Here’s a bonus scene that’s a prequel to The Jade Series. It takes place when Jade is 3 years old and is written from her mom’s point of view.
“Come on, baby girl, we’ve gotta go.” I chase after her but she keeps running away. It’s after eleven and if we don’t hurry we’ll miss the bus and then I’ll miss my appointment and I can’t miss it.
Jade hides under the kitchen table and I feel my anger rising. She does this all the time. She’s always hiding and it makes me angry. She’s only three so I know I shouldn’t be angry at her for just acting her age, but I can’t help it. I can’t seem to control my anger, not just with her but with anyone.
I need my pills. My pills will make me feel better. But I’m all out, which is why I can’t miss my appointment at the free mental health clinic.
“Jade.” I stand by the table, leaning down to see her bright green eyes looking back at me. “Get over here. Right now!”
She doesn’t budge so I get down on my hands and knees and crawl under the table just enough so I can grab her.
“No,” she says. “Don’t wanna go.”
“We have to go. Mommy needs her pills.”
She shakes her head. “No, Mommy. No.”
She does this every time I tell her we’re going to the clinic. She doesn’t like it there. She doesn’t like waiting while I talk to the doctor, and she doesn’t like the doctor. He’s a psychiatrist and seems very smart, but he’s not good with children. He either ignores Jade or scolds her if she makes a noise.
“I’ll be quick today,” I tell her. “We won’t be there long.”
“No.” She’s crying now. “No doctor.”
As I grab my purse, she struggles with me, trying to get down. “No!” she cries, kicking her legs. “Don’t wanna go!”
“Stop it!” I scream it at her and she stills, her crying now silent tears. She’s looking at me like she’s scared to death of me. Why does she always look at me that way? Why is she scared of me? Have I hurt her? I don’t think I have, but I can’t remember. I can never remember anything. Yesterday. Last week. Last year. It’s all a blur.
I hug her, squeezing her into me. “I’m sorry, baby girl. I didn’t mean to yell at you.” My voice is shaking. My whole body is shaking. I need those pills. They’ll stop the shaking and calm my nerves.
“Mommy.” Jade hugs me back, her tiny arms around my neck. Her sticky hands catch in my long hair, pulling it, and it hurts. It makes me angry again and I want to yell at her, but I force myself not to and walk out the front door, fumbling through my purse for my keys. I lock the door, then run to the bus stop, trying to hold onto Jade. I don’t have a car. I had to sell it because I needed the money.
We make it to the bus stop just in time. It’s cold out, but I’m hot and sweaty from running so fast.
“Sit still,” I say to Jade once we’re seated on the bus. She’s on my lap, facing forward, but she keeps rocking back and forth. Her constant movement makes me nervous, agitated. I try to stay calm, taking deep breaths.
There’s an older woman sitting next to us holding a little boy about Jade’s age. He has brown hair and is dressed in jeans and a red jacket that looks brand new. I don’t have money for new clothes. All Jade’s clothes and my clothes come from free donations I get from a church down the street. But they don’t always have Jade’s size so most of the clothes she has now are too small.
Jade’s staring at the little boy and I notice she’s still wearing her pajamas. I forgot to put different clothes on her. Why didn’t I notice this before? What is wrong with me? And her hair. It’s a mess. I forgot to brush it. I run my hands over it, trying to tame the long brown strands which are sticking up every which way.
“Want one?” I hear the little boy say. I look over and see his hand stretched out across the aisle toward Jade. He’s holding a donut that has some bites taken out of it.
Jade reaches for it and I slap her hand. “No!”
She brings her hand back to her side and I feel her shaking a little.
I scared her again. Why did I do that? Why did I hit her? What is wrong with me?
“Sorry about that,” the older woman holding the little boy says to me. She talks to the boy. “Honey, she doesn’t want the donut you already ate. Give her a new one.”
He nods as the older woman picks up a box of donuts that was sitting on the seat next to her. She holds it while the little boy lifts open the lid. He waits for Jade to take one but she won’t.
“Go ahead, honey,” the woman says to Jade. “Take whichever one you want.”
Jade peers up at me, fear in her big green eyes.
“It’s okay,” I tell her. “You can have one.”
She keeps her eyes on me. She doesn’t believe me. She doesn’t trust me.
What have I done to her? I honestly don’t know. I don’t remember. I love her. I know I love her. I feel it in my heart. So why is she scared of me? Why doesn’t she trust me?
“Is she not allowed to have one?” the woman asks.
“Oh, um, no. She can have one.” I quickly take one from the box and give it to Jade. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” the woman says.
Jade’s holding the donut I gave her but not eating it. I think she’s afraid to. Afraid I’ll get mad. She lifts it up to me. “Mommy, you have it.”
“No. That’s okay. It’s yours.”
“Would you like one?” the woman asks, offering me the box.
