Read Checked Online

Authors: Jennifer Jamelli

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary Fiction, #Humor


BOOK: Checked
12.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub











This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual events or people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Checked. Copyright © 2013 by Jennifer Jamelli.


Edited by Kate Wright. Cover by


All rights reserved including the right to manufacture in any format, sell, or distribute copies of this book or portions of this book. For information, visit


ISBN-13: 978-1-937546-23-6

ISBN-10: 1-937546-23-3














Without these people, I never would have been able to write this book . . .

1.)  Max and Derek

2.)  My family

3.)  The creators of Zoloft






Chapter 1

the appointment





{IN MY HEAD RADIO, THE Pretenders start the second verse of “I’ll Stand by You.”}

“Have a seat, please, Miss Royce,” says the red-headed receptionist as she extends a manicured hand to indicate the seating area. Red. Bright red nails. And a small scratch on the pad of her pointer finger. A scratch or perhaps some wayward nail polish?
Please let it be nail polish. Please don’t let it be blo—

She stares at me, waiting. I flush.

“Like I said, I’m fine here, really, if I’m not in your way or anything. I don’t mind standing. Really.”
Stop talking, freakshow. She gets it—you don’t want to sit.
I move slightly away from her desk so I am standing in the seating area. We are both quickly distracted by the jingle of bells at the door. A short, plump man with a trench coat and a briefcase comes flying in the room.
{Frank Sinatra takes over, crooning
“Fly Me to the Moon.”

I step back further into the waiting room just in time to prevent the side of his briefcase from touching my black pea coat. Clutching my silky black and white purse, I watch him fling the briefcase on the counter as he talks at the receptionist.

“Cancel my appointments for today, tomorrow, and Friday. I have to get to the airport by three to be in New York by evening visiting hours.” He pauses to breathe and quietly adds, “He’s in critical condition.”

To avoid imposing further upon this conversation, I take another step into the seating area, careful not to touch any of the clustered blue chairs. I look down at my purse and fiddle with the silver hardware on the handles.
{Sinatra moves right on to the second verse.}

Mr. Briefcase finally gives the receptionist a chance to speak.

“Yes, sir, Dr. Spencer. I’ll cancel your appointments right away. Oh but, um…” I can feel her gazing toward me. I keep my hands and eyes on the silver rings on my purse.

She quietly says, “Your two fifteen is here a little early. A referral from Lennox Counseling.” I look up at this man who is apparently going to be my psychiatrist. I remember the card from Dr. Lennox hanging on my fridge. Dr. Keith Spencer. Pierce Mental Health. 2:15 p.m.

“See if Dr. Blake can handle it,” he says, picking up his briefcase with one hand while fumbling for his keys with the other. “If he starts the initial consultation, he can just leave the paperwork on my desk.” He glances over at me, and I move my eyes abruptly back to my purse. He then continues his conversation with the receptionist. “I’m sure I’ll be back here by two fifteen next Wednesday.”

When I eventually look back up, Miss Receptionist and Dr. Spencer peer intently at her computer screen. Perhaps Dr. Blake can’t “handle” me either.

The receptionist taps a red nail on the computer screen as she whispers, “But he won’t treat—”

“It’s just an initial consultation,” Dr. Spencer interrupts before turning and flying back through the door without another glance in my direction.

Won’t treat what? Women? Graduate students? Catholics?

“I’ll be right with you, Miss Royce.” The receptionist cuts into my thoughts as she stands up from her chair to go toward the back part of the office.

Back to my purse buckle.
{Time for the refrain again. Ready for a big key change.}

“Ma’am.” She is at her desk again. “Dr. Blake, a psychologist in this practice, will be seeing you today. Please just step through this door, and I’ll show you to his office.”

I look at the brown door to her left, the one those red fingernails point out to me. It isn’t one of those swing doors I can just push in with my foot or leg or back. It has a horizontal silver bar handle.

Since the receptionist appears to be gathering a file (mine?) from the desk, I quickly thrust my coat-covered elbow onto the end of the silver handle and push down and forward at the same time. The door opens. I catch it with my right black pump and try to move my elbow back to a normal spot. But instead, I drop my purse.
Smooth, Callie. So graceful.

Now holding my file, the receptionist is looking at me. Awesome. I grab the top part of my purse, carefully avoiding any contact with the sections that touched the carpet or door.

“Right this way, please.”

Sure, Red. As you wish.

I follow her for what seems like forever. Her slow, calm pace doesn’t help matters. We go to the end of one brightly lit hallway only to turn left into another. Uniformly framed pictures line the walls, pictures of meadows and birds.

We make a second left turn and there is yet another large bird staring at me. A robin, I think. I hate birds. They randomly crap on things that would otherwise be clean. Cars. Park benches. Picnic tables. Mmmm…nothing says yummy picnic better than a big white and black pile of—

We are turning again.
{Frankie fades out, and The Beatles slide in with
“The Long and Winding Road.”

