The dynamics were always fluid. You learn not to expect stability when you have a delusional friend. Stephanie veered from angry and paranoid to virulently skeptical over the course of a day and if you wanted to remain in contact with her you had to be okay with this truth. She refused medications, based on prior horrible side effects, not because she doubted their potential to help her. On the contrary, she was quite aware that her brain was not her friend. Maybe a little too aware. This led to many late-night soliloquies that Peg could rarely follow. She had to act as the protector with Stephanie, though it was obvious after a while that she was protecting her from herself, not the outside world of her delusions.
Stephanie was stable through high school-a normal enough teenage girl, but going away to college out of state triggered something in her that sent her offline. Her mind would not give her any peace from nineteen onward and she retreated from life as much as possible. Her parents got her diagnosed during one of her more compliant periods, but they could not convince her to try therapy. Her tortured thoughts were an impenetrable wall for all but the most patient.
This is where Meg came in: she met Stephanie by chance at a coffee shop and found her fascinating, though a bit intense. Stephanie poured out her far-reaching theories and unfounded worries to Meg at every opportunity. It was suffocating at first, but she discovered that just listening to Stephanie calmed her down and eventually surfaced a witty side to her personality that was a delightful revelation.
Stephanie moved in with Meg a few months ago and they were still settling in when Stephanie went missing. She went out for cat food and never came back. She told Meg that a man with spiky hair was following her every time she left the apartment, but that just seemed like routine paranoia to Meg. Now, she had to tell the police the same story and hope that it wasn’t true.
© 2021 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.