I’ll never find anyone to replace you
Guess I’ll have to make it through
This time, oh this time
(November 27th, 2019, 9:03 a.m.)
As she drove to work, Amanda found herself thinking about the last few decades of the very unconventional path her life had taken. It wasn’t unusual for her to be reflective, especially when the holidays approached. What had initially seemed like a curse had proven to be a blessing. The blessing of course, was that she and her mother had each been given a second chance at their relationship. A second chance that turned out to be a thing of beauty. It was deep, powerful and transcended what had come before it in every way. Her mother, an involuntary stranger for most of her life, had become her best friend. Growing through her formative years again with her mother at her side changed Amanda in ways she never anticipated. She was far less guarded, more open about her feelings and far less inclined towards the self-destructive behavior she had formerly enjoyed. She took school much more seriously (but still loved to blast music in her room, much to her mother’s chagrin).
Another difference came in the form of her desire to help others. The summer of her freshman year in high school, she and Meghan decided to volunteer at a center that assisted troubled youths. Those in charge at the center quickly noticed that the two girls had a way with children that was almost uncanny. They seemed to be able to relate to the most difficult of the center’s charges and by the end of that summer the two had been asked to be regular volunteers there.
When it was the time to go to college, Amanda had decided that she wanted to be a child psychologist. It turned out to be a fantastic fit: after all, she had gone through childhood again with a mind that was more or less adult, giving her fantastic insight into what her patients were thinking and feeling. Coincidentally, Meghan had the same inclination and after completing graduate school together, they opened a child psychology practice.
Amanda parked her car, gathered her belongings and headed inside the small building.
“Good Morning, Doctor Silverstone!” her receptionist cheerily greeted.
“Morning Erin! Any calls from last night?” she asked as she strolled by the reception area.
“Just a message from last night, after we closed. It was that reporter again. He wanted to know if he could speak to you over the phone and ask you some questions. He keeps mentioning some sort of clinic in his messages. Want me to call him and ask him what he wants?”
Amanda paused, her eyebrow raised as she stared off into space pensively, then continued to walk towards her office. “No. Don’t call him back. He’ll give up, eventually. Thanks, Erin.”
Amanda shut the door to her office and sat at her desk, sipping her morning latte. She opened her internet browser and pulled up the articles she had bookmarked from a few months ago:
“The Fountain of Youth? Some Say It Existed, Right Here in America”
“Partial Patient Records from Supposed Experimental Rehabilitation Center Surface; Veracity Still Undetermined”
“Witnesses Claim Several Instances of ‘Court-Ordered Regression’ for Troubled Teens”
Amanda then began a search for any news articles written by the reporter who had called her office. She quickly found one, written just a week ago:
“America’s ‘Do-Over’ Kids: Where Are They Now?”
When the initial articles were published, she knew it would be a matter of time before people started looking for her, wanting to hear her story. As far as Amanda was concerned, that story was hers and hers alone. Meghan shared the same sentiment and the two decided they would remain silent about their experience at the clinic.
As for the clinic itself, there was nothing left of it. By the time Amanda started Kindergarten, the building had been bulldozed to the ground. The only records that remained were those that Amanda’s mother had kept from the course of her treatment, which now resided in a safe in Amanda’s home, along with her original and “revised” birth certificates.
The same went for the clinic’s staff. Doctor Fiona Gembella, it turned out, didn’t appear to exist. The same went for Doctor Bridgit Fleming, the child psychologist assigned to Amanda at the clinic. After obtaining her master’s, Amanda experienced a strong compulsion to find out more about the women who had administered her treatment. Who were they? Where had they come from? Those questions would remain unanswered, despite hours of searching public records and news articles. Oddly, the closest she got was a scanned copy of an old medical license, issued in Italy in 1910 to a woman who happened to have the same name. Amanda wrote it off as a coincidence and decided to stop wasting her time chasing ghosts.
Amanda closed her browser and turned her attention to the file she kept for her first patient of the day. As she read over her notes, Meghan came into her office.
