Psyche Me Out

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a short story that i had originally intended as a novel that got lost in translation after I wote the ending sentence. Frankly, i have no idea what to do with it lol. About a Psychology intern named Ashley Dakota that seeks to bring her client, a missing client to the chair.

Submitted: March 31, 2008

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Submitted: March 31, 2008

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Dawn seemed to be arising out of the dusk earlier than I had wanted. I was not anticipating my first day of work by any means, namely because I had never had a real job before in my life. With hesitation and void of enthusiasm for this so-called ’new start,’ in my life, journey, as my life coach called it, I draw open the curtains and smite the daylight with my fist. Why would an employer want their employees to awaken at the butt crack of dawn just to sit in some crowded boardroom with professional pompous, presumptuous pricks anyway? Can’t the day begin at ten? And by ten I mean at night. (Sighs)  Oh well, I gotta make that paycheck, right? I outstretch my arms to the ceiling and jump up and down as if to psyche myself into excitement. That was a waste. Its five thirty six in the morning and I have no idea why I thought that six extra minutes would make any sort of difference in my sporadic sleeping pattern. Im especially not the least bit excited to start work in another town, who has heard of Appleton before anyway? They should pay my gas money everyday that I have to commute!

My closet is such a frazzled mess. What have I to wear?  A closet full of clothes and at the instant that I am in need of it, everything just seems blah. Aargh! I still have to run by Starbucks for a shot of coffee! Traffic is a mess this time of morning! Okay, my pinstripe skirt outfit seems fitting for the first day. A buttons missing! My gosh what more? Alright, safety pin to the rescue, that’ll do for now.

The coffee shop isn’t the least bit forgiving, this has to be the longest line I’d ever stood in. Some woman in front of me has a menu in her hands and strokes her clueless face with her fingertips. Order lady, order! I gotta go!

"Well, let me see, what do you recommend?" She asks the employee. Is this woman serious? Its too early for the twenty questions!

"We have coffee and lots of it, ma’am." The boy says, memorized from a line that he practiced repeatedly from the customer manual. Bravo, kid. Clap, fuckin, clap.

"Hmm. Well, I don’t much care for coffee. Do you have any fruit blends?" Oh my gosh! Is she serious? Is she insane? Fruit blends?

"Ma’am, what we do have is blueberry flavored tea spiced with cinnamon. Would you like that?"

"Eh, not in the mood for tea today." She has her nose in the menu as if  it’s some kind of interesting literature that was just founded upon. This irks the damn out of me. "Hmm. How about grape juice? That sounds good. Yes, I’ll have that."

The employee looks up at the menu above his head and then at the woman. He looks at the menu again. "May I ask you where you see that selection, ma’am?"

The woman smiles. "Oh it’s not on here. Should be though. Grape juice is a wonderful refresher, especially in this heat. Something healthy and cool to drink!"  What the fu—

"Ma’am please order off of the menu." The boy looks almost as annoyed as me, his face is flushing.

The woman retorts, "Well you don’t have to snap!" She walks out muttering.

I laugh under my breath and order. "Carmel macchiato, upside down with extra vanilla and whip."

The boy looks at the blender. "Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am, but our mixer’s not running yet. My mouth shot agape. "Are you serious?"

"Yes, ma’am but we can brew you a fine herbal tea."

I run out of that damn building like some crazed madwoman that had just committed murder. I don’t have time for this! No coffee and I still have to boot into Monday traffic? Damn, I wanna quit the job before I start! If the mixer was broken he could have announced that when customers first arrived! I wasted ten precious minutes in that line! Okay, okay, deep breaths, Ashley.  That incompetent freckled faced nobody was just too lazy to mix, that’s all. He must have been having a difficult morning. It’ll be settled tomorrow, yes Ash, you will have your coffee tomorrow. Yes, new day, find a bright side, regardless of how dim. I’ll stay perked at work. It cant be that boring in the board room, right?

"First matter of discussion, the traits of Borderline Personality Disorder. A client called Hidalia needs a analysis, last put into Maddeth County Mental Hospital in October of ’10.  Unlike other psychiatric facilities that release patients without follow-ups, we have tried to get into contact with her for fear that she is one of the most severe cases of the disorder. We must understand what she is feeling and experiencing before we can bring her back into the center." The lecturer is an older lady, not quite out of the age of beauty. Her makeup is a trifle excessive; I didn’t think women still lined their lips with black lip liner in today’s day. When she talks it’s as if she wants the audience to watch her cartoon like mouth and literally see the words that she is pronouncing. Every syllable is exaggerated and she talks slowly. To me, it looks like her mouth is lined with ringworm. Not the least bit appealing.  "Excuse me," She broke my attention from her black lips, "are you new?" Everyone turns to me.

