“And you have been able to help people like Jane before, right?” Hilda’s question to Dr. Patel sounding more like a statement to her daughter.
Dr. Patel swept his upturned palm across the room, like he was offering a tray of hors d’voures. “Yes! I’ve helped many people in Jane’s situation.”
Jane blinked. “You mean, people who — ” Jane didn’t want to utter the words that came next, but realized they would be the most accurate — “who came from my world?”
Dr. Patel pursed his lips, stepped back. “I said similar, Jane — not exact.” His smiled beamed reassurance, as he resumed pacing around the circle of chairs. “The delusions I’ve worked with have been, I guess you could say, less grandiose than yours. Some of my patients believe someone is in love with them, or their spouse, when there is no evidence to support such a belief. Others think they are more intelligent, powerful than they seem, that others are jealous of their imaginary abilities.” His eyebrows raised sharply. “And then, there are the more elaborate delusions — one patient told me burglars stole everything from his home each evening, then brought it back the next day. Others swear to the existence of people who are no longer alive, or who never existed. Or they are not the person everyone perceives them to be.” He flexed his fingers toward Jane — “Yours is similar to this delusion, but in ways, it’s the reverse — you believe you’re the same as you’ve always been, but the world around you has changed.”
Dr. Patel exhaled, like a weightlifter preparing for a lift. “In any event, Jane, the only cure for your condition, is through medication.” Jane blinked, her shoulders drooping. Her mother placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, as Dr. Patel continued. “I could write you a prescription this evening, even call it in for you. The standard protocol would then be to monitor your progress — these medications can have strong side effects, and it may take time to find the proper treatment for you — ” he retrieved his smart phone from his pocket — “I could even schedule your office visits this evening.”
“That’s very kind of you, doctor.” Jane felt the vibration of her mother’s voice through the hand on her shoulder.
Dr. Patel smiled, putting the smart phone back into his pocket. “But before we commence with this treatment plan, Jane — there is one other thing we need to discuss.” He then raised his head, sweeping his gaze across the perimeter of the circle, making eye contact with everyone in the room. “Something that required the presence of everyone here this evening.”
A strong howl of November wind erupted, leaves and branches flying through the dark night and flailing against the thick windows of the sturdy suburban home.