I remembered taking clients to Piedmont Park. I remembered how grass felt under my bare feet and the smell of gardenias in the neighborhood. I remember gardening and the feel of Georgia clay in my hands. Suddenly I felt David’s hand on my left forearm slightly guiding my body forward.
“Okay...Now takes a few deeps breaths then open your eyes. I am right here with you. You are safe.”
I opened my eyes and felt the initial sting of the bright sun on my face. I felt David’s arm and the hot air all around me. The wind was rustling the maple leaves and a lizard quickly crossed my path. I noticed my feet were on the sidewalk between the steps and my front porch.
“Oh my God! I need to go in!”
“Shelby, I am here. Just breathe. If you need to close your eyes again please do....”
David held my arm firmly. I spun around staring at my front door. It was so far away like a corridor to someplace now unfamiliar. My eyes began to tunnel toward the door. I reached out my right hand while the door knob grew smaller and smaller.
“No no no no I can’t go any further! I must go inside!”
“We are not going any further, Shelby. Try to focus on my voice and the birds welcoming you outside. You love your songbirds, Shelby. They are here as well.”
The corridor stretched like I was in a whacky funhouse. I wanted to reach farther but my arm would not extend far enough.
“Too far, David, please!”
We began to walk slowly toward the door. I tried to run but he held my arm. He continued to speak calmly as we approached the door. I felt the rush of hot air escape my lungs as I fell to my knees just inside the door. I began crawling into the house sobbing when David lifted me up carefully assuring my safety. I can’t do this. I’m not sure how it even got this bad but this is beyond a challenge; possibly one I will never be able to completely face. Devastation and disappointment again.
“I am not disappointed, Shelby. Do you have any idea how much courage that took?”
Do you have any idea how unbelievably scary that was? How stupid I feel? Courage? I didn’t know we walked out that far! I stopped crying long enough to tell David I was not up for wine and dinner this evening. Hell, I wasn’t up for anything except my closet; dark, silent, cool, peaceful, safe.
David left, surprisingly the same way he entered; silent.
Morgan is 17. She has just begun her senior year in high school with an extra credit assignment of writing her first novel for literature class. Mr. Forshay, the school psychologist, continues to dig for answers from Morgan's fragmented past.
Why can't she remember anything before age 13? And where was she before being discovered asleep in an outside restroom of a local gas station in Marshall county? Morgan doesn't have any answers. She buries herself in a fictional character, Olivia, the 13 year old girl secretly hidden inside a spiral notebook.
Sofia is 8. At least she thinks she is 8 and her name is Sofia. She does however, know with certainty that she lives in New Orleans in foster care. She doesn't speak to anyone. She wakes up every night screaming from relentless night terrors. Randi Morrill is the trained speech therapist assigned to the case. With Sofia's permission she reads her poetry hoping to find answers.
The Story of Morgan
A tiny speckle of sand
lays on my hand
a universe inside it
a world is hiding
the hand opens wider
the sand grain in shining
the wind casts away
it lands just the same
and lost is this grain
among so many in vain.
My finger tips hurt. I have been biting my nails more often these days. I’m trying to curl my fingers into a fist to hide the damage from Mr. Forshay. But it hurts too much so I just sit on my hands instead. He is on the phone and it sounds like it’s his wife on the other end. From what I can tell they don’t get along very well. As soon as he gets off he will notice my nails bitten down to the quick and probably say something. He always does. Its either that or twist my hair up into knots and rip them out. I also tend to chew on pencils or pen caps. What difference does it make? My hands or my mouth will find something to do without my consent anyway.
I take a deep breath. Mr Forshay just hung up the phone. He looks irritated but is changing his face oddly enough to bring himself back to this room, this weird world with me. He asks me how my writing is coming along therapeutically speaking of course. Is there any other reason to write? I write because I can escape. I’m never sure exactly what I am trying to escape from or why I feel so anxious in the first place. Writing poetry is the escape from reality and writing my story is the escape from myself.
I feel so different from all my schoolmates. I don’t look much different except there aren’t too many light brown colored skinned girls at my school. Everyone says I must be Mexican but I don’t think so. I’ve met other Mexicans and they talk and look different than me. I’m short like many of them but my skin isn’t as dark and my hair is curly and not black. I have green eyes too and not brown like all the other latinos in my community. I don’t get picked on so much anymore since I have been going out with Nathan.
“Morgan? Are you going to answer my question?”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Forshay, what was the question?”
“What are your plans after high school? This is your senior year and you need to start thinking about your future. Where do you see yourself next year at this time?”
He would ask me this now. I don’t know the answer to that. I suppose everyone expects me to go to college but I’m not sure how I will be able to afford it. Miss Dickinson, my literature teacher, wants me to pursue a life of writing. Yesterday she gave out an extra credit assignment to the entire class challenging them to write either a series of poetry, short stories, a novel or a memoir. She said we had the entire school year to write. She doesn’t want a research paper or an analysis. She wants something original, created from our chaotic, hormonal, teenage brains. Chaotic is right. My whole mind is in chaos. I don’t even know who I am!
Olivia ran through the clothes hanging on the line, zig zagging between every article of clothing and falling into the yellow queen size sheet that would eventually end up on her parent’s bed. She slowly slipped off the wet sheet hitting the ground with a thud. The sun was shining directly overhead while the wind blew the clothes, rippling the sheet and causing a thunderous roar through the towels. It is always windy this time of year upon the onset of autumn. Too bad it was still so sticky hot.
The grass was thick, blades poking up and tickling the inside of Olivia’s upper arm. She lay sprawled out below the clothesline watching every t-shirt of various colors alternate their dance moves above her. She closed her eyes and listened to the music of windblown laundry: the rumbling bass of wet towels dominating. She inhaled the combination of flowery fragrances that skipped across her nostrils: honeysuckle, jasmine and gardenias. Soon summer will be over and the autumn winds will sweep down taking the sweet fragrances along for the ride with the leaves. School was going to start next month, only a few weeks away. Olivia wasn’t ready. She wanted her summer vacation to start over. She wasn’t ready for the 7th grade yet or for another birthday. That to was right around the corner.
I saw Nathan in the hallway after third period. He was leaning against his locker talking to Cindy. That girl is trying so hard to get into his pants but it will never happen. Nathan is shy. Even if he wasn’t with me he wouldn’t give Cindy a chance. She pretends like she needs help with Algebra but that’s a crock of shit. As soon as he saw me he turned his back on her and watched me walk into the library. I could feel his eyes on me. But not in that way. He has kissed me but hasn’t tried anything else. We have been friends since the ninth grade. I always thought of him as a best girlfriend until recently.