"Yes, I’m Ashley Dakota, studying in the Master’s Program, to become a psychologist."

She walks over to me and says," You cant do anything with a masters in psychology, Dakota, dear. You need a doctorate. Thank you for the unnecessary journey into your life story. " My brow raises in shock.  She points to the board, "What can you tell me about Borderline Personality Disorder?"

I scurry through my notes. "It is an illness indicated by reckless behavior, an inability to finish tasks or to maintain lasting relationships for fear of reprisal or abandonment." I look up from my papers, and smile. She doesn’t look satisfied.

"Is that all of your notes or is that a prepared statement in a nutshell?" She walks around my chair, intimidatingly, "If that was your answer, Dakota, dear, it was very mediocre. We don’t have time for elementary school responses like ’See spot Run.’ This is a business and all responses are to be thorough.  Understand, Dakota, dear?" My mouth shoots open astonishingly. This woman’s the biggest bi—

"Those with Borderline Personality, in this instance, Hidalia, have an estimated GAF of fifty. Meaning that along with the inability to maintain or to encourage stable interpersonal relationships, the individual obsesses over failed relationships. They act out of shame, guilt, and anger. Borderlines are suicide prone but only a fraction of them commit the act, being that the majority are women, most attempt with prescription drugs, knives, and other save able means. The majority of the time death is an ideation and the individual usually only uses it as a way to keep ties close. This is the rescue me approach to keeping a friendship." She pauses and looks at me, "What is the clients worst fear, Dakota dear?"

This isn’t a classroom! This is supposed to be work! Why is she asking me all the questions anyway? I’m not the only body in here! Oh I get it. Pick on the new girl. Very mature, trick! "Dakota!" She gets into my face. "Are you daydreaming? What is the Borderline’s fear?" Her breath smells stale.

"Borderlines fear is an intolerance of being alone and because of the insecurity may exhibit instability in mood or overall temperament. Borderline is dependent upon promises by others and if broken the Borderline may feel responsible and blame herself. Even if the other party is a few moments late, the Borderline might watch the clock in anticipation and become angered and come to worst conclusions that the person has found another or that she has lost importance."

"Very profound answer. You sound as if you have experienced it yourself. " She says walking away. Was that sarcasm? I was never good at detecting that. She writes on the board. ’Who is qualified for this case study?’

Not one person raises their arms. I too, keep mine down.

I don’t understand half the stuff that is present within this lecture. Instead of some harangue on how great of a teacher she thinks she is, what with her constant grilling me of questions, she could have at least had an outline for me to follow besides her lips.

"Who is qualified?" She asks aloud, as if none of us could see the question on the board.

A man, he looks into his fifties or so, responds, "Well. Mel, what are the qualifications? Myra and I specialize in Schizophrenia, John in Compulsive Personality, and the lot of everyone else just follows a general schema, never deviating from the DSM script. Since the majority of us already know our expertise, I think," He winks at me, what the hell? Don’t wink at me, weirdo! "That the new addition to this company would love to pounce on the opportunity to get out and do field work." I flinch. I want to scream! Is this man serious? He can’t just assume that!  Didn’t he see my face as this Mel character asked me questions? He’s a psychologist! Did he not read my body language?

"Dr. Welton, that’s a splendid idea!" What the hell? No it’s not! "Dakota you are on the Urwin case. I will give you the patients file." She leaves the room. This tire track burned mouth spoke to me again? Suddenly I’m on a case I know nothing about? Aargh! Can’t I protest or hell run away? I’m not qualified for this! It’s only my first day! She comes back in and hands me a thick file. No, a voluminous dossier of this wretched Hidalia! There are pages upon pages of arrests, hospitalizations, notes, blah and blah. I have no idea if she had been pawed off, from therapist to therapist, but the expression on everyone else’s face is enough to tell me that they had at least dealt with her once and want no part in the concluding diagnosis. I’m not the least bit enthused. Should I hype myself up by jumping up and down again?

