Hey y'all! RL caused me to have to put Quinn on a little hiatus. This is just a little update explaining where she has been for the past several months!
The clock ticked in a maddeningly consistent rhythm. Tick, tock, tick, tock… It droned on. She tried to maintain focus. She was failing. The clean, crisply dressed woman sat across from her, in a rather rigid manner, upright, clipboard in hand, scribbling what seemed to be an endless stream of thought on the document in front of her. The faint scratching of pen against paper added to the cacophony of sounds emitting from the sterile room.
White walls, linoleum floor, one desk, two chairs, two people.
The passage of time was continually signaled by the incessant ticking. Minutes passed. Dilated hues darted from the clock, to the woman, to the small sliver of a window in the door.
“Well, it would seem, Quinn…” The woman’s voice broke the younger woman from her momentary reverie. Her attention quickly refocused, posture correcting from her previous slump, shoulders pulling back, spine pressing uncomfortably against the chair’s back. Her hands clasped and fell neatly into her lap. “…that you’ve made great improvement over the past four months. I’m very proud of you...” The woman paused, eyes flitting up from her clipboard to make eye contact with the green-haired girl who sat across from her, in obvious discomfort. “…your mother is very proud of you.” She added to her previous statement, offering a warm smile as the clipboard was discarded on the desk beside her. “And I think that, if you’re ready, we can move on to the next step.” The woman stood from her chair with a deliberate slowness, before placing herself behind the meager wooden desk. “Does that seem like something you’re ready for, Quinn?” She inquired, her voice inflecting upward. Her tone would have been patronizing if it hadn’t been masqueraded with warmth.
Though Quinn’s eyes focused upon the woman’s every move, her attention was split. The clock continued to tick, a tree branch scraped across the outside window on the far side of the room, the voices from the hallway still chattered away. Distant voices, muffled, prattling incoherently. She caught only fractions of the sentences exchanged. Yet still, she managed to gather enough information from the woman to recognize the significance of their impromptu meeting.
This was the much awaited day. The day of her release from Ridgeview Institute.
She blinked before realizing that a question had been asked. Her jaw parted slightly to allow a sharp intake of air as her head bobbed up and down as a nonverbal response. “Yeah!” She blurted out excitedly before pursing her lips, catching herself and recomposing her features into a soft smile. “Erm…I mean, yes. Yes, I’m ready for that.” She managed in as even-toned a voice as possible. Her nails, which had been bitten into near non-existence, pressed into the flesh of her palm.
The woman’s features pulled taught into a sedate smile, head tilting to acknowledge the eager response from the green-haired girl. “I thought you might say that.” She responded with sarcasm as she reached down to open one of the deeper drawers in the desk. From the drawer, she retrieved a bag, putting it on the desk and scooting it further towards Quinn. “Congratulations, Quinn. You should be very proud of yourself. What you’ve overcome is a great milestone.” The woman’s heels clicked as she made her way back around the front of the desk. “We will, of course, have monthly meetings. Just to talk, see how you’re doing. But for now, I have your belongings here. You may change back into your clothes, if you’d like. Your mother is here to take you home.” The woman leaned against the front of the desk casually.
Quinn’s eyebrows perked upward as the bag containing her belongings was revealed. Timidly, she arose from her seat. Any further action was momentarily halted as the sound of laughter emitted from the hallway beyond the door. She remained facing the woman dressed in a finely pressed white blouse, though her eyes flitted discreetly to the floor, focusing on the crack beneath the door. She shook herself free from the distraction and took the final steps toward the desk. “Thanks.” She responded with some hesitance, gingerly reaching out to claim her belongings as if concerned that she would be scolded for doing so. Her gaze finally focused upon the slightly taller, middle-aged woman. ‘Dr. Eileen Gentry: Mental Health Evaluator’, read the woman’s name tag. Hues trailed upward to meet the opposing gaze. “You said my mama’s here?” She questioned the woman, her features temporarily marred by an expression of slight confusion. Quinn hadn’t been allowed contact with anyone outside the confines of the institute for the duration of her stay. The idea of seeing her mother now, after so long, seemed rather overwhelming.
“Yes, she is. She’s waiting out in the lobby for you as we speak.” The doctor responded with an endearing smile. “You’re going home, Quinn.” She added, her tone reassuring, as she leaned in closer to the girl.
Quinn’s gaze slowly shifted from the woman to the window in the door, a small smile crept across her lips as the promise held within the woman’s statement sunk into her awareness. In that moment the tick-tocking halted and the voices down the hall became even more distant. Home. The home that lied right beyond the door adjacent to her. She clutched her bag tightly to her chest.
“Shall we head out there? I’m sure that your mother is ready to see you.” The woman chimed in, pushing herself off the desk and back to her feet, crossing the room and pushing open the door, holding it to allow the green-haired girl to pass through.
The doctor allowed the door she had been previously holding to shut with a soft click before turning right and guiding the bewildered girl down the hall, painted in the same sterile white.
“Quinn?” Her mother’s voice rang out as they reached the lobby, causing Quinn to snap her head back in the familiar voice’s direction. There her mother stood, mid-pace, in the center of the lobby. Not a moment passed before Quinn found herself wrapped in her mother’s arms. “Oh Quinny, I’ve missed you so much! How are you, baby? Are you feeling okay? Oh, I’ve missed you.” Statements and questions were reduced to incomprehensible babble as Quinn became overwhelmed with confusion, joy, excitedness. She stood with arms slack against her sides before feebly raising them to awkwardly pat her mother’s back.
A few parting words were exchanged between her mother and the doctor. As the two discussed Quinn’s improvements, current condition, and medication directions, Quinn’s attention wandered about the lobby. Unlike the hallway and the room she had been in previously, the walls in the lobby were painted a warm golden color. Hues scanned along the rows of cushioned chairs, then to the secretary manning the desk behind the counter. The two women’s conversation had turned to dulled background noise as her gaze shifted to glance once more down the hallway she had exited. Brows furrowed slightly as her head tilted to the side as she continued to gaze down the stark hall.
Though, through the joy a final thought lingered.
The hallway had been empty.
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