It is so smokey in here. They always come in the library restroom to smoke. I can’t believe these girls trap themselves in those stinky stalls just to gossip and smoke. I like to smoke after school, outside when I’m not rushed or taking a chance of being caught. They’re so stupid and immature. Mr. Forshay asked me once during one of our sessions if I had ever smoked or drank alcohol. I didn’t lie but didn’t tell him the complete truth either. He doesn’t need to know everything. I really don’t smoke that much because it makes my throat raw. I do have a couple of drinks sometimes on Friday nights while hanging out with Nathan and Lizzy. I even tried pot once but it didn’t do anything except make me hungry and tired.
I know Mr. Forshay is just doing his job but I feel like I’m at a standstill with therapy. I remember the first time I saw him. I think I was 13. I can’t remember much back then. My life was in a fog as it is much of the time now. But I remember his face the first time I sat down in the office. He had just walked in out of the rain and he looked flushed as he hurriedly took off his coat and tucked his umbrella behind one of the waiting area blue cushiony chairs. I remember his umbrella. It was designed like a Monet painting; all pastel colors. I thought it was corny that he carried this umbrella. I was only 13 and didn’t really understand what corny meant. Words were used and thrown around me like popcorn at a viewing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. All I knew, ‘corny’ was considered an insult.
He was introduced to me as the school psychologist. He reached down and shook my hand and asked me my name. I didn’t say anything. I remained seated staring at his face. Words were lost to me. I could hear them in my head but could not attempt to speak. I wanted to speak. I often found myself shouting inside my head while my face turned beat red with frustration. But not this time. I felt relieved to have been given such a gift of therapy; Mr. Forshay to the rescue, to save me from my silence. The only words that were going through my mind when I met him besides ‘gay’, were ‘best of luck trying to fix me.’
Its been four years but I don’t see him every week anymore. He has to drive all over the county to different schools counseling other students. My sophomore year is when we cut back my sessions to every other week. Then last year he said once a month would be fine until I had that ridiculous breakdown. I had to go into the hospital for a week for evaluations and psych tests. It’s a bunch of crap if you ask me. They said I had a nervous breakdown due to some breakthrough or recognition of my past in something I wrote for my English class. So what! I don’t remember! What difference does it really make? If they would leave it alone maybe I can be normal for once. I’m tired of hypnosis and regression therapy. It always dredges up so much pain and I don’t know what the pain really is or where it is coming from. For all I know it’s not even my pain to try to bargain with. Thats the last time I was in the hospital. They diagnosed me with some anxiety disorder and something else. I don’t want to know their labels.
I just want to write without anyone knowing what I am writing. Miss Dickinson seems nice enough. She allows me to think in my own direction. I like senior literature so far. We get to be creative without the rules of grammar or structure being crammed down out throats every second. There’s nothing I hate more than a teacher looking over my shoulder trying to read while I write. Then having the audacity to criticize my work when I haven’t even finished yet! I get to write this story for class and I have the whole year to keep it to myself. I’m excited about this secret. My secret is Olivia. She is my character. She gets to live in a little box inside a spiral notebook, her life only known to me. I envy Olivia. I wish I could hide in a box all of the time. I am careful with her. No one will ever see her. She’s mine. Maybe I won’t turn in the assignment.
I don’t have a computer to type on. I think I will go to the library once a month to type up what I have written thus far. But not the school library, too many snoops. And my luck would have it someone will pull up my document somehow and steal my material. Screw that. I will use the public library. It is quieter and safer and doesn’t smell like cigarettes every time the bathroom door opens.
The sun was beginning to set on the horizon. The sky was pink and orange strewn with hues of purple and red. Olivia thought how could something so beautiful only be described by science. Her mother hollered for her and Sofia to come inside and wash up for dinner. Olivia and her sister both sat a few more minutes against the largest oak tree near the house. Sofia handed her all of the rocks and arrowheads. Olivia gently slid them into a small leather bag then placed the leather bag inside a plastic ziplock. She put the ziplock inside a hole at the base of the tree. They both got up and raced into the house.
“Daddy’s coming home tonight so help me with the dishes after dinner while your sister takes a bath, Olivia.” Mom said as she handed me a towel to dry my hands.
She put the meatloaf, brown rice and green beans on the table.
“When will Daddy be here? Can we stay up and wait?” Sofia chimed in.
“Yes but you need to take your bath first and brush your teeth. I want you both cleaned up and ready for bed before Daddy arrives but you will need to go to bed soon after.”
Olivia and Sofia both sighed but were too hungry to think that far into the future. Their mother stopped them from grabbing the serving spoons insisting on a prayer before supper. When Olivia opened her eyes she noticed it was dark outside already. She could hear the orchestra of crickets even with the windows closed and air conditioner running. She also heard the frogs and thought that it might rain tonight. The frogs were so good at forecasting the weather. They anticipated every drop of water that fell from the sky. The only thing that silenced the frogs when it rained was flooding. If it rained for more than two days the frogs would leave and take their songs with them.
Olivia loved the frogs. Her and Sofia counted the round toe prints every morning that were left on the kitchen window. Mom always left on a small night light over the sink which attracted some insects but not as many as the overhead kitchen light. Dinnertime after dusk was always enjoyable watching the frogs’ suctioned cupped to the window panes, gobbling up all the mosquitoes flying around them. Washing dishes was hardly a chore since the girls got an even better view of the eating contest.
Olivia usually washed since she was the oldest at 12, almost 13. Sofia was only 8 and stood on a stepping stool to reach the water and place each dish in the drying rack. Olivia didn’t need the stool anymore though she still only stood at 4 feet 9 inches. She was almost 13 and had not started her period yet. Many of her classmates already had pubic hair and budding breasts. Olivia felt self conscious for her lack of development hiding her body under baggy t-shirts and blue jeans. Boys often teased her as if their dog senses smelled her lack of confidence. She hated boys.
My head hurts today and not the kind of dull ache that usually lingers above my eyes. This one is worse. It hurts all the way around like someone is pinching the muscles in the back of my neck really hard. Everyone talks about migraines like they are some common occurrence. Every headache is a migraine. I get so sick of hearing people casually complain about their “migraines” whining like babies as if it were so simple. They have no idea what a migraine is! I can’t even open my eyes when I get a migraine. Every sound especially repetitive sounds like the pencil sharpener or the crumpling of paper make me cringe. Thats the worst. I feel like screaming when the pain gets unbearable but the sound of my own voice hurts too much even at a whisper.
Fortunately this is not a migraine. And I know it won’t become one because I didn’t have the numbness in my fingertips on my right hand. It’s always the right side. It starts with my fingers then moves up my arm. Within a few hours the right side of my face goes numb causing my mouth to droop a little. I sound so funny when I try to speak. This all occurs before the headache pain begins. I have had tests. All the poking and prodding and machines taking pictures of the inside of my head but nothing. They found nothing. The doctors ruled out Epilepsy assuming my problems were all psychological. I sat assuming because what the hell do they know? Doctors look for one thing or another but never see the obvious! Who knows, I may have some tumor growing inside my brain and maybe it will kill me! But not before I finish my story of Olivia.
