Oh what anyone who was thirsty, truly thirsty, would give for want of drop of water. For to be a slave to a parched lip seems the most devastating of subjectivities. How then, oh how much more so is the devastation of greater and more phenomenal subjectivities? The sun rises in the morning and rests in the evening and all are subject. As water collects in the sky and begins to make its journey it will either bring life or take away that life, and all are subject to its renderings. The universe beyond us and the atoms within us offer causes to which all men are subject. Oh, how can men know freedom and how would it be possible for Sophie Monroe to escape the ailment that enslaved her? Could there be freedom, or were all subject to a death within the hold of slavery?
“Miss Monroe. Doctor Leslie will see you now.”
A young woman, who looked as if she was in her early twenties, stood up and followed the assistant to the office of practicing psychologist Melaina Leslie.
The young woman entered the office slowly as another woman, who was sitting in a chair located in the center of the office, turned and spoke, “Sophie, please come in and have a seat. You don’t look like you’ve been able to get much sleep…”
Sophie walked to the center of the office and sat in the chair that was facing the therapist. She responded hesitantly to Doctor Leslie’s inquiry, “I, I am afraid to sleep…”
Melaina Leslie looked into Sophie’s eyes, readied her pen and legal pad, and asked, “Why would a beautiful young woman like yourself be afraid to sleep?”
Sophie turned her face toward the floor, breaking eye contact, “I’m not sure I can explain it. And if I could, I am not sure you would believe me or know how to help…”
“Well Sophie, we will never know unless we try. Tell me what’s going on.”
Sophie sighed, “Okay… When I was about five years old, I started having these dreams. While I was dreaming, I guess I felt as if I was living in the real world. Basically, I just felt like it was another day. I could not tell the difference between my dreams and reality. One night, I went to sleep in my room and woke up the next morning in a hospital bed. When I asked my mother what happened, she told me that I had been in a coma for four days. This became a regular phenomenon. The spells continued on and off until I finished High School. It’s been four years since this has happened, as far as I know. Lately though, I feel as if something is wrong. Like I am dreaming again, but I do not know for sure. When I dream, I feel like it is real. I don’t know if I might even be dreaming right this moment. Because of these, I guess I could call them attacks, I don’t know who other people really are, and it is hard for me to know exactly who I am. I can’t carry on one life if a portion of that life isn’t real. I can’t invest in a false reality…”
Melaina looked up from her legal pad once she finished writing, “So, it almost seems like you are living in two different worlds simultaneously?”
Sophie took a moment to think, “Yes…”
“Mmmk,” Melaina continued, “How does your personality differ in each world?”
“I don’t know,” Sophie replied placing her hands on her knees, “I mainly just keep to myself, afraid that I am not experiencing reality. I mean, like I said before. I don’t want to invest in a reality that’s not there…”
“That’s very depressing. Have you ever tried to live just in one place or the other?” Melaina inquired.
Sophie thought about the question, “At one point, I tried to develop an identity and just live in one place. My senior year of high school, I decided that I had enough of not knowing who I was or who I could be. I stepped out one evening and introduced myself to someone. He became one of the greatest friends I ever had, considering the fact that he was the first friend I ever had. Things became more difficult. It was hard for me to keep everything straight, and it hurt because my friend was completely different in one place than he was in another. It seems like that with almost everyone. The worst part is, I don’t know which story was real. I don’t know which personality was really him, and it is the same way with everyone I meet…”
Melaina asked yet another question, “What made you stop trying?”
Sophie shook her head, “I, I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I tried to just deal with it, but the more I tried to live, the more I just wanted to take my own life because it didn’t seem worth living. Plus the one friend I thought I had died right in front of my eyes…”
Melaina commented, “That is rough…”
Sophie continued to vent, “And I don’t even know if that was real or not. After that, though, I decided that trying to find out who I was and what was real just wasn’t worth it. I accepted depression. I accepted the fact that I may never know who I can be and I decided to just exist. Soon after, the attacks stopped, I think. Now I feel like I did when the attacks were most prominent. I feel awful. I need some kind of help straightening my life out. I just need a life. I need to live…”
“Yes you do,” Melaina agreed, “and I want to help you. Before we can tackle the problem, we have to find the cause of the problem, and the only way I know to even approach that at this moment is for me to observe your sleep habits. Now, since you don’t know me, and it would be weird for me to come into your home…”
Sophie interrupted, “Come.”
Melaina hesitated, “If you really want me to come, there will need to be someone else there that you know who will stay up with me… Family, or a friend…”
Sophie replied, “My family doesn’t live close, and I don’t have any friends. I am just desperate. I want to figure out what is wrong with me. I need to figure out what is wrong with me…”
Melaina hesitated once again, “Okay… I will bring my assistant, but you must understand something. This is off the record, and unprofessional. I want to help you Sophie.”
Sophie looked at her and thanked her, wondering why she was so willing to go out of her way to help.
Melaina handed Sophie a small piece of paper and a pen, “Write down your address for me and I will come by later this evening.”
Sophie took the sheet of paper and the pen. Hoping that Melaina would not think to steal anything, but also knowing that she did not have anything worth stealing, she wrote down her address, “I will see you tonight…”
Melaina gently took the sheet of paper from Sophie, “Thank you Sophie, I will see you this evening.”
Sophie stood up and exited the office, walked down the hallway, and then exited the building. She looked to each side, making sure no traffic was coming before she crossed the road and headed toward her apartment.
On her way, Sophie stopped by the local coffee shop and went inside.
“Yo girl! What up?” The man behind the counter greeted her, “Didn’t ‘spect you in today.”
Sophie smiled, “Hey Jacobi. I just need to check my schedule for next week.”
Jacobi turned his attention to the coffee he was making, “Aight then. Im’a make dis drink, then I need a hug.”
Sophie replied as she reached for the stack of papers under the counter, “You got it, Cobi.”
Sophie checked her schedule as Jacobi finished making the coffee that belonged to the customer waiting at the counter. They hugged each other and Sophie left, making her way home.
She arrived at the small white apartment building and made her way up the cement stairs noticing every chip in the paint that once covered the walls. After unlocking the door to the small apartment on the fourth floor, Sophie stepped into her one-bedroom dwelling.
Though this was the place she called home, Sophie did not feel as though this was where she belonged. She felt stuck: unable to move and unable to make progress.
The central room was bare except for an old couch and a small table. On the table sat a picture of Sophie and her brother, Billy. Sophie walked toward the picture, picked it up, and said, “I hope you are having better luck than I am big brother.”
Sophie set the picture down, and travelled into the one bedroom. In her bedroom sat one lamp, a low quality bed, and one chair next to the small closet. Before lying down she noticed, as she did every evening, the small scorched piece of wood that found its place under her bed.
She lay down, and closed her eyes while she waited for Melaina and her assistant to arrive.