Red (Part 2)
Dr. Stav sat behind her desk and motioned me to sit on the couch to the right of the door. Her blonde hair was twisted into a bun and she was wearing her black-rimmed glasses instead of her contacts. She was wearing a black pencil skirt and a white blouse with eyelet flowers. She was pretty and reminded me of the pictures of my mom; but she was married and had two young children of her own. I sat at the end of the couch and tucked my feet beneath me. She brought her rolling chair and positioned it so it faced me directly. She smiled her perfectly white smile and said, “How are you today, Brooke? Today is your birthday, correct?”
“Yeah, but I still can’t remember a thing.” I crossed my arms around a pillow.
“Don’t worry. Your memory will come back in time. Let’s try talking about the car accident. Maybe you will remember something about it today.”
“Dr. Stav, I don’t remember anything. I haven’t remembered for the past month.”
“Brooke, I told you that you could call me Elizabeth. We are going to try a different method today. I am going to show you photos taken at the accident and when you were in the hospital.” She opened my file and pulled out a pile of photos held together with a paperclip. She handed me the top picture and said, “Here is the picture of your car before you were taken out.”
I examined the picture with great care. I didn’t want to miss a single detail. The front end of my car was wrapped around the trunk of a tree. The driver’s door was yanked off, but I was sitting in the seat unconscious. Blood was all over my body. Bodies in firefighter and EMT uniforms were surrounding the car. “Anything pop out at you?” Her voice was smooth and gentle.
“No, nothing,” I replied quietly. She handed me a second picture.
“This was taken when they were taking you to the hospital.” It was another picture of my car, but I wasn’t in the car. Glass from the windshield was scattered everywhere. The firemen were still there, but the EMTs were gone. “This was the first day you were in the hospital.” I was unconscious in this picture, too. Countless wires and tubes were attached to my body and surrounding machines. The cuts on my face weren’t bleeding anymore. A bandage covered my left arm where a piece of glass had lodged itself. My dad was sitting in the chair next to my bed. His face was full with concern. I didn’t like this face as much as his smile. My fingers subconsciously traced the stitches on my left forearm underneath my sleeve.
“We don’t have to continue looking at the pictures if you don’t want to,” her soft voice called me back to the room. How long had I been looking at the picture? I must have looked miserable, but I wanted to remember.
“No, I want to look at the rest of the pictures,” I tried to sound as convincing as I could.
“This was taken after you woke up,” she handed me the picture. My face was still swollen and the cuts on my face looked just as bad in the previous picture, but my eyes were open. I remembered nothing of the pain I was in because of all the medication the doctor had given me. In fact, that entire week was still fuzzy.
“Let’s change the subject now.” She gently tugged the pictures from my hand and put them with the photos that she didn’t show me. “I think we should discuss your feelings about your dad hiring Linda.”
I looked at her for the first time since the pictures disappeared from my hands, the images still burned in my mind. Her face was thoughtful and waiting for my response. I figured that the hour would be over soon, so I said, “Linda’s nice and everything, but I think I am old enough to take care of myself. I don’t need a babysitter every time he goes to the office or out of town.”
“So you would like to do some things independently. Can you give me some examples that I can mention to him?”
“I would like to be able to drive or stay at the apartment by myself or go meet new people or have a normal life for a little bit. I don’t want to be protected at all times.”
“Anything else?” She looked like she genuinely cared. That was the only reason why I liked going every day.
“Not at the moment.” I couldn’t help but smile a little. I confessed all of my secret desires to her, and I felt better, even though it was only simple requests. Well, simple for any other person.
“When will your dad be available to come in?”
“He’s going out of town for a couple of days, but he will be back at the end of the week. You’re really going to talk to him?” I was suddenly optimistic. This was the most excited I had been since the last I could remember, which was waking up in a hospital bed surrounded by unfamiliar faces. I bit my lip just in case my newfound hope vanished.
“Yes, I will call him and set up an appointment. It’s the end of the hour for today. Linda should be here to pick you up soon. You can wait for her in the waiting room.” She stood from her chair and opened the door, signaling the end of today’s session.