Lizzy and I had lunch together. We like to eat outside. The weather hasn’t turned on us yet. Though I could use a break from this heat. I like to be outside and Lizzy is like me in that we don’t care about the wind messing up our hair. We usually share a cigarette after we eat. The teachers never watch us so we can sneak off around the side of the school near the track to smoke. I suppose we can be trusted since we both make pretty good grades. Lizzy is better at the math and science subjects. She helps me with Trigonometry and Chemistry and I help her with Literature and History. She says she is not as creative as me but she is in band and plays the french horn quite well. I can’t do that.
I wish Nathan and I had the same lunch period. He has the earlier lunch period like all the other jocks. Nathan is not a jock per say. He runs cross country in the fall and track in the spring. He doesn’t play football or basketball and those guys are jocks. Not all of them are assholes. Antoine is Nathan’s friend since they were kids. He’s kind of shy like Nathan and doesn’t need any favors like cheating on tests or having someone write his papers in order to stay on the team. He’s really smart and makes excellent scores on everything. Nathan scores about average I guess. He could do better if he applied himself. Oh God! Listen to me! I sound like Mr. Forshay. He used to say that to me all the time but not lately since I have Lizzy to help with Trig.
I keep thinking about Mr. Forshay and how sad he looks sometimes. I don’t understand why people get married if they can’t get along. I know couples fight. My foster parents argue all the time but they make up quickly. They don’t stay mad for a long time. I wonder if my parents ever fought like Mr. Forshay and his wife. Was my dad sad all the time? Mr. Forshay is kind of cute and I don’t think he is that much older than me. He’s too young to stay in a marriage that can’t work! I heard somewhere that he was only twenty-six years old. I told Nathan that once and he got a little jealous.
One time I walked into the principles office for my session with Mr. Forshay. It was the first time we were meeting there instead of an empty classroom or the teachers lounge. I was a few minutes early so I waited in the waiting area just outside Principle Waterson’s office. When 3:00 rolled around Mr. Forshay still hadn’t arrived. I got up and walked toward the door to the office. I raised my hand to knock but stopped when I heard a voice on the other side of the door. Principle Waterson was already making her rounds through the school which had let out ten minutes ago. It must have been Mr. Jacobs with another student and their session was running over. I didn’t want to interrupt and knock. Usually the students he sees before school gets out are severe head cases. Huh, I know because I used to be one of those.
I sat back down in the chair and pulled out my spiral story. Olivia had been waiting patiently for so long. I didn’t let her play that day during lunch as Lizzy took up most of my time. Just as I opened the notebook the voice got louder. It was Mr. Forshay and he was almost shouting. There’s no way that’s a student in there. He wouldn’t raise his voice at a student. Or would he? I don’t remember if he ever raised his voice at me. He always seemed so gentle.
I wanted to get up and knock on the door again maybe to silence Mr. Forshay or I was getting nervous from the noise. I started to turn the door knob and heard footsteps coming toward the door. The door swung open and suddenly there he was and there I was staring right into his face; mine completely flushed with embarrassment. Mr. Forshay looked like he had been crying. He cleared his throat and softly asked me to come inside and close the door. As usual we began our session as if nothing had happened. The strangest part about that session was we talked about intimate relationships and responsibilities to those we love. It was the first time I told him about Nathan. He had asked if I had a boyfriend and had known Nathan and I were friends. I don’t think he meant to say that intimacy can destroy friendships. I think he was venting. I think he regretted saying it is afterwards.
I just wish Mr. Forshay wasn’t so upset so often before our sessions. It seems to be getting worse. Maybe I should say something? I wonder what she does to him or says to him on the phone. I wonder if she is crazy like me. Leave it to a therapist to marry a looney. They act like they can separate their personal lives from the professional but I think it’s a load of crap. I notice that therapists always have screwed up kids too. It’s like karma or something. Like earth or God or whoever brought this crazy child into the world carrying the genes of a therapist. What irony. Oh where’s Olivia? She’s the most ironic of them all. I need to write.
Olivia sat on the couch waiting for her dad to come home. Sofia had fallen asleep with her head resting on Olivia’s lap. Olivia was reading “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret.” She had read every Judy Blume book ever written and this one already twice. Her mother was sitting in the recliner watching TV. There was some show on about kidnapped children. The show host’s son was kidnapped years ago and killed. Olivia thought the show was very depressing. She felt her mom didn’t need these real life stories over dramatized on TV making her cry any more than she already did. She cried often missing Olivia’s dad.
Olivia’s dad works so far away this time of year on a fishing boat out of the pacific northwest. He leaves every year in early April and returns in early September right before Olivia’s birthday. He is never home on Sofia’s birthday as it is June 30. They celebrate Sofia’s birthday again on the Saturday after his return. He is usually home for a month or so then goes out into the Gulf of Mexico on a shrimping boat. He returns right before Thanksgiving and is home with the family again until the following April. During those months especially around the holidays, Olivia’s mom bounces around the house like a giddy high school girl in love for the first time.
There was a sound at the door. Olivia jumped up suddenly waking up Sofia.
She looked outside but no one was there.
“Sit down honey, it was just the wind. Daddy will be here soon.”
Sofia sat up wiping her eyes, yawning. She got up and went into the kitchen for a cup of water. Olivia signed and sat back in to the couch with her book closed sitting beside her. She was nervously twirling her hair between her fingers watching TV. Several minutes went by and the show went to a commercial. Olivia looked toward the kitchen listening for Sofia.
“Sofia, what are you doing in there?” Olivia shouted out and looked over at her mom grimacing.
“Sofia?...Sofia?...Sofia, why aren’t you answering me?” Olivia’s mother stood up and walked toward the kitchen.
“Sofia, you better answer me before I get in there.”
There was silence. Olivia turned down the TV anticipating the smack Sofia was going to get for ignoring her mother. Instead, her mother returned in the family room.
“Where did she say she was going? To get water, right?”
“Yeah, but that was a long time ago.”
Olivia’s mother walked down the hallway to look in the bedrooms and bathroom. Suddenly there was a crashing sound coming from the hallway.
There was no response.
“Mommy, are you okay?...Mommy?”
Olivia felt a sudden knot in her throat.
“Sofia? Mommy?” She called out softly as she walked slowly down the hallway. She looked in the bathroom but no one was there. She looked in Sofia’s room next since it was across from the bathroom. Empty. She tiptoed slowly toward her parents room. She could hear someone rummaging through their dresser drawers.
