Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 44 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 44 – “Balance of Power”
I talked with Dr. Hutchins for over an hour and she agreed, for now, to stop pushing Briarwoods to me and my parents. She made me agree to call in every day, however, and we scheduled office visits twice a week.
“At least until we get over this hump, Jessica. I want to tell you, though, that I’d rather you go to Briarwoods to get your medicine figured out. It’s not easy prescribing the right combination for your condition. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of trial and error. And being in one place for a set period of time gives the doctors the opportunity to monitor just how you’re doing, all the time.”
I hated when adults did this. I felt like I was being handled. We’d already agreed I wasn’t going, but she was still finding ways to keep Briarwoods in the conversation. “I told you no, Dr. Hutchins. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t keep bringing up the suggestion.”
“Look, Jessica. You may not believe this, but I do have your best interests in mind. And I have a lot more knowledge about your condition than you do. Just because you are the one going through this doesn’t make you the expert on it.” She reached for the folder on the coffee table, opened it up and took out a brochure. I could see the letters spelling “Briarwoods” at the top.
“Here,” she said, handing me the brochure. “Take a look at this and hold onto it. Now I don’t care how annoyed you are with me. It is my job to cover all the options. Yes, we agreed that I will not recommend that you go to Briarwoods, right now, but I’m telling you, if your situation worsens, you would be foolish not to consider it, and I intend to recommend it to your parents if you need it. And listen carefully. You have a responsibility here too. You may need a doctor to help you with your treatment and medicine, but you must keep up your end of the agreement. That means checking in with me every day, keeping our appointments and full disclosure, Jessica, on how you’re feeling and what you’re doing. I don’t want to hear that you’ve made decisions on your own and are off on an excursion somewhere, thinking about how you have to fix something on your own. It may be your life, Jessica, but right now, I’m in charge of your treatment and what I say goes.”
“I don’t want the brochure and I’m not going to consider going, even later, Dr. Hutchins! I have too much to do here. Jimmy’s still in the hospital and I don’t care if everyone thinks he’s a lost cause or if they think whatever we had wasn’t important. It was important, very important and it still is. And I’m not going to just abandon him to go to a rehab resort. We love each other. He may be lost, but I’m going to find our way back to each other, for both of us.”
“Well, Jessica,” she started, slowly. “You know that Jimmy is not in good shape and he could be in a hospital or other facility for quite a while. I think you need to concentrate on your own health.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was not going to get through to her, not completely. She might be in charge of my prescriptions, and now part of my day, every day, but she wasn’t going to tell me how I should feel or who I should care about. I had been getting ready to tell her about Stevie, about how he needed me too, but now I knew I should hold back. I was going to see both of them today, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell her about either visit. And if Stu or my parents planned on reporting back to Dr. Hutchins on what I did, every second of every day, then I would push back even more.
The brochure in my hand felt too heavy to hold and it was suddenly the central object in the room. Both Dr. Hutchins and I stared at the image on the front. It looked like a country getaway and I wondered how many people were lured to the place by the picture. I was ready to leave.
My iced tea sat on the coffee table, unopened. I was actually thirsty, but I wasn’t going to take anything from her that wasn’t forced on me. I stood up. I was still in control and I intended to keep it that way. “I’m finished here. I have things to do today, Dr. Hutchins. As far as I’m concerned, this counts as both a daily check-in and one of my office visits.”
“Okay, that’s fine. I think we both know where we stand.” Dr. Hutchins reached for the folder again and pulled out a packet of paper.
“Here,” she said, and she gave me the packet. “Read this. It’s not about Briarwoods, but it is about your treatment and what we’re going to do. It’s your job to read it carefully so you understand. And there’s a daily checklist at the end, with room for a month’s worth of daily entries. The list is to help define how you are feeling and it is very important. You need to complete that every day, before you call me. And when you do call me, we will go over every item. I want you to call me tomorrow morning with your first day’s entries. I’ll be in my office by 8:00 and can take calls until 10:00, so you must call during that time, understand? I want to get started on your treatment before my appointments begin.”
What’s worse? Being a child and being told what to do all the time, or being an adult and having a responsibility, dictated by someone else? I could see no difference and I felt the same frustration as a toddler on the verge of a tantrum. I walked to the door, packet and brochure in my hand. I could feel a panic to act rise inside me and I eyed the trash can near the door. My fingers tightened into a fist and the brochure and packet began to crumble. I ignored the heavy paper of the brochure pressing into my palm. It hurt a little, but it felt good too and I drew strength from that. Dr. Hutchins was watching me with a frozen fierceness. This was our showdown and I intended to make my point. I clenched my fingers tighter and walked over to the trash can. I separated the brochure from the packet and threw the brochure into the trash. I turned to look at Dr. Hutchins and we both looked at the packet in my other hand. I wanted to rip it up in front of her. How unfair being told what to do! Instead, I folded it in two and stuffed it into my bag as I walked out the door. I’d look at it later, I supposed.
Thank you for reading – all comments are welcome.
Just jumping in? 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”
Chapter 43 – “Control”
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