I got up quickly and rushed over the hug her. She wasn’t expecting it, but returned the hug. “Thank you so much, Elizabeth. You have no how much this means to me.” I reeled back from the hug and she was smiling.
“Happy Birthday, Brooke. I will see you tomorrow.”
I slowly started backing out to the waiting room to wait for Linda. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Elizabeth. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She laughed quietly and closed her door. I turned quickly to guide myself to the waiting room. I was excited now. Excited that it was my birthday, excited that Elizabeth was going to talk to my dad, excited that I would have some form of freedom very soon. I opened the door leading to the waiting room and sat down in the same seat as I did before I saw Elizabeth. Linda still wasn’t here, so I started flipping through a magazine.
“She didn’t run away, I know it,” she said. Even though she said it with as much confidence as she could, a nagging voice in the back of her head told her otherwise. She didn’t want what they were saying to be true. She never thought that she would be wishing for something, possibly worse, other than a simple runaway case; but she couldn’t face the possibility that Cori left by her own will again. She could feel that something was different this time.
“Maya, you have to consider the possibility. She has run away before…”
“But never for this long, Allen. The police found her car. Why would she just leave it? She was getting better, why would she run away?” she interrupted coldly.
“I don’t know. I haven’t known this whole time. I have never known why she has ever ran away,” he yelled back. He was tired of Maya not wanting to look at any other possibility, but he greatly wanted to believe that she ran away again. That was better than the alternative. He just wished that Cori wouldn’t continue to disappear. He was tired of seeing Maya break every time.
“Stop fighting!” Gabe interjected. That’s all his parents have been doing since she disappeared. So what if she did run away this time? What if she didn’t? Fighting with each other wasn’t going to bring her back. He was tired of sitting back and not doing anything.
Allen and Maya looked back at their son, shocked. It was the first time he had spoken out like this. He was their good child. The one who obeyed. Cori was the rebel, the wild child. He was the quiet one. She was the one who always spoke her mind. He had dark hair like his father. She had blonde hair like her mother. He was tall and lean. She was short and petite. To their parents, they were polar opposites. Even though they fought like any pair of siblings, they knew they had a close relationship and were very similar.
“Apologize to your mom right now, Gabe,” Allen demanded.
“I’m going to my room now,” responded Gabe, ignoring Allen. He shoved his chair back into the table a little bit more forceful than necessary. He stormed out of the kitchen and up the stairs to his room; they watched him depart with a loss for words. Toby followed slowly and silently.
Maya broke down once she heard his door slam. “I lost my daughter and now I am losing my son. Am I really that horrible? Am I really such a bad mother?” Allen stood from his chair and put his arms around her. She was sobbing into his shoulder.
“Everything will be fine, Maya,” he whispered into her hair. He hated lying to her like this.
Gabe slumped onto his bed. His room was that of a typical teenage boy’s: an unmade bed, a desk with scattered homework, dirty clothes covering the floor in the corner, and a messy bedside table. Toby sat at his feet with understanding eyes. He was calm and wise. Most would think he wouldn’t know what was happening, but Gabe knew that Toby understood. Behind his door and across the hallway was her room. None of them dared enter it or speak of it; it was forbidden. He figured his parents wouldn’t be coming upstairs for a while. He pressed play on his iPod and turned the volume up all the way on the speakers. He made sure to grab his cell phone, even though he knew he wouldn’t answer if they tried to call him. This would cover for him for a little bit more.
He silently crept out of his room and closed the door. He had seen her do this many times before. He quietly opened her door and entered. Toby watched him with wide eyes, but didn’t make a sound.
Linda was late. I told the woman behind the window that I was going to the bathroom and that if Linda came in, to tell her. She smiled and nodded. I tossed the magazine I was flipping through back on the table. I walked calmly down the hall to the women’s bathroom. I was almost to the door when a man from the door opposite the women’s turned out. He didn’t see me and he was walking quickly. The impact caused me to fall to the floor. He realized that he didn’t run into a wall, but a person: me.
“I’m so sorry! I should have been looking where I was going.” He continued to apologize profusely as he extended his right hand to help me up. I took his hand and stood up. He was much taller than me, which wasn't too hard since I was the shortest person I knew. My head reached his shoulders. At the hospital, the doctors reported my height as barely over five feet. He had short brown curls and big, brown eyes. He put his left arm on my back to catch me if I suddenly decided to fall.
