The walk home is perhaps the most British possible- rainy, miserable, and fraught with my awkward bumping into people and mumbling a ‘pardon me’ without making eye contact. In spite of the biting cold I feel as though I could spontaneously combust at any moment.
I turn and take the back roads because the busy traffic and pedestrians make me uneasy- I know, it’s ironic that they let me be a therapist; that’s modern psychology for you. No more than 300 meters from my house, I turn down a particularly narrow and overcast road. It’s the type of road that looks normal to me because I walk down it every day- if you were to see it for the first time you’d think someone gets murdered on the curb daily.
I just want my cup of tea and to sleep. Maybe wake up and find it’s all a dream. Of course, back at my flat with my fingers wrapped around a cup of earl grey, things aren’t any less confusing. My situation is the same; the scenery is more comforting and familiar now at least.
I decide to ring work once again and find the number has been deleted from my phone. In fact, there aren’t many contacts left at all- 5 out of the 40 or so I had; at the back of my mind lies the disturbing thought: What kind of sick pervert would delete Dominoes pizza from my contacts?
There’s my parents, my ex (who I really should have deleted two years ago), my plumber and Hannah Moss. Call it vengeance or call it human nature, but I decide almost instantly who I’m blaming for this crappy day; subsequently it’s the same number I call moments later.
However, the ringing of a phone on the other side of my front door alerts me- someone sighs and sends me to voicemail, before knocking four times in quick succession. Through the peephole I can see it’s Hannah- looking younger, although more bedraggled than usual. There’s a light in her eyes that I hope never to see in my patients.
Obviously, I open my door instantly. ‘Hannah? What are you doing here?’
‘There’s no time to explain. Come with me.’
She grabs me by my hand and hauls me out of my apartment- I hear the lock click behind me, and curse. ‘I left my keys inside. Hannah, what are you-‘
She presses her finger to her lips. ‘Shhh! They’ll hear you. Besides, where we’re going you don’t need keys. We won’t be needing anything from here.’
‘What are you talking about, Hannah?’ I keep using her first name to keep her grounded; in the moment. Something in her eyes is telling me I’m an idiot and I should be running right now.
I just want my cup of tea.
‘Look, they’re after you- me- us, okay?’ Odd. Narcissism doesn’t usually include paranoia- perhaps this is some extension of a greater delusion of grandiosity?
‘Don’t look at me as if I’ve grown a greater delusion of grandiosity, Doctor.’ Hannah rolls her eyes as she quite literally drags me down the street. ‘I’m trying to save our- your life. If I’m correct, you should already be experiencing symptoms of Erazement. Loss of job, contacts, apartment will be the next thing to go. Then belongings.’
‘Hannah? What. are. you. talking. about?’
‘Gah!’ She pulls me down a darker side road, one even I’m scared of going down. She ducks in between two dumpsters and mutters, ‘I knew this wasn’t a good idea. If you wanted things to make sense, why on Earth did you study psychology? Oh, don’t answer that- I already know the answer. I know everything about you.’
This is fascinating. She seems utterly convinced of herself in this moment, so utterly involved in the hiding that she is doing, that she has entranced me completely.
That’s probably why I barely notice as she breathes lightly over the grease of one of the dumpsters, and it glows green. I also fail to notice as she presses her thumb over the newly green spot, and the ground opens up underneath us, swallowing us into a world of falling.