“It’s not about what I think, and I’m not trying to confuse you here. Let’s just talk through this. What does recovery mean?”
I sighed. “Get back to normal?”
“Good,” she said, nodding. “How much do you think you have recovered to this point? Based on that criteria.”
Even though I opened my mouth to answer, I had nothing. After a moment during which I felt stupid, I closed it and thought about what to say.
How could I even answer that question? Was my life back to normal? Definitely not. Normal people didn’t have nightmares about their mother’s murderer. But how close was I, even? The more I thought about it, the more muddled my mind became.
Everything had changed with Hunter, basically. Our relationship was going pretty well, but it couldn’t exactly be called “normal.” He was such a unique person dealing with his own issues, and I hadn’t fully gotten over mine either. Maybe there was no normal for us. Maybe . . .
“I can tell you’re having trouble with that one,” Dr. Schwartz said, interrupting my musing. “But that’s fine. It’s a very complex issue. I’d like you to think about that over the coming weeks and we can talk about it more at our next session.”
She stood up and held out her hand for a handshake. I rose and took it unsteadily. This wasn’t normal for her. For once, she was even smiling.
“I think that you’re making terrific progress,” she said. “Whether it’s toward recovery or something else, it seems the future is certainly looking up for you Lorrie. I want you to know that I’m proud of the work you’ve done toward building your future. It’s very brave.”
It was a little surprising that she seemed so positive now, after the things she had said before. I looked to her with my eyebrow raised, but she kept smiling as she showed me to the door. There was no harm in it, I figured. If she thought I was making progress, even it wasn’t toward something in particular, that was good enough for me. Maybe I even agreed with her.
I woke up at my desk from an impromptu nap feeling like I was missing something. It was Friday, and I’d been working on a picture for Hunter in my room after an early lunch. I had only intended to rest my eyes, but I’d definitely been out for a while, and while I couldn’t remember my dream I had a feeling it had been intense. Even though my therapy session with Dr. Schwartz the previous day had raised some questions, overall I was feeling quite good today. Maybe she was right, I just had to reflect on what happened with Marco and my parents and I would get close to recovering.
Still groggy, I sat back in my chair and tried to get my bearings. I looked down at the desk. A half-finished sketch of Hunter captaining a boat lay in the spot my head had been a moment earlier. The kittens were scattered around the boat¸ and some of them even wearing silly sailor hats.
It was an amusing picture. When I was done, I was pretty sure Hunter would get a kick out of it.
I looked at the clock while stifling a yawn. Already almost three o’clock. Wow, time had flown. As I stood up, I glanced out the window and saw the mailman leaving.
Perfect timing. Since I had submitted my portfolio, I had been making a point of checking the mail every day in case there was news about my entry. Hoping this might be the day, I rushed down the stairs and out the front door.
A large white envelope was waiting for me in the mailbox. I pulled it out and saw it had my name on it. The envelope was from the Illinois Arts Council. I hadn’t been this excited by a piece of mail since my acceptance to Arrowhart.
Leaving the rest of the mail in the box for the time being, I tore the envelope open and pulled out the letter.
Congratulations! You have been invited to exhibit at the Illinois Arts Council’s Convention for Undergraduate Students at Arrowhart College.
I stopped reading there and yelled out in triumph. This was it! I had made it to the next round. Excited to explore the rest of the envelope’s contents, I gathered up all the mail and ran back inside the Perkins house.
I opened the door and rushed to the living room. Hunter was working in the dining room, but my aunt was nowhere to be seen. Uncle Stewart was at work and the kids were at school.
“I got invited to exhibit!” I yelled, jumping up and down.
Bones and Frida came out from some corner to see what all the commotion was about. I took a seat on the couch, threw the rest of the mail on the coffee table, and began to read my letter from the Illinois Arts Council again.
I was being invited to exhibit a week from this upcoming Saturday. In order to win the award, I had to exhibit. The Council would pay for hotel accommodations for the weekend. As a finalist, I needed to be prepared to talk for ten minutes about my portfolio for the judges.
Taking a deep breath, I scanned to the end of the page and then put the letter aside to flip through the glossy brochure that had been included. There was a long list of art schools that would be represented at the convention.
This could be a huge opportunity to network with a lot of great places. My mind spun as I thought about the best way to take advantage of the chance to meet all these people.
“What was all that yelling about?” Hunter asked, wiping his hands as he came in from the dining room.
“I’m a finalist!” I said excitedly. I grabbed the letter and stood up from the couch to show him.
It took him a second to register before his gray eyes brightened. “For the art competition?” he asked.
I nodded happily.
“Oh wow Lorrie, that’s awesome!”
He took my letter in one hand and hugged me close to him with his other. I threw both arms around his torso and gave him a big squeeze.
“Wow, this thing’s coming up. I’ll have to make plans to go with you. I’ve never been to an art exhibition, but it’s probably cool, right?”
I shrugged. “I’ve never been to one either, but probably.”
“It’s totally going to be one of those places where people are all like ‘I do say, Richard, what a marvelous piece,’” Hunter said, slipping into a ridiculous posh English accent. He lowered his voice. “‘Too right, too right my boy. Simply splendid. Such emotive brush strokes.’”
I giggled. “Wow, you know so much about art.”
He shrugged sheepishly and handed the letter back. “I dunno, I’m guessing they would probably talk about brush strokes for paintings. Right?”
“Sure,” I said with a laugh.