Her concentration was diverted by the phantasms that were probably a side effect of the Paxil she’d taken for several weeks now. First it was a walking image of her mother, who’d been dead these past ten years. And did she appear as when she died? Hell no. She was all fleshless bones and empty eye sockets. Her mother loved red roses; one was woven through the few hairs left on her head. It was a fresh rose, and that confused her.
She tried not to show fear. This was an illusion brought on by medication; a side effect. The same as the vision of her deceased boyfriend when he threw his arm across her sleeping form in death as he did when alive.
Troy died the year before in a motorcycle accident by being hurtled through the back window of a car whose driver suddenly slammed on his brakes. Troy was too close; no time to stop. His large framed body hit the glass with enough force to shatter it and the resulting shards decapitated him. The weight of his arm when he showed in her bed was enough to awaken her. The odor of his decaying body drove her to hysterics. Afraid to turn and stare at a headless corpse, she popped another Paxil and went back to sleep, all the while pretending Troy didn’t exist in the here and now.
At present, it was early evening of a new day and Yvonne Johnson was at her computer. Her first stop when she returned home from work. Her destination on the Internet: the comfortable old chat room where she shared the events of her day with her friends. Sharkey and Jewel Lover had just signed in; her favorite twosome, even if they were a bit weird and prone to illegal activities. Jewel Lover emailed Yvonne one day to explain their onscreen names. Sharkey, her boyfriend, was a loan shark by trade. And she loved the baubles he bought with his ill-gotten money.
She was let in on their secrets because they trusted her. Yvonne was basically wholesome and naïve, a quality both admired. And she promised not to betray that trust because she was fond of them. They had a sort of sarcastic, hardened view of life that made them accepting of everything, bad or good, that the fates had in store. All of her hard times at work were generally laughed away after a moment or so of online chatting with those two.
Oddly enough, she wasn’t nervous about her surroundings this evening or the chance that a specter might put in an appearance. While she spoke to Jewel, an additional group of friends signed in using their onscreen names and the bedlam began. For a first timer this would’ve been pure madness—out of twenty people at least ten different discussions were going on. Yvonne was now involved in a redecorating talk with Gay Eliza, a homosexual cross dresser whose current apartment cost more to furnish than she made in six months.
Her heart skipped a beat when Allen Langfe entered the room. Allen was a dreamboat. He’d sent her photos. Offered to take her to dinner. Thus far she’d held out because memories of Troy lingered and ruined her current chances of romance. Still Allen was the handsomest man she’d ever laid eyes on. And Allen was the only chat roomer who used his real name, claiming he didn’t need a façade to hide behind. Knowing it was better not to engage in conversation with Allen…dreamy Allen…she signed off and went to make dinner.
And yet she was inwardly disturbed. Her life was on hold and it wasn’t fair. She was young; all of twenty-three. Her fiery passion hadn’t died with Troy. She had needs, too.
In the kitchen her cat, Lucifer, named after the cat in her favorite video—Cinderella—was curled up lazily in his bed. Yvonne had purchased an upholstered dog bed for Lucifer because he was nearly as large as one. At twenty-three pounds, he weighed too much to be considered a normal cat. When she walked in he gazed at her with his slanted Eurasian eyes and purred. The purr was more like a growl; more like a demand for food.
Her hair didn’t take much fixing to make it presentable. Months before leaving the asylum, she’d gotten into a fight with another aggressive patient. A female. When the aides broke them up, they had a good hold on each other’s long hair. Fingers were entwined to the point where both had long strands of the other’s hair when they were separated. KD won because she also had a piece of scalp attached to her strands. Their punishment consisted of a severe haircut; what was termed a buzz cut in the service. But now it was growing in at a pretty good rate.