I woke up the next morning in a panic. My body was hot; my clothes were drenched with sweat. My head pounded in time with my heart. The sunlight spilling in from my windows seemed too bright for my eyes and surprisingly intimidating.
Everything felt wrong. I wanted to get away from my bed and I never wanted to leave it. Begrudgingly I swung my feet out from under the covers and stood. Everything in my vision shifted and my stomach flipped. I groaned and tried to steady myself.
Shower. The word emerged despite the fog in my mind. Maybe the hot water will help.
After I finished showering I felt a little better, but still wildly uneasy and a little unsure of the world around me. I dressed slowly, not at all looking forward to breakfast with my family. I didn’t really want to face anyone. I thought about skipping school, perhaps giving the excuse that I was ill, but I wasn’t certain the excuse would work and wasn’t confident enough to try it.
At least I was safe, I told myself. At least I didn’t have to walk home. At least my breakfast wouldn’t be cold this morning. At least I wouldn’t have to rush to school.
I kept repeating these thoughts in my head until the mental clouding cleared. I stretched my arms out and took a deep breath. This is for the best.
I felt like I was fighting a battle between rationality and…something else, something mysterious and just beyond my grasp. I wanted to be safe, be normal, and give my family peace of mind, but I felt snagged by a lure with something reeling me in.
The struggle in my head caused it to ache. I didn’t want to think about it anymore. I pushed everything out of my thoughts and headed downstairs.
Breakfast was already on the table waiting for me. I slid into my seat and willed myself to become invisible so that I could avoid the complicated conversation I felt was hovering around me, waiting to attack. Vanilla was chatting with my mother while my father read the paper. Thinking I may actually go unnoticed, I began to pick at the food on my plate while doing my best to avoid everyone.
Unfortunately, my reprieve from socialization only lasted about two bites into my breakfast before Vanilla quieted down and my mother turned to address me.
“Wysper, I see you’ve woken up in your bed this morning!” My mother said, grinning. “How did you sleep?”
A small part of me didn’t know how to answer, but I wasn’t really comfortable lying to my family. After taking longer than the required amount of waffle chewing time, I spoke.
“Not that well, actually.”
“Oh?” I could hear my mother’s voice become concerned.
“I had a nightmare.” I explained. “I also didn’t feel well when I woke up. I think there might be some side effects..”
“Nothing you can’t get used to, I’m sure.” My mother replied.
I sighed. I could feel tears welling up inside my throat and I wasn’t sure why. Everything felt so strange. Of course I could get used to medication side effects. Lots of Sims did- and yet, the thought of doing so upset something deep within me.
“You are going to continue taking your medication, right?” My mother’s voice seemed so far away suddenly. I felt trapped within a spiral of emotions and unable to pull myself out.
“Wysper?” I put all of my focus into hearing my mother speak. I took a deep breath and smelled the food still left on the table. I pressed my feet into the floor and felt how hard it was. I felt the air against my skin. I could still taste waffles on my tongue.
Slowly, I brought myself back.
“Wysper?” My mother questioned again. “Wysper, surely you’re going to take them?”
“I don’t want to.” I surprised myself when I spoke. It felt like my mouth was running on auto pilot for a moment.
My mother’s nostrils flared in anger. “Wysper Cream Treat, you are jeopardizing your safety by this..this.. medication noncompliance of yours!”
I winced. “I know, but-”
My mother continued, her anger breaking into her voice. “We care so much. We want to help you. We don’t understand what you’re going through, but you are just so unwilling to try and fix things.”
“I want to fix things.” I said meekly. “It’s just, there’s-”
“You are just perfectly comfortable sitting around and letting whatever is causing your episodes to overtake both you and this family. What are we supposed to do, Wysper? You’re going to be a young adult in the blink of an eye. Out on your own, where we can’t protect you.”
I felt myself sinking lower in my chair. “I don’t want to worry anyone.”
“Well you are!” This time, the outburst came from Vanilla. “I’m worried, mother is worried, Crème and dad are worried. What the berry bobs has gotten into your thick head that is making you not take those plumbobing pills?!”