“Mommy.” She whispered once just before she peaked into the room. The noise quickly stopped as two men stood frozen looking toward the door. Olivia screamed when she saw her mother lying on the floor on her side with blood coming from the back of her head.
“Oh shit! There’s another kid to deal with!”
Olivia ran out heading towards the phone. She heard a car coming up the driveway. She grabbed the phone and ran for the front door. She heard feet running up behind her but didn’t look back. She got out the door then ran down the front porch steps frantically trying to dial 911 at the same time.
The men stopped. Olivia ran into her father’s arms.
“911 What’s your emergency?” The voice was a woman.
“There are two men. My daddy’s here. But my mommy’s head is bleeding and she is not moving. I can’t find, Sofia!”
Olivia tried to speak calmly and clearly as she was taught in school if faced with a situation like this. Her father held her close and slowly pushed her around to his back. Olivia looked around her father and noticed one of the men was holding a gun pointing at them. She whispered.
“He has a gun.”
“Who has a gun, sweetheart, who has the gun? Your daddy?”
“No, the men do. The men that hurt my mommy.”
“Okay honey, listen carefully, the police are on their way...”
The phone was jerked from her hand and thrown into the woods along the driveway. Olivia’s father backed her up holding his arms behind him.
“Please let my daughter go. I will do whatever you want.”
Olivia noticed the men were acting especially strange. They both had pale sweaty skin, dark yellow teeth and were awfully fidgety.
“Man, we gotta get the fuck outta here! She called the cops!”
“You stupid, bitch!”
The man with the gun lunged forward to grab Olivia’s arm.
Today I have a session with Mr. Forshay. He said last week that we were making progress and he didn’t want to wait another month. What progress? I don’t feel any different. I feel like a zombie. Everything is such a routine. I get up, brush my teeth, eat a bowl of cereal, ride the school bus, go to my classes, talk nonsense with Lizzy, pretend I care with Nathan, ride the school bus home, do homework, eat dinner, take a shower, and go to bed. The only refuge I have from that schedule is writing about Olivia. My Forshay keeps asking me about the story. I haven’t let him read it yet but I’ve told him about it. He asks me who is Olivia and how did I choose my character names and location. I told him it is a work of fiction. He said we often project our own experiences and emotions into fictional work. He has a point. My poems definitely follow some pattern of my life, strangely written however. I wrote this one this morning on the bus:
Oh give me a home
where a family can roam
mean people fall into hell
Where seldom is heard
of crying disturbed
and holding a bullet shell
Oh give me a place
where I can’t see my face
no mirrors revealing the guilt
Where nothing is seen
numbness is all that is felt
I know Mr. Forshay will read way into that one. I feel like I am betraying him if I don’t share my poems. I don’t feel that way about the story. Though I have told him about Olivia, I haven’t let him read it. Her story continues to be my secret. Nathan asks to read my story too. But not lately. He finally gave up I assume. I spend much of my time buried inside the spiral notebook when I am with him. We don’t even talk much anymore. Maybe Mr. Forshay was right. Intimacy does destroy friendship. So does that mean I don’t want to be friends with Nathan? I don’t know if I love him anymore or if I ever did. I’m not sure what love is supposed to feel like. It is different than how I feel about Lizzy and my foster parents.
It is really different from how I feel about Mr. Forshay. I noticed lately I get a twinge in my tummy when I see Mr. Forshay. My palms sweat and I breathe a little harder. I haven’t thought about how it looks to him. He probably thinks I had just ran from class or something. I never thought about what he thinks until now. I get excited to see him. I don’t know why. I’m also a little nervous. My nails can’t get any shorter. I’ve been hiding them more. I never used to care about my appearance in front of Mr. Forshay.
His eyes are like marbles
a glistening hue
colorless but colorful
with a tear or two he sniffles
I reach out my hand
I listen to him
When he is supposed to listen to me
My turn to be his shining armor
It’s better that way
I wish I was Olivia
Oh yes, that’s it! I’m changing my story! Olivia isn’t 13, she is 23! I want Olivia to be free from parents and childhood. Olivia needs to be on her own. She is safe with me. She doesn’t need a family. I will protect Olivia forever and Miss Dickinson cannot have this story nor can Mr. Forshay. He especially can never, ever read! Olivia loves him. Its Olivia trying to escape her young life.
I wonder what people think about me as I pass them in the hallway heading toward the principle’s office. I can feel the sweat dripping down my forehead. I don’t think it’s hot in here. The air conditioner is set down on 60 degrees. It is always so cold on this floor. The second floor is much warmer. I will stop by my locker after my session. I just want to get there. I’ve been anticipating seeing Mr. Forshay all day. I need more ideas for Olivia. I need to know more about Mr. Forshay like what is his first name? And when is his birthday? What is his sign?
I’m a Virgo. I’m not really into the whole Astrology thing but I do like reading the compatibility charts. The horoscopes are in the newspaper every day. The Sunday paper has a bigger section for Astrology describing what signs go well together. I find it interesting. Lizzy told me about them otherwise I wouldn’t have cared enough to look. I hate newspapers with all that ink getting on my fingers and clothes.
I went to the library one evening after school and sat in the occult/new age section reading all kinds of books about Virgo’s. It’s an earth sign. all the signs fall under one of the four major elements: air, water, fire, and earth. Taurus and Capricorn are the other two earth signs and I am supposed to be compatible with them as well as other Virgos. I am also somewhat compatible with the three water signs: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces; the latter being my polar opposite. Every sign has a polar opposite six months apart from one another. Every sign is either feminine or masculine too. And there is something about the axis of each sign: four signs are Cardinal, four are Fixed and four are Mutable. There was so much more regarding compatibility including a person’s moon sign and rising sign. The ‘main’ sign is your sun sign. I didn’t get into that to heavy. It became overwhelmingly confusing at that point.
So I figured Olivia should have my birthday since I can write from some personal experience giving my imagination a break once in a while. That’s funny since Mr. Forshay was right again about writers projecting their own lives into their fictional work. Olivia is a Virgo which means I hope Mr. Forshay is one of the signs compatible with hers.
I have put so much thought into Olivia and Mr. Forshay that I forgot about Nathan’s sign. I didn’t read about his sign at all. I know he’s a Libra. We get along okay but we haven’t talked much lately. We’ve been friends for a long time though. His birthday is the same month as mine but not until the end, September 29th.
Mr.Forshay is on the phone again. I can hear a one-sided conversation. He’s not yelling this time so that’s a good thing but why do I feel anxious? Do I want him to be sad? I should have pushed him to talk to me but he sounds okay this time and I won’t have anything to push for if he’s happy. Maybe he isn’t talking to his wife?
The door opens. “Morgan, please come in.”
