An Anonymous Girl

Free An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen Read Free Book Online
Authors: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
there’s no physical symbol you can wear to show the world that you’re a mother.
    “I know they love me,” I say. “It’s just . . .”
    “They are accomplices in your fabrications,” Dr. Shields says.
    As soon as Dr. Shields speaks those words, I recognize the truth. Dr. Shields is right: My parents have practically encouraged me to lie.
    She seems to realize I need a beat to take in the revelation. She keeps her eyes on me, and it feels almost protective, like she’s tryingto assess how her proclamation has landed. The silence between us doesn’t feel awkward or heavy.
    “I never thought of it that way,” I finally say. “But you’re right.”
    I take my last sip of Perrier, then carefully set the bottle down on the coffee table.
    “I think I have all I need for today,” Dr. Shields says.
    She stands and I do the same. She walks over to her glass-topped desk,which holds a small clock, a slim laptop, and the manila folder.
    As Dr. Shields slides open her desk’s single drawer, she asks, “Any special plans for the weekend?”
    “Not much. I’m taking my friend Lizzie out for her birthday tonight,” I say.
    Dr. Shields removes her checkbook and a pen. We’ve had two ninety-minute sessions this week, but I don’t know how much I’ll be getting.
    “Oh,is she the one whose parents still give her an allowance?” Dr. Shields asks.
    The term “allowance” takes me by surprise. I can’t see Dr. Shields’s expression, since her head is bent as she fills out the check, but her tone is mild; it doesn’t seem like a criticism. Besides, it’s the truth.
    “I guess that’s one way to describe her,” I say as Dr. Shields tears off the check and hands it tome.
    At the exact same moment, we both say, “Thank you.” Then we laugh in unison, too.
    “Are you available Tuesday, same time?” Dr. Shields asks.
    I nod.
    I’m dying to look at the amount on the check, but I feel like that would be tacky. I fold it and slip it into my bag.
    “And I have a little something extra for you,” Dr. Shields says. She reaches for her leather Prada purse andextracts a tiny package wrapped in silver paper.
    “Why don’t you open it?”
    Usually I tear into gifts. But today I pull an edge of the little ribbon to unravel the bow, then slip my index finger under the tape, trying to be as neat as possible.
    The Chanel box looks sleek and glossy.
    Inside is a bottle of burgundy nail polish.
    My head jerks up and I look into Dr. Shields’s eyes.Then I glance at her fingertips.
    “Try it, Jessica,” she says. “I think it will look nice on you.”
    The second I’m in the elevator, I reach for the check.
Six dollars
, she has written in graceful cursive.
    She’s paying me two hundred dollars an hour, even more than she did for the computer surveys.
    I wonder if Dr. Shields will need me enough in the next month that I’ll be able tosurprise my family with a trip to Florida. Or maybe it’ll be better to save the money in case my father can’t land a decent job before they use up the buyout fund.
    I tuck the check into my wallet and see the Chanel box in my bag. I know from my stint at the Bloomingdale’s makeup counter that the nail polish costs close to thirty bucks.
    I was planning to just take Lizzie out for drinksfor her birthday, but she’d probably love this polish.
    Try it,
Dr. Shields had said.
    I run my fingers over the elegant letters on the ebony box.
    My best friend’s parents are well-off enough to send her a monthly stipend. Lizzie is so unassuming I didn’t realize until I went home with her for a weekend that her family’s little farm” is composed of a couple hundred acres. She can affordher own nail polish, even the fancy brands, I think to myself. I deserve this.
    I walk into the Lounge a few hours later to meet Lizzie. Sanjay looks up from slicing lemons and beckons me over.
    “That guy you left with the other night came in looking for you,” he says. “Well, he actually was looking for a

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