Hello! Here is the next part of my story about haunted wedding dresses.
In Part 1 & Part 2, we met Leila, a seamstress whose wedding dresses gossip nastily in her workroom. Only Leila can hear them speak. One day Leila confides in Shareen, her friend in the design studio, about the voices. Shareen promptly makes the dresses behave – even though she can’t hear them herself – telling them to stop gossiping and to treat Leila well. Afterward Leila decides to see a therapist recommended by Shareen.
On starless windless nights – part 3
The therapist’s office was a study in color. Riotous blues and purples had been set loose on cushions and draped, while the walls were a deep blue-green, like the sea. It was an unexpected sight, for the office of a mental health professional. Leila felt she might have been at the bottom of the ocean. She should have been upset, unsettled by the clash of so many brilliant, intense colors together. Yet oddly, as she sank into the indigo violet couch, she felt calmer than she had in weeks.
The therapist smiled reassuringly. Huge scarves gave the room a tribal feel, Leila decided. At least there was no incense or new-age CD playing in the background, all cymbals and looped-sitar music.
It was quiet. Blissfully quiet.
“I’m having some trouble at work,” Leila began. Clasping and twisting her hands together, she wasn’t sure exactly how much to say or how to say it.
The therapist nodded, but did not comment. She waited. So Leila went on.
“The thing is,” she said, “I have trouble in my workroom.”
Still no comment from the therapist.
“In my workroom,” Leila went on, “I’ve been hearing voices.”
“What kind of voices?” The therapist asked.
“What do you mean?”
“What kind of voices?” the therapist repeated. “Are they whispering, yelling, screaming? Do they talk to you or are they just talking in general, like on the radio? Do they want you to do something?
Leila hesitated. It was odd that the therapist – what was her name again – didn’t seem to think there was anything strange about her hearing voices. “Um, well, I guess . . .”
“Excuse me, but shouldn’t you be telling me that hearing voices is not normal?”
“You hear them, right?”
“So, that is what we know. We start from what we know and we move toward what we don’t know. When we find out what we don’t know, we have come to the end of the journey.” She beamed.
“I’m not sure-”
“Tell me about the voices.” Reassuringly, the therapist took out a tablet and started to take notes.
Leila thought about the voices. How will it sound to the therapist if she says, “It’s the wedding dresses. They pick at each other. Terrible insults. It turns my stomach.”
And, “I must be crazy.”
I must be crazy.
What does that mean? Leila thought. She knew of schizophrenia; isn’t that what they call it when you hear voices? Some time back she had heard a psychiatrist interviewed on NPR, a psychiatrist who herself had schizophrenia, and who had written a book about it. The way that woman described her illness, she had said her voices started out narrating calmly, narrating her life. As they progressed the voices became accusatory and blaming toward her.
Leila’s voices blamed each other, though. Was that something different?
All this time the therapist waited, just waited. Leila was glad that she was not demanding an answer.
Start from what we know, she had said.
Leila took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Here is where it starts, she thought.