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DeBeers 05 Hidden Leaves, Page 2

V. C. Andrews

  "But she was always pushing them off for one reason or another." she said sadly. She nodded and then she stared at me a moment. "You know what she believes, don't you? I imagine it's down there in that report Dr. Anderson sent you." she said, nodding at the folder on my lap as though it were a criminal record instead of a doctor's file.

  I didn't reply. I didn't want to reveal anything in Dr. Anderson's report.

  "You don't have to read it. I'll tell you. She believes she carries a Jonah curse, that everyone or anyone who loves her or whom she loves will have something terrible happen to him or her. She'll tell you all about it. I'm sure, about all of them, her victims." she said, throwing her head back and rolling her eyes dramatically.

  "We'll try to get her to think differently about herself," I said. She sucked in her breath and sat straighter.

  "Yes. Well, what do you think? Can you cure her? Will she ever be a normal woman and marry and have a family and a home?" she demanded.

  "I hope so, Jackie Lee, It's my intention to make that a reality. yes. She does have a son to care for and raise, of course."

  "Care for and raise." she muttered. "Well, I can't just toss him out there to be at the mercy of those sharks, now can I? For now, I'll continue being his mother."

  That might do him some harm in time. Jackie Lee. Perhaps you should think of how you can gradually get him to understand the truth," I suggested softly.

  "Yes, well, we'll see. I don't want to make promises to him that will never be fulfilled. I know how mentally ill people can be, how their recoveries can be false or only temporary, especially someone in her condition. I've read a number of magazine articles about it."

  "There is a lot of misinformation about that. Jackie Lee. Perhaps the old adage, 'A little knowledge is a dangerous thing' applies to this more than anything. Just be patient and give it all some time," I told her.

  "Time. Exactly. How often should I come here?" she asked, rather demanded. I thought.

  "Not far a while," I said. "Let's see how it goes and I'll call you." She looked satisfied with that answer, thought Grace was going to put up a fight or an argument about coming here, but she didn't so much as utter a little reluctance.'

  "That's good." I said.

  "Good? Who would want to come here? How can that be something good?"

  "Perhaps she realizes she needs help. That's what good, Jackie Lee. You have to recognize you have a problem before you can solve it."

  "Um," she said. "Maybe. You know what she did, don't you? You know about her jumping off the dock in the middle of the night and then telling us she was getting on a ship with her dead father. She would have just let herself drown if we hadn't realized what she had done!"

  "When people are so troubled, they lose their hold on what's real and what isn't. -We all live in a little bit of illusion," I said. "but the difference is we know when to come back to reality."

  "She doesn't," she said sharply.

  "She will," I replied, now holding my eyes on her.

  "I hope so," she relented, "Should I go back to say goodbye to her?"

  "Maybe not Maybe it's best you just leave quietly. She's in good hands. As you know. I have a wonderful staff here, and we don't like to see the families make the patients feel abandoned in any way."

  "I'm not doing that." she retorted sharply.

  "No, of course not, but someone who is already suffering with misconceptions, self-deprecation, loss of identity..."

  "Yes. well. I suppose you are right. You do know more than I do." she said, standing.

  "I'll walk you out." I said.

  "It's a very pretty place. I mean, where it's located, those willow trees, the river nearby, the grounds."

  "Nature is a true healer," I said.

  "If that were true, you'd think the ocean would have been that for her. We lived right on the beach."

  "It held other connotations, other meanings for her, perhaps."

  "Her father crashed in the ocean, but we never talked about that." she said. nodding. "Oh, this is all so complicated. It makes me spin."

  "Don't worry. We'll sort it out," I said "Did you want to see the rest of the clinic, our facilities?"

  "No," she said quickly. 'I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound disinterested, but seeing all these disturbed people, especially the younger ones, depresses me. I don't know how you do this sort of work. Doctor. How do you do it?"

  "You think about helping them, seeing them walk out of here to be productive people again, and that's how you do it." I said.

  I walked out with her to the waiting limousine. The moment the driver saw her, he jumped and rushed around to open the door for her. She had that sort of aura about her continuously. commanding.

  "This isn't easy for me." she said at the car, looking back at the clinic and taking a deep breath. "She's my only child. Aside from poor Linden, of course."

  "I understand," I said.

  "I keep thinking about how happy we all were when our lives were chaotic, when we were moving from naval base to naval base, following my husband in his career, never really having any roots. They used to salute each other, you know," she said. "With two fingers. She did it when she was only two, and he thought it was so funny and cute that he never forgot and always did it the same way."

  I smiled.

  She was really crying now, and I thought that under the shell she had created for herself in order, perhaps, to survive in the world she had found herself living in now, she still had a very warm, loving other self. desperately frying to be heard. When we're honest about our own emotions, we have the best chance for happiness, Willow. Always remember that.

  I squeezed her hand gently.

  She looked at me one more time and in a whisper said. "Take care of my baby"

  Then she got into that luxurious, shiny black limousine with its tinted windows. I actually felt sorry for her. She looked shut up, locked away in there. The windows reflected me and the clinic. I no longer saw her, and moments later she was driven away.