“Where’s the fire? I’m just kidding. Thanks for helping me up. I’m fine now.” He didn’t look convinced with a frown sitting on his face. I struggled to free myself, but his grip grew tighter.
“You don’t look fine with all of those cuts on your face.”
“I was in a car accident last month. I’m fine now. I’m just going to the bathroom.”
“Oh. I’m sorry to hear about that. You know, you look very familiar. Have we met before? My name is, Sawyer, by the way.”
“Maybe. I don’t remember anything before my accident. Doctors say I have amnesia. At least I am lucky enough that I got away with some stitches and cuts. They were surprised I wasn’t killed. They said I was lucky to only stay in the hospital for a week. Oh, and my name is Brooke. Can I go to the bathroom now that I’ve given you my life story?”
He let go of me and backed up. I pushed my way past him towards the bathroom door, but then he said, “Hey, I’m sorry for being such a jerk. Let me make it up to you. I’m meeting with some of my friends tonight to Fisherman’s Wharf around eight. We’re meeting by the carousel at Pier 39. Here’s my number. See you there?”
“I’ll have to make a deal with my parole officer, a.k.a. my dad, but keep your eyes open for me.” He pressed a folded scrap of paper he just scribbled on into my hand.
“Great. Carousel at eight. Don’t forget.” He smiled at his little joke and began to walk backwards down the hall.
“Ha, ha. Very funny,” I replied as I pushed my back to the slightly open door and saw him disappear from my view. I tucked the scrap of paper into my pocket. I finally went to the bathroom, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I was starting to get my life back. I just met a cute guy who looked past my scars and wanted to see me again. I practically skipped back to the waiting room.
I opened the door and the smile that couldn’t possibly be erased, vanished as soon as I saw Linda waiting for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her, but she constantly watched me. And she reminded me that I would have to ask my dad for permission to be out on my own tonight. I knew what his answer would be. Even if he was out of town, I would have to ask through Linda, and she always sided with him. She stood from the chair and walked over to me with a smile. Her navy blue coat and my brand new brown coat were draped over her arm. She was wearing layered blue and purple shirts, a purple scarf tied around her neck, a plaid skirt with leggings, and brown boots. Her dark brown hair was tossed up in a bun. She gave me a big hug. “Happy Birthday, Brooke!”
“Thanks, Linda.” I tried to remember the reason I was smiling so I wouldn’t appear rude to her, but the feeling failed to return.
“Are you ready to go? I have your present out in the car.” She handed me my coat and then she put on hers.
“Yeah. Let’s go.” I reluctantly followed her to the elevator, but I looked at my shoes the entire time. I felt awkward today. It was my birthday, but I couldn’t remember anything else; I just met somebody who might know me and I knew that I would have to ask Linda permission to go out. I tried to focus on something that would make me feel better: the picture of my mother that was burned into my brain. Her smile is spread across her face while looking at me lovingly, the wind blowing back our hair, her arms are wrapped around me tight, and my giggling self.
The elevator stopped. I was jolted back to the present. I continued to follow Linda to her car. We paused before we reached the top floor of the parking garage. “Okay, now close your eyes. I want you to be surprised.”
I put my hands over my eyes. My hands were shocked to find that the slight breeze quickly turning them into icicles. I focused on the warmth from my coat, but my hands were still cold. Her hand grabbed my right wrist and guided me to her car. I shuffled along the pavement until she lets my wrist go. “Just a minute.” I heard her unlock the door, open it, grab something, and then shut the door. “Okay, open.”
I took my frozen hands away from my eyes and she put a box in them. I examined the box for the opening. I found it and pulled the top up. Inside there was a scrapbook. I lifted it out from the box and flipped through the pages. It was pictures of my mom, my dad, and me. My school pictures from each year, family Christmas pictures, birthday pictures, baby pictures, pictures of my friends and me as children. All of my memories contained in a book. “I’m sorry. I thought you would like it. I thought maybe it might help you to remember. I can get you something else.”