 Home at last! Damnit! What a fright today was! In no way am I thrilled about this Hidalia study. Her name sounds foreign, what is that Dutch or Spanish? Okay, yes I’m just procrastinating. Anyway, she sounds like a foreign nut case, the type of exchange student that will turn around and murder her classmates. Did you hear about that kid back in 07? Wow, that’s not even half on the subject. How am I going to be a psychologist if I cant even spend time on one topic? I finger through her file, the pages are all askew, unnumbered, in several different fonts and writing styles. My point is thus proven that she has no stationary provider. A note in bubbly handwriting reads, ’Client shows a strong sense of self-deprecating behavior and subsequent incidents of insult, she engages in acts of self mutilation. Client is withdrawn, she spends days in her room, after the self destructive act has been committed, and this worker never saw her take food or drinks during observation.’ Awe, sounds like somebody needs a hug. In another style, ’Client is caught in the act of shoplifting (August 13, 2009). In another incident, (October 21, 2010) Client takes it upon herself to take neighbor’s vehicle, and justifies the act by saying that she had to tend to errands. Errands included, going on a drug binge, starting a fight with a passing woman, and torching the vehicle. No reason for setting vehicle afire.She showed no remorse. Client has yet to face trial. This worker feels that the Client features the most extreme case of the disorder, yet feels that she has yet to be diagnosed with another. Hidalia frequents pathological lying and as noted above stealing. Hidalia exhibits delusions of grandeur, believing that her reasoning supersedes that of her peers and authority, but lacks the cognition to make decisions without influence or guidance.’ Wow. I’m stuck with the job of finalizing this? How old is this girl? Amongst all these notes, I cant even find any hint of her birthday! She has to still be a minor, the company is led by child psychologists so if I were to look up her school…aha!

 The school building’s supposed to be here at 2035 E Ire but the only indication of an educational institute is a dilapidated, rusty shack that appears to be on its last legs. This place is too outworn to even envision the notion of a school. I don’t even think the government funds anything to this stricken area of town; even if this was a school I see no name across the building. There are just a few bikes chained to a link fence. This neighborhood doesn’t seem visitor friendly. There are no children anywhere in sight. The only sign of life that I see are a group of thugs circled around a car, hmm suspiciously around a car. To hell with this! I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere! What ticks me off is that I spent seventy five dollars just to fill my tank up, hell not even filled it up. This field trip put me on the halfway mark and I’m nearly running on Egypt now. I’m getting out of here before somebody shoots.

A woman emerges from the dusty shadows and stops me at my car by putting her chubby fingers on my coat. I turn around to scold her for touching me but before I can, she says in a raised voice, "This land is private property, please leave the premises before I charge with you with trespassing." I want to snap at her but instead flash my keys into her face and then put them into my car door. Taken aback, she then proceeds to say, "We have too many predators that come onto this campus. Our school has not the time to prosecute all of you."

I take a deep breath and sit there for a second, "This is a school?"

"What did you think it was? A brothel?’

Uh okay. This lady’s a little off. "Ma’am I am here on assignment." I show her my credentials. She studies the identification card and hands it back to me, rolling her eyes.

"You’re another case worker?" She sighs. "Come in." I bite my lower lip and lock my car door, I feel like I should hide it somewhere, a nice vehicle like mine. Damn it makes me nervous.

"You coming Miss…"

"Dakota."

"Oh very well then." She says walking a swifter pace. I have to raise my skirt just to catch up.

"What is the name of this school?"

"Nat Turner Freedman." Someone remind me to write that down.

"What age demographic is taught here?" The artwork nor the accolades along the walls tell me anything and I have just about had it walking by these vacant classrooms.

"We teach whoever desires to have an education. We do not discriminate on age…" She opens the door of some tiny office and motions for me to enter. The office does not look professional, it’s reminiscent of an old janitor’s closet that some inexperienced interior decorator thought that she could smart up with a table and a cheap desk lamp. Call me crude, but I am only being honest. If I were a student I would dread this place and not because it is the principal’s office but because it reminds me of a dungeon, what with its dark walls and shanty window covered by cardboard.

"Thus trying our best to make this campus the most renowned learning playground for our students." Oh shoot. Was she still talking? I missed all of that.

"Ma’am I am here looking for Hidalia Urwin." She laughs.

"Excuse me, have you not heard of her?"

"Hidalia left school ages ago."

"How many?"

"Why does it matter? She is no longer attending." She says testily.

"I need to locate her."

’Well guess you are out of luck because her and her family stopped coming to classes a while back so I see no need in continuing this discussion." She rises up from her chair.

"Wait! Wait!"

Her mouth opens.

"Her family?"

Again she rolls her eyes, "Yes we do not believe in ageism."

"Okay, so did her family graduate?"

"We don’t award certificates, here." She sits back down and licks her lips, eyeing a jar of sweets in front of her. "We allow students to perform and to finish at their own pace."

"What is the point of going to school if there is no documentation proving completion?"

"Oh who ever said that anything was completed?" Her fat Pillsbury doughboy hands reach for the container. I cringe as she sticks her thick stubby fist inside to get Musketeers bars. "Would you like one?" She asks with a handful already in her mouth.

"No, thank you." She scarfs the ones that she offered me in one fell motion and licks her chunky fingertips.

