Dorothy woke to find her hair matted to her face with dried tears. She swiped the hair from her eyes and tucked the wisps behind her ears. As she made her way down the stairs, she overheard her parents whispering loudly.
“You cannot send her to that shrink,” her dad said.
“Try and stop me. She’s not happy with her life right now.”
“What life? She can’t even remember her life.”
“Exactly. That’s the whole point in all of this. It’s to help her. It has nothing to do with you.”
“Fine. We’ll try your little experiment for a few weeks.”
“Two months. Then we’ll talk again about it.”
“Victor, I said two months. You don’t have to drive her to the sessions. I’ll take care of it.”
“And the bill?”
“Insurance will pick up the tab.”
“Fine. Do what you want; she’s your daughter. Just don’t come crying to me when things don’t turn out the way you expected.”
“She’s your daughter too, Victor.”
“Yes, she’s my daughter. Are you happy now?”
Dorothy didn’t wait to hear her mom’s reply, and she bounded down the stairs like she was oblivious to their spat. Her dad left the room, making up some lame excuse with it, but she didn’t mind. She was wary about his presence anyhow.
“Good morning, mom,” Dorothy said as she got a bowl and spoon for cereal.
“Good morning. I have some really good news from your father and me. When you were in the hospital, your doctor recommended that we let you go to hypnotherapy so you can try to jog your memory. How do you feel about that?”
Dorothy stopped pouring cereal, and the box remained suspended in the air. “I think that’s a good idea, but what if it doesn’t help?”
“Then we keep trying or we try something new.”
“It seems kind of scary.”
“Oh, sweetie, it’s not scary. It’s just something new.”
Dorothy continued pouring cereal and filled the bowl halfway with milk. “Okay, I want to do it,” she resolved.
“Great! We, well, I have already called some therapists, and I found what I think is a really good one. If you’re up for it, we can meet her today.”
“I think that could be fun,” Dorothy said in between bites.
A few hours later, the sun was rising and they were on their way to the therapist’s office. Dorothy and her mom talked about little things, purposefully avoiding the heavy conversation about the past. Dorothy wanted most of all to pick her mom’s brain, and she wished she could transplant memories into her own mind. She felt like a lost wanderer, doomed to live off of other people’s scraps.
Before she knew it, they had arrived. The therapist’s office was in a corner lot, hidden behind all the shops. She didn’t know where they were, and for a moment she panicked that she couldn’t find her way back home, not that she was even sure where “home” was anymore.
“It’s in here, Dorothy.”
She followed her mom, and when she walked in the lobby, Dorothy was met with the faint scent that seemed familiar but she couldn’t identify, and walls the color of wild lavender. She watched her mom walk to the receptionist desk, and she trailed her.
“I love the smell of patchouli. That’s what it is, right?” her mom asked.
The receptionist laughed. “Yes, it’s patchouli. It’s a hit or miss smell, either you love it or you hate it.”
“Well, I think it’s a great incense for a therapist’s office.”
“I’m glad you like it. Are you here to see someone?”
“My daughter, actually. Dorothy Caldwell.”
“Ah, yes. She is here to see Dr. Martha Bolyard. I just need her to fill out these papers, and we can go back there.”
Dorothy flipped through the pages she was supposed to fill out and realized with a sudden panic that she couldn’t answer any of the questions, save for her first and last name. “Have you or any of your family members ever suffer from depression?” “Have you ever attempted suicide?” “Do you have any medical illnesses preventing you from taking certain medications?” “Have you ever had therapy in the past?”
She looked at her mom and willed her to save her. “I don’t know these answers.”
“Let’s see here,” she said. “Depression? Nope. Suicidal tendencies? Not that I’m aware of. And medical illnesses? Maybe we should write about the head trauma. That will help clear up some confusion.” Her mom looked at Dorothy and blushed. “I- I didn’t mean that.”
“It’s okay. It was funny. I’m just glad I’m not here doing this alone. I wouldn’t know what to say on these papers.”