“Oh hey Mr. Forshay, or shall I call you...?” Morgan waited for an answer.
He looked somewhat confused. “Uh, Mr. Forshay”
“Well I was wondering, what is your first name?”
I can’t waste any time. Get the first name and birthday now then begin the session.
“Well, my first name is Ryan but you still have to call me Mr. Forshay.”
Morgan agreed with a half smile. “So when is your birthday?”
“Why do you need to know that?” Mr. Forshay was anxious to get started.
“Oh just because... or actually to have a better understanding of you.”
“A better understanding how?”
“Astrology. What’s your sign?”
Mr. Forshay sat back in his chair behind the desk hesitating. “My birthday is November 14th but I’m not telling you the year. I believe that makes me a Scorpio.
“I already know how old you are, Mr. Ryan Forshay. I heard the teachers talking about you one day last year. It seems you were quite the fresh meat around here when you took on my case.”
“Morgan, that’s interesting but we are not here to talk about me, okay?”
Ryan, I mean Mr. Forshay, was a little more chipper and quicker than usual. I want the other, sad Mr. Forshay back. But he may not have answered my questions if he were sad. And I can’t believe he is a Scorpio! This is exciting. He is compatible with my sign! I mean He will be perfect for Olivia. Oh, I have to know more.
“Hmm, so you’re a Scorpio, only a few years older than Olivia and your first name is Ryan. What else can you tell me? How long have you been married and do you have kids?” I spoke quickly so he couldn’t interrupt.
“Morgan, I’m your therapist. Your not mine. I will answer these last two questions but we need to talk about you. I’m not married and I don’t have any children.”
Not married? I kind of figured he didn’t have kids but not married? Then what about the ring? He wears a ring and I just assumed. And who has he been arguing with on the phone? It certainly sounded like a lover’s quarrel. Oh Ryan is for Olivia and there is no wife in the way. This is turning out to be more exciting than I thought. And it looks like it’s going to be easy hooking up the two.
I sat back in my chair and just stared at Mr. Forshay, smiling. I looked down at my finger nails and made a fist with both hands to hide the chewed up damage. I think he asked me a few questions and I caught some of the words. I think I know what he wants to know but it’s more fun ignoring him now. Today’s session feels like it needs to be more informal. Ah, Olivia and Ryan are free to run through the woods together. No guilt of marriage and no shame of identity.
We talked a little about Olivia. Mr. Forshay wanted to know more about her and why I changed her age. He asked me about my interest in Astrology all the sudden. He asked me about Nathan and Lizzy. He asked me about the story as if it was separate from Olivia; it’s progress and what Miss Dickinson said about it thus far. I told him that nobody had seen the story yet and that I was considering writing another for extra credit so to keep Olivia all to myself. As if completing the circle of questions, he asked me why Olivia was such a secret. Was she in trouble? Was Olivia someone I really knew and not a fictional character after all?
I half-assed answered some of his questions, yawning frequently. I didn’t want to talk about this shit anymore. I wanted to know more about Ryan.
“Mr. Forshay, I have heard you on the phone many times before sessions and you always sounded sad so...”
He interrupted. “Morgan, I’m sorry if you heard me on the phone. I should have been more discreet. But again, this session is for you. You have been coming to me for almost four years now and never expressed such curiosity regarding my personal life. Why all the interest now?”
I know what he wants. He can’t have it. “I gotta go.”
“We have fifteen minutes left, Morgan.”
“Yeah, I know but I gotta go.”
“Morgan, are you okay?”
Oh God, don’t ask me that! Of course not! Please let me go. Dammit, why won’t this stupid notebook go in the bag? Shit, I really need to get out of here. My face feels hot and my hands are sweating. He is touching my shoulder. Oh Ryan please stop! Please let me go!
“Morgan, what’s the matter?...Morgan, wait...what is happening?”
“No, I don’t feel well. I will see you later.”
I couldn’t get out fast enough. I saw his face briefly before I closed the door. I need some water. My body feels weird. I felt like this once when I first kissed Nathan. I know what it is. I learned about the female body getting aroused in sex education class. But why now? Why do I feel this way? It’s Olivia. The school is empty. I think most of the detention kids are gone by now. I’m going to my homeroom to write. Nobody should be there.
Olivia was lying in bed staring up at the little stars stuck on her ceiling above her bed. At night the stars glowed after the afternoon sunlight shone in brightly. The sun was setting on the horizon and no longer pierced through Olivia’s bedroom window but it wasn’t dark enough yet to see the glow.
Olivia was wearing a skirt that stopped just above her knees and a halter top. Her windows were open as a slight breeze blew her drapes back and forth. She closed her eyes and thought about Ryan. She hadn’t seen him in over a week. He was busy with all his patients at the hospital and students at school. She wasn’t sure when she’s see him again. Her schedule with students didn’t coincide with his schedule for this school year. They rarely saw one another in the teachers lounges or cafeterias anymore.
Olivia’s body began to sweat. She placed her left hand over her right breast lightly caressing her nipple under the thin fabric of the top. She felt a tingling sensation between her legs and squeezed her thighs together then let out a little gasp. Her mind slowly undressed Ryan as her stood next to her bed excited and ready to make love to her.
Olivia felt a rush in her belly and along her spine. She felt a sense of urgency to press her hand between her legs. She began to breathe harder and faster as the pressure built. She had felt pleasure there a few times after climbing the monkey bars in the playground as a kid but not since then. She wanted Ryan to touch her. She ran her hand under the elastic of her skirt and down below her panties. She bent her knees and raised her legs, feet flat on the bed. She thought of Ryan’s hand softly touching her which exciting her more. Suddenly she felt something change. The sensation became more urgent and her hands rubbed faster and more vigorously. She took a few quick breaths then held the last one in before exhaling a yell of explosive and rhythmic most pleasurable sensation coming from between her legs.
The bed was wet as Olivia sat up and looked. She felt the blood returning to her head as her breathing began to slow. She thought about Ryan wanting him near her now as she lay back and cried into her pillow. She wasn’t sure why she was crying except for the frustration of Ryan not knowing how she felt about him. Would he return her love? Did he look at her the same way she looked at him?
I can’t believe how writing about Olivia makes me so excited. She is so brave except with Ryan. I don’t think I could ever do that. No one is here. Maybe I can go to the library bathroom? I wonder if Mr. Forshay ever feels this way about anyone. If he is not married then maybe he is seeing a teacher here? I wonder if he has ever done it in the teachers lounge!
The school library is still open and no one is ever there on a Tuesday. I can use the bathroom there. If anyone asks me what’s taking so long I can say I’m sick or something. I can’t go home yet and I will probably get caught at home.