She opens her mouth to continue, an unflattering drop of caramel is stuck to her bottom tooth. "Well, as I was saying. We here at Nat Turner Freedman believe in self-satisfaction and determination. If a student feels that he or she has learned enough or that their fill of educational needs has been met they are allowed to opt out of continuing."  What the fuck? This is so backwards. Their fill of educational needs? Doesn’t she know that the government pays per child per seat filled? Maybe I should diagnose her instead!

"You are telling me that if a fifth grader says that she is fed up with school she is allowed to drop out?"

"Miss Dakota, the operative word is opt. She may opt out of continuing."

’Ma’am, are you aware that you are condoning truancy and troublesome children? Are you aware that the statistic for gang violence and adolescent crime is at an all-time high? And here you are releasing children as young as ten from school?"

She laughs again. "Oh not ten, that’s too young. We release a child when they are within the age of reason."

"What is that?"

"When the child can reason, of course. Children should not be slaves to the education system, real life is the greatest teacher of all." She smiles at me, as if her far fetched response has enlightened me. "Chronological age means nothing here. We see the individual and they are not bound by a number. Say an eighty year old would like to visit here, well, our doors are open. On another, say a fifteen year old would like to study eighth grade math because she dropped out of contemporary schooling, well, we are here for her. Neither are obligated to stay." This crazed woman has contradicted herself, hasn’t she? I’ve had enough of the absurdity! The faults in her statements are enough to piss me off.

"Ma’am! I stand up tall. "Please stop with the elusive answers! I am a working woman and I do not appreciate these drawn out and verbose responses! Where can I find Hidalia?"

She stands up now too, and heaves in a deep breath as if she can intimidate me, but instead the robust woman reminds me of a puffer fish, bluffing its own muscle. She only comes up to my chest anyhow. "Are you a predator, Miss Dakota? You seem awfully interested in this child."

I am disgusted, "I am no vulture! I have a very busy schedule and have to locate this girl in order to…" To hell with that! I don’t have to explain to her anything! "Listen, you need to tell me where I can locate her or else I will contact the proper services to have this so called school closed down, which I will do anyway because this building alone is unsafe ground."

"You case workers always think that you can daunt me, your papers and your threats don’t do a thing. I have yet to see any of you act out on your promise to shut us down. We are good people and damn good teachers!" I raise my brow.

"Give me Hidalia’s address."

She scorns.

"Ma’am!"

"You don’t scare me, Miss Dakota."

I snicker which turns into a giggle. This is going to seem very unprofessional of me but here I go."Lady, trust me, you aren’t worth me losing my job. And I am certain that it is likewise for you. Now lend me your knowledge of her whereabouts so that I can be on my way. I won’t tip the government off about this excuse for a school but if you were honest with yourself you know well enough that no student has stepped foot here in ages." I step forward; she steps back, "The way that I see it, judging from the lack of bodies in here, the government has already put a foot down on this place a while ago and you are running it without their consent. Thinking about it further, the bikes outside don’t even belong to anyone on this desolate blemish of land, do they? What is that? To ruse a few new people in here into thinking that this place is legitimate? And in being legitimate means that the supposed teachers here are accredited in their profession or are they just an assemblage of men and women that you hired off the street who might I add are no more intelligent than the hoodlums outside?" She pulls out a drawer, takes out a piece of paper, writes on it, and hands it to me. "What is this?"

"You wanted it, that’s her mother’s phone number, although the family is nomadic, and I doubt you will reach them." Before I can say anything, she motions me out the door. I step one foot out and she says, "Oh Miss Dakota don’t expect to think that your speech had any effect on that number I just gave you. I will be contacting your boss about this." She slams the door. I put the paper into my pocket. I don’t know if I should take this eccentric lady half seriously. Either way I’m not worried about it, I have a way to explain myself, what with all of her winded replies to me. I mean I had to be assertive with her, she just wasn’t getting the point. I’m sure Mel will understand.

"Dakota, come speak to me in my office." Shit. That wench told on me. I sit in this chair; it’s so cozy that my bottom just slumps in it. Mel stares at me from behind her enormous desk. She has a stern look on her face. She fiddles with a red pen that reads, ’Teenage suicide, don’t do it.’  Wow. That’s one great catch phrase. Heathers? That sounds familiar. I see that today she didn’t line her lips with liner. Instead, she overdid her cheeks with ruby red blush. It looks packed onto her pallor face. Can somebody treat this woman for roseacea?

"Did you see Hidalia?" Oh heh heh, it’s only about the girl. I’m safe. I take a deep breath.

"No, I didn’t get the opportunity to."

"Are you doing reports showing your progress?"

"My progress in what?"

"Dakota, dear, you have to do write ups for every time you make contact with anyone associated with this case or whether you showed success." I scratch my head.

She frowns and shakes her head, "Do you have her file?"

"Yes," I get it from my briefcase beside me.

