Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 43 of Jessica. The story is winding down, but there are still some loose ends hanging! I hope you will follow me to the finish and tell me what you think.
Chapter 43 – “Control”
Stu left for work in a wave of good cheer. How different he was from the person I thought I knew! I stared at the frame of Stu’s mother. Maybe she had the answer. The counter was still cluttered, but someone had cleared the area around her picture. Was it so Stu and his family could see her better or was it to give her a better view of those she left behind? If she could see me with her family now, would she tell me that I could trust Stu? I’d listened to Jimmy complain so much about him, and felt my own anger towards him, nothing fit, not yet.
Stu was the leader of this family but it was his father who should have held them together. Instead, he gave the job to his son. What determines what people do when loss knocks them over? What makes one person get back up and another give up? My own mother had been the one to pick herself up, even if it took a while, and it was my father who had knocked her down. Dad was hit too, but it was by something selfish. The boredom of marriage, the excitement of someone new. Maybe I had the right to analyze, but I didn’t like thinking about their marriage, or about who was the stronger person. Dad was always the take-charge guy, but he hadn’t done the right thing. I knew the truth. He ran away because, for him, it was easier.
It was getting late. I couldn’t think about Dad or Stu any longer. I had to talk to Dr. Hutchins and tell her how angry I was about Briarwoods. I called her private line and she answered on the first ring.
“Hi Dr. Hutchins. It’s Jessica. I need to talk to you.”
“Jessica, I’m so very glad you called. I’ve been waiting to hear from you. I know what you must be thinking. You’re probably mad at me for going behind your back. But you mustn’t think that. It’s only been a matter of timing, Jessica.” She was talking fast and I thought it was so I wouldn’t have the chance to tell her what I thought. “We have a lot to discuss. Can you come in to see me at 9:00 this morning?”
I felt like Dr. Hutchins was doing some damage control, but I knew we had to talk about it all and was glad she had an opening that morning.
“I’ll be there,” I answered.
I decided to save all my thoughts until we were face-to-face. I was determined to tell her that I had no interest in going away. I wanted to tell her about Stevie. Maybe that would be a good way to convince her I needed to be around.
Dr. Hutchins met me in the reception area. I didn’t know if she had broken some kind of privacy law by talking to my parents first about Briarwoods, but I was beginning to suspect that she knew she had at least overstepped.
She talked before I could speak. “Jessica, I’m so glad you could come see me this morning. Come right back to my office and grab an iced tea from the fridge if you are thirsty.”
“Hi Dr. Hutchins,” I answered, then I followed her. I wasn’t going to give her an inch.
Instead of waiting for me to decide about the iced tea, Dr. Hutchins opened the mini fridge in her office and grabbed two bottles. She turned back to me and said, “Here, take one now, then if you get thirsty while we’re talking, it will be right there for you.”
I took the bottle from her. “Thanks, I’m not really thirsty, but I’ll hold onto it.”
“Have you taken your meds today, Jes?”
I had, but I was annoyed by the reminder. “Yes, I have, Dr. Hutchins. You don’t have to ask. Lots of people are checking up on me now, but I don’t need that. I told you and my mother, and now my father, because he seems to be involved with my health now too, that I don’t intend to stop taking them until we figure out a better plan or a new medicine to try. I know you may all find it hard to believe that I wouldn’t forget to take them, but I, more than anyone, won’t forget what I just went through when I went totally off them. You may not realize it, but I didn’t enjoy being out of touch with reality, even if I couldn’t have admitted to it happening. I have been telling you all along that those pills make me feel dead. I’m young. I deserve to be able to enjoy my life and not have it be pushed down by medicine. I know that you are just trying to help and we both thought that this prescription would help, but you can see that even if it did help in making me more balanced, in the end it failed because that muted and heavy feeling that came along with these meds is what made me stop taking them.”
I was just winding up and only wanted to take a breath before I told her what I thought about Briarwoods, but Dr. Hutchins interrupted.
“Jessica, I know you are mad and frustrated about a lot of things, but please, let’s sit down first.” She moved towards her desk and I wondered if she was going to just sit behind it to give herself some kind of advantage, but she only took a folder off the top of a pile and motioned me to the sitting area.
