Stella, Spirit, Trixie, and I enjoyed a peaceful and uneventful respite between Christmas and New Year’s. Even though the weather had turned colder, it was sunny and beautiful. Spirit and I went for long walks on the beach, while Trixie endured Stella’s practicing sessions on the piano. She had hired a rather strange looking teacher to come to the house two afternoons a week. She was improving, but I still occasionally caught myself wincing.
I was thinking of getting involved in some volunteer work when I was approached by one of the members of Project Truth or Consequences.
I got a call from Annette Morris. She wanted me to meet her for lunch the following day. I asked her if all of the others would be there and she said that she wanted to talk with me before she involved anyone else. I didn’t know the protocol the group followed but I agreed to meet with her. She was already seated when I got there.
“Thank you so much for agreeing to come.” Annette wasn’t smiling. “I’m famished. Let’s order lunch before we talk.”
“Of course,” I said. “You’re looking well. Annette. Did you enjoy the holidays?”
“I did. Thank you for asking. As a matter of fact, I was in a play at the Center for the Performing Arts here in Brewster. I’ve been involved in a couple of their previous productions, but this time I had a more significant part. I really enjoyed it.”
“Annette, can I ask you to tell me more about your art therapy? I’ve been wondering how you have used it in conjunction with the T or C assignments.”
“I would love to tell you more about the different ways that art can increase the ability to communicate. For instance, when we work with elderly abuse, sometimes a victim is suffering from dementia or has been so traumatized they can’t remember the details we need to help them. Music soothes and relaxes. With younger people or people not fluent in English, painting different scenes or drawing can trigger memories of what has happened. I think we all probably have the most difficulty learning who to trust. We struggle with that in our group and with our victims.”
“You sound very passionate about your work,” I said. “Annette, why did you leave so suddenly the night of my Thanksgiving party?”
“I owe you an apology,” she said. I was upset because I have had to prove myself over and over again and Jack was welcoming you without hesitation. You must have noticed how hard he was on me during the last assignment.”
“I did notice. However, I also noticed you came to some conclusions that were proven to be wrong. Marsha was innocent. She may have been foolish, but she meant no harm. I think Jack wants you to examine the situation more carefully before drawing conclusions.
Annette looked angry at first, but she knew I was right.
“Jack said you were an excellent communicator, Kat. I can see that he was right. Thank you for your honesty.”
“Of course,” I said. “Now…why did you really ask me to meet with you?”
Annette took a deep breath before she began to answer my question.
“Jack is in serious trouble. It’s all my doing and I need your help to undo the damage I’ve caused. Will you help me, Kat?”
I realized I would have to become acutely aware of what was happening around me. I recalled Mother’s concern about where Jack’s loyalties lye and the conversation between Jack and Doris that I had overheard causing me to question Jack.
“What have you done. Annette?” I asked.