Publisher Greenly Publishing
When young Emily Quinn, accused of the brutal murder of her father, sits down with an eccentric world-famous psychiatrist, she has no idea she is walking into a frightening and twisted world—her own.
Doctor and patient weave through family secrets, the unexplained death of a twin sister, a detached self image, severe abuse, and a peculiar attachment to an old Bloomingdales box filled with her drawings. They develop a warm partnership, sifting through unexpected revelations and troubling events culminating in a shocking revelation that neither saw coming.
I held the sketch back to admire my drawing. The girl in the picture was six months past fifteen. She started wearing makeup on her birthday—not much, just cotton candy lip-gloss, and pink blush to add color to her pale cheeks. Her butterscotch hair touched her slender waist with a single curl. She couldn’t bring herself to cut it in the new short Twiggy hairstyle although she hadn’t ruled it out completely.
"Quinn! Drop your damn pencils! Time to go!" The guard whipped out his restraints and had me in the hallway in less than a minute.
I glanced back at the picture and watched the pencil roll under the bunk. For the first time since my arrival fourteen days ago, I'm out of confinement and away from my make-believe world. I'm Emily Quinn, a nineteen-year-old murderer. I clamped down on my lower lip and braced myself for the long walk to meet my psychiatrist.
The chains around my ankles scraped the cement floor as I shuffled down the corridor of the San Francisco County Jail. Rumbling toilets, guards yelling, women shouting, and plates slamming against steel tables echoed throughout the jailhouse. I retched at the stench of urine, ammonia, and sweat blasting through the old ventilation system.
We finally reached the fifth floor. My shoulder ached, and my legs were numb from towing ten pounds of metal. I glanced at the officer, wondering if we might take a break, but his fixed expression told me otherwise. He led me into a small office and chained me to a leather chair. I twisted, trying to sit up straight with leaden shackles hooked to the legs. All one hundred fifteen pounds of me slid downward, leaving me flat on the seat, staring at the ceiling. I inched my way up, gripping the arms. Seated at the desk in front of me was my reason for being here, Doctor Daniel Lieberman.
He flipped through the papers without looking up. "I'll be with you shortly."
My lips began to quiver so I hung my head, forming a dark curtain around my face. The intake officer informed me early on not to show emotions. While being strip-searched and fingerprinted, I couldn't stop crying. She let me know I wouldn't "keep my baby face" acting like a two-year-old; the seasoned inmates would target me as a punk and trade me to other detainees for a pack of cigarettes. Besides, slaughtering a parent doesn't win you esteem among the prisoners, and no one buys the "amnesia" excuse. It's been used before.
I peeked through my long, dark hair at the doctor. I had done a little homework on him courtesy of a Time Magazine article I retrieved from the book cart. His work received a stellar review and touted him as a leading forensic psychiatrist. I expected a tall, professorial type in a three-piece suit. Not so. He was a short, pencil-thin man in his late sixties, wearing a wrinkled gray jacket and slacks.
He held up his "wait a minute" finger as he continued to fumble through the pile of papers.
I pushed a clump of hair behind one ear to look around. His office was twenty years beyond shabby, and not what I would expect from a celebrated doctor. The walls were putrid green; framed degrees and awards teetered in all directions, coated in dust. Empty candy wrappers and coffee-stained mugs covered his desk along with loose files and manila envelopes.
He stopped the paper shuffle and focused his attention on me. He stared, tapping his index finger against his mouth. "Glad to meet you, Miss Quinn."
"You…too," I mumbled. My hands trembled, and the knots in my neck made it hard to move my head. I didn't know how to talk to a psychiatrist, let alone one with the power to retrieve the lost memories of my life.
He leaned back in his swivel chair. “Emily, tell me something about yourself.”
The shackles made me squirm like a trapped animal. "Um..."
I faked a cough to buy some time. Surely he'd read my file and knew that killing my father two weeks ago wiped out most of my life. Since the murder, hazy snapshots have flickered through my mind, fragments of an event or face. The visions have evaporated on impact, leaving nothing but the fact that I had a life—once.
The doctor ran his hands through his frizzy white hair. "Let's start with some basics that you know."
I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. It felt like I was playing connect the dots without the pencil. His tics made it worse. He tapped his chin, shrugged his bony shoulders, and pushed his glasses up and down his skinny nose.
"Just say whatever comes to your mind."
"Well..." I bit down on my lower lip. What was I supposed to say? Recite what others told me or what I remembered?
