Software Firm, Twenty-fourth floor,
Torre Eurosky, Rome,
For the first time in my life, I breathed a sigh of relief. Life as a software developer was very hectic. My workplace had never expanded beyond a couple of square feet; it was restricted within plywood walls and contained a timber desk and a soft, leathery chair (a cubicle, to be exact). I was given an outmoded computer with separate monitor, keyboard and a box-like vociferous CPU that made a maddening, rattling sound. The only thing I could flawlessly do was type some gibberish in either Python or Java (gibberish, cause commoners never got the knack of what I typed onto my monitor screen). But nothing mattered to me. I was getting paid for my complex, self-centered intelligence and my oddly elucidating introvert nature.
But almost a month after joining the developer’s crew, someone from my workplace actually came up to me and started spilling the beans about his mundane existence (I mean to say, his life). So, this was the reason why I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Hello there! Are you having trouble with the work?”
“No. I am fine.”
I was so nervous that my heart let out a faint, high-strung cry.
Can’t he just go away and let me do my work? What in the world does he think he’s doing? I am sure he lacks the sense of work ethic and etiquette.
I garnered up some courage and gave him a faint, sarcastic smile. I was happy that someone actually noticed my utter lonesomeness, but little did I know at that time how hard it’d be to let go of my reticent behavior.
“By the way, I am Lucas. And you?”
Oh god! Why does he have to ask my name? I am better off myself. Just go away!
Oh no! I blurted out my name. My full name! Why did I say my full name? It could have been a simple Sofia with a frown, or a smirk, or even a silly grin. But no, it ended with a Russo, my family name. He didn’t even say his surname, then why the hell did I even reveal everything.
This is a total disaster. It truly is!
As the moment ensued with an awkward silence and a long, daunting pause, I felt as if someone tried to choke me with their bare hands. My windpipe constricted out of the blue as I began gasping for air.
This is happening again! Oh god!
On the spur of the moment, I pulled the wooden drawer hinged on my desk and took out a couple of Prozac tablets, gulped it down hastily without water and again breathed a sigh of relief.
“Are you fine Sofia?”
Can’t you see I am having a panic attack? Are you dumb or what? Of course, I am not fine.
“Yes, I am fine.” I nodded in assertion.
“If you need anything or need someone to share your thoughts, or perhaps wanna do some ice breaking, you know whom to rely on.” Lucas said in a pacifying manner.
Should I? Or should I not? I don’t think you will ever understand me, Lucas. It’s all complicated and ghastly and horrendous and shocking.
But maybe if I tell you, you will understand my problems and help me out. What should I do? Oh god!
But what if you make a mockery out of me? It’s really baffling.
I smiled at him and looked deep into his weary eyes. I don’t know why, but I sensed something magnetic about his personality, his inner intricate persona, that instantly made me trust him.
“It’s my twin-brother.” I whispered softly.
Lucas deepened his frown and asked me enthusiastically.
“What about him?”
Should I really trust him? I think this time I have to give it a go. I believe in you, Lucas! I really do.
“This may sound a little crazy and round the bend, but I think I am being followed by my identical twin.”
“Yes, followed. And I don’t know how to tell you this but…”
Lucas did not believe what he heard the next moment. It was completely dreadful and mind-boggling.
“He is dead! In fact, my whole family is dead. They met a horrific car accident last year.”
The moment intensified with a smidge of fear and horror.
“So you mean you’re being haunted by your so-called twin-brother?” Lucas asked.
“Yes.” I mumbled. “Every day after work, when I take a stroll through the narrow alleyway some blocks away from my apartment, I see him right in front of me on the street, smiling coyly at me. But as I move closer to him, he fades away and disperses into whitish fumes of smoke. And…Poof! He disappears.”
Lucas and I stared into each other’s face in utter bewilderment.
“I know it sounds silly, but I am telling you the truth Lucas. Please help me! It’s driving me crazy.”
Please don’t think I am mad. I am sane, really, I am. It all started when I lost my dear ones, my mother, my father and Giovanni. Since then everything has been a little edgy for me. It almost took me half a year to convince myself that they aren’t with me now. My life has been a mess Lucas and I hope you believe me. I am in need of your help. Please help me, please!
Lucas was so shell-shocked that he almost took a minute to get the hang of what I had revealed before he could finally say something.
“How do you want me to help you?” he muttered under his breath.
“There’s nothing much you can do.” I said in disappointment and started typing on my keyboard. But within a split second, my uncontrollable palpitations swiftly metamorphosed into sentiments of relief and solace after hearing Lucas’s soothing words.
“What about we have a nice, simple dinner at your house this evening, keep aside everything for today and have a good time together?”
Did Lucas just ask me out for a date? Does he really believe me? I think he really does.
And by the way is this the way to ask a girl out? How foolish of him! He is taking me for a date at my own house! Makes me wanna chuckle. But I think he’s cute, why would I ever say no? I think I should nod my head.