In The Library
A sensation like no other
inside my head
outside my hand
touching hot flesh
a beckoning for him
to kiss my neck
His mouth wet and warm
his tongue gentle and soft
his hand reaching down
teasing then leaving me breathing
for more for more for more
His hardness excited
and swiftly finding a way
into me blindly
a blissful lover's call
Together we fall
and cradling each other
after such pleasure
But I find myself alone in a stall
the bathroom echoes
only my sorrows
for he is not here at all
I am accompanied by a library's story.
Nathan gave me a ride home after cross country practice. I almost missed the ride. He thought I had already left when he didn’t see me on the bleachers. I’m usually there waiting at least twenty minutes before he finishes his run. I’ve been using this time lately to write and didn’t realize I was in the library for so long. We didn’t talk in the car at all. He was listening to the radio as I continued writing about Olivia’s sexual fantasies.Olivia is becoming more and more obsessed with Ryan. I can’t stop writing anymore. I’m even writing while riding in the car with Nathan.
I think he knew something was different about me. I could feel him looking over at me while he was driving. When we pulled up to my house I almost kissed him. I still felt a little aroused but as soon as I looked at him the sensation started to go away. This is ridiculous. I need to end this relationship but first things first. My birthday is tomorrow. I’m going to be eighteen and I’m still a virgin! Nathan is my boyfriend and I do care about him so sex wouldn’t be wrong. Since when is it not okay for a girl to use a guy anyway? And I need to get some experience for Olivia. I could get Nathan to pick me up tomorrow morning instead of riding the school bus. But I’m not sure if I want to wait that long. I could get him to come over to help me with my upcoming chemistry test. Actually I should go to his house instead, there is more privacy. Or we could go down to Guntersville Lake and stay in his car. All the produce vendors have left by now and there aren’t that many joggers this time of year.
“Ginger, may I go to Nathan’s to study? I have a chemistry test Friday and need to get a head start.”
Ginger is my foster mom. She’s been really relaxed lately about me going out on school nights as long as I’m home by 9pm. She thinks I’m studying and since my grades have been pretty good in the past I guess she assumes my senior year won’t be any different. I’m usually studying so she’s got it half right. I can take my bicycle to save time. That way I can get to Nathan’s is less than ten minutes.
The bicycle seat is so hard it hurts my butt especially when I hit bumps in the road and forget to stand up on the pedals. I can’t help but think about how Nathan has never tried to have sex with me. He has never even touched my boobs. I’m not even sure if he thinks i’m pretty.
My back pack feels heavy so I throw it on the front porch after I arrive hoping the thump will alert him that I am here without having to knock. I suspect nobody is home except Nathan. His parents are at work and he has no brothers and sisters. I think I hear rumbling around upstairs like someone is running. I guess I better knock after all. I hear him coming.
“Oh hey Morgan, what’s up?” He’s out of breath.
“I wanted to see you. My birthday is tomorrow and I thought maybe we could celebrate this afternoon before your folks come home.”
“But you never want to celebrate your birthday.”
I don’t know what to say to that so I should kiss him instead.
“What was that for?”
“Huh? Um I am still your girlfriend?”
“Yeah but we haven’t....” Nathan was interrupted.
“Want to have sex with me?”
“What!?! No! What are you talking about?”
“Nathan, I’m gonna be eighteen. I shouldn’t be a virgin anymore and neither should you.”
“Wow this is weird. Are you sure? Wait what am I saying? Oh my God!”
“C’mon Nathan, please let’s do this. We’ve been together a long time.”
Nathan finally let me walk into the house. I put my backpack under the small table next to the door.
“You better bring that upstairs in case my mom comes home early. Jeez Morgan I’m kinda scared right now.”
“Oh don’t worry. We will know what to do. Haven’t you ever seen porn before?”
“Magazines yeah but that’s not the same.”
“Nathan, just relax. It will be fine.”
We walked upstairs, him in front of me. For a moment I thought about following Mr. Forshay up the stairs at school. It was when we had to meet in a classroom because Principal Waterson’s office was being renovated. We had met outside the office when Mr. Forshay suggested we go upstairs and find a quiet classroom that would not be disturbed. I followed him up the stairs watching his feet first take each step deliberately. He was wearing brown loafers with beige socks. My eyes crept up his long legs until my face stared straight ahead looking at his ass. I think that is when I realized for the first time the strange sensations that stirred in my body.
Nathan is tall too. He is handsome, kind of dorky sometimes, but handsome nonetheless. And his room actually smells good.
“What is that smell? A candle?”
“Yeah, my mom got it for my bedroom. Actually she got scented candles for the entire house. It smells like Autumn, so she says.”
“Ha ha yeah it does...sandalwood, pine, pumpkin and apple spice.”
“How do you know that?”
“It’s a girl thing I guess...now takes off your clothes. We don’t have much time.”
Nathan did as I asked. I had seen him naked before but it had been awhile. He has grown! He is bigger and has more hair! Wow, Nate is man. I may not have a problem fantasizing after all. I took off my clothes slowly. I didn’t think I would feel this comfortable but the clock is ticking and I don’t have time to be shy.
We walked over to his bed and both lied down next to one another, him on his back and me facing him on my side.
“So are we gonna do this or what?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Do you have a condom?”
“No, Morgan. I don’t have sex remember? Im a virgin too”
“Yeah but you’re a guy! All guys have condoms. Aren’t you prepared?”
“No! Morgan I’m not. I can’t do this!”
“No no no no Nate, I’m sorry. Forget the condom. Come here and kiss me.”
Nathan turned toward me and placed his hand on my naked hip as he kissed my mouth. I scooted my body closer and felt it hard poking my belly. I reached down to touch it and he gasped. He started to speak but I hushed him and began to kiss his mouth vigorously. I closed my eyes and thought of Ryan. I wanted to be Olivia. If Olivia was going to make love I needed to know what to do.
“Can you call me Olivia?”
“Just do it. Don’t freak out if I call you Ryan.”
“Morgan, this is weird. Why? And who is Ryan?”
“Please just do it for me.”
Olivia woke up. Ryan was lying beside her naked under only a sheet. They were in her bed lying under the little glowing stars that stuck to the ceiling above them. The bedroom door was open. The hallway drew the breeze from the open window across them both. Olivia noticed the goose bumps rise on Ryan’s arms, neck and chest.
She sat up slowly trying not to wake him. She traced the line of his arm with her eyes. It was up over his head, palm facing up. She lightly placed her small fist inside his large open hand noticing the size difference. Her hand looked like a child’s compared to his. She watched for movement but he didn’t flinch.
She listened to him inhale and exhale slowly trying to pace her own breaths with his. Olivia lifted the sheet to admire Ryan’s body. She noticed his skin was pale but flawless and with little hair. She saw no scars or blemishes. He seemed cleaner and more high maintenance than most other men she had been with. Ryan didn’t use bar soap and cheap shampoo either. He used facial lotions and gave himself manicures. His feet weren’t calloused but rather smooth with neatly clipped toenails.
