Almost Perfect

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ALMOST PERFECT.

Dr. Klein appeared stiff, his gaze darting to the door periodically as he sat across from Bitsy. He'd taken several nervous sips of tea as she spoke. Bitsy had ignored this while she told the doctor what she wanted. Now that she'd finished, Bitsy folded her wrinkled hands across her lap and watched as Dr. Klein adjusted himself in his chair. She realized he wasn't going to assent to her demands as easily as she had hoped.

"Mrs. Wellsworth," he began.

She put on her biggest smile and interrupted. "You can call me Bitsy," she reminded him. "You used to."

He set the teacup on the low table in front of him, turned and glanced out of one of the glass-paned walls of the solarium. A piano sat in the corner. This room was where Bitsy's son Peter had always practiced.

"I think I've told you before, Bitsy," the doctor said, his brown eyes looking directly into her blue ones, but his voice faltered. "We have rules. What you're asking violates those rules."

She shook her head, then leaned forward, over the table separating them. "Kevin," the 62-year-old widow said sweetly. "I'm sure we could come to some understanding."

He took a deep breath, as if trying to fortify himself to say no. Bitsy had seen this look in men's eyes too often. The key was to not let them achieve fortification. "I heard you still need $20 million to complete funding for your new research."

He picked up the teacup again, his discomfort thickening. This time Bitsy knew what was causing it: ambivalence. He wanted the money, but he also didn't want to do what she was asking. He sipped, then smiled in that way he always did when he was with donors. He was handsome, tall and fit, with a thick mane of black hair and a chiseled jaw. She'd liked him immediately when she'd met him years ago; his easy nature, his willingness to help her if she helped him. But, in recent years, he'd become less malleable.

"Bitsy, I would love for you to donate such a generous amount," Dr. Klein said, nodding his head. "There are so many children who need help, so many I feel confident we can cure with these new techniques. We just need the funding."

She reached out her hand and gave him a gentle pat. "Yes, of course," she said. "I'd be glad to donate to such a worthy cause. I just need your help with this matter."

His smile dissipated, and he set the teacup down firmly. He sat up straight, his chest puffing out slightly. "Bitsy, I think you're rushing things," he said. "Give it some more time."

"It's been eight years," she said, hoping her words were sharp enough to cut him down.

The doctor didn't flinch. In fact, his voice grew firmer as he spoke. "He's a boy. Boys are prone to tantrums. It doesn't mean he's not a good kid. I saw him before I came in. He seems very nice, very well-adjusted."

Bitsy could feel the bile rising in her throat. The boy wasn't right. He had such potential; he'd been passed down the same wonderful genes as her son. This boy had the talent to play, compose, arrange, do it all; if he just put his mind to it. Only, he chose to be stubborn. "He's not right," was all she said. She didn't owe the doctor an explanation.

"He's not going to be just like your son," Dr. Klein said, his eyes softening toward her.

Bitsy hardened her face. She wouldn't have him feeling sorry for her. "I am well aware of that," she shot back. "My son was mentally ill. This boy is not supposed to be. You were supposed to have fixed him so he would be well. Yet he squanders all the talent he has. All the talent Peter gave him."

Despite the icy glare Bitsy was giving him, the doctor stood up, walked around the table, and sat next to her on the chaise. Bitsy slid over to distance herself from the doctor.

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