Sunday, April 30, 2017

Crisis Team (Photo Story)

You've already met Brandy's best friend, Angelica Cruz. As a reminder, Brandy works as a psychotherapist at the VA hospital. She and Angelica have been friends since college, where they shared some of the same classes. Angelica has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master's degree in counseling. She works as a middle school guidance counselor. 

Nathan and Hilary Clarke were introduced a while back. You can see their family photo on the Characters page. Here’s a bit of background. Aided by IVF, Hilary gave birth to twins twice. The couple had twin sons, Justin and Jason and twin daughters, Mary Kate and Margaret. About a year ago, tragedy struck the Clarke family when Margaret died in a house fire. Every family member dealt with their grief differently. While Nathan poured himself into work, Hilary became emotionally withdrawn. The boys were inspired to write songs about the heart break of losing a loved one, and Mary Kate who is now a twinless twin, fell into grief-related depression.

The receptionist informs Angelica that the Clarkes are waiting in her office.

Mr. and Mrs. Clarke? (Angelica)

That’s right. I’m Hilary, and this is my husband, Nathan. (Hilary)
Thank you for coming in on such short notice. Please come have a seat at my desk. (Angelica)

Would you mind telling us what this is about? (Nathan)
Sure. I’m Angelica Cruz, a guidance counselor here and a member of the school's  crisis team. (Angelica)
Crisis team?! (Hilary)

You can relax, Mr. and Mrs. Clarke. Mary Kate is okay for now, but there was an incident earlier today.  I’ve asked you here to talk about some things she wrote in her writing journal. Her language arts teacher read some entries today in which she wrote about wanting to die and even contemplated the best way to end her own life. We take these things very seriously. Our crisis response protocol is not to send students home on the bus if we think they may be in danger. (Angelica)
Oh my… (Hilary, beginning to cry)

Obviously, I’m aware of your loss, since Margaret was a student here. (Angelica)
Nathan winces at the mention of Margaret’s name.
Were you conscious of the fact that Mary Kate was struggling so much with her sister’s death? (Angelica)
Nathan swallows hard, but doesn’t answer.
So what now? (Nathan)

She can go home with you. We do request that you sign some paperwork acknowledging that we’ve made you aware of the situation. I suggest keeping a very close watch over her and also scheduling an appointment with a child psychiatrist as soon as possible. If you don’t have a family mental health practitioner, then we can give you a list of local doctors. (Angelica)


May I be excused from the table? (Mary Kate)
You haven't even touched your dinner, sweetheart. I thought roast beef was your favorite. (Nathan)
I'm not hungry. (Mary Kate)
Go ahead then. (Nathan)

Moments later, Hilary walks into the dining room.

Where's Mary Kate? I thought I saw her come down for dinner. (Hilary)
She did. She wasn't hungry. (Nathan)
This makes the third night this week she hasn't eaten her dinner. (Hilary sighs)
I got a text from the boys. Their rehearsal is over at 6:30. Can you pick them up? (Hilary)
Sure. (Nathan)

And I just got off the phone with the therapist’s office. They can see us next Thursday afternoon at 1:00. (Hilary)
Us? What do you mean us? (Nathan)

They’ve asked us both to be there with Mary Kate since this is her first appointment. (Hilary)
So you expect me to miss an entire afternoon of work for this? (Nathan)

I asked for the first available appointment, and that’s what they gave me. (Hilary)
Then you’ll have to reschedule. I’ve got to work. (Nathan)

Nate, this can’t wait. (Hilary)
Well, it’s going to have to. I can’t afford to get behind at work. (Nathan)

You’re unbelievable. Are you even listening to yourself? Work will be there, but the only daughter you have left might not be if we don't do something to help her. Mary Kate can’t wait any longer. She needs help now. She needed help a year ago, but you wouldn’t listen to me… (Hilary)
Enough! (Nathan)

Nathan, please... please do this one thing for our daughter.  (Hilary)

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Family Planning (Photo Story)

Brandy and Angelica stop at a bar for drinks after a day of shopping.

You can ask me about anything but the wedding. I’m all talked out on that topic. (Brandy)
Well, it won’t be long now, so I’ll let you off the hook. (Angelica)

It’s been a helluva week at work. I think I’ll have a glass of red wine. How about you? (Angelica, waving the waitress over)
Hmmm, I think I’ll try one of those fruity cocktails, but without the alcohol. (Brandy)

No alcohol? Don’t tell me your diet won’t allow for the occasional cocktail with a splash of happy juice. (Angelica)
No, I’m not counting calories. I’m abstaining for other reasons. (Brandy)

Oh my gosh, are you pregnant?! (Angelica)
Angie, please! (Brandy)

Don’t “Angie, please” me. I can tell when you’re hiding something. You get that look. (Angelica)
I am NOT pregnant. But when I am, you will know. (Brandy)


Brandy returns home from shopping. Tony is on the sofa reading the paper.

Did I tell you that I saw my doctor yesterday? (Brandy)
No, is everything okay, Babe? (Tony)

Mm hmm, I needed to do my biometric screening and I was due for a physical, so I scheduled an appointment with my doctor. I, um, told her not to renew my prescription for birth control pills. (Brandy)

What?! (Tony)
Don’t worry. She says it can take a few months to get out of my system, and we’ll be married by then. (Brandy)

But Babe don’t you want to enjoy life as newlyweds before adding kids to the equation? (Tony)
It’s a little late for that, or have you forgotten? (Brandy)

You know what I mean, and having Kayla in our lives is different. We get her a couple of weekends a month. That’s not the same as caring for a newborn 24-7. (Tony)
I don’t see any point in waiting to start our family. (Brandy)

I just think we should talk about it first. (Tony)
That’s what we’re doing right now. (Brandy)

Yeah, but… (Tony)
I thought you’d be excited about this. We’ve both talked about wanting lots of kids. I’m ready to get started. (Brandy)

Tony stops to really hear what his fiancée is saying. Then he moves to sit next to her.

Alright, just look me in the eyes and tell me this is what you really want and that it has nothing to do with your mother wanting grandbabies or me already having a child with Lea or anything like that. (Tony)

Brandy looks Tony in the eyes and smiles and then kisses him passionately.

Thanks for reading!