“Here, let’s sit over here,” and she sat in one of the single chairs. A nervous smile flashed across her face. She put the folder on the table and I sat in a chair across from her. I looked at the couch and the box of tissues on the table and thought of some of my earlier visits. I had never stretched out on the couch like I imagined other patients did, but even when I sat on it, I felt small and powerless. Today I wanted to be on equal ground with her.
“Okay, now I know you are angry with me for talking to your parents about Briarwoods, but you have to give me a chance to explain myself. It may seem like I should have had time to talk to you first, but so much has happened in a very short period of time. You have to understand that nothing is locked in. But if I want to get a patient into a place like that I have to plan. There are only so many spaces and all I wanted to do was prepare an option for you, Jes. Going to Briarwoods for a month isn’t the same as being committed to a facility. You have to know that. You are an adult and you have the final word on this. But whether your mother and father pointed this out to you or not, only part of it would be paid by insurance and your mother and father have agreed to pay the rest if you do go. So you see, they deserve to have a say in the matter if they are paying the bill. If it had just been you telling me you needed to get away, I wouldn’t even have been able to suggest Briarwoods. It’s an expensive facility. You should be glad for the chance to go to a place like that.”
“Hold on again, Dr. Hutchins. Why do you think I have to go away? That’s my number one question today. And yes, I am mad that you went to my parents before me. I don’t give a damn if they have offered to pay. You didn’t have the right to go behind my back.”
Dr. Hutchins reached for her bottle of tea, unscrewed the top and took a drink. There was no question she was stalling. I knew she didn’t have a good answer.
“Look, Jessica, I’m here to help you and I’ve always been on your side. If you don’t like the way I handled this, you have the right to tell me. But I was only trying to secure a spot at Briarwoods in case you decided to go there. I’ve already told you the final decision is up to you. We can sit here and argue that I should have talked to you first, but that’s not going to get us any closer to a solution.”
“I am telling you right now that there is no way in hell I am going to Briarwoods. And you were wrong to talk to my parents first, even if they are the ones with the wallet. Understood?”
Dr. Hutchins looked like a scolded child. “Okay, Jessica. I’m sorry.”
I smiled. “Thank you.” It felt good to be in control.
Thank you for reading – all comments are welcome.
Click below to check out earlier chapters.
Chapter 1 – “Jimmy”
Chapter 2 – “Stevie”
Chapter 3 – “A Photo and a Letter”
Chapter 4 – “The Life Within”
Chapter 5 – “Jimmy’s Truck”
Chapter 6 – “The Springs Diner”
Chapter 7 – “Dinner and a Game”
Chapter 8 – “He Made Me Nervous”
Chapter 9 – “I Called Dad on My Thirteenth Birthday”
Chapter 10 – “Connections and Time”
Chapter 11 – “The Reverse Apology”
Chapter 12 – “Empty Bedrooms”
Chapter 13 – “Job Description”
Chapter 14 – “The Car I Saw”
Chapter 15 – “It’s Not What You Think”
Chapter 16 – “A Different Route”
Chapter 17 – “Choosing Balance”
Chapter 18 – “A Mother Sees”
Chapter 19 – “Taking More”
Chapter 20 – “Robbing the Future”
Chapter 21 – “I Thought I Didn’t Need Her”
Chapter 22 – “It Was Up to Me”
Chapter 23 – “Separate and Icy”
Chapter 24 – “Striking a Nerve”
Chapter 25 – “Help Has Its Price”
Chapter 26 – “Who Asked for Help?”
Chapter 27 – “You’ve Done Enough”
Chapter 28 – “The Plan”
Chapter 29 – “Who Says I’m Not Okay?”
Chapter 30 – “What’s So Great about Balance?”
Chapter 31 – “I’ll Call You When It’s Over”
Chapter 32 – “Sorting It Out”
Chapter 33 – “Truth and Lies”
Chapter 34 – “The Car-Port House”
Chapter 35 – “It’s a Dead Yard”
Chapter 36 – “I Just Want To See Him”
Chapter 37 – “I’m Not Going Anywhere”
Chapter 38 – “He’s Here Now”
Chapter 39 – “Not Everything Changes”
Chapter 40 – “Anger’s Release”
Chapter 41 – “What Are Rights?”
Chapter 42 – “Visiting Stu”
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