She snatches it from me and turns through it. She clicks her pen over and over again while reading through it. The sound is so grating. If she weren’t my boss I’d knock it out of her grip. "Do you see this?"

"What?"

"All of these notes from the doctors she has seen, all of the notes from the officers that have taken reports, all of the notes from her family that gave consent to her visits, notes, notes, notes, and guess what? More notes here, Dakota dear!" She throws the file down onto her desk.

"I’m sorry."

"I don’t want to hear it. Just write on what you see and hear. There is no diagnosis without substantial evidence, do you understand?"

I nod my head and leave her office, she calls out to me,
 "Your encounter with Mrs. Mauritian, don’t think for a moment that I didn’t write you up for that misconduct." Damn. I thought I had gotten away with it. What is with these notes and these questions from that woman? Am I in high school? Do I need to report to homeroom at the beginning of the day too? And evidence? She can kiss my ass, that’s evidence! I’m no lawyer! Her office is no courtroom! How dare she try to dictate me! I hate this job!

Yeah so it is March 23 and my birthday was on the 11th. Hell, I forgot it was even my birthday; I’ve been so locked into this forlorn assignment. My voicemail was packed with messages from people saying Happy 24th as if I had made some epic embark. Oh yeah, and my life coach congratulated me on the trek into nowhere. He came up with the epic thing. Aargh. But who am I to gripe? My plans for my big day were to actually sit at home alone with Alice in Wonderland (my favorite movie) and a container of sour cream and onion Pringles. Pretty sad, right? Well, my job has become my life now and my social life is nonexistent. I haven’t even come close to meeting Hidalia yet, the closest that I have come was on the phone with some man who called himself, ’Sergio’ and all that he told me was that she used to stay in a house across the street from the school but the landlord evicted her and her family out. Speaking of, I don’t even know what happened to my land lady, we must have been put under new management or at least I haven’t heard her loud noises since the first week in January, but hell maybe I am so consumed in this that I have lost all touch with everything around me.

"Hello?"

"Hey sexy."

"Who is this?"

"Oh so I’m not in your phonebook anymore?"

"Umm."

"Wow, okay, Ash."

"Hold on." I check the caller id. The number doesn’t ring a bell. "How did you get my number?"

"Ashley! Its Zaccie, you know your best friend?" I slap my head.

"Oh! Hey! How are you?"

"Pissed since you forgot about me. Ashley, I have called you everyday for the last two months. Why haven’t you called me back?’

"I’m sorry, I have just been busy you know?"

"Obviously." He says with a heavy sigh. Zaccie’s been my best friend since high school. I love the guy, he is such a dear. "Let’s go to a movie." He says, suddenly cheered.

"I can’t. I’m still on the Hidalia case." I say shuffling through my papers.

"Who the hell is that?"

I realize that I might as well speak Russian to him. "It’s a girl with Borderline personality." I can hear him whine so I try to save face, "its just you know, an obligation to me right now."

"And your best friend is just a nobody?"

"No Zaccie! No!" I’m getting frustrated. Where are those notes? "Where the hell are they?"

He scoffs.

"Listen Zaccie, I love you but I’m really caught up right now, hang on."

"I won’t even bother." I wasn’t paying attention to anything that he said, I have no idea if I offended him. Got it! "Zaccie. Zaccie, I’m right here. I found the papers."  Silence. Damn, he hung up. Damnit! I don’t know whether to call him back or finish with these write-ups. I don’t know anything anymore, hell I’d be shocked if I remembered my own name by the time this whole thing is settled. This Hidalia girl might as well be a ghost, I may as well consult the Scooby Doo gang or take out a missing persons. Where is this girl? Who is she?

May 11- I’m headed to work again, made that appointment with the uncle. More field work, fun. God only knows how much this traffic is irking me. I just finished my second write up and I think that I’m actually making considerable progress. Mel wants me to go to Claret, it’s the rich part of Appleton, to talk to Hidalia’s uncle, who claims that his estranged niece has visited him recently and I think that our conversation might be beneficial. I pull up to his condominium, it’s a new establishment, I can smell the reek of leaking paint and the fence around his yard is perfect picket. The downgrade to this lavishment is his yard, uck. Unkempt grass and weeds spring up like pimples upon clear skin. I roll my eyes and proceed onto the porch. The doorbell looks a bit antiquated, have you ever seen one of those pull cord ringers? He opens the door a smidgen to peek at me.

"Yes?’

"Hi, Mr. Dolcegalia, I am Hidalia’s worker, you spoke to me on the phone last evening."

He lets it ajar. "My, my. Aren’t you a pretty lady!" He looks me up and down. "Come on in."

I sit on the sofa and take out my notebook. He sits next to me and crosses his legs. He says, "Well, it’s nice to be in your company."

