I don't like to put my WIP posts with my "this is what's going on" posts, so here's this week's WIP excerpt. What you need to know is that Lyddie, to take on her job, had to basically have a routine psych exam. Though it's just a formality, one of the tests sent Lyddie into a nervous breakdown and she's terrified of the diagnostic letter that will arrive, sure it will contain notes on her failure. Read on:
“Lyddie!” I hear Julie call from downstairs. “Come get your mail!”
I go down to the foyer to find Julie holding a stack of mail, one smaller than the other. She hands me the former and I leaf through it. Ten thousand college postcards from places I would never go, even before I got the job. My half – term report is in there, so I tear it open. Straight As. Congrats, Lyddie. You’re smart and it doesn’t matter anymore. I place the report on the side table for Dad.
The last letter in the pile has a logo in the upper left hand corner that I don’t recognize immediately, but after another second, I realise that it’s from Dr. Philips’ office. The diagnostic letter.
It takes every ounce of self discipline not to take the envelope and its offending contents and feed it into the flames of the very lanterns that got me into this mess in the first place. But even if I did destroy it, Dr. Philips talks to Aunt Kelly on a semi – regular basis, so he’s sure to ask her about it. There’s no getting out of this.
I’m just about to stuff the letter in my pocket and go back up to my room when the door opens and who else but Aunt Kelly walks in.
“Hi, Aunt Kelly,” Julie mutters, immersed in the pages of some magazine.
Aunt Kelly’s gaze lands on me. “Lyddie? Are you okay?”
“Mm-hm. Totally okay.” I try to inch the hand with the letter behind my back, but of course she notices. “What’s that?”
“Uh… report card.” Technically I’m not lying. It is a report card of sorts and I’m pretty sure it’s the kind I’ve never gotten in my entire life- just one big F written in red across the page. Or, no, probably a C, for Crazy.
“Can I see it?”
It takes me a second to move, but I have to give it to her, so finally, I do. I watch my fate literally pass out of my hands. She’s going to be so mad…
She doesn’t open it right away, though. “How about we get a snack before we discuss this? I’m famished and I’m sure there’s some important and interesting stuff to talk about in here.”
“Yeah. Important and interesting.”
I follow her into the kitchen where she removes some grapes from the refrigerator and sits down with the death letter. Popping a grape into her mouth, she tears it open and unfolds it. Before she looks at it, she catches sight of me still standing. “Sit down, Lyddie, so we can talk about this.”
“There’s something about being right by the door that’s really working for me.”
She nudges a chair out with her foot. “Don’t be silly. Sit down.”
Trepidaciously, I do, and watch Aunt Kelly’s face carefully as she scans the contents of the letter. Her expression doesn’t give me a single clue, bad or good. Finally, she sets it down.
“Well.” That’s all she says.
I cringe, looking anywhere but at her. “I know. I’m sorry. I tried.”
“Obviously not hard enough.”
“I’m sorry, really.” I chance another glance at her. She doesn’t look mad, more… disappointed. So she’s going to take the scary calm route. This is going to suck. “I just… I freaked out and I don’t want to ruin anything for Julie and I’m really really sorry.”
“’Freaking out’ is not an excuse for rudeness.”
I look at her now, confused. “What?”
“Dr. Philips reports that through almost the entire session, you were hostile and uncooperative.”
“All? Lyddie, he is very important to our cause. We can’t lose his support.”
“But that’s all he wrote? That I was rude? Nothing about… anything else going on? The results of the test?”
“Well, he can’t report on each test individually – it’s against the privacy code. He did write a general summary of your results, and they seem to be fairly good. But Lyddie, that’s no excuse for your behavior. You’re not a child anymore.”
I’m too busy breathing several thousand sighs of relief to be properly chastised. He didn’t write anything about my breakdown. Thank God. But why? Surely someone who demonstrated such signs of instability can’t be good for the job.
“Lyddie? Are you listening to me?”
“Yeah. Sorry. I won’t do it again, Aunt Kelly. I was just stressed. I’m fine now.”
My curiosity gets the better of me. “What else did he write? Anything good?”
She consults the letter. “That you’re obviously very intelligent. Despite the uncooperativeness, you scored very high on the majority of the tests. But that doesn’t excuse -”
“I know, I know. I have to be nice from now on. I will, I promise.” Now that I don’t feel like I’m going to throw up anymore, I steal a grape. “Can I go now?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
I escape back up to my room, where I practically melt into a puddle of relief. I never thought I’d say it, but thank God for Dr. Philips. I don’t know why he let me off the hook, but I’m grateful he did. Now I just have to pretend that that episode never happened and get on with my life… such as it is now that I’ve been cleared.