Double Blind(54)
Author:Brandilyn Collins

    I also looked up old friends. And got to know my mother more. As the days passed God helped me realize she’d been right all along about my returning to my hometown. Now I no longer felt I had to fight the idea. I no longer had something to prove.

    Saturday, April 21 was my moving day. I was more than set to leave town. Mom flew down the day before to help me pack. By Saturday morning boxes were stacked everywhere. Nothing was left unboxed except the furniture. And the coffeemaker. It was 8:00 in the morning. Mom and I had been at it since 5:00. The moving truck was scheduled to arrive any minute.

    A knock sounded on the door, already ajar. Sherry poked her head in. “Hi!”

    “Come on in.” I smiled at her over the counter. “You have Jay set to babysit?”

    “Yup.” She closed the door and threaded her way between boxes. “I’m all yours.”

    Her voice sounded chipper, but I knew she was sad to see me go.

    “Want some coffee?” Mom pointed to my brewer. “It’s the last thing to get packed.”

    “Sure, thanks.” Sherry sidled up to the other side of the counter and set down her purse. I poured some coffee into a Styrofoam cup.

    Sherry took a sip. “Where are you two staying tonight?”

    My mother and I exchanged a glance. “At the same hotel we stayed at the night this place got broken into,” I said. “You know—for old time’s sake.”

    Sherry laughed.

    Tomorrow morning Mom and I would get up early and start the drive in my car to Denver. An apartment awaited me, about ten minutes from her house. But I wouldn’t be there for long. I’d already begun looking at houses. In Denver I could afford one. A little house like Ryan and I had wanted, with a yard where I could plant my flowers and bushes. Where I could see them grow and revel in their colors. Thanks to Mom, an exciting job awaited me too—working for an organization that helped victims of crime. I knew a few things about the subject.

    Sherry set down her cup, her mood changing. “Did you see the Newsweek article?”

    Oh, no. “Is it out already?”

    She rummaged in her purse and pulled out some folded pages. “Here.”

    I stared at them. “Does it have my picture in it?”

    “Afraid so.”

    Of course it did. My eyes closed. My picture in a national magazine. I hated this. I didn’t want to be forever defined by what had happened to me. I wanted to be defined by what I did. By my future.

    I took the pages from Sherry and set them on the counter. “I’m not sure I can look at it right now.”

    “Yeah. I understand.”

    My mother picked up the article and started reading.

    Sherry gestured toward the paper. “Patti blames Hilderbrand for everything.”

    “I’ll bet.”

    “Says he made her go along with his plan. She was afraid he’d hurt her if she didn’t.”

    “Could be partly true.” I’d certainly seen how uncomfortable she was when she visited me in the hospital. Of course, even that visit was staged. Hilderbrand wanted to know if I’d ever “seen” the watch date sequence before my surgery. If not, he’d have to figure out why.

    Mom looked up. “Lisa. You know that older man we saw at Hilderbrand’s house that day? It was his father. Here’s the guy’s picture.”

    I moved to her side to look. “Yeah, that’s him. Did he know what was going on?”

    “He claims he didn’t. He just happened to be visiting his son that day. Some female reporter hunted him down and got his story. The father told her he saw us on Hilderbrand’s street. Claims we were stalking his son.”

    Oh, great. The whole nation now thought I was a stalker. Everywhere I went, people would look at me. “Is this going to hurt my job, Mom?”

    She shook her head. “They know the truth.”

    The creak of a large truck’s brakes filtered through the open kitchen window. I hurried over to gaze down at the street. “It’s the moving van.”

    About time. I wanted out of there.

    A truck door opened and closed. Followed by a second. Men’s voices drifted up.

    Mom finished the article and looked to Sherry. “May we keep this?”

    “All yours.”

    Tiredness trickled through me. I leaned against the wall and sighed.

    Mom placed her hands on my shoulders. “Lisa. You’ll be fine.”

    Would I?

    “I know it seems like a lot. The move, all this media attention. And later, the trial. But you can handle it. And I’ll be right there beside you.”

    I looked at her, mouth twisting. My thoughts at that moment weren’t exactly brave. I didn’t want to handle it. I just wanted to hide.

    “I didn’t choose this, Mom.” I sounded like a little kid.

    “Honey, most of life we don’t choose. The question is—when it chooses us, what are we going to do?”

    I nodded. God, I know You’re here to help me through this, too. Man, would I need it.

    Footsteps sounded in the hall. The movers knocked loudly.

    “I’ll get it.” Sherry turned from the counter.

    Mom cupped my chin. “So, come on now. Ready to move on?”

    I took a deep breath. “I am so ready.”

    Together we walked to the door.

    Discussion Questions

    1. To what things or concepts in the story does the title Double Blind refer?

    2. Desperate people make desperate choices. Why do you think the book starts with this line? Does it refer to characters other than just Lisa?

    3. Some might criticize brain technology like the Empowerment Chip, saying that enduring difficult times makes a person stronger. Therefore no one should be able to “turn off their pain” so easily. Would you agree with any part of this argument?

    4. If such technology existed, should it be available for people suffering from extreme trauma, such as patients of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome?

    5. If the Empowerment Chip existed, do you know anyone whom you would urge to have such an implant? Why?

    6. Have you ever lived through depression? If so, how would you describe it?

    7. How would you characterize Lisa’s voice in this story? Does her voice add to her characterization and the tension of the book? Would the book have been as effective if told in third person?

    8. To what extent was Lisa Newberry right in blaming her mother for her own lack of self-esteem? To what extent was she wrong?

    9. Did you end up empathizing with Lisa’s mother at all when you heard her side of things?

    10. Lisa was caught between her mother and best friend, who didn’t like each other. Have you ever been caught between two people you love? How did you handle it?

    11. Based on Lisa’s knowledge at the time, was she right to accept money from Hilderbrand?

    12. In time Lisa realizes she’s based the ultimate truth of God’s nearness and love on her own emotions. Have you ever done that? What is the problem with doing that?

    13. At one point Lisa asks herself, “Can any other person really make you feel whole?” How would you answer that question?

    14. Beneath the surface plot of a desperate woman and a brain chip, what is this story really about?

    15. Did this book give you any insights into your own life or a loved one’s struggles?

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