I smile politely. "Can you tell me when your niece was last here, sir?"

He shakes his finger, "Call me Valiant."

I squint my left eye, "Sure. Any who, when do you suppose she will come back?"

He looks at me up and down again and grins, "May I offer you a refreshment? A Pepsi, bottle water, or a cold one perhaps?" He chuckles.

"Um. No thank you, Mr. Dolcegalia."

"Valiant." He corrects.

""I’m sorry, Valiant."

"Well yes, its going to get mighty hard getting used to the switch." He licks the underside of his nail.

"What switch?"

"My name." he says proudly. "You’re tense. Are you sure you don’t need a drink," he moves in closer, "It could make the conversation all that more interesting."

I scoot over, "I am only here to speak of your niece. Nothing more and nothing less."

"What about her?"

Is this imp clueless? Is the stench of paint coating his brain cells?  "Where is she?"

He puts his arm on the armrest of the couch. "Probably here, there. Everywhere. You know how kids are."

"Sir, are you even her real uncle?"

He smacks his lip. "I can be whoever you want me to be."

Okay, no! No!" I put my things back into my bag, "Sir, I am really tired of playing these games with people like you that just want to get a rise out of the system. I will be leaving."

He stops me by saying, "Check out the photos on the counter."

"Why?"

"You want to know who you are looking for don’t you?"

I walk over to his cabinet of pictures. There are so many, much of which are with celebrities, but I think this man’s a hoax. "Which one is she?"

"The girl in the photo to the left with the bear."

"I cant seem to find…" Then I see her. This girl can’t be more than eleven. This cant be her in the picture, I imagined her older than this, at the least fifteen or so. I hold it up to the light.

"Yep, that’s her. Little Miss Sunshine, Dolly herself."

"How old is she?"

"Well last birthday I counted she just turned twelve. Mighty pretty girl she is. "

And so here she is in still frame glory. She has ebony hair and dark brown, touching eyes. Her skin is mahogany, she looks airbrushed with highlights of red and yellow along her high cheekbones. In this photo, she is wearing a pink satin dress and her body type is small; she reminds me of the schoolgirl in the Madeline series. What bewilders me is that she looks like a healthy, happy child. She appears to show no signs of trauma, her eyes show no age. "May I take this?"

He comes up to me and as he walks, he sways his hips, I suppose in a fruitless attempt to flatter his… "Beautiful, you can take me any way if you like." He stares down at my chest. I don’t know why. I’m sure that he doesn’t see anything, I’ve only developed to a B cup anyway, I’m reminiscent of a thirteen year old…wait a minute.

"When did you last see Hidalia?"

"Probably last week, I’m no minder of dates. She came by though to grab a few things."

"Like what?"

"A few favorite stuffs. She loves those darn things. So cute."

"So she lived here, with you?"

"Yes, and?" He asks, leaning in and smelling my perfume.

I back away, "You and her get along well, sir?"

"Yes, well and fine."

"Did she ever complain of anything, I mean from school, did she ever say that anyone was stalking her or anything?"

"Where would you get that idea?"

"Nothing too much, her teacher just had this obsession with stalkers and predators when I visited the campus."

"No. She was fine here. Never said anything. In fact, when I saw her last week she had a gift for me."

"What was that?"

"I would rather not say. Family personals, you know. Something owed. A debt."

"Oh. I see." What sort of twelve year old owed her uncle anything? I retrieve my bag from the side of the couch, "It was very nice talking to you, sir."

He looks annoyed with me, "I am Valiant."

"I am sorry, Valiant."

"You kind of favor her face, do you know that?" he approaches me with an interested appeal. "Are you sure you don’t want anything? Perhaps something I can do for you. Grab you a few of her teddy bears? She has dozens. I’m sure you have trained dogs to sense the smell."

I almost run out of the door, stuttering, "I’ll keep in touch." He watches me as I walk to the haven of my Benz. His stare punctures into my back. I am so glad to get out of there.

Now as is the norm I am stuck on these reports and too, as is the norm, I have found that the lot of the people that I have spoken to have some missing component about them. It’s as if none of their stories match. None of the puzzle fits together. The principal, nor the man I spoke to on the phone, and especially that Uncle, supposed uncle, have any idea what they were talking about. I am filled with questions! Aahh! Did pretty Dolly run away or has she just been moved by her mother to another side of town? Maybe even another state? It’s not coming through. None of this. Going through all of my annotations I see so many discrepancies and I am not sure if they are on my part or on the favor of my interviewees. I only need to speak to the girl for a moment so why is this a wild goose chase? Is somebody stowing her away? Her doctor bills, let me see. Yes all were paid, so from what does her family have to hide? From who? I mean I suppose it’s a bit presumptuous of me to think and to conclude even to a lesser degree that she was kidnapped by  someone. Hell none of this makes sense! Im supposing that I should just turn this case over to a real and qualified professional. Mel would kill me if I were to give up on this now! I havent even invested enough time in this! I should eat sleep and shit Hidalia,right? Damnit. Lord help me. My whole being has become scattered.