“Enough!” My dad shouted, causing me to jump.
“Whip-” my mother began.
“Make her take the medication, please you have-” Vanilla started at the same time.
“Quiet!” My dad interrupted them both.
A few moments passed in a silence so thick that it was hard to breath. Finally, my father sighed deeply and spoke.
“She doesn’t have to take them.”
“What!?” Vanilla and my mother gave the same, startled response.
“She doesn’t have to take them, and there will be no more discussion about this.” After speaking, my father stood from the table and walked away, leaving us in stunned silence.
Suddenly, I wasn’t hungry anymore. I pushed my unfinished food away and stood from the table without excusing myself. I felt emotionally exhausted, like I was a car trying to run on empty.
I started to walk. I wasn’t sure where I was going; my feet moved by themselves. I felt numb to everything around me. My body physically ached and my thoughts were mute.
Before I knew it, I found myself in my father’s study. He was seated at his desk, typing away on his computer. He looked up briefly to acknowledge me and then went back to his work.
I stood around for a few moments, not quite knowing what to do. I wasn’t sure why I was there, but knew there was some reason. I studied my father at work for a minute or so. He didn’t look angry. He looked tired- almost as tired as I felt, and older than I’ve ever seen him.
“You’re going to be late for school.” My father said, breaking the silence.
I walked slowly to his desk and sat in front of him. “Why did you say I didn’t have to take the medication?”
My father sighed. “Wysper, you’re going to be a young adult soon. Sooner than I’d like, I’ll admit. After you transition, we won’t be there to keep you on your medication or inside the house. Aside from your sleeping habits, you are an otherwise bright and logical young lady capable of making decisions for herself. I want you to take your medication and be safe, but I can’t make you. I can only help support you to make the right decisions for yourself. I trust you to know your body. I’m honestly not sure what is the lesser of the two evils here, the side effects or the disease, but it’s not up to me to decide that.”
“But what if I sleep walk and remain safe? I haven’t woken up in any dangerous places yet… I doubt it will happen in the future. What if..the disease…is not as bad as we think it is?”
“I don’t know that, Wysper. I can’t be sure.” My father sighed again. “Every rose has it’s thorns, sweetheart.”
I suddenly felt very uneasy again. This time, it was at the thought that perhaps there was something sinister in my enchanted garden. I knew the sleepwalking in itself was probably not the safest thing, but I never considered the darker aspects of the dreams. Last night I felt trapped in an empty, soulless shell surrounded by darkness. Was that the medication, or the same force behind all the pleasant dreams before that?
I stood quickly. “Don’t worry, dad. I’ll take the pills.”
I watched my father’s face light up with a smile. “Thank you, Wysper.”
The ‘side effects’ didn’t fade with time, but they became routine for me. I ached, I felt exhausted and depressed, but each day I reminded myself that it was for the best.
Days passed without much event. I continued to wake up in my bed. Vanilla went off to University. Dad was re-elected, mother was featured in Berry Homes and Gardens.
The day of my transition into young adult felt no different than my other transitions. The party was smaller, with both Crème and Vanilla being away, but the occasion didn’t feel any less significant. My mother baked the cake and spared no expense in using fine ingredients even though there were less sims around to eat it.
“Make a wish!” My mother said. “And make it count!”
At first, I wasn’t sure what to wish for, but then the idea came over me in a burst of radiant warmth.
‘I wish to see my garden one last time.’ I thought to myself. ‘I wish to be able to explore the vivid landscape and wake up in a safe place. The safe place is really important. I don’t want Mom or Dad to worry. I don’t mind giving all of this up if it’s truly for the best, but let me see it one last time…’
I took a deep breath and blew out the candles while my parents cheered. After the party, I went upstairs and got ready for bed. I skipped my usual medication dose and sent a silent prayer up to the Watcher that I wouldn’t regret it.
I crawled into bed and waited for sleep to come, unsure of what would come with it.