Did you love Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind? V.C. Andrews weaves another dark tale in the newest Mirror Sisters novel – two twins are inseparable, until one does something terrible… Check out the prologue from Shattered Memories.
I was dozing when my therapist, Dr. Sacks, entered my hospital room. I didn’t know how long she was standing there, but the moment I realized she was there, I sat up. She smiled and sat at the foot of my bed.
A dark-brown-haired woman in her mid-forties, with hazel eyes that held you firmly in her gaze, Dr. Sacks had an overpowering intensity. During our sessions, it wasn’t easy to avoid an unpleasant memory she wanted me to confront. Despite her diminutive size, standing just more than five feet tall, I saw that she had a very strong presence wherever she was or whomever she spoke with. Other doctors and nurses moved quickly to satisfy her demands.
“You’re going home tomorrow,” she said, in the tone of a fait accompli.
After all I had been through trapped in Anthony Cabot’s basement, chained and starved at times, my self-respect all but crushed, crying until there were no more tears, pleading and praying until I was struck dumb and resigned to die, anyone would think her words would make me happier than I had ever been.
But the thought of going home had become almost as terrifying as Anthony Cabot’s basement. I had never lived a day in my house without my sister, Haylee, who right now was incarcerated in an institution for the criminally ill because of what she had done to me and our family. She had enabled Anthony Cabot to abduct me, and she had kept silent about it while my parents and the police frantically searched for me. My mother had suffered a nervous breakdown. She and my father had divorced before all this had occurred. If anyone should feel like Humpty Dumpty, it was I. I had no reason to believe that even a skilled therapist like Dr. Sacks could put me back together.
“What about my mother?” I asked.
“It will be a while more for her,” Dr. Sacks said. “Your father has moved back to be with you until your mother is well enough to return. I’ve spoken to her therapist, Dr. Jaffe. He doesn’t think it will be much longer, but she will need home care for a while.”
“Maybe I do, too.”
“No. You’ll be fine,” Dr. Sacks said, with that now familiar firm assurance. “Your father will help. However, I think it would be better if we kept you from attending school for the time being. In fact, I’ve been discussing the idea of your transferring to another school, perhaps a private one, sufficiently far away to enable you to get a new start.
“But before any decisions are made,” she quickly followed, “I think it would be best for you first to reacclimatize yourself to your home, get stronger, regain the weight you lost, and try to regain something of a normal life.”
“A normal life?” I smirked at how ridiculous that description sounded to me now.
“You’ll recuperate, Kaylee. You’re young and you’re strong. Not many could have survived what you have endured. You’re very bright and resourceful.”
“Am I? How did I misread my sister? How did I fall into the trap she set?”
“You trusted and you loved. In the end, you’ve given her more reason to be envious,” Dr. Sacks said. She stood. “The truth is, you won’t have time to pity yourself, Kaylee. When your mother comes home, you’ll have a lot to do. I find that’s the best medicine for anyone who’s suffered: to care for someone suffering more.
“I’ll see you weekly until the new school year starts, and then we’ll figure out what you need in terms of therapy sessions. I’ve said it many times, Kaylee. If you constantly think of yourself as a victim, you’ll be a victim. You’re a survivor now. You’re not a victim anymore.”
“Okay,” I said, my voice sounding small, like the voice of a child. Despite what she said and how she said it, hope, like a newborn canary, still struggled to sing.
“Your father will be here soon. I’m taking you completely off the medication.” She stared at me a moment. “I’ll be here for you, Kaylee.” She squeezed my hand gently and left.
I lay back on the pillow. Vivid memories of the terror I had endured still came up like some sour food. Dr. Sacks once told me I was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, not unlike the psychological illness some soldiers suffered after being in horrible battles. Just like them, I experienced flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. She had just said she was taking me off the antianxiety medication, and while I knew I should be happy about that, surely she saw how frightening it sounded to me. I felt like someone who was learning how to ride a bike. Someone else was holding the bike as I mastered balancing and pedaling, and then suddenly, he or she let go, and I was on my own, sailing along but terrified of crashing.
In our therapy sessions, Dr. Sacks had worked on my finding ways to avoid thinking about the
horrible experience and fearing their recurrence. At one point, she even had me visit the basement in the hospital with her to face down my fear of dark, closed-in places.
“Most people suffer some claustrophobia, Kaylee,” she said, “but yours has been heightened. You’ve got to defeat it every chance you get.”
I had so much more to overcome than anyone else my age. I longed for normal fears and anxieties, like taking an important test, being accepted by friends, meeting a boy you liked and hoped liked you, choosing the right things to wear, styling your hair so it flattered you, and dealing with the rules your parents laid out for your social life. Would that ever be all I faced?
About an hour later, my father appeared. I had been so centered on my recovery and therapy, I really hadn’t considered how all of this had affected him, but when I looked at him now with clearer eyes, I saw the fatigue in his face and hated how it was aging him. I hoped he would enjoy a recovery, too.
“So, good news,” he said. “Dr. Sacks believes you’re ready. Tell me what clothes to bring back for you.”
How easy it would be for any other girl my age to rattle off a specific blouse, a pair of jeans, a favorite light jacket, shoes and socks, I thought, but the request seemed enormous to me. Our mother had been a major decider of the simplest decisions in Haylee’s and my life. Her neurosis, as Dr. Sacks described it, to keep us similar in every way had a major influence on how we perceived ourselves. I couldn’t simply tell him, “Anything. It doesn’t matter.” It would always matter, because I would always wonder what Mother would want me to wear, want us to wear.
For a few panicky moments, I couldn’t recall my wardrobe and where things were. He saw the fear in my face. How was I going to adjust to what Dr. Sacks called a “normal life” if I couldn’t even deal with such an ordinary request? What made her think I was ready?
“I could pick things out for you,” my father said quickly, seeing my hesitation. “I warn you, however, that your mother never thought I had any sense of fashion. Whenever I dressed myself, she would pounce like a drill instructor in a marine training camp and send me back to the closet. Remember?” he asked, smiling.
“Yes. Just choose any pair of jeans. I have some white blouses in the closet, and you’ll find a light pink sweater on the shelf. There should be a blue denim jacket beside it.” I almost couldn’t say the words, but I did so quickly. “You’ll find my bras and panties in the dresser drawers with my socks. Just any pair of running shoes.”
“Got it,” he said. “They’re doing your paperwork, so I’ll be back in an hour or so.”
One of the nurses stepped in to take my vitals. She told my father she would help me take a shower and get ready to leave. I still didn’t have enough hair to brush. One of Anthony Cabot’s punishments was to cut it down to my scalp. After the nurse left, my father sat on the bed and took my left hand in his.
“We’re going to be all right, Kaylee. Both of us will help each other through all this. I promise.”
He leaned in to kiss me, and instinctively, I cringed and turned my head. He kissed me on my temple.
He didn’t have to tell me. I thought it myself instantly.
The longer I suffer, the longer I fear, the more I will hate my sister.
Mother, of course, would say, “The longer you will hate yourself.”