He began to stir and Olivia dropped the sheet staring at his face. He opened his eyes then turned his head toward her. He looked at her face and smiled. She leaned downward and kissed the tip of his nose. He snickered then sat up and put his arms around Olivia’s body pulling her close and feeling her naked breasts against his chest. He lightly kissed her neck then held her close as if he hadn’t seen her in years. He gently lay her body back as she felt his body become aroused again.
“I love you, Olivia.”
“I love you more, Ryan.”
The Story of Ryan Forshay
Notes-Monday September 15, 2008
Today we discussed Morgan’s progress over the past two years. I dedicated this session to praising her for how far she has come since we first began. She no longer has nightmares about drowning in the flood waters. It has been over a month since she has reported any nightmares at all. I graphed an outline of Morgan’s changes and gave her a copy to refer to whenever she feels doubt about her abilities. She has proven to be very creative and especially likes to write poetry. She also expressed interest in pursuing a more intimate relationship with her friend, Nathan. She seemed nervous as to be expected for her first crush. Her and Nathan have been close friends almost since she came to us and I see nothing wrong with her exploring the prospect of love. I have not approached the subject of sexual relations as Morgan assures me she is too frightened to expose herself to anyone. She will be sixteen tomorrow and it is natural for teenage girls to be self conscious of their bodies. However, I do believe Morgan’s insecurities stem from a past of molestation or perhaps a one time occurrence of sexual assault. I haven’t approached the subject as of yet.
There are still no reports on Morgan’s history. Investigators with the Marshall County Sheriff’s department as well as the state of Alabama are at a loss of Morgan’s whereabouts before being found here. After Morgan’s revelation of flood waters haunting her sleep I am still proposing the possibility she was a victim of Hurricane Katrina. Investigators have geared their findings towards the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida panhandle coastal cities. But still no answers. I hope to begin more hypnosis in the future. I am waiting for child care services to allow me the effort again. It certainly will not be in vain. Our past sessions of hypnotic regression have been unsuccessful. But I believe we should try again soon while Morgan is in a happier state with a new school year. It has been almost a year since we tried hypnosis and I need answers to treat Morgan any further. Morgan needs answers for her future.
I think I’m getting a stomach virus. I haven’t been hungry for two days and the little I have consumed has ran right through me. Terry hasn’t spoken to me in days so I haven’t ruled out the possibility of a nervous stomach. I can’t stop thinking about her. This is unlike me to obsess over a woman. Relationships in the past have never worked because of their insecurities with my profession. I deal with children and teenagers, not adults. I’m not a psychiatrist, I’m a psychotherapist with a double masters in clinical psychology and educational psychology. I’m not a shrink!
I tend to be attracted to women with emotional problems especially mood disorders. This is not purposefully done. I believe I am subconsciously trying to project my want to fix the world onto these women. Carl believes I am attracted to women I cannot fix and therefore I get involved knowing the end result to be a catastrophe. I understand all of this and like him have studied various personality disorders like detachment. It is always easier to discuss these matters when it is a client or patient. No matter, I am only human despite my knowledge.
Carl has always been right about every woman I have dated since beginning graduate school together. Carl’s observations have been somewhat objective even though he has only spent time with my women friends in a casual and/or drinking setting. My women friends are always on their best behavior in the beginning and especially in public. I had one that let her true mood of colors shine quite early. She lasted a month and I’m not sure why I let it go on that long.
Terry, however, hasn’t displayed much emotion about anything. I feel she is hiding something but not sure what. She seems stable enough. She is a lot more independent than anyone I have dated in the past. I feel like I am chasing her and this is the first time for that. Sex with her is amazing; simply out of this world! Terry is confident, smart, beautiful and not the least intimidated by my profession. She is a teacher at the same high school as one of my patients, Morgan. She teaches twelfth grade literature. She loves her job and can turn even the most uninterested students into writers. I love her passion for her work. I think I am falling in love with her.
Carl and I are going to a seminar next week in Milwaukee for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This subject has been on the forefront of psychology since the Iraq War and soldiers returning with various emotional difficulties. Fortunately, for us school therapists, the world of psychology in America is finally paying attention to all forms of PTSD due to the new insights regarding war veterans. Children especially who have been molested or lost a parents suffer from PTSD and the approach to their therapy must follow a different code. Many, like Morgan, don’t have the menace of parents stepping in the way declaring how perfect and stable their child is which is usually bullshit. I almost like the foster care system in allowing me more freedom to help students like Morgan. She is one of my most successful clients in regards to self confidence and doing well in school.
Morgan not knowing who she is may be the reason for her success. This makes me reconsider hypnosis altogether. But I’m not sure if that is fair to her or any family members that may be out there. Two years have gone by with her picture on the internet. Her face has been seen in newspapers around the country and still no response. I can’t understand how no one knows this girl. I suppose if she was caucasian she may be recognized more easily. It is disgraceful the lack of attention a missing person’s photograph receives if the or she has a darker skin tone.
I’ve tried to figure out what ethnic category Morgan falls into. Her skin isn’t as dark as the Mexican and Guatemalan folks that live in our area or the coastal areas that were hit by Katrina. The investigators ran her photo through a program that can decipher or give an approximate of origin going by bone structure, skin color, iris color, hair texture and color and size and stature. Their conclusion was that she must be of mixed race, possibly central or south American and caucasian. And that didn’t narrow down a thing for any of us. Finding Morgan’s identity has been a great challenge and one I do not intend to give up.
I just made love to Terry. I have never felt so good afterwards. I have taken into considerations the lack of blood in my brain but it has been an hour. I told Terry that I loved her. She looked over at me and smiled then placed her naked body into a sitting position on top of me. She did not tell me she loved me. I admit I expected her to do so. I thought maybe she was waiting for me to say it first. I am frustrated that I cannot read this woman. She seems so unemotional except during sex. She pours every ounce of compassion she has for me only during intercourse. And she only kisses me during intercourse. She acts as if we are just friends the rest of the time.
I tried once again to approach the subject of a future together. She got out of the bed and took a shower like she didn’t even hear me. She has made it clear in the past that she wanted to take our relationship slow but since sex made its way into the equation a few weeks ago I feel like I am entitled to some answers. I need to just let this go and allow her her freedom which will hopefully allow our relationship to develop at the pace it should. I just want this one to work.
I’m 25 years old and tired of meeting the wrong women. Carl says I’m rushing myself into settling down. He may be right. I wasn’t trying to settle down though, until I met Terry. Now all I want is to ask her to marry me or perhaps just move in together to see if we could get along under the same roof. But I don’t see that happening for a long time. I would like to analyze her intentions and intellectualize my own emotions for her but I am too blinded by love and I am my own worst therapist. What is wrong with me? Is this becoming an obsession? Am I addicted to Terry? I may need to go see someone.
