In My Thoughts
He kissed her softly on her forehead and wordlessly swept away a
strand of stray hair from her face. Then Patrick picked up his
keys from the coffee table and inched the apartment door closed.
This left Sophie and I alone, with only each other for company,
though neither of us were pleased with the arrangement. As long
as Sophie was here, so was I and as long as I was here, neither
of us were happy; which was all of the time.
Sophie grabbed her box from underneath the old, worn-out bed that
was much too big for the room it occupied. While Sophie put on
her running shoes and began her usual morning stretch, I tried to
make myself as inconspicuous and discreet as possible. I pressed
myself up against the walls of my prison cell and tried to remain
there flat and unnoticed, and as a way of occupying myself I
flipped back through the years of memories that had built up like
they were photo albums.
Sophie stretched in front Of the three fold mirror and I could
tell that she was getting annoyed that I wasn't allowing her to
focus. Yet, all these precautions that seemed so unnecessary,
they bored me and what else was there for me to do? She despised
it when I ever tried to start a conversation with her! Ignoring
her, I continued to glide through my favourite memories, pausing
at the ones with the pretty colours that reminded me of heaven. I
was momentarily distracted by the pinks and oranges of a sunset
that I felt I had reached back through the centuries for. The
same sunset when Patrick first kissed us - well Sophie,
considering that at that stage, no-one but Sophie herself knew
about the voice in her head.
"Would you ever shut up?" Sophie growled at the mirror and in
retaliation, I imagined the swallows that were tattooed on her
wrist come alive and attack her. I imagined blood trickling down
her fingers and the drops of coppery, red liquid hitting the
floor softly. In the mirror, all of this became real. However, I
instantly regretted it and so stopped the torture before it
inflicted any more pain.
"I'm sorry" I whispered and Sophie just nodded back while her
eyes filled with tears.
"I really am sorry Sophie" I begged her to understand the
sincerity of my words, but Sophie only clutched her left wrist,
refusing to look back up at the mirror. She rose from the floor
and began the eleven step trek to the bathroom. With trembling
hands, she swung open the medicine cabinet and reached for her
tablets - the antipsychotic pills which she should have been
taking, but wasn't, and her anti-anxiety pills which she
shouldn't have been taking, but was.
With just three pills, a gulp of water and several minutes, I was
paralysed. Unable to speak or even think. I was left stationary
there in the back of her mind. The tablets did exactly what it
said on the tin - silence me momentarily, but also made Sophie
nauseous and dizzy, though the doctors never really tell you the
side effects of their chalky white prescription pills.
It made me feel guilty, that she had to take those pills and feel
that way. It made me feel guilty, that she had to take those
pills in the first place. It wasn't her fault she was
schizophrenic or whatever other term the doctors had decided to
label her with this week. She didn't deserve the constant
conversation in her head or the numbness she felt whenever she
was able to get rid of me temporarily.
It took three moments of complete fatigue, a short break for air
and several flights of stairs to get Sophie from her apartment to
the New York streets below, the place where she was most at home.
The pounding of feet on pavement was comforting and had a rhythm
to it. Left and right, then left and right again like the
military marches, Sophie's father had been part of when she was
young. Had I been able to, I would have pulled up a photo of him
from the vault in Sophie's head and described to you the greens
and browns of his khaki uniform.
Running through the streets of New York, Sophie wound her way
through the wide avenues and worn thoroughfare of a tired but
sleepless city. Eventually the greyness and dreariness of the
city turned into a healthy and fresh green that was splattered in
the centre of Manhattan and called Central Park. The tarmac
turned to gravel which in turn turned to a cinder path that ran
around the reservoir.
I was beginning to wake up from my sleepy coma and start to take
notice of my surroundings. "How come we're going this way?" I
recognised that running by the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Reservoir wasn't our normal routine. "I wanted a change of
scenery" She whispered back as she passed a couple of women
sitting on a bench gossiping. "Were they talking abut us?" I
growled in suspicious complaint. Sophie tensed but ignored my
somewhat paranoid concerns and so I let her get back to her run
and just kept in the background.
The sound of birds chirping and rude cab drivers abusing their
horns were the backdrop to city life here. So different from
where Sophie and I had grown up together, in the unpolluted air
and rustic fields of Suffolk. The blue sky there had yet to be
scraped and the street corners yet to be conquered by Starbucks.
It was a completely different world to the one we now lived in,
but the problem was that I couldn't have chosen between them. I
loved the thick smog of the city but also the autumnal colours of
an English September.
With just another three laps, an over-sized pretzel bought off
the corner of West 48th Street and several minutes fumbling with
the key to our apartment, we were home again. In the cold
silence, Sophie dumped her things on the floor and walked
aimlessly in circles around the cheap and broken furniture.
"What are you thinking about?" I asked more out of curiousness
than anything but Sophie didn't answer. I was used to it now at
this stage, asking these questions that never got answered. As
Sophie and I got older, our conversations got less frequent and
the silences just got longer. I didn't realise it, but until I
had openly asked Sophie to tell me what she was thinking, it
hadn't occurred to me that I couldn't hear it myself
Finally we ended up in the bathroom, with Sophie staring intently
at the mirror above the sink. We stood there motionless for what
seemed like hours, until finally the hinges creaked and the
dreaded medicine revealed itself. She picked the brown plastic
bottle off the shelf and the lid came off with a pop. One tablet
was followed by another and yet another, until I counted fifteen
in the palm of her left hand. they were an assortment of small
diamond blues and bi-concave pinks.
Suddenly the mirror swung shut again and I was faced with a girl
I could barely recognise. She was fearful of the world and
suspicious of the people in it. She was tired and fed-up of the
life she led and how she was trapped by me. I found it ironic how
we both felt imprisoned by each other, for the same reasons. The
weight of the tablets in her hand was immense and solid.
Sophie grabbed a post-it note and a pen that had the end chewed
off it. "I'm sorry" She wrote and stuck it to the edge of the
mirror in the sitting room. She looked at the note for a while
and I could tell that she was contemplating whether she should
write more; whether this would be enough of an explanation for
Patrick, the man we were both in love with. The silence between
us was sharp and cutting - unnatural.
Within a moment, Sophie had swallowed all the pills. "Why are you
doing this?" I pleaded with Sophie, pressing every disgusting
image I could at her, in the hope that she would throw up.
"Don't you understand?" She shook her head. I took a gulp of air
and it had a calming effect. "This way we can both be free. I'm
"What are you saving us from Sophie?" I whispered, afraid of what
I thought the answer might be. She yawned as she sat down on the
couch and watched the room come in and out of focus. She closed
her eyes and smiled.
"I'm saving us from ourselves."