After God knows how long I have finally gotten somewhere in this investigation. Hidalia was born a twin, her fraternal brother, Ewen, died at five, both were in treatment at a local hospital for closed issues. The only reason noted is lacerations to the neck and to the wrists. Self inflicted or intentional is unknown to me at this time. What five year old knows anything about knives and cutting objects? Its not uncommon for borderlines to cut but at five? Did her brother share the disorder? So far the folder is filled with twenty questions. Im completely irked that I have to sit in Mel’s office for a progress check.. I have gotten nowhere. I look at her behind her desk, she applies Rimmel black mascara and liner to her left lid. Mel, whats with the whore-ish makeup, today? The eyeliner, my goodness, can you ever let your face breathe? She finishes.

"What do you have for me?"

"Nothing so far, I have only come up with the same deduction every time that I look at her file. There is nothing. Why are we chasing a client?"

"We are not chasing a client. We are saving her and must put her into confinement before she hurts herself or others"

"Mel, the girl is only twelve. Twelve!"

"How old were the Columbine kids? Sophomores that had encounters with coping strategies ever since they were young. How old was the child that shot a classmate in the head point blank after discovering that the mate was a transexual?"

"Mel, those are very different comparisons. I see no similarities. I doubt that Hidalia has the makings of becoming an antisocial killer"

"Dakota, dear, What you are not understanding is that children need to be saved before they reach adulthood. Adolescence even. Hidalia is twelve, yes, but I am so sure that she knows far more about her sickness than what we can ever imagine. You believe that in her flourishing childhood blamelessness that she can be adorned as a faultless infant that can slip from our hands."

Huh? "No I do not. I just feel like we should let her go, is all. I can put out a missing persons if this company cares so much about the outcome. Realistically, I doubt that she can be found. Im not a police officer. I am not a person that will go out on a limb and search for something that has been lost for so long that the wolves have probably gotten hold of it. I have spent every waking minute on this. I studied her features, I learned her file front to back and what have I come up with Mel?" Tears start to roll down my cheeks, ugh, that time of the month. Im so weak right now. "Nothing. Im as lost in this case as the day I started."

"Wipe your tears, this is a professional establishment. Regain composure." What an unsympathetic bitch.

"Im sorry, I give up."

" Oh yes Give up on this child just as all of these psychologists have done. Let go of her as if she is some bastard that no one cared for, loved, wanted. Go on, be like her mother."

"I don’t even know her mother is what im saying! I don’t know anyone  that can give me some clue as to her!"

"She is not missing! Someone else just has her and I want her back!"

I raise my brow. Seems as if this has a deeper connection to Mel than what I first had thought. "Whats so special about this case, Mel? Several children pass through here everyday. Derelict children, gifted children with needs, etc. etc. just come and go. Nobody has ever raised such a fuss before over an individual study. I mean, I am not the first to take on this case. Is there something everyone isnt telling me?"

"I want her back," tears peaked out of her raccoon eyes.

"I am not understanding, Mel."

She angers and steps from behind her short fortress, "Of course you don’t. You are incompetent, you lack any skill. I give you one study to pursue whilst your colleagues work on more than five children per week to counsel. Here you are struggling with one. I had faith that one intern, just one, would know what he or she was doing. Someone that could look at the DSM, memorize it like it were your mother’s face, and put it to practice. I implemented you no tools but common sense and facts. I will say no more. You’re fired. All of the so called work that you put into this case have yielded you no results. You are not an attribute to this company nor to yourself. You will never become a psychologist, Lil Miss Ashley. You havent the drive for it. Forget about med school, pristine princess. The money that this job was giving to your career advancement is cut off. You have wasted our time with your presence here!"