Ah, the hustle and bustle of students running the hallways, quickly retrieving their belongings from their lockers and shuffling out the doors to go home. I am happy to be here, away from the stampede. Principal Waterson’s office is my refuge. This may not be a good day to see Morgan. I will see how she is feelings and perhaps call the session early if she is okay with rescheduling for next week.
“Hey, Mr. Forshay, so what’s on the agenda for today?”
“Good afternoon, Morgan. Please sit down...How are you today?”
“I’m fine, how are you? You look tired.”
“I am a little tired. How have you been sleeping since we are on the subject of sleep.”
“I’m sleeping okay. No nightmares. Sometimes I fall asleep to music.”
I wonder what kind of music she is listening to.
“What style of music do you listen to when you fall asleep?”
“Oh you wouldn’t know it.”
“Try me. I’m more hip than you think.”
“No, I mean it is before your time.”
“Before my time?”
“Yeah, Joni Mitchell is before your time.”
Joni Mitchell? My sixteen year old patient listens to Joni Mitchell?
“I know who Joni Mitchell is. How did you find her music? Online?”
“Actually there is a song that plays in my head all the time. It is called “A River.”
“Where did you hear this song?”
“I don’t know. It has always been in my head. I asked Lizzy what it was after singing a few lines and she recognized it as a Sarah McLachlan song she heard on the radio.”
“Did you listen to the song?”
“Yeah but it wasn’t the same so Lizzy told me it was written by Joni Mitchell who originally recorded it. Her mom has the album on vinyl. Lizzy played the entire record and I knew every song!”
“And you don’t recollect ever hearing the album before?”
“Nope.” Morgan expressed herself calmly as if the epiphany of her past hadn’t even occurred to her.
This could be an answer. Perhaps Morgan was exposed to this album by her parents, an aunt or uncle, or a teacher. I was hoping for the most former. It is interesting that Morgan knows an entire album that was released about twenty years before she was born. “A River” is sort of a Christmas song. Joni sings about Christmas approaching and wishing for a river to skate away on. I wonder why this particular song has stuck with Morgan?
Notes-October 13, 2008
Morgan has not had a migraine since the nightmares have subsided. I still have no reason to suspect that she is lying about the nightmares nor the headaches.
Morgan expressed dissatisfaction once again for her birthday. She is not happy celebrating her birthday with anyone. Her foster Mother, Ginger Morrisson has given up on even having a small gathering rather than a party for Morgan. Morgan does not blame her foster family. She rather spend the day alone in her room. It continues to be the only day in which she doesn’t attend school. She would have perfect attendance otherwise.
She told me about a song that has been playing over in her head called “A River.” It is a Joni Mitchell tune and another mystery. I believe it could be a piece to the puzzle that we have been looking for. I can assume she heard the album when she was a child most likely while in the care of someone. Joni comes from the singer/songwriter and folk genre of the 60’s and 70’s mostly. She didn’t get much radio play and her followers were mostly white females especially from the hippie era. This makes me suspect she was in the care of a white female who celebrated Christmas. It seems so general but will hopefully lead to some more answers regarding Morgan’s fragmented past.
Morgan read me one of her poems today. I will add to the collection of puzzle pieces. I know there are answers hidden somewhere in these poems. They come from a secret compartment stored in the depths of Morgan’s mind.
Empty are those without a past
drifting through waters of glistening chaste
she breathes in the cool air
another to share
embracing her thoughts
without knowing who she is
She flies into darkness further but free
without the chains of a memory
and landing in grass
some parts of the past
creeping up behind
a song no less.
Christ, what I would do for a decent fucking meal! I’m so sick of this place. I’m sick of the smell. I’m sick of the noise. I’m sick of staring at pastel colored walls. I’m especially sick of looking at useless people contributing not a god-damn thing to the world except chaos and I suppose entertainment for some. I’m not entertained though something good on the television would be a wonderful distraction from this hell.
Candy sits there twisting her hair, staring at the screen with her mouth hanging open like she’s ready to suck Steve’s cock. I doubt he ever gets any making whatever shit wages come to an orderly. He’d make more money as a bouncer and probably make more friends too hence getting a good lay once in a while. No, his fat ass just sits here looking around at the rest of us like rabid mutts in a cage.
I don’t belong in this place. I’m not crazy. I just hate the entire human race. You can’t trust anyone. Everyone lies, cheats, steals, and kills even. I’ve never killed anyone but I sure as hell would love to get my hands around my ex’s throat. Son of bitch is the reason I’m here. I still don’t know what he said to convince the judge to lock me away in this hell hole. He’s only come to visit me once and dumped me in the process. Unbelievable. But that’s a man for ya; figures he can’t get laid anymore so he left me here to rot. And it smells like rotting crotch around here. Someone needs to bath!
“Candy, why the hell do you watch this? Your mind is warped as it is.”
No response as usual. You have to yell at this chick to get her attention.
“Yo, Candy, what are you doing? Close your mouth! Are you listening to me?”
“Keep your your damn mouth closed or you may get something stuffed in it! Candy! Did you hear me?”
“Then answer me you stupid wench!”
“You said to keep my mouth shut.”
“Oh my God you have no brain. Stop twisting your hair. Why do you watch this shit?”
“I like it. It’s funny.”
“No, it’s stupid and it’s for kids. Get up. I’m sitting here now.”
Candy uncrossed her legs and placed her feet on the floor carefully looking around before standing up slowly.
“Betsy, is there glass on the floor. I can’t tell. Is there any glass? Did it all get swept up yet? Betsy, there’s glass down here I know it. Can you check....”
“Shut-up, no there’s no glass on the damn floor! Just go!”
Candy took tiny steps dragging her feet. She frantically scanned the floor in front of her looking up and down her destined pathway. Betsy jumped up and pushed her in the back forcing her to fall forward.
“Oh no, Oh no!” Candy pushed herself into a squatting position.
“Is there glass in my hands? The glass is everywhere! Someone help me please!”
Steve to the rescue comes over to help. This is my entertainment; Candy resisting and Steve scooting her slowly toward her room. She is whining and struggling against him. As he tries to push her along she hesitates before giving in to another step. She is holding out her hands palms up hollering for a nurse to check for glass.
“I can feel it! I know there’s glass in my hands! I can feel it. And there will be blood soon! Jackie please get it out!”
“Come along now Miss Candy, let’s go to your room. You’re alright now. There’s no glass.” Steve has one arm around Candy’s shoulders and the other hand holding her arm to lead.
Jackie is just ignoring the entire charade. I need a cigarette.
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