We’re here. The receptionist twists the silver doorknob to open the door and then presses her back against it so I can enter.

“Miss Calista Royce, Dr. Blake.”

A quiet, so quiet voice says, “Thank you, Annie.”

Annie. Of course your name is Annie.

Annie steps in the room a moment, and soon that quiet, deep voice speaks again.

“Come in, Miss Royce.”

The door stays open even after Annie leaves.
Excellent. Not an automatically closing door.
I walk in, and my eyes meet, um, no one. No one sits behind the massive cherry desk that faces me.

“Dr. Lennox referred you to this office?” That hushed voice pulls my gaze around, over to the right corner of the room. Blue dress shirt over muscular arms. Black pin-striped pants. Dark brown hair.

All facing away from me.

As you clearly just read in my file. Why bother asking?

“He wants you to seek further treatment. Medication from Dr. Spencer.” This comes as a murmur as he appears to look up and directly out the window in front of him. “Very tense. Obsessions occupying approximately eighty-five percent of the day. Compulsive behaviors linked to the majority of these…difficulty sleeping, working, socializing. Excessive checking habits…”

He turns and gradually begins walking, all the while flipping through my file. Face down…reading…walking. Toward me? To shake my hand? To take my coat?

As he approaches me, I clutch the top part of my purse even tighter in my right hand and bring my left hand down to play with a button on the front of my coat. He stops in front of me but doesn’t look up. I hold my breath as he reaches behind me to close the door. Still looking down at the file, he heads back to the window.

I don’t resume my breathing until he is again facing away from me.

“The Long and Winding Road”
ends and then starts right back up again…twice.}
My purse is getting heavy. I let go of my coat button and grasp the top of my purse with both hands.

He clears his throat and speaks. “So you’re looking for some quick fix, some medicine from Dr. Spencer.”

Quick fix?

I try to explain. “Dr. Lennox suggested that, um, taking some medicine might alleviate some of my issues.”

Quiet. Nothing. Just the back of a man—a statue in front of me. His hand moves through his artfully-tousled hair. Silence. I clear my throat.

“He did want me to see Dr. Spencer specifically so I can just wait until next week when—”

“Dr. Spencer wants me to conduct this opening consultation with you.” He turns from the window to walk to his desk.

“Just a few standard questions—if you are ready.”

I nod my head in agreement. But he can’t see me because he is now sitting at his desk and looking down at a clipboard.

“Mmhmm…” I say quietly, pointlessly nodding again. He takes a shiny silver pen out of his left shirt pocket.

Pen poised to write, he speaks again, “First question.” He pauses.

He still doesn’t look at me. I move my own gaze to the bookshelves behind his desk. Lots of thick books with fancy, complicated titles. A framed degree. Dr. Aiden Blake.

One picture. A young woman holding a maybe two-year-old boy. Both with the same dark hair. It looks like a professional picture gone wrong. The woman has a warm smile directed at the camera. The little boy is sitting on the woman’s (his mother’s?) lap and his body is facing the camera. His head, though, is turned up toward the woman’s face, and his little right hand rests on her cheek. As if the little boy whipped his head around during the photographer’s count of three to check to make sure his mother was still there. Sweet. Perhaps Mrs. Quiet and son.

My eyes involuntarily move to his left hand. No ring.

“Why do you spend most of your day seeing problems that do not exist?”

What? That is your “standard” question?

I abruptly move my gaze back to him, but he, of course, is not looking at me. I don’t think he is going to speak again until I offer an answer.

“Umm…I don’t really…I’m not entirely…I don’t know.”

“You don’t know. I just figured you did know since you’re ready to put a medicinal bandage on this whole problem.”

Medicinal bandage? Who says that?

“Um…no. I’m not really…you know, I can just wait until next week. Really. I have to, uh, work at the writing center in just a couple—”

“You’re a writer?” he interrupts.

“Well, I want to write, yes. I am taking graduate courses in creative composition at, um, Pierce University, and well, I have to write for, uh, my courses.”

Eloquent, Callie. No wonder he thinks you’re a writer.

“Well then, Miss—” (He looks back at my chart.) “Royce. These questions can easily be answered in writing.”

Just tell me what you want me to write about, and I can give my answers to Dr. Spencer next week then. I’ll stop ruining your day.

I start to dig in my coat pocket to find my keys.

“I’d like you to start by writing about some early memories of your issues. Perhaps you can email these to me by, let’s say, Friday afternoon.”

What? Is this like a homework assignment? As though I don’t have enough to—

“Is there a problem, Miss Royce?” Oh—did he see my irritation? I look up.

Of course not. He has now spun his chair around to face the sole picture on his bookshelf.

“Um, well, when I write I prefer to use an old-fashioned pen or pencil.” Pause. “By the way, it’s Calista.”

“That’s fine. Try to get it in the mail by Friday then. I see we have your email address on file, so I’ll just send you some other topics to think about later in the week.”

“Oh. Okay. Thank you.”
Again, sorry for disrupting your existence.

BOOK: Checked
12.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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