They said I murdered my father, but I didn't know why. I had an older brother who hadn't come to see me, and a mother who shelled out a tidy sum to defend me but had only called me once. And that was only to apprise me of legal issues. For the first few minutes, I thought she was one of my attorneys. I had a fiancée I couldn’t remember, sequestered at a boot camp cut-off from the outside world. I got the news from his mother; she telephoned me after my arrest, worried sick about her boy. He had no idea that while hiking through a simulated Viet Nam battlefield learning to be a good Marine, his intended bride was arrested for premeditated murder.
Now a psychiatrist was asking me to drudge up the lost details of my life to explain why I killed my father. Whatever comes from hypnosis, my father will still be dead, and I'll still be the one who killed him.
He held his stare; his brown eyes were intense and steady. “Relax, Miss Quinn. Tell me what you know about yourself.”
"I was told...I mean, my name is Emily. I'm nineteen. I have a brother, Robert, and a twin sister, Penelope. But, um...they say she died in 1953 when I was five. My mother and....”
I looked down, squeezing my hands. “My father…they said I stabbed him…twenty times. They found me…us…on the kitchen floor.”
“Is there anything else you can tell me?”
I rubbed the sweat from my forehead. “No sir.”
He leaned forward in his swivel chair. "Let's talk about what we're going to do here."
I swallowed hard, feeling like my throat had narrowed.
"You will be guided back to different stages in your life. I will be looking for patterns and progression in your thought process. We will start at eight years old because the brain's ability to recall detailed events is more developed after the age of seven. Once I have enough data to establish a thought pattern, I will progress you forward to another age. After each session, I would like you to keep a journal of your thoughts and memories, which will be sent to me prior to our next meeting. It does not need to be formatted, just write whatever comes to your mind."
I rubbed my sweaty hands on my jumpsuit, cringing at every word. Terrified to shine a light in what had to be an evil soul.
"Hypnosis is entirely safe. You won't do or say anything that you would not normally do. I will guide you into a relaxed state, and you will recall events as they occurred. When you wake up, you will remember everything that happened. You will be fully awake and aware of your surroundings."
"Okay. Now I want to talk to you on a more personal level about what we're going to do."
I tried to hide my nerves, but my right eye twitched, and drool trickled down my chin from my mouth hanging open. I lowered my head and wiped the gunk with the scratchy sleeve of my jumpsuit.
He continued to explain hypnosis. "...And we’ll work together for as long as it takes to retrieve your repressed memories. He paused, dragging a notebook across his desk. “Tell me what you hope to gain from hypnosis."
A hot sensation ripped through me, holding back the doctor's words. I shook my head, feeling damp hair tap against my face.
He rested his elbows on his desk. "Miss Quinn, I'm here to help you make sense of what now seems senseless. Do you have any questions?"
I opened my mouth and burbled a series of unintelligible sounds. "Uh...I...." I twisted my foot against the shackles.
His fingers formed a steeple as he waited for me to talk.
"I don't know!" The words sounded like I spit them out in protest. I rammed my ankle on the shackles hard enough to draw blood.
He tapped his foot on the floor. "I understand this is difficult for you. My role as your doctor is to help you. Think of this as a beginning, not an end. We’ll do this together...we'll discover who you are, and what shaped you. Can you do this with me?"
I hid behind my hair and wondered why. It seemed like a morbid journey, traipsing through the mire and muck only to hear a dead man moan. My own father. There was no repentance worthy enough or defense strong enough to erase murder. The Ten Commandments were seared in my memory, and I had broken five and six: "Honor, your mother and your father," and "Thou shalt not kill." There was no going back from two mortal sins. On Earth or in death, I was damned to Hell.
My agony melded into low moans of sorrow. Finally, came the frightful silence. My lungs gave out, my tears desiccated, leaving the dread of nothingness. A chill traveled through me, cold and tingly, like the faint flurry of a desperate heartbeat. I hung my head, as my shoulders jerked in anguish.
The doctor stood up to move to the corner of his desk. He sat down, his head bowed.
I sensed his pity. He no longer prodded me to talk, and every so often he sighed. After a few minutes, I wiped my face and stared at the floor. My crippling anxiety left me exhausted and compliant.
I took a deep, quivering breath and spoke the two words he wanted to hear. "I will."
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A dreamer and writer, I wrote my debut novel PAGES IN THE WIND at a transitional time in my life. I'd always written for other people as an editor, ghostwriter, or a pal helping someone out. I wrote poetry, short stories, journeys but kept it to myself. One day I decided to put my dreams to paper and PAGES IN THE WIND was born. It was a three year labor of research, love, and devotion. I fell in love with the characters and the story of one young woman's fight to survive the trauma of an unspeakable childhood and a doctor's fight to unlock the secrets trapped in her very disturbed mind.