I may have finished the manuscript, but now I am going back in and adding–well–color, depth, bringing the darn thing alive. Here’s a flashback which stands as a prologue (for now), and gives some glimpse into Annie’s inner mind.
18 years ago
“With the school day now behind me, I pace in front of the post office, another job I couldn’t possibly do. Too many numbers and letters. They would all be screaming at me in color. My planner is filled with assignments—busy-work, mostly—they try to keep us seniors engaged in the spring time. Spring Fever, they call it. I’m on to their game. A gentle breeze floats past, all tangerine swirls and warm vanilla. I inhale deeply, expecting the smell of an orange sickle. Nothing. This time, I see only the breeze.
Next to the post office is Dr. Frick’s office. A hard, splintery name. Frick. As in “what the frick is this about?” Her voice is gritty and rumbling, her face worn. She looks like a frick. But she’s a damn good shrink. She gets teenagers, she says it’s because she used to be one. She’s tell-it-how-is, spicy and pointed. Mom says, “Sweetheart, she’s not from down here,” and then she whispers as if it’s a sin, “She’s from Boston.” I happen to find her directness refreshing.
“Are ya comin’ in, or what?” She leans on the door jamb of the brick building, and shoves a pencil behind her ear, frosted gray-blonde hair poufs around her face. Dr. Frick is old-school in that she has a tiny downtown office with no receptionist. Well, she has a part-time gal that does stuff for her in the daytime while her kids are at school. After three— like when I go—it’s just me and Dr. Frick and a loveable little cat named Carly.
I shrug and hoist my backpack a little higher on my shoulder and shuffle inside.
“Have a seat,” she barks and points to the low-slung sofa along the wall. Carly is displaced and mews at me, a piercing look. Her gold eyes are flecked with brown and green.
In front of me on a coffee table are thick paper cards with diagrams. I frown, “Aren’t these the tests you gave me before?”
“Indeed, they are. And today, we are going to talk about what they mean.” She strode across the room and reached for the first card. “You’ve heard of Rorschach cards before, right?” I nod recalling Dr. Mihevc’s Intro to Psychology class last semester. “Well, think of these as a Rorschach for your condition,” she sticks up a crooked finger, “I know you have questions. Just wait.”
I knit my eyebrows, and look to the floor, my Keds dingy gray with a hole at the big toe.
“So, these cards have diagrams on them. They are made up of hundreds of graphemes—letters and digits.” I see them all plain as day. B. 8. 5. S. 2. Dr. Frick continues, “To an untrained eye—an eye without the gift—they become a jumble. For you, Annie, it’s a playground for your mind.”
I supress a smile. She does get it.
Dr. Frick tosses the card on the table and picks up another. “As the tests got more complicated, the graphemes became smaller and the shapes, pictures—whatever—became smaller and more complex. Most people would just go crossed-eyed looking at them”
“And yet, you correctly identified the hidden pictures in under three seconds.” She flicked the cards on the table as if saying, viola! Before pushing them off the table completely with a flick of her wrist.”
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