My novel now has a loose working name. It is called "Two-Faced."
I have also worked up the nerve to offer you another excerpt. I'll need help with this part if I ever get around to finishing the general body of the novel and try to edit it, but for now, this is what I have. The setting is that the main character, Catherine, is now 10. (She was 7 in my previous post.) She is now being admitted to a psychiatric facility after going off her medication and experiencing a severe backslide. She's still quite emotional and is about to meet her in-house therapist for the first time.
I shut my eyes against the din of two people talking at once. It was overwhelming, and my emotions were rising. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to scream or cry. I clenched my hands and gritted my teeth and then realized that all around me was silent. The noise had stopped. I exhaled before I even realized that I had been holding my breath.
I peeked through one eyelid. Regina and my mother were holding stock-still, watching me. My mother didn't look happy; she had her mouth set in its typical line of anger, and every couple of seconds she would shoot Regina a look of daggers. Regina never turned to see it, though. She was holding one hand up for silence, not moving at all. She was just watching me and breathing steadily in and out. I relaxed my fists and unconsciously matched my breathing to hers. My eyes opened, and I faced the women again. Regina lowered her hand and took one last deep respiration. My mother still kept her lips pursed, but she remained quiet.
"Catherine," Regina stated my name slowly and clearly. Her voice was low. She kept her eyes on mine. "I'm sorry that we frightened you. Would you like to finish your nap?"
I kept still and watched. This woman intrigued me with her ability to defuse a situation. I felt calm inside, which almost scared me. I'd never met anyone before who could calm me down so thoroughly and so instantly. Even my own father usually had to go through several attempts before he could reach me through the fog of emotion. Kevin, for all he had been helpful, had never seen me at my utter worst, on the verge of meltdown, ready to damage things and others and myself. Regina was something else. Her tiny frame didn't matter. She was powerful.
"Cather-," my mother started to say, but she got cut short by another abrupt movement of Regina's arm.
"Catherine, I'm Regina Martin," she fully introduced herself this time. Her voice was still low and slow, and I almost had to strain to hear her. "I'm your therapist here at Boyd. I'll be back for an actual session after supper, but I wanted to come by and say hello, and I'd like to know if you need anything right now."
She paused. I felt the silence lengthen, but it wasn't a tense, heavy silence like the one between my mother and me. It was simply silence, a quiet that let me hear the fluorescent lights burning. She meant to wait me out, I thought, so I determined not to answer, despite the growing grimness in my mother's face. Suddenly Regina nodded. "I can see you're doing well. Excellent. I'd be happy to get you anything you need, or if I'm not available, someone else can do it. There are several wonderful members of our nursing staff on the floor at all times, so if you just press this button here" – she indicated the nursing button on the bed – "we'd be happy to help you out. Okay?"
Another deep, patient silence. I wanted her to get irritated, but those dimples never dimmed. How frustrating. Suddenly she nodded again. There seemed to be a certain amount of time that she had set before she nodded, and I wondered how many patients had tested her patience, how many silent children she'd seen and dealt with. Clearly I wasn’t a threat. She could afford to wait. It wasn't like I was going anywhere. She turned to my mother.
"Mrs. Beatty, would you like to wait for Mr. Beatty in here or in the atrium? You'll need to leave at or before 4 p.m., but till then, you're free to be in either location."
I noticed how neatly Regina pinned my mother to one location to another. Boundaries were set, but she tried to make it sound like freedom. I wondered how often she did that, too. I decided to be unpredictable.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I think so.