I haven’t eaten since yesterday so I take one. “Thank you.” I look down at Jade. “Thank the nice lady for the donuts.”
Jade turns and looks at her. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, sweetie.” She smiles at her.
I devour the donut and notice Jade does the same thing. Did I not feed her today? Oh, God, I don’t think I did.
“How old is she?” the woman asks.
“Three,” I say, wiping the sugar off Jade’s little hands.
“I would’ve guessed younger. She’s so tiny.” She bounces the little boy on her leg. “This is my grandson, Thomas. He’s also three. He just turned three last month.”
I look at the boy. He’s much bigger than Jade. More filled out. But he is a boy, and boys are usually bigger. But Jade is even small for a little girl. Her arms and legs are so thin and tiny. Do I not feed her enough? Is this morning not the first time I forgot to feed her?
The woman gets up, hoisting the little boy onto her hip. “This is our stop. It was nice meeting you.”
“Yes. Thank you for the donuts.”
“You can have the rest.” She smiles at Jade. “She seems to like them.”
The woman leaves and I notice the box of donuts still sitting there. The bus moves and I reach over and grab the box before it slides off the seat. There are six donuts left and Jade and I devour them, finishing all six by the time we reach our stop.
The clinic is five blocks from the bus stop and I practically run to make it there on time. The doctor gets angry if I’m late. When I get there, I go in the bathroom and quickly clean off my hands and Jade’s, then sit in the waiting room.
“Julie.” Dr. Waltin appears at the door to his office. He’s in his late forties, thin, with gray hair and black-rimmed glasses. He reminds me of a college professor. I used to go to college, but I don’t remember ever going. I only know I went because I have photos of me at college and paperwork proving my enrollment there.
I get up, and as I’m walking past Dr. Waltin, Jade clings to me and says, “Mommy, no.”
“It’s okay,” I tell her. “We won’t be here long.”
“How have you been, Julie?” Dr. Waltin asks, taking a seat behind his desk. I’m sitting across from him with Jade still clinging to me, facing away from the doctor.
“I’m struggling,” I say to him. “I’m shaky and agitated and I keep forgetting things. I think I forgot to feed Jade this morning. And I didn’t realize she was still in her pajamas until we were on our way here.”
He nods. “I see. Perhaps we’ll need to adjust your medication.”
“Yes. I think that would be good.” I rock Jade a little, and rub her back. “I’m worried.”
“Worried about what?”
“That I can’t take care of her.”
He glances at her. “She seems fine to me.”
“I…I can’t even remember feeding her this morning. Don’t you think that’s bad?”
He taps his pen on the desk. “I’m sure you fed her. Besides, children her age let you know when they’re hungry. She probably cried and then you fed her.”
“But I don’t remember doing that. I don’t remember anything. Not what happened yesterday or the day before. What is wrong with me?”
“You’ve been through something traumatic. And when that happens, the brain can sometimes shut down. I’m sure, in time, your memory will return.”
“What happened to me?” I ask for probably the millionth time. I don’t remember asking, but I’m sure I ask this every time I come here.
“Your parents were killed in a gas explosion that took down their entire house. It was an unfortunate accident, and you haven’t been able to get past it. You were very close to your parents.”
“Did I have Jade when they died?”
“No. But you were pregnant with her. That’s another reason for your psychological trauma. Your parents were furious with you for getting pregnant out of wedlock. They threatened to disown you. You were devastated.”
“Who is her father?”
He clears his throat. “A man you met at a bar. A one-night stand. At least that’s what you told me. You said he was only in town for the night and you couldn’t remember his name.”
I don’t recall telling him that, but it must be true if that’s what I told him. He wouldn’t just make that up.
Dr. Waltin gets up from his chair. “I’ll make the adjustments to your medication. It’ll be delivered to your home this afternoon.”
“We’re done already?” I came all this way for just a few minutes of his time? I thought he’d spend at least ten minutes with me.
“Mommy, go,” Jade says, pointing to the door.
As I stand up, the doctor says, “Not yet. There’s someone you need to talk to first.”
“One of my fellow psychiatrists. He’s in town and wanted to meet you. I told him about your case. He’s doing a study on trauma and memory loss. It won’t take long. Just wait there.”
I sit down again as he goes out the back door of his office.
“Mommy, I want to go.”
“I know,” I say, rocking Jade. “Just a little longer, then we’ll go home.”
A man walks in. He has dark hair and he’s wearing a black suit. He’s much younger than Dr. Walstin, probably just a few years older than me. Maybe mid- to late twenties?
“Hello, Julia.” He walks up to me and holds out his hand, his dark eyes boring into mine. I suddenly feel very nervous, even more agitated than normal. And the donuts I ate aren’t sitting well in my stomach. I almost feel like I might throw up. And why did he call me Julia? My name is Julie, not Julia.
“Hello.” I quickly shake his hand.
“I’m Dr. Sinclair. It’s nice to see you again.”
