The Mind is a Crazy Place

The Mind is a Crazy Place

Renee Lake

Vennie was born cold. Her mother said she was blue and had to be revived.

Her father said he started reading her the stories in the NICU and each one brought pink into her cheeks.

When she was five, they stopped reading her the tales. They worried she took them seriously.

She tried to explain how they made her feel: loved and hot all over.

They told her fairy tales don’t come true, that they don’t step from the pages of books and save you from real life.

They were wrong.

Fairy tales weren’t just stories in books, cool to the touch. They lit her skin on fire, heating her from the inside out.

They were like stepping into the sunshine after being inside a cold movie theatre. When you turn your face to the sun, your whole body lights up.

When she was eight, Wonder Hamster played with her when her parents would go out at night, flying around singing rhymes in his scratchy voice. He curled up next to her when they forgot to pay the gas bill, a tiny furry furnace against her skin.

Her mother told her she had a cold heart, but it wasn’t true. With her friends, lava flowed through her veins. She didn’t understand why they didn’t see that.

The year she turned ten, The Boy Who Could Have escorted her to and from school, making sure the bullies stayed away. His flaming red eyes winking in and out of the shadows.

They moved to a place where it always snowed. At night, cold and shivering in her bed, the Living Flames would come and dance around her, chasing away her goosebumps and the nightmares. Their blue and white insides burned so hotly that she’d sweat.

At sixteen, Vennie learned math from The Little Bat Girl, with her large eyes and wings protruding out of her back. She held her tongue in-between her pointed front teeth as she tried to explain the concept of imaginary numbers, her words scorching the inside of Vennie’s brain.

She asked them why she couldn’t go back into the book with them. The only response they ever gave was, “Not yet.”

Vennie thought that as she got older the fairy tale characters would disappear. Isn’t that the way with magic?

That didn’t happen. In fact, it got worse.

Vennie lost her job because she couldn’t tell Marrying Maria no when she wanted an evening of binge drinking. Vennie would wake up hungover and sick. Her companion would be bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked, and ready for her wedding day, again and again.

Boyfriends and girlfriends left her, jealous of things they considered “make-believe” and “crazy”. She began dating The Fur Man of Everland. She called him Bob for short. While he was hairy, he also made her laugh. He made her skin boil in pleasure for the first time in her life.

When he left she clung to his coattails begging to go with him. Before he faded away he said, “Not yet.”

Her family pleaded with her, cried and cajoled, but she wouldn’t give up her only friends. The people who knew her the best. The people who kept her warm.

Eventually, they locked her away with words like “delusional” and “schizophrenia”. She felt like she was encased in ice, frozen in time: wandering the frigid halls in threadbare socks, afraid to acknowledge her friends, mind dulling without their companionship and warmth.

In her sterile white room, sedated and afraid, Little Golly Goldwin sang to Vennie of wonderful places and fantastic adventures. The ice around her started to melt.

During therapy sessions, Vennie refused to talk; instead, she laughed at Woodle The Tiny, a small deer with fiery eyes, that danced on the window sill.

Sunshine soared inside her. She didn’t want to ignore them. She wanted to be with them.

Duprey the Crimson Snake of the Tides would slither against her skin, reading classic novels in his British Accent. His scales were so hot to the touch that small blisters formed on her arms and legs. Before he left he said, “Not long now.”

It was no surprise to Vennie that eventually The Sunset Queen came for her, wrapping her in a searing embrace and promising her escape from her constraints. Vennie could only smile, glad to go with her, knowing she would never be cold again.

Renee Lake