Anne sat with her back rigid against the wood chair. Across from her, Dr. Bates vigorously ran his pen over a page, his eyes narrowed behind glasses on the end of his crooked nose. She watched his fingers scribble the date at the top of the page: 7 August 1932. The office was cramped, one window next to the door, and it smelled of old books and outdated theories. There were paintings on the wall that evoked a subtle energy to the otherwise dull atmosphere. A small radio was stationed on the corner of the doctor’s desk next to a photograph of his children. Anne’s mother, Mrs. Linch, sat nervously picking at her long fingernails in her lap the way she always did when she was upset. It was her one bad habit. Better to fidget with your nails than to be like Anne. Because there was something wrong with Anne — something that needed to be fixed. When Anne couldn’t focus on her homework, her mother’s hands were buried in her lap. When Anne was younger and the kids at school refused to play with her, her mother’s hands were in her lap. When Anne couldn’t sleep at night, when Anne’s teachers called home, when Anne climbed out her window that one December night and sat in her elementary school playground until the sun rose — a thin line jutting over the horizon — and she eventually came home to see her mother at the kitchen table, hands in her lap.
The chair dug into her back. The stiffness held her body poised and upright, and she was overcome by an inexplicable need to liquify her hardened corpse. Dr. Bates fixed his glasses with his right index finger and looked up first at Anne, then at Mrs. Linch.
“You were saying Mrs. Linch?”
“Yes, Dr. Bates, I was saying how Anne is having a lot of difficulties these days. Anne, dear, isn’t that right? Trouble in school, they say she can’t focus on anything. At home she paces around the house all day. Mr. Linch and I just don’t know what to do with her anymore. Her brother, Jeffrey, says no one at school spends time with her – off in her own world, he says. You see, Dr. Bates, Anne is ill. Terribly ill. That’s why she’s here. We need you to cure her.”
Dr. Bates put down his pen and said, “Mrs. Linch, if you would join me outside for a moment, I would like to speak with you in private.”
“Of course, Dr. Bates.”
Mrs. Linch stood and followed Dr. Bates toward the door. On his way out, he turned on the the radio, smiled at Anne and left her alone. She glanced around the room again, from the grinning children in the photograph, to the paintings on the wall. One, in particular, was of a rural landscape with a rich, beaming sunrise, the brush strokes disordered and yet something in the painting seemed resolute. The voices on the radio suddenly made her flinch.
“Next on is Tchaikovsky’s ‘Symphony No.4’”
The music began to play quietly at first and Anne shifted slightly in the chair. The sounds then filled the entire room, the sharp, clear blow of the saxophones, the delicate, contrasting hum of the flutes, and the rise of the ensemble as the rhythm increased. Anne was lifted out of the wooden chair, her arms spread wide as though she was an artist embodying her canvas. The fluidity of her limbs were the physical counterpart to the music, her feet darting lightly across the room. She forgot about her mother and Dr. Bates. She forgot about Jeffrey and the school teachers. She submitted to the deep, rawness of the instruments billowing through the piece. It was the day in the park, when the sun arose from the gravity of the night.
“I don’t understand, Dr. Bates,” Mrs. Linch said, as she and the doctor watched from the window outside the room.
Dr. Bates smiled. “Mrs. Linch, your daughter isn’t ill. She’s a dancer.”