Forgiveness: Can You Imagine

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It’s a bright morning, the sun shining like a luminous beacon in the sky. Although it’s fairly early, the streets are already alive with the hustle and bustle of people. A young woman walks towards a quaint coffee shop.

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Her name is Kierra. She stands in line, waiting to order her latte with a shot of kindness- you can never go wrong with kindness. A slight buzz attracts her attention. They are waking up. They are her imaginary friends, inside her head. Or so she thinks. They are not just imaginary friends, they are so much more. They are extensions of herself. You see, Kierra has dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder. A repeated trauma during someone’s childhood can cause them to develop alters, or multiple personalities aimed to protect the child. They are like conscious thoughts in one’s mind. However, they each have their own distinct voice. It’s quite fascinating. As the alters wake up, one particular voice rises above everyone else. It’s deep and masculine, but not the voice of a full-grown adult male. This is Cadman. He’s fifteen years old, and perhaps, in a different world, in a different time, he would be a general- commanding, logical, ambitious. Inside Kierra’s head, he pesters her to order an Americano, like he usually does. When she finally does get to order, she gets a latte with three shots of kindness- just to spite him. She walks back to her apartment on the cobblestone streets of Paris. She walks past a group of three people, who, at first, look like regular citizens, but upon closer inspection, they are all wearing mirrored sunglasses and the same pendant, of a sun and two crossed swords, around their necks. Of course, Kierra pays no attention to them, assuming that they’re just citizens or tourists- albeit a bit strange. However, all three of them turn around simultaneously, staring at her retreating figure almost creepily. They glance at each other, the sunlight reflecting off their sunglasses.

In her apartment, Kierra gets ready to work when she notices a shriveled little paw lying on the kitchen counter. She has had this for awhile, but never knew where it came from, and neither do the alters. She has gaps in her memories, things she cannot remember. The alters keep a lot of her brutal memories away from her so that she is not hurt or traumatized even further. Her memories are like one, giant puzzle with a bunch of missing pieces; pieces that the alters have. Last week, she took the paw to a magic shop and the owner told her that it had once belonged to a powerful fakir and supposedly granted three wishes to whoever possessed it. As Kierra reaches for a glass of water, she suddenly feels her vision getting blurry, and she enters a state of unconsciousness. When this happens, it means that an alter has taken control of her body- but she doesn’t know it. Now, Kierra is Cadman- in Kierra’s body. The alters have been planning this for awhile. They want to test the necklace. If it truly works, they can be given more resources to protect Kierra. Cadman- well, Cadman in Kierra’s body, but Cadman all the same- reaches over and grabs the paw.

I wish for more magic power so I can protect Kierra, Cadman speaks in an authoritative voice. The paw glows faintly, and it wiggles in Cadman’s palm. Startled, he drops it but then places it back on the counter and allows Kierra to take control of her body again. As Kierra comes back in her own state of mind, and her body, she feels a strange sensation. Normally, she feels fine after one of these episodes, just a little confused. However, this time is different. Her ears are ringing and she feels dizzy, faint, and weak. She can barely stand, and has to lean on the counter for support. What is going on? I don’t remember being this weak. Above the ringing, she can vaguely make out two voices shouting in her head: one is Cadman, and the other is a young female voice with a British accent. This is Athena. She’s quite young, only ten, but a prodigy with a genius mind to rival Albert Einstein himself.

Are you crazy? Look what you just did! she says. She’s drained of her energy and power!

Well, I didn’t know! Cadman fires back. At least I have more power now!

Ugh. We have to fix this. Quickly, Athena takes over Kierra’s body and wishes on the necklace.

I want to have more knowledge.

What?! How is that going to fix our problem?!

We will know how to fix it! Kierra regains control, but still feels faint- and very, very confused. For some reason, she feels as if she cannot comprehend anything. 2 plus 2 is wait. What? Why can’t I remember? It’s just simple math! Why can’t I remember anything? Why am I so weak? Why?

What is going on?! she shouts frustratingly to an empty apartment. The birds that have perched on her window scatter into the breeze.

Wow, our problem is solved, Cadman quips sarcastically. Now she cannot think straight!

Shut up! I make mistakes sometimes! Athena says. I’ll just wish to revert our wishe- Unbeknownst to them, Kierra grabs the paw and makes a wish.

I wish I knew what was going on! she shouts.

Uh oh. Cadman glances at Athena.

Well, I guess there’s no hiding anything from her anymore. The paw wriggles and memories swirl around Kierra. It is like watching a movie- except it is a movie of her life.

A woman sitting with a little girl at a piano, her fingers dancing across the ivory keys while sunlight filters in through the window.

A man standing with a little girl, blowing bubbles in a beautiful garden with bright roses and fresh green grass.

A dark night. Screaming, blood, and a group of strange people with black masks and pendants of a sun and two crossed swords. A shriveled little paw, hung on a chain, pressed into a small hand.

A woman’s breathy voice: Keep it with you, always. We love you, my dar-

Good. You’ve captured their daughter, I see. A cruel man’s face, with gleaming red eyes.

A sharp, stinging pain. A whip, chains, blood on a cold grey wall.

Stop! Please! It hurts! More blood. Blurry eyesight, tears dripping onto stone.

Cadman, you’ll always protect me, right? Like a big brother?

Of course. I am very powerful, and you’ll be safe.

Kierra jerks back to the present, feeling even dizzier than before. The voices in her head have gone silent. Her face is as white as a ghost. Athena speaks up.

Sorry for keeping you from all this, but it was for your own good. Kierra doesn’t say anything. Let me explain. You have dissociative identity disorder and we’re your alters. That was all Kierra needed to hear. Her friend had taken a psychology course in high school, and told her about this rare occurrence. As she is trying to take it all in, a sudden explosion startles her- and the alters in her head.

Three people, heavily armed, stand in the remains of what used to be Kierra’s front door. Wreathed in dust and smoke, they wear reflective sunglasses, and pendants on their necks.

We’ve found you. That magic signature is very distinct. Kierra and the alters recognize the pendants on their necks: a sun with two crossed swords. Fear claws its way up into their minds, smoky, inky, and dark. Kierra’s thudding heartbeat increases, echoing in her ears. Thump. Thump. Thump.

No! Cadman screams. Kierra, let me take over! I have extensive military skill and black belts in five different martial arts!

Kierra, I can help you devise a strategy! Athena says, the gears of her mind already turning. The guy on the left seems to have a smaller stature than the rest, which means that he-

No, don’t worry. Kierra cuts through both of them. She walks up to the three figures calmly.

Kierra, what are you doing?! Cadman yells. They’re going to kill you! They hurt you!

Good, now come to us like a good girl. No more escaping. We’ll take you and the paw back. The catacombs are waiting, the one in the middle says. Kierra smiles at them, sweet and charming.

It doesn’t have to be this way, you know. I know that inside, you’re good! Everyone deserves to have a second chance. She holds out her hand, as an olive branch, a peace offering. All three pause for just a second, gazing at Kierra behind their mirrored sunglasses.

It happens in a flash. The alters cannot do anything about it. Sunglasses reflect Kierra’s limp form, a sword impaled through her stomach. The alters whisper their last word: forgiveness.

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