Once upon a time, there was a girl named Kama, who woke up with a start at a park bench in downtown Toronto, on a cold, icy morning in February. It took her five minutes to open her purse because her fingers were frozen solid in hues of blue. The screen of her cellphone was cracked, which was typical. She never had a phone that lasted more than a year, which was why cellphone companies loved her. They were always turning into vagabonds – running away from her no matter how hard she tried to hold on to them. Somewhere in the abyss of her apartment was a black hole that held all her lost things – 70% of which were old cellphones, that held inside them – text messages and forgotten narratives of old friends.
But today, Kama awoke – curled up in a park bench in downtown Toronto, her short skirt exposing her bare legs wrapped in fishnet stockings. Oasis was definitely packed the night before, and the last thing she remembered was ordering her fifth Long Island Iced Tea as a cute boy with blonde curls leaned in close to whisper, “Let’s go to the red room”. It was a manic blur after that, an elevated sense of being in which she was no longer a part of – slowly actions took over in which she had no say, words spilled out of a mouth that used to be hers.
The first thing thing that springs into Kama’s mind – even when she wakes in her own bed and not strange places – unfamiliar ceilings that began to multiply in number within the last months – is: You are you. You are still here. Her own personal declaration to a mind that was slowly but surely, betraying her. Kama had wanted to play it down – even though she wanted to ask more times just to make sure, she only asked once – once at a fetish party, as her boyfriend clasped the collar he had bought for her tightly around her neck, she gathered all her strength to ask: “Am I still me? Is this what’s happening now? Is this who I’ve become?”
He turned her around, smiled and said, “It looks great on you! Do you want a picture?” So she smiled as he took her picture.
Because what she was certain of, the thought marked on her face, forever immortalized by the picture he took, one Saturday evening, was that sometime in December, in the midst of an ice storm that rendered half the city without power, hundreds of homes immersed in darkness, shut all the way back to the Stone Age, a parasite born from the cold had crawled inside her ear and nestled in her brain. Feeding on her creativity and passion, it began to multiply, slowly making its way inside her body, through her veins, controlling her in every way possible: her mouth would talk for her, her hands would reach for her, her brain would think for her.
Kama was certain that there was something inside her mind that she could not take out. It was a physical entity – it had to be, because it having form meant it could be removed, she could be cured. Someone can open her brain, scoop the parasite out, put it in a jar so that it could be studied and just like that – she could be normal. She could have control over her mind and she could become certain once again that her decision were hers, because her mind could be trusted, was capable and empowered. It had to be something equally unbelievable as an alien parasite – because what’s science fiction is admitting to herself that her life’s achievements and decisions were the result of her own mental incapacity – was what’s ridiculous, was what’s truly unbelievable.
Kama finally managed to turn her phone on to look for the time. 7:36 AM. She began to ready herself for the long walk home. It had been such a long time since she slept. She hoped she had more than three hours sleep last night although she can never be sure. It didn’t feel like she just woke up. It didn’t feel like she ever slept. The parasite slept for her. It ate for her. It lived for her.
That lent her a touch of invincibility – having no power over anything that happened to her body and mind. All she could do was gaze from eyes that were once hers, and scream silently to anyone who would listen: “Am I still me?
Is this what’s happening now?
Is this who I’ve become?