I stand agape, furious and unsettled. I am stunned. I have no words. None at all.I leave the office and flee to the haven of my car. I cant find my keys in my purse and I don’t much feel like moving to locate them anymore. I am still. I just stare down at my shoe and its untied. I feel so small. I knew that I shouldn’t have applied for this job. I knew that my smallest dream to become a helper of all children would never be actualized. I knew deep inside of my smartest of wits that it wouldn’t grow to be anything more than a false hope. A dead life. Bachelors in Psychology, waited on this masters in it, now I can go nowhere. I cant do shit with a bachelors in Psychology. I cant practice with that. I cant even sit my best friend on my sofa and talk to her about girl problems with a bachelors in this. What an end, right? My job was dependent on my schooling, directly connected. Im not going to get anymore funding from the state so I might as well just…

Mel is about ten feet away from me, in her car, parked, window down, weeping. I’d be thrilled if she were distressed over firing me but I figure that this distraught appearance that she has is not as rewarding as I want it to be. The child-like curiosity within me draws me to her window. I cant bear to see people cry. If I had a client and he or she were to cry during our time, I’d kneel at their feet and cry alongside them. Its emphathy, not sympathy. Loading their issues onto my back so that their burden is less to bear is my life’s desire. Children are my greatest calling, listening to a child cry sets off a fire in me towards maternal instinct. I cannot fend off the sadness without picking them up into happiness again. Mel reminds me of a child at this instant.

"Mel," She peers up from her hands, "What is wrong?"

"I lost her. We lost her. She’s gone."

"Gone where?"

"A few of us in the town missed Ewen. We knew that she had characteristics of Borderline and Borderline personality disorder when she took the knife…"Her voice breaks and is startled by more tears. She gulps and takes in a breath, " None of us knew what she was capable of. She was a terror. A menace, unbeknownst to us as we helped her. She just went about slaughter and killing and binging and destroying…" She throws her head onto the steering wheel.

I am concerned and in absolute awe of this revelation.

"We loved her. We took her in as our own, but her classmates, all of them, saw something in her that we didn’t. They studied her like a guinea pig and derided her as if she were scum. No children attend that school anymore. None of them after what she did."

"Mel? What the hell are you telling me?"

"We abandoned her to them. Themed as Childhood enrichment, we abandoned her to that fucking institute. Enrich them with the means to fail. Enrich their lives with falsities and the belief that they can manage their own lives without help. Fuck us for it. Fuck them for allowing us to give up on her. She went about ruthlessly without our intercession! We checked on her daily. She needed us. She fucking needed the help and all of them, all of us, including her brother abandoned her!" She screams bitterly into the wheel. I jump back slightly, unsure if she is going to break point.

"Where is she?"

"With her father."

"Okay, where is he?"

"Appleton."

"Appleton? The uncle lives there. I went there, she wasn’t there."

"No. Her uncle is her father. We buried her in the yard next to her brother after she self mutilated with no one to find her. We hid them. The whole town hid them."

"What!" I feel like bawling. She sent me on a wild goose chase for month after month of my life? She is a child of incest? It all began to click for me. The teacher that insidiously asked me over and over again if I were a predator, the dishoveled grass in the man’s yard, the way that Mel and the others looked at me whenever I cracked open her file. They knew that it was an empty case, I could have worked on this forever and ever if I hadn’t have given up. That’s exactly what everyone wanted, to keep this town secret and I helped them. I saved them all from condemnation. I do not understand how everyone including the supposed liscenced psychologists could go on living this lie! The discovery of this is hardening not only on my conscience but on my willpower! I do not understand this at all! "This entire workshop was a setup? Why, Mel. Why did you hand this case to me? Why me? My very first one and it’s a…why Mel?"

She looks up from the wheel. Her eyes are runny black and red.

"No one’s first case is simple, Dakota, dear. Psychology isnt something that you just lookup in the Diagnostic manual and hope that the client takes your expert advice. We know nothing more than they once we begin helping them. Once we diagnose and tell them how to help themselves, our jobs can become non existent. They can either stop coming or come to us and say I told you so for the duration of our sessions. Borderline personality isnt as simple as psychologists believe especially amongst those with mutable personalities. We focused on the broader aspects of her disorder and not the subtleties. She manipulated us all into her web, as children do to caregivers. You were right, Dakota, who would suspect a twelve year old’s duplicity? Her rebellion, her file, everything about her stealing the vehicle and ridding of it, it’s a lie. Her entire file was planted to hide our connection, the towns connection to her. We threw  her away. She was our jewel, though. My goodness she was a brilliant jewel that fell into the wrong hands, our sullied hands. All fell apart. All just fell apart!"

"You all hid her," I pause and think about her demeanor. Her appearance. Realization dawns upon me."You’re hiding, arent you. You hide behind your guise of makeup so that your features cannot be recognizable, even to yourself because you are reminded of your daughter."

She grimaces and nods.

"Mel, did you help your daughter kill herself?"

She melts into a fit of sobbing. Through a spurt of breaths and short wheezes, "She wanted to be with her brother. She was sorry for murdering him! She needed help, dammit! "

"Did you help her with her brother?"

"Yes."

"Oh, Mel."

She opens the car door and falls into my arms.

"I love my babies. I love them. I just lost them.Find them for me. Please bring them home to my heart. Take me home to be with my son&daughter."




© Copyright 2017 Amaya Davis. All rights reserved.

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