By Leih Wyatt
“Alice? She’s my best friend, my sister, my soul mate; She’s my everything, Robert,” I say, the irritation in my voice becoming more and more obvious.
“She’s a figure of your imagination; a fictional character. How could she possibly be all these things if she can’t even do something as simple as share her own opinion?” My therapist asks calmly as he doodles a few notes in his notebook.
“She IS real! She CAN share her opinion! She can speak, hear, taste, touch, smell; she’s a human, just like you, Robert! You want proof? Pull her files; she goes to the community college up on the hill!” My irritation turns to anger as I begin to yell.
How dare he try to tell me she’s not real! He must be crazy or something; I hang out with her every day. He’s not making any sense, and it’s beginning to make me furious. Without her, I never would have made it through my suicidal phase.
That’s when she showed up, actually; at Lincoln Falls, the “mental hospital” here in town. I came in all drugged up and I was walked to my cell, or whatever you want to call it, by a security guard. He opened the door, and there she was, sitting on one of the two beds in the room, reading a book called The Civil War: For Dummies.
“This is a bit gory to be on the preapproved book list. Don’t you think so, Alex?” She asked the huge security guard standing next to me.
He smiled at me and told me to make myself at home. I walked in and set my stuff on the bed right next to the window that didn’t open. Alex walked out of the room and closed the door, leaving me and the strange girl alone.
“Hi, there, sweetie. My name is Alice,” the girl said to me as she put down her book and scooted to the edge of the bed. “What are you in for?”
I sat on my bed and blinked up at her, unsure what to say. She seemed so outgoing; so bubbly.
“Um… I’m Ana. I… Uh… I’m here for suicide attempt. What about you?” I really didn’t want to talk, but she made me extremely curious.
“Same,” she said. “You seem really quiet and uncomfortable. Is it just me, or are you always like this?”
“Actually, this is considered talkative for me. These pills are making me loopy,” I muttered.
“Well, you obviously need to talk more. If you had done that earlier, you wouldn’t even be in this mess,” She continued, “I’ll be here whenever you need someone to listen.”
I’m instantly snapped back into reality by my therapist, who is snapping his fingers and saying my name.
I hadn’t even realized that I had been zoning out.
“Sorry, I guess I’m just a bit tired, today,” I say a bit sheepishly.
“I can tell,” He says back to me, “So, I remember you talking about meeting Alice at Lincoln Falls, correct? What happened after you left? How did you manage to keep contact without cell phones or writing letters?”
That was a question I had to think about. I remember that our first encounter outside the loony-bin was at a coffee shop downtown… But I don’t remember planning it. We both just showed up, yet I remember telling my mother about our plans before hand.
“I don’t remember,” I tell Robert, trying to sound casual.
“You don’t remember or it didn’t happen?”
“I just don’t remember!” I snap back.
“We’re here for you, Ana. Lying to yourself will only slow our process, if not halt it completely.”
This guy is taking this way too far. I get up and stomp angrily out of the room. I half-run through the lobby and out to the street. I don’t slow my pace until I get to the park. I make my way to my “Tree of Inspiration” and sit down. This is my favorite place to think. It’s surrounded by other trees and secluded from the rest of the world.
I pick up a twig and begin snapping it into little pieces, thus starting my thinking process.
How could Alice not be real? He has no clue what he’s talking about. She’s real in so many different ways. She’s real in the sense that she’s a human, but she’s also real in the sense of having a genuine personality. She’s practically everything I’m not; everything I wish I could be. While I’m shy and hate people, she’s outgoing and loves everyone. She’s just so self confident and sure of herself, and I’m just… not.
My thoughts are interrupted by the high pitched ring of my cell phone. I answer it and listen to my mom complain about me being late. I hang up the phone and walk the short three blocks home. I walk through the door just in time to hear the house phone ring. My mother walks into the living room and glances at the Caller ID. She looks at me nervously than runs out of the room. I hear the garage door close and that makes me wonder.
I run upstairs and grab the phone from the master bedroom. I press the talk button and recognize the voice as my psycho-therapist.
“… Yes, ma’am. The brain scan and blood tests came back, proving our suspicions to be true,” Robert says, sounding almost apologetic.
“But, how? Schizophrenia doesn’t run in either side of the family, like I told you a month ago!” My mom sounds as terrified as I feel.
“It must have been the trauma from the suicide attempt… I don’t think we should inform her of her condition yet, though. She’s still in denial about her imaginary friend not being real; I’m not sure how she’ll react to this news.”
I’ve heard enough, I drop the phone on the bed. I run down the stairs and grab my keys off the counter. I run outside, slide into the driver’s seat and start the car.
“We have to get out of this town, Sweetie. Everyone here is crazy.”
Silently agreeing with Alice I drive off and head for the interstate.