Short Story: A Meeting of the Minds

My mind has been invaded, was his first thought upon waking up from slumber. His heart pounded and he clutched his chest. “What’s going on?” he said, voice raspy with night phlegm. He coughed and turned to see that Jane still slept. His head throbbed; a deep pounding sensation. Panic set in and he clenched his eyes shut, trying to ignore the words ringing in his head. He rushed to the bathroom and splashed cold water onto his face. Brief flashes of words still came, unbidden, into his brain.

A vision of flowers appeared in his mind and try as he might he couldn’t remove it. Snippets of a voice sounded and his own thoughts turned to diagnosing himself with insanity. With a sudden clarity he realized who’s voice it was that he heard and who’s dreams he felt. He rushed back to the bedroom and found Jane still sleeping. She hadn’t moved. He got close and listened to her breathing.

An evocation of smell and a feeling of distaste filled his mind, but it was not his thought, nor his feeling. No, Jane’s voice said in his mind.

He sat back and listened a few moments to her and wondered what to do. Finally, he reached over and gently pushed on her shoulders. She mumbled something and the voice in his head changed. He pushed her again, a little more forcefully this time. Her voice came back into his head, What the hell does he want? She turned and looked up at him.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. He said nothing and felt her annoyance in his head. Again panic set in and it was difficult to reconcile her impatience and his worry. “Why are you looking at me like that Tom?” While she spoke his mind relaxed. He watched as she frowned and reached for her head. “Are you…” she paused. “Are you afraid?” He nodded. “You’re thinking of your mother?” He nodded. Tears welled at the corners of his eyes. “How do I feel your fear?”

“I don’t know,” Tom said. “You were just dreaming of stinky flowers.”

“Yes,” Jane said and she sat up abruptly.

“I don’t know how,” Tom said again. “But, I can feel your emotions and hear your thoughts.” He looked at her. “I’m scared to… Something weird happened last night, but…”

“You don’t remember,” she said, finishing his statement. She got up out of bed and put on her robe. “What happened to us in the night?”

“I don’t know,” Tom said. He looked at her robe. “Sorry about the stain.”

“That’s ok,” Jane replied looking up from the coffee stain on her robe. Abruptly she folded her arms. “You drank 6 beers last night?” It wasn’t a question. She had heard his thoughts. She thought it was 4 and he shook his head in response. She frowned. “What are you thinking? What girl? At the bar?”

“My mind wanders and I just look,” Tom said quickly, hoping to stall any more thoughts he didn’t want to share with Jane. He looked at his pillow and focused on it.

“Really, you’re thinking of your pillow?” Jane said. He felt her anger deep in his brain, but then it seeped away slowly when she asked, “What the hell happened to us?”

“Do you remember any other of your dreams from last night?” Tom asked quickly.

“Something about a car accident,” Jane replied and instantly knew the dream was familiar to Tom. She thought about the details of her dream and wondered why they were using the taxi. Tom mind nudged her about the beers. “Where is our car?”

“Likely where we parked it,” Tom replied smiling. He brought a picture of it to his mind and nodded to Jane.

“Why does the car look green?” Jane asked, frowning. “It’s red….” Her voice trailed off and she flushed as his thought about colour blindness came to her mind. Sorry.

“It’s ok,” Tom said smiling at her thought-apology. “This is weird.”

“It’s certainly different having your thoughts in my head,” Jane nodded. “You think, but it has a different…”

“Flavour?” He felt her agreement. Tom pulled on some pants and shivered as memories of his mother came into his mind.

“You’re not schizophrenic,” Jane said aloud. She walked over to him and he could feel and see the determination in her movements. She looked into his eyes and thought in clear words, You know whose voice you hear and it’s real. Out loud she continued, “You’re 34. If you have schizophrenia it likely would have developed by now.” She hugged him as his worry continued to throb in her head. “I know there’s still a possibility,” Jane replied. “But, it’s unlikely.”

“What are we going to do?” Tom asked.

Jane nodded as Tom’s thoughts of their new found connection came flooding into her mind. She sighed and looked up at him, he stepped back from her, feeling her dread. “We will either grow stronger together or it will rip us apart and drive us crazy.” She suddenly sighed and felt stupid for her comment.

“It’s a phrase, I know,” Tom said, her upset feelings washing over him. “Do you remember what the cab driver looked like?”