  I watched her go, and then I turned back to my clinic and walked with determined steps to attack whatever monster resided in your mother's troubled mind.


  A Little Footnote


  After her admittance your mother was shown to

  her room and then given a little tour of our clinic before she was brought to my office. My head nurse. Nadine Gordon, took her around. We always tried to give the patients a sense of security, a sense of comfort before we began any formal therapy and treatment. It's not easy for a healthy person to leave home and find himself or herself in a strange new world, much less someone who was already quite fragile and unpredictable.

  Nurse Gordon knocked an my door and then brought Grace into my office.

  "This is Dr. Claude De Beers," she said. She always introduced me with such pomp and

  circumstance in her voice that made me feel, and I'm sure my new patient feel, as if I sat atop a mountain.

  When I told her she always introduced me as though I was someone high and mighty, she replied. 'That's what they should think of you. Doctor. The more confidence a patient has in her doctor, the better chance she has of becoming well," she advised. She was not above lecturing even me.

  She was very hard on the younger psychiatrists who tried to be pals with their patients. Most of them were actually afraid of her.

  You can just imagine what she came to think of my relationship with your mother, but that's something I'll talk about later. I feel like a schoolboy who is so excited about getting out his story, he can't keep himself from jumping ahead. (A bit of selfanalysis here. I'm afraid. The inherent danger of being a psychiatrist.) I hope, whenever you're reading this, that this little footnote brings a smile to your face. 'Willow.

  "Hello. Grace." I said. "I've been looking forward to meeting you."

  Your mother looked up at me with eyes that spoke volumes. Page one was full of skepticism. Why would I look forward to meeting her? Why wou
ld anyone? I could see the questions so clearly, I actually heard them as well,

  "Dr. De Beers said hello," Nurse Gordon told her, as if she were my translator.

  "That will be all," I said, dismissing her. "Thank you Ms. Gordon,"

  She gave me her sharp professional gaze for a moment and then softened, permitted her lips to weaken into a small smile, and left the office, taking so long to close the door, she appeared reluctant to do so. I could see the way Grace watched her every move. That told me her being introverted did not keep her from being observant and aware of her


  "Won't you sit here," I said, nodding at the sofa. "It's more comfortable."

  I didn't like sitting behind my desk, especially when I spoke to my patients. It made me feel I was behind some wall and very distant from them. You remember how big my desk was, too. Even a man my size looks wrapped in wood.

  She sat and I sat across from her.

  "Oh, would you like something to drink. Grace, soda, juice. water?" I asked her.

  She shook her head. I remember immediately being captured by those eyes, the softest turquoise eyes I had ever seen, beautiful, vulnerable,

  desperately searching for someone to trust, another heart in which to place her hopes and dreams safely. At that moment she reminded me of a small bird, so helpless and vet so capable of love, so eager to soar, perhaps right under that lonely cloud had seen earlier.

  "We should first simply get to know each other," I told her. "I know a little about you, of course, but I am hoping you will tell me much more."

  She waited, shifting her eyes nervously to avoid mine. Isn't it interesting how no one likes to be stared at normally. Willow? People who are suffering inside especially hate being observed. I looked at her file and tried at first to speak to her without looking at her directly, hoping that would put her at some ease. But I must also tell you that was difficult for me. for I wanted to look at her very much,

  "My, you did travel a lot when you were younger, didn't you? All these places, all these new schools to attend, new friends to make. It must have been hard for you when you were so young. I know it would have been for me." I said. "I was fortunate in that we lived where my father's father lived and in fact, my great-grandfather as well. I'm still living there, in fact," I told her. "But you..." I shook my head.

  And for the first time her eyes widened with a little interest and her eyebrows rose.

  "Matter of fact," I continued. "I don't think I know anyone who has moved around as much as you have. You're the first Gypsy in my office," I added, and she smiled.

  For me that first breakthrough with a patient is always the most delicious and satisfying.

  "My daddy called us Gypsies."

  "Did he? Tell me about him. He was a commander in the Naval Air Force, a helicopter pilot?"


  "I can't imagine him liking being away from you and your mother so often."

  'He hated that, but he had to follow orders, 'We all have to follow orders. Sailor Girl.' he would say."

  "Sailor Girl?"

  I knew why she used that term for herself Dr. Anderson had it in his notes, but it was for better to have the patient retell it.

  "That's what he called me," she said. Her smile was deeper, softer, full of memories.

  I know I was staring at her like a schoolboy stares at his first love. Willow. She noticed and looked at me strangely, and I realized it. I think, and I know you will be amazed, I actually blushed, not something I do very often.

  "You're not what I expected," she said.

  "Oh? Why is that?"

  "You're not old. I thought you would be older." "Why?"

  "You have your own clinic and everything and my doctor in Palm Beach looks older than you do and he made you sound like you were his mentor."

  I laughed,

  "Well. I've been lucky. This place practically fell into my lap."

  "He told me you go around the country lecturing and that you were brilliant." she said.

