by Mickey J. Corrigan
Springfield Andrisson is a very intelligent teenager, but she has also been very sheltered. When she is sent away from home for the first time, to attend a private college in Boston, she finds some of her course assignments oppressive, and she formally declines to participate in some of them. Her overprotective parents send her to an alternative psychotherapist, with results that are by turns amusing and frightening, funny and deeply disturbing. Springie’s story will resonate especially for readers of the Millennial generation in this troubled time.
Part I: Fall, 2015
Chapter 1: Home
When I woke up from a hazy dream, I lay for a while in the darkness. I was shivering under two comforters and an electric blanket on high. Maybe I was coming down with a virus. Or maybe I was just scared to death.
“Springie!” my mother called up the stairs. “Breakfast’s ready.”
With a groan, I shoved the covers to the floor and darted through the chilly air into my bathroom. I stripped off my thick cotton nightgown and jumped in the hot spray of a steaming shower. Then I stayed under the scalding waterfall as long as I could, even though I knew I was keeping Mom and Dad waiting.
They’d been up early, getting ready to drive me to Beacon Hill College. They wanted to get on the road as soon as possible. Because they were planning to dump me off at the dorm and leave me there while they enjoyed a romantic weekend in Beantown, where they’d met twenty years before.
Their oblivious happiness annoyed me. Couldn’t they see how anxious and depressed I was about going away to college? I needed medication. My friend Austin had a treasure trove of prescription meds he said really helped with the fear and the shyness, the mute freakiness we shared in social situations. He was still a reclusive geek, but he said it didn’t bother him anymore.
My parents were against chemical assistance. They were sure all the medications had deadly side effects. They promised me I was fine the way I was. I wasn’t so sure.
I stepped out of the shower and grabbed a fluffy towel. Whenever I actually adjusted to the difficulties of my life, it was only because my parents made that so easy for me:
“The kids said mean things to you at school? That is unacceptable! You want to transfer? What? You want to drop your acting class because the teacher forces you to speak up? Well, if it’s uncomfortable, then of course there’s no need for you to attend.”
My parents gave me everything. I loved them, both of them. They were like my BFFs. There for me always and in every way. But what about when I no longer had them around to rely on? What about this very day when, in only five hours, they were going to abandon me? Wave goodbye and drive off together while I was left to face the whims of the nasty hateful world?
With a shiver, I opened the bathroom door and dragged myself into my bedroom. While I was in the shower, Mom had set my clothes out. There they were, on the bed. Freshly laundered, smelling of fragrance-free soap. And the bed had been made.
She’d turned on my flat-screen TV, and you-know-who was on the news. As usual. He wore a stupid white cap, and he was talking trash about immigrants. Why would my mother think I wanted to watch that loudmouth bazillionaire? I had no interest in listening to a right-wing reality television personality, even if he was a candidate in the Republican primaries and threatening to become the next president. I shivered.
Moving quickly, I grabbed the remote and turned off the TV. I wasn’t going to let my fears about my future get all mixed up with doomsday scenarios of a President Trigger. It would never happen. Real life wasn’t some crazy reality show.
Feeling a little shaky, I hurried to put on the flowered mini and baby tee Mom had selected, then the thick gray hoodie I wore every day. I returned to the bathroom to put on my makeup.
My packed suitcases were already in the car, and Dad was waiting to load in the remainder of my stuff. Laptop, tablet, backpack with essentials, and my food cooler. I would need it on the way to Boston. My diet was very particular: no dairy, no gluten, no animals could be hurt in the preparation of my meals. Road food was my enemy.
I worked on my eyes, the kohl liner, the lashes, then the ruby lips. My hair was still wet, but even damp it looked white. As white as snow. So was my skin.
When I finished up with the look of a Snow White with very fair hair, one I’d been into since middle school, I packed my makeup in a small leather case. With a sigh, I fake-smiled at the reflection in the mirror I had been staring into since childhood. All my baby fat was gone now. The dimples, the soft honey curls. What was I left with? A Disney doll. One who was afraid of everything.
When I walked back in my bedroom to pack the makeup in my backpack, the pale pink softness of my childhood bed beckoned to me. I lay down on the comforters and stared up at the ceiling fan. Slowly, ferally, I curled my body into a tight ball.
And there I remained, safe in the fetal position. I stayed there for as long as I could.
Copyright © 2020 by Mickey J. Corrigan