Living in a Fictional World
Nicky and I have noticed that his mom is slipping a bit mentally. As time has gone on, we have seen a steady decline in her ability to think and understand.
Our eight-year-old ran out the front door the other day. The kids play in the yard all the time. Audrey watched him go out and looked at me. She has less tolerance for kids these days and expects that whatever they are doing must be out of line.
A few minutes later he burst back in and ran down the hall to his bedroom. At this age, he is usually living out a Lego mini-figure story in his head. He darts around like he is flying and makes funny sound effects. Sometimes he stops to tell me the plot of some Lego video he watched which never makes any sense. He is a kid living in a fictional world, but he knows he is pretending. Audrey can’t tell fantasy from reality.
“Amy, he just threw something out in the yard!”
“He took something out there and left it.”
I asked his sister to look out the door and see if anything is out there, knowing full well, nothing is out there. “No,” she answers, “there’s nothing out there.”
“There’s nothing out there, Audrey.”
“Now Amy, I saw him take an arm load of stuff out there. It was a bunch of clothes. You better go check.”
I get up. Look outside. Nothing there. “No, there’s nothing,” I say as cheerfully as I can.
“Aren’t you going to go ask him what he took out there?”
Stifling an urge to groan, humoring her, “Okay. I’ll go ask.” I went in his room and asked. He looked at me like I was crazy.
I went back and sat in the recliner next to her, “No, he didn’t take anything out there.”
“What did he say?” she said with an annoyed tone.
“He didn’t take anything outside.”
She just looked at me like I was surely lying.
A little later, she got up and started turning the light switches on and off. There is a switch plate with three of them in the living room. She turned them on and off several times like a little kid would. Then went and sat back down.
I got a call from my mom and went back in the bedroom to talk so I didn’t bother them watching television. Jaime was sitting with her. About ten minutes later she opened the door to my bedroom and asked if I was turning the TV off with my phone.
“Hold on, mom. Uh, no. No, I’m not. My phone doesn’t turn off the TV.”
She made a face and closed the door. When I finished my phone call, I went back out there and Jaime took me aside.
“Mom, wait ‘til you hear this. She was sitting here beside me and she picked up the remote and started pushing buttons. Then the TV would go off and she would drop the remote in her lap and say, all surprised, ‘Carolyn must be messing with the TV with her phone!’ She did it three or four times. Serious as anything.”
“Wow. That’s new.”
“Yeah, and then she would ask me if the people on TV knew where you were and if could I ask them.”
This morning she is seeing things. From the recliners, you can see out the dining room window. A large tree is out there past the deck. The leaves and branches were blowing in the breeze. She thought there was a person sitting up in the tree looking at us. She was sure a person was there.
The light outside changed as the weather changed and a reflection of the square window was cast on the wall of the cathedral ceiling living room. Any lights or movement catch her eye. The reflection would come and go as clouds passed in front of the sun.
“Amy, what is that light up there? That square.”
“It’s just the reflection of the window. It’s okay.” I really wanted to tell her it was a gateway to another world, but I figured that would open a can of worms.
She watched it come and go for about an hour.
At this point, she is like a toddler rediscovering her world and not really sure of anything. Her mind fills in gaps and makes up stuff along the way. I like to write fiction because anything can happen. It’s exciting to break the bindings of reality. Watching Audrey, I have to say that I am glad fiction stays in books and movies because a world with no logic and infinite possibilities would be terribly scary.