She thought for a moment bringing up the picture of the back of the driver’s head. Tom followed her thoughts. He added a scarf to the picture and saw Jane nod. He found her memory changed slightly, showing the scarf. How easily memories can change, he thought distractedly. Anger hit.

“Are you saying I remember what I want to remember?” Jane said sternly. She placed her hands on her hips and shifted her weight to one leg. What’s wrong with my eyebrow? She thought, responding to his looking at and thinking about her raised eyebrow.

“Nothing, I just know that’s your visual cue that you’re angry or perturbed at me,” Tom said defensively backing away. “But I was thinking of memory in general, not yours specifically.”

Oh, Jane thought.

Tom continued, “Now that we have our minds linked we may find our visual cues are no longer necessary.”

Jane laughed. Without visual cues people will think we’re robots, she thought. “This will take some time getting used to,” she said. I need a shower, she thought. Tom laughed, nodding emphatically. Shut the fuck up, she thought as she directed a glare at Tom.

“We should see how far we can go apart and still be connected,” Tom said. With that he finished getting dressed and raced down stairs to the kitchen. He breathlessly, waited a moment and then smiled. We don’t have to yell at each other when coffee is ready. He grabbed his coat and pulled on his shoes. The bright morning sun hurt his eyes a little and he felt disoriented.

“What happened? Are you ok?” Jane yelled and raced down the stairs to where Tom was standing.

“The bright sun just made me pause a moment,” Tom said. It’s nothing.

She hugged him again and he winked at her. It was hard not getting caught up in his excitement. She smiled and closed the door and walked back up the stairs. She turned the shower on and disrobed, throwing her housecoat onto the floor. She turned back to the mirror and looked at herself with a critical eye. She touched her hips and twisted back and forth to see both sides. Fat pig.

You are not! Tom thought yelled at her. The forcefulness of his interjection made her jump. I know what you’re doing, Tom continued. You’re looking in the mirror in the bathroom.

Jane smiled and then a sudden feeling of nausea come over her and she rushed to the toilet. But, it was a weird sensation. She felt the nausea in her head, but not her stomach. Are you ok?

I’m the fat pig, Tom replied. I just ran down the street and I feel like throwing up.

Take it easy, she thought. She walked across the room and turned on the shower. She stood there a few moments and touched the water. It was perfect. She got into the shower and let the warm water run down her head. It felt wonderful.

You’re in the shower now, Tom thought. No wonder your showers are so long, you enjoy the feeling of the water.

Is that so wrong? Jane asked. She felt something odd, and frowned. What are you doing? When she felt his thinking of her naked in the shower.

Touch yourself, Tom suggested. She could feel his excitement grow.

I will not, Jane thought. Where are you now?

At the corner of Lewis and Benton and I can feel your arousal. You can’t deny it.

Keep walking pervert, Jane ordered. She could feel his sexual libido increasing and she bit her lip. She was about to touch herself when the connection with Tom ended. The change was abrupt and left a void in her mind. She felt empty and exposed at the same time. It was an odd sensation and she wondered why she felt this way after so short a time connected to Tom’s mind. She finished showering and quickly got dressed. And a terrible thought entered her mind. Is Tom dead? She raced down the stairs and then suddenly she felt his presence in her mind.

I guess 5 or 6 hundred yards is the limit to our connection, Tom thought, felt her worry and thought I’m fine.

Come home. We need to talk, Jane thought. She could feel his exasperation at her words and felt her own frustration rise. Tom’s resignation came through and she turned to stomp away, but then stopped. Where would she go in the house to be away from him?

Good question, Tom thought. I think we’ll need some coffee. What do you want?

The usual, Jane replied. She busied herself by emptying the dishwasher of clean dishes and put them away, trying not to think about anything really. She got lost in the monotony of her chore. Tom came home before she was done and handed her her coffee.

“What do we do now?” Tom asked and he took a sip of coffee.

“Live.” Jane replied. “And understand that there will be things we each think of that were never meant to be voiced.” Like how I hate that blue shirt you always wear.

“I already know you hate that shirt,” Tom smiled. Why do you think I wear it. His smile disappeared and worry caused him to frown.

“I know,” Jane murmured. “We have to be careful about who, if anyone we tell. And how we use it in public.”

“I don’t want people to think I’m crazy,” Tom blurted. “People always looked at me weirdly when they heard my mother was cra…”

“She wasn’t crazy,” Jane interrupted. I will not let you go down that path.

“What the hell happened to us last night?” Tom asked. They felt each other’s fear.

Photo by Oliver Gruener from FreeImages

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