Dr. Jensen gazed impassively at the patient sitting across from her. Charlotte did her best to avoid eye contact while fidgeting in her seat and moving her fingers together in random patterns in her lap. It was going to be another difficult session.
“Charlotte, are you going to answer my question?”
Charlotte nodded her head slowly, rhythmically and began to rock back and forth ever so slightly, as she was wont to do when things were getting to be a bit much for her. Dr. Jensen waited.
“I…well…I played cards with Maggie Stevens yesterday. It was good. Yeah, we had a good time doing that.”
She made eye contact on the last sentence. Dr. Jensen made a note on her pad and smiled.
“That’s great, Charlotte. What else have you done since you saw me last?”
“I started reading this book. My neighbour came by and gave it to me. It’s a mystery.”
“Okay. What’s the title, Charlotte?”
“Um…I don’t remember.” She shrugged half-heartedly and gazed out the window. “I guess I haven’t really gotten into it yet.”
Dr. Jensen pursed her lips.
“Charlotte, is there something you’re not telling me?”
Charlotte reached up absently and wrapped a few strands of her limp greying hair around her index finger and tugged on it. She looked down while she did this, her other hand lying limp and lifeless palm up on her lap.
“I take good care of them, Dr. Jensen, you know I do. But I don’t think you understand. I really don’t. It’s not a bad thing.”
She peeked upwards at the end, beseeching the doctor for confirmation. Dr. Jensen put her pad aside and got up and walked to the window and looked out before she spoke.
“Charlotte, we’ve been all through this. You need to spend more time doing other things. You can’t spend every waking minute with them. It’s not good.”
Charlotte was fidgeting in earnest now, pulling harder at her hair. She knew she needed to try to be calm. It wouldn’t go well for her if she didn’t.
“They’re my children, Dr. Jensen. They need me. I don’t spend all my time with them, really I don’t. I…I go away for an hour or more sometimes. It’s true. Really it is.”
Dr. Jensen turned from the window and shook her head.
“Charlotte, that’s not what I’m told. Please don’t lie to me. Do you remember why you’re here? Do you?”
“To get better. I’m here to get better. So I can…so I can be me again…”
“That’s right, Charlotte. But that can only happen when you start to spend more time with other people. We’ve been all through this, Charlotte, and you promised me…”
“But they need me! Don’t you get it? Alice and Amy need me! I have to take care of them. Who will take care of them if I don’t?”
She was on her feet now, one arm wrapped around herself, the other pulling violently at her hair, her face red and raw with emotion, her eyes pleading.
Dr. Jensen moved quickly across the room and put her hands on the woman’s shoulders.
“Charlotte, what did I tell you last time? These outbursts have to stop. I’m afraid I’m going to have to take them away from you for a while. Do you remember I told you I would do that if you didn’t cooperate?
“NO, NO, NO!”
Charlotte was out of control now, thrashing about. Two orderlies rushed in and restrained her and took her away.
Dr. Jensen composed herself and sat down at her desk as the head of the department entered the room and sat across from her.
“Well, that looks like it didn’t go well.”
Dr. Thompson had been monitoring Charlotte’s therapy for months.
“No, not as well as I had hoped. It’s time to try separating her from them. She simply isn’t going to get anywhere otherwise.”
Dr. Thompson nodded.
“I’ll have the orderlies lock the dolls in a storage cabinet. You’d better increase her dosages for a week or so and we’ll monitor her more closely.”
Dr. Jensen nodded grimly and began filling out her report.