“Again? We met before?”
He laughs to himself and sits in Dr. Walstin’s chair. “We did indeed. It’s a shame you don’t remember.”
“Dr. Waltin said you wanted to talk about my memory problems,” I say, wanting to hurry this along so I can leave. I don’t like this man.
“Yes.” His eyes fix on mine. “So you remember nothing about your past?”
“I remember bits and pieces of my childhood, and I sort of remember my parents, but other than that, no.”
“And the child. You don’t remember having her? Or the pregnancy?”
“No, not at all.”
“That’s too bad.” He smiles as he says it. Why would he smile about that? “I’ve heard that one of a woman’s greatest moments in life is the day her child is born. And yet you don’t remember it.”
I feel a pang of guilt and an overwhelming sadness at his comment. I don’t remember the day Jade was born. Why don’t I remember? How could I forget that?
“Let me see the child,” he says.
“You want to see Jade? Why?”
“Don’t ask questions. Just put her down.” His tone is harsh, almost angry, and somewhat familiar. Why is it familiar? Did he talk like that to me the last time he saw me?
“Hurry up,” he says. “My time is limited.”
I set Jade down but she keeps hold of my sweater. “No, Mommy.”
“This man just wants to say hi to you, okay?”
She shakes her head. “No.”
“It’s okay. Just say hi and then we’ll go.”
Dr. Sinclair walks around the desk and stares at Jade. “She seems small for three.”
“How did you know she’s three?”
His eyes dart up to mine. “Dr. Waltin told me. And I have a child her age.”
“You do?” I feel a little better knowing he’s a father. I glance down at his hand and see his wedding ring. “Boy or a girl?” I ask.
“Girl.” He points at Jade. “Why is she in pajamas?”
“I didn’t have a chance to change her this morning.”
“It’s almost noon. The child should be dressed by now.”
“Yes.” I look down. “I know.”
He reaches down and picks up Jade.
I jump up from my chair. “What are you doing?”
“I’m just saying hello.”
She starts crying and reaching for me. “Mommy!”
“Give her back!” I yell.
“In a minute,” he says, using that harsh, angry tone again.
He goes over to Dr. Waltin’s chair and sits down with Jade. She’s crying even harder. She doesn’t like Dr. Sinclair and neither do I. There’s something not right about him.
“Make her stop crying,” he says.
“I can’t. She’s not good with strangers. We don’t go out much.”
“Fine.” He sets her down and she runs back to me. I pick her up and hold her, rocking her to stop her crying. “It’s okay, baby. Mommy’s here.”
“She has green eyes,” he says. “Is that why you named her Jade?”
“I don’t really know. I guess. I don’t remember.” I hold her tighter as she continues to cry. Normally, her crying would bother me, but right now, it doesn’t. I have this strong urge to soothe her, and protect her from this man.
He stands up. “I think I’ve seen enough. You and the child can go now.”
He leaves out the back office door but I remain in the room, trying to calm Jade down. She finally stops crying and I hear the two men talking in the hall.
“Fix her damn medication, you fool!” I hear Dr. Sinclair say. “She’s so out of it she’s not feeding the child.”
“She said she’s feeding her,” Dr. Waltin says.
“Are you blind? The child is skin and bones. We’ll have child protective services investigating if you don’t fix this! They’ll take the child!”
“Fine. I’ll make sure to adjust it, Mr. Sinclair.”
Mr. Sinclair? Why didn’t he call him doctor?
“I’ll be checking in again, and next time, that child better be fed.”
I hear feet stomping down the hall.
Child protective services? What does he mean? Would someone try to take Jade from me? No. That can’t happen. I need my baby girl. I hold her against my chest and kiss her head and continue rocking her.
Who was that man? He didn’t seem like a psychiatrist. He barely asked me any questions. In fact, he seemed more interested in Jade than in me.
He seemed so familiar. His tone. His face. That smile. His smile reminded me of someone.
“Mommy?” Jade sits back and looks at me.
“Yes, baby. We’ll go home now.”
She smiles and I gasp. Her smile. It looks exactly like the smile I saw on Dr. Sinclair, but how can that be?
“Julie.” Dr. Walstin appears again. “You can go now. Your medication will be delivered this afternoon.”
“Yes. Okay.” I get up and the doctor turns to leave. “Dr. Walstin?”
“That man. Dr. Sinclair. Did you say he was a psychiatrist?”
“That’s correct. Why do you ask?”
“I’ve met him before.”
“No,” he says quickly, his eyes narrowed. “You’ve never met him.”
“But he said that we had–” I stop, not wanting to say anymore. Dr. Waltin already thinks I’m crazy. I don’t want him thinking I’m even crazier.
But I feel like I know Dr. Sinclair. I feel like we spent time together, but not here. Not at this clinic. It was somewhere else. He said we’d met before, but where? When? And why does his smile look exactly like Jade’s?