Perfect Match

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult Read Free Book Online

Book: Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jodi Picoult
Tags: Fiction, General, LEGAL, Family Life, Contemporary Women
sat around and watched him play. Everyone: his mom and dad, and this new docto r, who has hair so white-yellow that he can see her scalp underneath, beat ing like a heart. The room has a gingerbread-style dollhouse, a rocking ho rse for kids younger than Nathaniel, a beanbag chair shaped like a basebal l mitt. There are crayons and paints and puppets and dolls. When Nathaniel moves from one activity to another, he notices Dr. Robichaud writing on a clipboard, and he wonders if she is drawing too; if she has the missing b lack crayon.
    Every now and then she asks him questions, which he couldn't answer even i f he wanted to. Do you like frogs, Nathaniel? And: That chair is comfortab le, don't you think? Most of the questions are stupid ones that grown-ups ask, even though they don't really want to listen to the answers. Only onc e has Dr. Robichaud said something that Nathaniel wishes he could respond to. He pushed the button on a chunky plastic tape recorder and the sound t hat came out was familiar: Halloween and tears all rolled together. “Those are whales singing,” Dr. Robichaud said. “Have you ever heard them before?” Yes, Nathaniel wanted to say, but I thought it was just me, crying on the insi de.
    The doctor starts to talk to his parents, big words that slide in his ear and then turn tail and run away like rabbits. Bored, Nathaniel looks under the tab le again for the black crayon. He smoothes the corners of his picture. Then he notices the doll in the corner.
    It's a boy doll, he sees that the minute he turns it over. Nathaniel doesn't li ke dolls; he doesn't play with them. But he is tugged toward this toy, lying tw isted on the floor. He picks it up and fixes the arms and the legs, so that it doesn't look like it's hurt anymore.
    Then he glances down and sees the blue crayon, broken, still curled in his h and.
    How cliched is this: The psychiatrist brings up Freud. Somatoform disorder is the DSM-IV term for what Sigmund called hysteria-young women whose react ion to trauma manifested itself into valid physical ailments without any et iological physical cause. Basically, Dr. Robichaud says, the mind can make the body ill. It doesn't happen as often as it did in Freud's day, because there are so many more acceptable outlets for emotional trauma. But every n ow and then it still happens, most often in children who don't possess the right vocabulary to explain what's upsetting them.
    I glance over at Caleb, wondering if he's buying any of this. The truth is, I just want to get Nathaniel home. I want to call an expert witness I once use d, an ENT in New York City, and ask him for a referral to a specialist in the Boston area who can look at my son.
    Nathaniel was fine yesterday. I am not a psychiatrist, but even I know that a nervous breakdown doesn't happen overnight.
    “Emotional trauma,” Caleb says softly. “Like what?” Dr. Robichaud says something, but the sound is drowned out. My gaze has gone to Nathaniel, who is sitting in the corner of the playroom. In his lap, he holds a doll facedown. With his other hand, he is grinding a crayon between the cheeks of its buttocks. And his face, oh his face-it's as blank as a she et.
    I have seen this a thousand times. I have been in the offices of a hundred psy chiatrists. I have sat in the corner like a fly on the wall as a child shows w hat he cannot tell, as a child gives me the proof I need to go prosecute a cas e.
    Suddenly I am on the floor beside Nathaniel, my hands on his shoulders, my eyes locked with his. A moment later, he is in my arms. We rock back and forth in a vacuum, neither of us able to find words to say what we know is true.
    36 Past the school playground, on the other side of the hill, in the forest-that's where the witch lives.
    We all know about her. We believe. We haven't seen her, but that's a good thing, because the ones who see her are the ones who get taken away. Ashleigh says the feeling you get when the wind climbs the back of your

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