  "Let's reserve judgment on that." I told her. "First, let's see if I can help you. If I can do that, then well consider it," I said, and she nearly laughed. I saw it in her eyes. Sometimes, you just know quickly you're going to like someone and he or she is going to like you. It's as if the both of you have the correct combination to that lock that keeps our most private selves hidden from most people.

  "Tell me about those early years in your life. How did you feel about all this moving around, changing schools, constantly making friends?"

  "I didn't mind it. I was better off then."

  "Why?" I asked her.

  "I didn't have close friends. I didn't have anyone to mourn," she said.

  "Mourn? Why do you say that?"

  I thought she wasn't going to answer. She looked away and then she turned back to me, her eves narrowing, just the way yours do. Willow, when you get intense about something.

  "We had a dog once, a golden retriever called Kasey." she said. "She was hit by a car when she was only four and killed."

  "How sad for you."

  "Mommy cried and so did I and Daddy was very depressed. He loved that dog. And then Mommy said. 'I'll never have another dog. I'm not going through this again, this terrible loss,' and we never did." she said. "She had less to mourn."

  "Did that make you unhappy? I mean, didn't you want another dog?"


  "Why not? Was it because you wanted your mother to be happy?"

  "Yes, but it was more than just that."

  "Tell me," I said, leaning toward her. I felt like holding her hand in mine,

  "We take a risk anytime we give anything or anyone our love," she said. and I thought, what a remarkable observation. She might be a very troubled person, but she was also a very sensitive and perceptive one. I knew it that first day I met her.

  "That's true." I said. "But if it's someone or something worth the risk, then we should take it, don't you think?"

  She looked away again, and when she looked back at me I saw that her face had grown darker. I could see the light in her eyes diminish as she turned inward on her own troubled thoughts. Sometimes it takes a while to open that curtain and see all that is twisted and troubling inside someone. Willow, and sometimes, as it was with your mother, it comes almost immediately.

  "Nothing, no one is worth that risk," she said.

  "Why do you say that so firmly, Grace? Haven't you loved other people since your father's death? You seemed to have been very fond of your stepfather, Winston Montgomery," I said, noting Anderson's comments in her file.

  "And look what happened to him."

  "He wasn't a young man when he died."

  "He wasn't an old man, either." she retorted. I could see the fury in her eyes now, but it was a fury she was directing at herself then. Willow,

  "No, he wasn't, but people get sick and sometimes it isn't anyone's fault. That's true, too, isn't it. Grace?"

  She didn't answer, and when she didn't want to answer, she turned away so I couldn't see the thin, glassy shelf of tears cover her eyes.

  It's so important to get a patient to believe he or she isn't so much unlike you or everyone else. You have to create that bond and that trust.

  'I remember when my mother died," I began, and she turned back to me slowly. "I was finished with medical school and I kept thinking I should have noticed something. I should have been there for her. I blamed myself and for a long time, too."

  She raised her eyebrows again. "What happened to her?"

  She had a stroke, a massive cerebral stroke. Thankfully, she wasn't in a coma long."

  "That was different," she said after a moment. "Why?"

  "You thought you should have seen physical things and gotten her same medicine. You didn't bring her bad luck."

  "Why should someone have the power to bring someone else bad luck?" I asked her.

  "It's not a power; it's a curse!"

  "Why should someone have such a curse put on

  "Fate decides that before you're born." she told me.

  I didn't smile. I nodded. "Well, that's something you will have to explain mare to me."

  "I don't want to," she said and pressed her lips together like a defiant child.

  "I can wait until you do." I said.

  She threw a furious look my way, and I could see she was getting angry at me, so I looked at her file and then looked at the clock.

  "I bet you're tired with the trip here and all, aren't you?" She nodded.

  "We have lots of time to talk. Did you get a good tour of our clinic?"

  She shrugged, "That nurse moved and spoke very fast."

  "Yes, she can be that way," I said. smiling. "I'll call Nurse Gordon and ask her to show you back to your room." I said, and then I decided no. I'll show her back. "Why don't I escort you. myself." I said. She looked happier about that. "It isn't all that much longer until dinner. I'm sure you'd like a little rest first, take a shower, change your clothes, do whatever you want."

  "I can't do exactly whatever I want." she replied. "Your nurse made that very clear with her list of rules."

  "Well, whatever she told you is designed to keep you and the others here safe, but we don't want you to feel like you're shut away, Grace. This is simply a place where all the people who can help you come together and concentrate on you Give it a chance." I urged.

  She nodded and stood. Her eyes perused the office, and she saw the picture I had of your stepmother. I saw the curiosity in her face.

  "Is that your wife?"

  "Yes. Alberta." I said.

  "She's very pretty," she said.

  "Yes. Thank You."

  "Do you have any children?"

  "No. Not because I don't want any," I added quickly.

  She looked at me sharply for a moment, and then I opened the door and we walked down the corridor.

  Funny first meeting with the woman I would soon love more than any woman, wasn't it. Willow? We used to think so. It was hardly a romantic encounter. No music, no beautiful setting, no innocent laughter and carefree feelings. Instead, we were in my office with me being Mr. Psychiatrist.