The American Girl@Kate Horsley

Quinn Perkins

AUGUST 5, 2015

Video Diary: Session 6

[Quinn, a girl of seventeen, sits on the edge of a hospital bed wearing a white gown. As she talks, her bare legs kick the frame of the bed and monitors beep softly in the background]

You ever have one of those Magic 8 Balls as a kid? Yeah, pretty retro, I know. I remember asking mine if Adam Epstein was planning on taking me to senior prom. It said, Don’t count on it, so I sat on my little pink bed with the daisy-pattern comforter and shook it again and again until I got the answer I wanted.

Um, my mind keeps circling. Back to that Magic 8 Ball. See, if I can remember those details—my room, the pattern on my comforter—then why can’t I remember all the other things that are so much more important? The therapist who gave me this camera told me to keep a diary. He gave me some exercises and helpful advice, too: “the mind is a mysterious place” kind of thing. But in the end, I guess, he found it just as frustrating trying to get inside my head as I do. Everyone seems to.

[Quinn moves closer to the camera and stares into it]

I’m that 8 Ball, y’know. Shake me once—one answer bubbles to the surface. Shake me twice—I say something different. Might not be the thing you want to hear, though. I can’t help it. All those sharp little shards inside me could be answers, but they’ve come loose. Now I see them in fragments that don’t make any more sense than my nightmares do.

Those puzzle pieces are all in there somewhere. I know it. They’re waiting for the right person to fit them together. That must be why they keep shaking me over and over and over, asking the same question:

“Where is the family?”

[A nurse walks into the frame and adjusts the sheets on the bed. She glances at the monitors, notes something on a chart hanging from the bed, and leaves without speaking]

I’m back. Anyhow, sorry. Didn’t mean to sound crazy there. Dunno what’s come over me since . . . well, since whatever happened. But I want to help find them. So here goes. I’m telling all of you—the therapist and the police and everyone—what I remember about that night.

I woke in the woods. I don’t know how I got there. I could see my hands in front of me in the dark and that was all. I was only sure of one thing—I had to get away from that place.

I got up and I didn’t know which way to go. I kept spinning around in circles, but the trees looked the same every way I turned. There was a full moon, I think, and I had the idea that if I kept it on my right, I’d get to where I needed to be, so . . . I started to walk. Then I realized I was barefoot. These sharp little bits of stuff dug into my feet and I had to pick my way along on tiptoes. I walked a few steps. Then I heard the sound of twigs cracking. Yeah, uh . . .

[Pause]

It sounded like someone was behind me. God. This horrible thought came into my head like there’d been something back there in the dark I was scared of—really scared of. That something terrible had happened to me. I had this thought, They’ll start hunting for me soon. That thought was like . . . well, it was like wooden letters spelled out in my head. Yeah—just a sentence with no explanation.

The footsteps came closer. I hid behind a tree. I tried to think what to do. Then I just started to run. It felt as if I was moving in slow motion, like my mind wasn’t really moving my legs. I fell, hard. I can still . . . well, it throbs . . . The ground punched me in the face, I think.

[Laughs]

Which is how I got these cuts around my lips, I guess. I remember blood in my mouth, getting up, winded. My knees and my tongue stung ’cause I bit them. I was getting more and more stressed. I wanted to stop somewhere. Prayed someone would come and help me. All I could do was keep going and not look at anything like the dark or the trees. They were pretty scary.

I just knew I had to keep running. I ran and ran. I didn’t know if