“Well, it’s a good thing you have your mom here.” She wrapped her arm around Dorothy’s middle and squeezed. “Let’s get these papers back to the receptionist. I doubt it would take very long to get in there.”
While Dorothy was waiting, she kept thinking about all the possibilities of her past. One moment, she was a damsel in distress, waiting for her knight in shining armor while she was being stashed in some turret in a castle; and the next, she was a fierce warrior, fighting for the rights of those who couldn’t speak for themselves. In the end, she settled on being a normal fourteen year old girl, who had many friends and boys pining after her, who got straight As in school, and who was involved in a lot of after-school activities and volunteer work. She wanted so desperately to be that girl that when her name was called, she didn’t hear it.
Dorothy walked down the narrow hallway in the belly of the building, and she was led to a small corner office that was decorated with bright flowers and posters with affirmations on every wall. She felt dizzy with all the stimuli, so she sat down. Her mom took the seat next to her.
“Hello, you must be Dorothy Caldwell. I’m Dr. Martha Bolyard, but you can just call me Martha. I’m not one of those uppity people who insist on the ‘doctor’ title. And you must be Dorothy’s mother, Evelyn, is it?”
“Yes, Evelyn Caldwell. I won’t be staying for all the meetings, but I thought it would be a good idea to help Dorothy get adjusted.”
“That’s perfectly okay. We’re just going to get to know each other a little bit, talk about our plans, and get started. Are you ready, Dorothy?”
“I think so. I’m a little nervous though.”
“That’s normal. Therapy can be a scary thing in its own right, but if you add in the subconscious, hypnosis, and discovering lost truths, it can get overwhelming very quickly. I’m going to work hard to avoid that.”
While her mom answered a lot of the questions, Dorothy couldn’t help but stare at the woman across from her. She couldn’t remember ever having seen a therapist before, but Martha didn’t fit her idea of what a shrink would be. She wore long, flowing clothes with sandals. Her silver hair was braided and fell down to her waist. She wore glasses around her neck with a tie-dye lanyard, and Dorothy stifled a laugh when she imagined Martha living on a nude commune for hippies and tree huggers.
“Okay, that should be all. Evelyn, if you would give me and Dorothy a moment to get started, I would appreciate it,” Martha said.
“If you need me, I’ll be right out in the lobby,” her mom said as she walked out the room.
Dorothy nodded in return and refocused her gaze on Martha, still a big question mark in Dorothy’s mind.
“You have quite the story, Dorothy,” Martha said. “Your mom seems to think the world of you and is trying to help you out in every way possible. How does it feel to not have any memories of your own?”
Dorothy fidgeted in her chair. “It’s awkward. I mean, I don’t know, I just wish I could remember my name at least.”
“So can you remember things that happened after the crash?”
“Yeah, but it takes me awhile to learn things.”
“Is that because you don’t feel connected to what’s going on?”
“That’s exactly it. I was looking at some pictures of me when I was younger, and it could’ve been anyone. It didn’t feel like it was me.” Dorothy looked at her hands in her lap.
“That must be frustrating.”
“Yeah, it is. I just want to be a normal fourteen year old, whatever that means.”
“Going to school, hanging out with friends. I was a teenager once too, believe it or not.”
Dorothy gave her a half smile. “Yeah, I wish I could do that. I don’t know if I even have any friends from my life before, but nobody has called or came to visit or anything. I wish I knew if I had anybody special in my life.”
“Have you asked your parents?”
“No,” she admitted. “Not yet. I’m nervous.”
“I don’t think they would allow me to go back to school. As much as my mom loves me, she’s very over-protective. I’m not sure if she was always like this, but I don’t think she would want me to go to school.”
“Even if it’s what is best for you?”
“I’m not sure.”
They continued talking for thirty minutes, and Dorothy realized that she kind of liked Martha. They made an appointment for next week, and Martha reminded Dorothy of her homework of asking about going back to school.
Dorothy walked the hallway to the lobby where she met her mom, and she couldn’t help but think of the session. She kept wondering what she would discover under hypnosis, and she couldn’t shake the unfounded fear that Martha would have her do something embarrassing under hypnosis.