Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Psychology of an Inconstant Person, by E. D. Ward, Ph.D.

5/12/2013: I'd written this story well over a year ago (hence the publish date shown on the post), but never got around to publishing it until now. I intend this story to grow into novella or novel size, but it will be a long hard slog (lots of research to do!) Perhaps I'll leave only this tidbit publicly available, but I'll post notes if/when new chapters are added.

This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

"My name is Camilia Leon, and I was born to a man and a woman who disappeared shortly thereafter. No. Strike that. I do not know my real name, and I have no recollection of my real parents, my first parents. What I do remember is every birth and every death I've experienced over my very, very long lifetime. Strike the last few words, replace with 'over my multiple lifetimes.'"

Camilia pushed the stop button and nearly threw the microphone on the table. She lit a cigarette and inhaled the smoke through her nostrils, a trick she'd learned from an old man now dead and long forgotten by everyone. Strike that. Forgotten by almost everyone. But then, Camilia knew she wasn't just anyone because she could remember every moment of every lifetime she had lived. Ten in all, and nearly 500 years so far.

She tallied them up on a notepad: 25+2+39+50+5+77+82+101+42+37+34 = 494 years. So far. She took another drag and peered at the cigarette, rolling it around between her fingers. She didn't want a repeat of any of those lifetimes, and in this one she had taken to hard liquor and tobacco as soon as she could get her hands on it. She'd been drinking since 14 and smoking since 12, and still her liver and lungs were clean and pink, and as clear as if she had never touched a drop of alcohol nor sucked on a cancer stick.

Camilia laughed at the thought of her inability to kill herself by the now more popular methods, and squashed the cigarette on the table, adding another burn mark on the wooden edge. Some asshole of a wanna-be psychotherapist had promised he'd release her only after she had recorded her stories. She knew it was bullshit, but she picked up the microphone anyway and switched it back on.

"In my very first life, I was orphaned and given to my uncle to raise. I lived 25 years. Twenty-five harsh and hellish years during the end of the 1400's and up to 1520. If you managed to escape the hard farm labor and incest, then you met with the filth, vermin and plague in the cities. And if you managed to survive all that, and the STDs didn't getcha, then the pimps usually did. Though we didn't call them pimps back then, but that's how I died that first time. Some jackass didn't like me filching a couple pennies and beat me to a pulp. Heh," she let out a guttural sound, "things really haven't changed that much between then and now..."

She turned and looked at the mirrored wall and winked. Then took one last sip from her cup and threw it at the mirror, splashing coffee everywhere, nearly cracking the mirror and littering the floor with shards of porcelain. Three attendants in white rushed in before she could get to one of those shards.

A man behind the mirror stood up from his chair and sighed. "I know this woman's story is fascinating, and will help you get the recognition you deserve. But Ed, as brilliant as you are, you need to be more selective."

The younger man named Ed stopped writing and put down his pen. He leaned over and turned off the video camera. "Even if we don't believe her story of living multiple lives, it's only by her telling them that we can have any hope of getting to the root of her psychosis, and treating it."

"You're an optimist," the older man said, raising an eyebrow. "Next time make it a paper cup." He buttoned his jacket and walked out of the observation room.

Ed pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He knew he was exhausted from too many late nights researching all the the things Camilia had told him during his interviews with her, and that's why he'd made this slip up. Hoping that an object as simple as a coffee cup would help put her at ease, make her comfortable enough, trusting enough to let him record her stories. Not that he believed 'em, but all his research of the various years she'd talked about made him realize that she was either a genius historian or an idiot savant. And he really did believe that if he could record her life's story, he might be able to tease out something that he could use to help her. At least get her off of suicide watch.

For now, all he could do was button up the observation room, thank the cleanup crew, and then go check in on his patient. See how bad off she was and if he could calm her down and get her to talk, and keep talking.  But he knew his mentor's patience was wearing thin. This had been the fifth try, and again she had become unstable when talking about her "first life". Something about this time in history really disturbed her, made her angry. Perhaps if he had her work backwards... Yes, that could be the trick. Tell her life stories starting from the most current back to the earliest.

He tapped his forehead, realizing something important. Every time he had been able to get her to talk, they'd been in his office. She sitting in a comfortable chair and smoking, her feet propped up on a stool, and he sitting behind his desk. He'd learned early on that if he so much as stood up - let alone come around the desk to sit next to her, she revolted and began throwing things. He also realized that the stories she told were always in a timeline that she picked, and he decided that it was best if he continued to let her do so, instead of insisting she start from the beginning. He would have to be careful to confirm which lifetime she was talking about, to make sure he kept the order of her timelines so that he could watch them in that order, beginning to end.

But yes, he thought, she would respond much better if he allowed her to tell the life stories she wanted, in the order she wanted. And he would be in the room with her, a table between them. He tapped his forehead again, determined to use his own office, placing the camera in an inconspicuous location and secretly recording her. No, not secretly, he would tell her what he was doing if she asked. And he knew she would ask.

He jotted down a few instructions to give to his secretary, knowing his requests would cause his mentor to pay him a visit, but his gut told him this new plan was going to work. Ed closed the folder and packed up the camera, and as he left the observation room he resolved yet again to be patient with Camilia. She had a very long story to tell and needed him to be patient. To listen. And to listen very carefully.

<word count: 1175>

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

More, more, more.....please.