Oh wait! Nodding isn’t enough. I should say yes.
“I would love to have dinner with you, Lucas.”
Lucas beamed with glee.
“And thanks for listening. It really means a lot!”
Fifth floor, Room No. 509
Margana Tower, Rome,
I must say I had never felt this pretty my entire life. And with Lucas coming to my apartment, the anticipation was beyond ordinary. As the evening sky painted itself with reddish shade and a tinge of peachy sublimeness, I was able to submerge myself into the colors that were left behind my achromatic life. And it was all possible because Lucas had asked me out.
I hope he won’t stand me up. I mean, he was the one who brought up the idea about the dinner. Why would he ask me if he was planning not to show up? I am sure he’ll be right here any moment.
As I delved into my inner thoughts, something out of the blue felt odd about my body. My head began spinning and my vision immediately went blurry. A sharp, stabbing pain hit my temple and within a jiffy I began nauseating.
Somebody help me! Please! Help me!
As I underwent a feeling of vertigo, my body began to feel as light as a feather. I looked around me, the locale was void and I was falling down deep into nothingness. Everything was as black as pitch. My heart was engulfed by a sense of weightlessness as if I had fallen into an endless pit and I wasn’t able to come out of the ordeal that I was drawn into.
Lucas, where are you? You said you’d help me. Please hurry up. I need you.
As I was drawn more into the oblivion, I saw myself standing at the narrow alleyway, the same alleyway which I had told Lucas about. And for what I was anticipating, the view in front of me was what I hadn't been able to get myself out of. I saw him, I saw my brother, Giovanni, right there beside the litter-box, staring directly at me with a warm smile on his face.
Sofia! My sweet little sister! The figure said softly.
I couldn’t help myself but cry. I whimpered in pain and whined in my soreness, and the fact that I wasn’t able to cope up with my loss had already made me weary and forlorn. I wanted to hug him tight, but I knew my short little steps would make him vague and indistinct. So I stood there, glued at the spot, not taking any steps closer to him.
Sofia! You have to come home! You have to come to your mamma and papa. They are missing you badly!
The figure asserted.
Sofia! I have come to take you home. Don’t you miss your big brother?
At this point I was not able to feel myself firmly. I was already weakened by my horrendous past and there was not much energy left in me. I really wanted to go somewhere distant from this world. I wanted to be with my family so bad that I got lost into myself and nothing seemed real to me.
Am I even here?
Do I even know who I am?
Do I even exist in this world?
Who am I?
The figure continuously cried in vain.
As the figure dispersed into fumes of smoke, the void that surrounded me slowly changed into something subtle and elusive. I leisurely opened my eyes and saw a lad holding me on his bulky, muscular arms. I was still nauseating and my stomach felt a little sick. I looked around and saw myself inside a well-furnished apartment, with a man incessantly calling out a name.
I wasn’t able to fathom what just happened, but I knew this man had saved me from something bad.
“Are you alright? When I entered into your flat, you were lying on the ground and shaking vigorously. What just happened, Sofia?” he uttered and wrapped my ice-cold body with a thick, cozy blanket.
My body was drained out of energy, so all I could do was hold his hand as a gesture of thanking him.
“Thank you so much, mister!” I said with a relief.
“Mister? You’re already giving me a pet name, huh?” He said and chuckled softly.
“Excuse me! I don’t understand. How did you happen to pass by my apartment by the way?”
“What do you mean, Sofia? You invited me for dinner, don’t you remember? I am Lucas!”
Now, that he was calling me with a name 'Sofia' made me more confused and tangled. All I wanted to do was take rest and go into a sweet slumber, but I knew I was surrounded by something ruinous which made me feel different about myself then and there.
“Why are you calling me Sofia? I am Giovanni.”
“What do you mean?” he muttered in puzzlement.
Lucas was shocked to the core seeing my eerie behavior. The fact that I had changed my name from Sofia to Giovanni had made him dismayed and utterly confused. He knew it wouldn't be wise of him to have silky conversations about my sudden baptism, so without even giving a second thought, he asked me if I wanted to go to my room and take a nap. I nodded instantly.
“Let me put you to bed. Come!” he said and led me to my bedroom.
But as soon as we entered the room, something caught Lucas’s eyes. He immediately picked up the paper (which looked like a prescription sheet) which laid on the upper surface of the nightstand that was placed at the corner of the bed. He also saw numerous pills that were spilled haphazardly on the topmost drawer. But as soon as he ran his eyes onto the paper, he finally got the knack of everything. It read-
Particulars of the patient:
Name – Sofia Russo
Address – Margana Tower, Rome, Italy
Age – 24 years
Diagnosis – Multiple Personality Disorder with Nihilistic Delusion
Alter personality’s name – Giovanni Russo