Continued from: With Drawn: Part 23 — Unseen Barriers
Joanne Walsh sat in Dr. Charles Adams’s office. Joanne felt like she spent most of her time in offices lately. Doctor’s office, principal’s office. Only, Dr. Adams, seated across from her now, was not looking at her in the manner that Principal Cooper generally regarded her. Principal Cooper generally regarded Joanne like he thought she was to blame for her son’s condition, which I guess on a genetic level she was, but Jacob’s condition had nothing to do with her mothering, which is what Principal Cooper seemed to imply. Dr. Adams’s expression was not like this. In fact, Dr. Adams had almost the opposite expression of Principal Cooper. Dr. Adams had a look of pitying understanding. Dr. Adams knew that Jacob’s condition was not Joanne’s fault. He knew that Joanne was not a bad parent. He knew that it was more that Joanne had been a winner of some sort of cosmic lottery.
Dr. Adams was a small man that wore thick glasses that magnified his pitying, understanding expression. He was now holding the drawing of Amanda Lansing in his hand. Dr. Adams glanced from the drawing to Joanne and then back at the drawing. He said to Joanne, “I can assure you, Mrs. Walsh, this is normal behavior for a boy of Jacob’s age. He is becoming interested in the opposite sex.”
Joanne said to the doctor, “I don’t think you understand, doctor. This isn’t just a drawing of a naked woman. This is the psychologist at Jacob’s school.”
Dr. Adams raised his eyebrows, the doctor studying the drawing more closely. The doctor said, “You don’t say?”
Joanne nodded toward the drawing in the doctor’s hand, Joanne saying, “It’s pretty detailed, don’t you think?”
Dr. Adams studied the drawing a moment longer. The doctor then looked up from the drawing to Joanne. He said, “And you’re worried that perhaps… What was her name again?”
“Lansing. Amanda Lansing.”
“Amanda Lansing,” the doctor said to himself, looking again at the picture. He then looked at Joanne and said, “You’re worried that perhaps Jacob is spying on Ms. Lansing?”
Joanne shook her head, saying, “No, I don’t think he’d do that.”
“Then you think that perhaps Ms. Lansing posed for this drawing?”
Joanne looked at the doctor as if the doctor was accusing her of paranoia.
Paranoia is when a person thinks that other people think he or she is crazy. Although Joanne was not crazy, she sometimes felt like she was acting crazy.
For a moment, she felt like she was with Principal Cooper again.
Dr. Adams said, “Look, Mrs. Walsh, this drawing is very detailed, for sure.” The doctor admired the drawing again more closely, saying, “And we both know that Jacob has photographic recall and an uncanny ability for creating virtual photographs with pencil and paper.”
Joanne said, “Yes, but she’s nude.”
Dr. Adams said, “I wouldn’t worry about this. It’s just adolescent curiosity. In fact, you should be happy that he is showing such an age-appropriate interest in the opposite sex. I assure you, Mrs. Walsh, there’s nothing to worry about.”
Joanne seemed unconvinced for a moment, but then she stood up, glancing at the clock on the wall and saying, “Okay, I’m late for my night shift, Dr. Adams. Thank you for seeing me so late. Sorry for wasting your time. I guess I am overreacting. There just seems to be so much going on with Jacob lately.”
The doctor said, “Please, Mrs. Walsh, there’s certainly no need to apologize. It’s hard enough raising a boy Jacob’s age, never mind one without the same social expectations or understandings as a typical teenager.”
“Thank you, doctor,” Joanne said, holding out her hand for the drawing of Amanda Lansing.
Dr. Adams baulked a moment, subconsciously pulling the drawing toward him. The doctor said, “I should probably hold onto this… you know, so I can talk to Jacob about it if he and I meet.”
Now, while Joanne and the doctor had been meeting, Jacob was standing before the painting of his father on the living room wall of the abandoned house across the street from the Walsh’s home—the portrait of his father having moved and now looking at Jacob.
Jacob said to the painting, “Can you hear me, dad?”
The painting of David Grist began to speak. But, again, Jacob could not hear what his father was saying to him.
Jacob said to the painting, “What? I can’t hear you, dad.”
The painting kept speaking.
And Jacob kept saying, “I can’t hear you.”
The painting of Jacob’s father then stopped speaking, and it held up its palms, flat against the inside of the painting, as if there was a barrier of glass between Jacob and his father.
Jacob reached up and placed his hands against the wall of the Hamptons’ living room, but for a moment, Jacob could have sworn he felt the fleshy palms of his father’s hands, and for a moment, Jacob truly believed he was touching his father’s hands, and for a moment, Jacob wished he could be on that grassy field with his father. That wish seemed to reside in his head in the same focused-unfocused way that Jacob would stare at his drawings before they would move. And that’s when David Grist pulled his hands away from his son’s palms, and that’s when Jacob’s hands fell into the painting as if there was no wall at all, no invisible barrier between Jacob and the field and the tranquil sea and his father.
Jacob paused a moment. He looked at his hands and then back up at his father. He worked what was happening out in his mind. Although what was happening seemed to have no basis in logic or reason, it was happening, and so Jacob had to accept it as reality. He stepped onto the grassy field of his painting.
Jacob could see the green painted grass stretch off around him and the blue painted sky stretch off above him, and his painted father standing before him. And it was this painting of David Grist that was the first to speak, David saying, “I’ve been waiting for you, Jacob.”
Jacob said to the painting of his father, “You have?”
The painting said, “Of course I have. I’m glad you found me, and I’m sorry that I ever had to leave you.”
Jacob said to the painting, “You’re not really my father.”
The painting said, “I’m not?”
“He’s dead. You’re a painting.”
The painting said, “And David Grist’s body was just flesh and bone. But flesh and bone alone does not make a person. Don’t worry, Jacob, I am your father, and I am here for you whenever you need me.”
“I need you now.”
“I know you do, Jacob. You need to tell me what is wrong so that we can fix it.”
Jacob said, “I’m feeling squeezed.”
“My head feels squeezed and my heart feels squeezed.”
“Why do you feel this way?”
Jacob said, “It happens when people make fun of me, or when they are mean to me. Or even sometimes when I’m not sure if they’re being mean or not. It’s confusing, and my heart feels like it implodes and then it wants to explode.”
David said, “And what do you think will stop your heart from feeling this way?”
“Stopping the people from being mean.”
David said, “You can’t stop people from being mean. Some people are just mean by nature.”
“Then I want there to be fairness.”
“What would fairness be for you?”
“I want people to have to pay for being mean.”
Something seemed to catch David’s attention.
Jacob turned to see what his father had noticed. Jacob looked out of the painting, the grassy field ending abruptly into the abandoned house’s living room. Lights washed across the drawn blinds of the living room window. Outside, a car was pulling into the abandoned house’s driveway, its lights illuminating momentarily the windows’ drawn shades.
David said, “You need to go now, Jacob.”
Continued in: With Drawn: Part 25 — The Man of theHouse