“Morning! Hey, do you think I could grab MandaBear for my next session? It’s been tough getting her to let her guard down, but from what you’ve told me MandaBear seems to know how to get kids to open up.”
“Hmmmm, I dunno. Remember, we never agreed to shared custody……” Amanda teased.
“Oh, whatever! I won her in the first place! She was mine until I graciously decided to give her to you!” Meghan teased back.
Amanda reached across her desk and handed the old, weathered bear to Meghan.
“Fine, but I want her fuzzy little butt sitting back on my desk by the end of the day! Deal?”
Meghan held the bear up to her mouth, grabbed its arm and pointed it at Amanda. “Ya know, I’m old enough now where I could just move out and live with whoever I want! Maybe I’ll go back to Meghan tonight! Would you like that? Hmmmm?” she teased.
Amanda chuckled, then waved her hand in front of her space. “Yea, yea, sure. But then you’d be living with a total spaz” Amanda joked back. “Now get out of here, traitor. I have to get ready for my next appointment!”
“Love youuuuu!” Meghan cheerily responded as she shut the door to Amanda’s office.
After a full day of work, Amanda grabbed her things, popped into Meghan’s office and said her goodbyes.
“I’ll see you at our place for Thanksgiving tomorrow?” Meghan asked, rising from her seat.
“Wouldn’t miss it for anything, you know that! I’m going to see my mom now.” Amanda announced.
“Tell her I said ‘Hi’, Amanda” Meghan said, offering a gentle smile.
Amanda hugged Meghan, grabbed her keys and headed towards her car.
(November 27th, 2019, 5:17 p.m.)
Amanda sat on the bench across from her mother. As usual, she told her about all the good things that had been going on in her life. The practice had been doing well. She’d recently been recognized by her professional organization for founding an initiative to give access to counseling for impoverished children. Moreover, a research study she’d been working on for years was finally going to be published. No, she still hadn’t met ‘someone’ yet, but it was definitely going to be her New Year’s resolution. Meghan was doing fine, although she definitely needed a vacation. After a few more minutes, Amanda sat up from the bench.
“Well, I’m going to go now, but I promise I’ll be back before Christmas. I love you.”
With that, she placed a bouquet of violets on her mother’s headstone, kissed her fingers and pressed them against her name.
“Sleep well, Mom. I miss you so much. I wish I could still be with you” she said, her hands folded in front of her.
Her eyes filled with tears as she knelt by her mother’s grave, weeping. After a few minutes, she stood up and began to walk away.
As she did so, a light breeze swept across the cemetery, carrying along with it a petal from one of the violets placed on Rachel Silverstone’s headstone. Amanda felt something tickle the back of her neck. She reached behind her ear and plucked the petal from her hair. She looked at it, smiled, and made her way back to her car. She was still with her. Her mother would always be with her.
AgeRid · Jun 19, 2022Just read yesterday and this morning and... what a great story! I love how you described Amanda and Rachel psychological developments through all the story, the maternal love that Rachel gives to her daughter, the reunion with friends. And at the same time, I feel empathy for the poor Amanda, but also I am amazed at how lucky she was, surrounded by carrying people, concerned about her mental health. However, maybe I would like to see how Amanda or Rachel would react if they saw other children regressing and reacting not that good (according to the doctor), but even without that, it was great! Thanks a lot and keep it up!
johnmadixsmith · Jun 25, 2022All I can say is Wow! What a fantastic story! The regression and emotions are told beautifully, and I love the fact that she kept her memories. I always hate when the regressed characters forget everything. It feels like the character dies in a sense? And that didn’t happen here at all! So the fact that she can remember everything is so perfect! I really like how it was truly a second chance of growing up. Ending the story of her being grown and visiting her mother’s gravestone really brought the story full circle. 10/10
Ambrose · Sep 15, 2022I read this story some time ago and really liked it, though I lacked the time to comment until now. The way you show Amanda's regression and her changing relationship to her mother feels amazing. Amanda's mental regression is really balanced so it never feels like her old self is gone, making her interaction with Meg feel even better. Dr. Flemings is also writtenperfectly for a doctor supervising the process. You really managed to write a believable world with great characters. Respect!