Phantasia rolled over and went back to sleep as many times as she could, hoping that if she barely opened her eyes each time she woke, the meds would last long enough to let her sleep in for once.
Eventually, she felt too awake to successfully roll over, groggy but heart rate rising. She could no longer resist the urge to check the time. 9:48. It would do, especially for dreamless sleep.
She flicked the lights on, opened her dorm window for some fresh autumn air. Made the bed. Dressed. The disability plan got her a dorm to herself, and certain luxuries, all smoothed out last year, freshman year. Dressing “normally” got her others. The illusion of normalcy. Patient is neatly groomed and casually dressed. All that. Nothing psychotic looking about a floofy light brown ponytail, glasses, a light sweater and jeans.
Today, she thought, she’d stop at the nearest coffee shop for something like breakfast on her walk to the other campus, which was home to the lab she wanted to drop some items at. The counseling center, at least, was on the campus with her dorm.
She was on the stairs when golden fur, or the light shining off of it, or something like that, kept flicking into the corner of her vision. Another flight down, and Farrah, the golden retriever puppy, was under her feet. Trying to step around her like it mattered, while not tripping, Phantasia thought, You’re not helping, at the adorable, yet mischievous, recurring hallucination in question.
Farrah just wagged her stumpy puppy tail, chewing on a red blob that might have been a leash. Her collar, the red hue kind of hovering over the item, still gave an inconsistent, barely audible—only to Phantasia—jingle, of the dog bone tag that had appeared with the name Farrah on it. She hadn’t really seen the name since that first flash of it, and felt it in a way more than seen it, the first time, but it had stuck.
Farrah gave a tiny growl at a squirrel skittering away as she—they—stepped outside. The squirrel, of course, didn’t hear her.
Go back to your void, Phantasia willed her mentally. Sometimes Farrah appeared in all consuming flashes away from the present reality, and into a white void. She kind of thought of it as the place Farrah went when she wasn’t seeing her at all. Called her a schizophrenia tamagotchi because of the resemblance of that occasional cute pet, empty void, limited interaction setup.
Farrah flickered in and out as she walked to the coffee shop, vanishing by the time she was inside. She stayed gone as Phantasia ordered, ate her pastry, and left.
She headed for the lab office, got in line, digging things out of her bag.
“Next in line,” said the receptionist.
Phantasia stepped up. “Analysis drop off?”
“Perfect. You have the paperwork?”
She nodded, and handed over the papers. Contact information, tests requested, general notes, etc.
“Phantasia Smith,” said the receptionist, though she struggled to read the handwriting. “How suiting.”
As if she hadn’t heard that one before. She forced something like a laugh.
“All righty.” The receptionist scanned the form. “Items?”
She handed over the container of items. These weren’t all the usual items pulled magically out of dreams, but some of the first solid ones she’d managed to pull out of hallucinations. Dreams were notoriously tricky. Psychosis, even harder. Science, more reliable. Hence, the desire for some lab testing, even if they usually worked with dreams.
“Great. So…” Checking the form again. “That’ll be twenty dollars, or student credit?”
“Student credit.” She handed her the university ID. The receptionist swiped it and handed it back.
“You’re all set. We’ll call to go over results in three to five business days. Have a great day.”
As she walked out, she thought, One day I’ll figure out how to get you tested, at the puppy that appeared just in time to almost get hit by the office door.