Jessica started seeing things that were not there when she was twelve years old.
Her mother chalked it up to pressure from school, adolescence, and possibly drug use, though she did admit that Jessica seemed rather young to do drugs.
Jessica's father chalked it up to Jessica's mother.
The visions started out innocently enough. A quarter or dime on the floor one minute and gone the next. Blue, fuzzy spiders. Giant butterflies. There was nothing Earth shattering or dangerous about the slips of reality. That all came later.
When Jessica reached college, the floating butterflies, amazing flowers and promised quarters changed to monkeys with fez hats blocking her way out the door in the morning making her late for classes, to fire flowing from the wall heater, to a terrible and unexpected experience with a boy that she had longed for for months that she had finally hooked up with a party down the street. There was no need to go into gory detail there. Needless to say, the visions were adversely affecting her life and loves.
She found that she couldn't stop the lucid dreaming from happening, so she made an effort to control the growing rate and extent of the hallucinations she was experiencing by trying to tailer her them to suit her needs, likes and desires.
But, did she focus on her dream man, fragrant meadows, or floating through her studio apartment on a magic carpet without a care in the world? Unfortunately, she did not. No, Jessica settled on the Skittle scene from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial because she thought that it would be wonderful to spend some time with the friendly little creature from the ever so magical Spielberg movie sensation.
She purchased the largest bag of Skittles she could find, then placed Skittle after Skittle inches apart leading from the street (there was no garage) to the small studio apartment she rented. Then she sat back in her favorite chair to wait for her brain creation to come to her. Cute little E.T. - glowing finger, heart light and all.
The glow from the television bathed the small room in cool, blue light. Jessica felt the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach and the tingle in the back of her eyes – the only warning she seemed to get when the dream state was about to hit. Excitement grew as she waited for E.T. to waddle up to her and claim her as his new, best friend in this - or any other - world.
She heard a rustling behind her and sprang from the cheap lounge chair to meet her new best friend only to find her new best fiend. There before her stood an alien of a different kind. Dark black and glistening, the eight foot tall monster Alien from the horror franchise of the same name rose from it's crouch as it had done while aboard the Nostromo spacecraft in the movie. She had forgotten that she had seen the film mere weeks before. The creature's jaw opened wide and multicolored ooze ran from it's Skittle covered teeth. It's secondary, mini-jaw slid free from behind the row of razor sharp teeth and snapped at the air before it's massive skull. Bits of candy fell from it to the rug as it hissed at Jessica. Without warning, it's arms shot out towards Jessica and Skittles flew at her from it's hands as it opened them and waved it's dangerous claws. Skittles flew striking her about the face and neck. NOT the same as E.T. slipping the Skittles to her sweetly like in the movie.
“Damn it! I've had enough of this crap.” Jessica stomped off to the relative safety of her bed as the Alien watched her go, leaned forward, and snatched up a few more Skittles from the carpeting. It popped them into it's mini-jaw with a purr and sat down in Jessica's chair to watch Reno 911.
Jessica made an appointment to have these visions dealt with. She couldn't take it anymore. The doctor she saw was kind and understanding. His beard made her think of Santa Claus, so when he returned from his desk wearing a red suit with a white fur collar, she wasn't surprised in the slightest.
He handed her the prescription slip and said, “These will help you stay with us in this reality, Jessica.” The kindly, jolly doctor smiled at Jessica as the reindeer behind him stuck it's rather large tongue out at her from behind the doctor's back.
Months passed and the medicine did it's job. There were no more Aliens....or monkeys with fez hats. No more giant butterflies flapping at her when she walked to her classes. No more surprises. It was wonderful for a time.
She started having weekly lunches with her mother at the club and couldn't remember why she had hated it so much before the meds. It was a perfectly lovely place with perfectly lovely people. No one bothered anyone. Well, no one bothered each other. They just bothered the wait staff.
“All I'm asking is for them not to have a God Damned puree every God Damned day,” Jessica's mother said with whiskey on her breath. “I mean, do these people need to BLEND every God Damned thing?”
“I really don't know, Mom,” Jessica muttered with a smile as she sipped her iced tea. “I mean, they have lovely salads, and...”
“Your father liked pureed things. He was like a baby, that man. Him and his need to have...things a certain way all the time.” She coughed out a bitter laugh. “I don't miss that man and his things.”
“Can we not talk about Dad, please?” Jessica smiled nervously. “You know?” Jessica felt uncomfortable in her own skin. Like a caged animal.
Jessica's mother looked away from her and waved the waiter over to their table. Jessica couldn't help thinking about the night she saw that Alien with it's vicious claws tossing Skittles around. She thought her mother's claws looked far more dangerous.
The waiter smiled wide and came over with a bounce in his step. Jessica wanted to warn him. To send up some signal that would wave him off like the ones they had used to wave off planes on a bad approach to the landing decks of carriers during World War II. She had seen it on the History Channel.
“Yes, Miss Carter?” Another wide smile. A lamb to the slaughter.
“Do I look like a baby to you?” Her mother glared.
The man tried to hold his smile, but it faltered with a clear glance at Jessica that suggested that it was some sort of inside joke. It wasn't. “No? You don't look like a baby?”
“That's right – I'm not. Nor do I need my food PRE-BLENDED. I have not needed that since I was a baby and pray I won't need it again for many, many years. Is it so much to ask to not have my food blended?”
Jessica didn't remember the rest of the lunch well. It was all a blur. Her tears had blurred her vision, that much she remembered. She had hit her elbow rushing out of the club at that moment. The swelling had lasted for the rest of the day along with the swelling around her eyes caused by the tears and sobbing. She hadn't wanted to see her mother again after that and had managed to avoid her - save a few calls from time to time to check on her progress in school. That was months ago. It seemed like years.
Jessica sits in the grass and lets the sun brown her legs and arms while she pretends to pay attention to her book. She looks to her friend, sighs and shrugs at him as she stares into his deep, dark brown eyes. She hopes she hasn't bored him with her story.
“And, here we are. Months later. Mother is at arms length now, thank God. My Dad is still helping with school.” She pouts somewhat playfully. “And, things are relatively good now.”
“Do you miss them?” Her friend smiles a sweet and friendly smile up at her and she loves him for it. He's so kind to her. A good friend. Someone who understands her and her...issues.
“The medications?” She frowns. “Sometimes – yeah. I guess I do.” She closes the book in her lap and adjusts her sun glasses absently. “I mean, the meds made it easier to play along, you know? Play this silly game we're all playing.” She smiles.
“But, it wasn't very much fun?” He leans back on his elbows and squints over to her. He reaches up and tugs his hat forward.
“No. No, it wasn't really.” She wiggles her hands before her as if trying to shake them dry or free of something and cringes. “ I felt bored and dull and lifeless. This is much better.” She smiles and touches his hand, then pushes herself up and off the grass. She drops her book in her bag as she pulls it up onto her shoulder as motions for him to stand. “Let's roll?”
The monkey with the fez at her feet nods to Jessica and mutters, “Sure – I think I'm starting to burn anyway,” as he stands and adjusts his hat. “Are you hungry?” He scratches his cheek. “I was thinking about getting some deli food? A sandwich?” He swats at the massive butterflies that flutter over their heads as they walk through the green grass towards the path that leads off campus.
Jessica thinks a moment, then shrugs. “Sure. A sandwich sounds good.”