Our narrator, Sarah, talks of her surroundings and eventually finds she is in a peculiar situation.
“You need to wake up, Sarah.” She thought it odd his partner had the same name as her but she listened in regardless. He let out a heavy sigh into the phone and responded to her, "yes, I understand. I know the risks and I think we can handle it." This man, James, and his partner, Sarah, have hit a rough patch financially. The two of them have just agreed to drop their health insurance plan to open up some space in their pocketbooks. Poor couple, she thought, hopefully things work out for them all right. “Yeah, I’m on my way, see you soon.” James stands up from his window-side table and walks out of the café defeated. He doesn’t return her wave but that could be because he doesn’t know her.
This small café outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is her second home. In fact, she should probably make it her first home since she can’t really remember her current first one. When people tell Sarah to go to her “happy place” this café is where she ends up. It’s a great place for an introverted extrovert like her. There are plenty of windows lined across the north and east walls. Those two walls converge to the northeast to form the main door. Sarah always liked this design choice as she thought it looked like a bird spreading its wings. The bar takes the majority of the western wall with those fancy, modern bar stools all lined up parallel to the bar. The southern wall features the all-important bathrooms that she hasn’t ever needed to use, so she couldn't tell you what the inside of those looks like. The inside of the café, however, features a soothing blend of dark greens, dark reds, and wooden browns similar to Central Perk from Friends.
Lucille, the owner of the café, is a nice woman that some say could be a sister of Sarah’s. She bears a resemblance to her but she thinks Lucille is prettier than her. Sarah wouldn’t want her to know that because Lucille is rather narcissistic and Sarah wouldn’t be surprised to find her stuck looking at herself in a mirror like that Greek guy. Lucille is always nice to her and knows her usual order by heart though, so she doesn’t really mind. Sarah’s been here enough that she has even staked out my own table and fresh coffee is usually waiting there for her when she arrives. Sarah sits at her table practically daily to just observe the people in the small building in the big city. Nothing really bothers her when she’s “in her zone” but she isn’t impervious to distractions.
“You have a real problem.” She hears from an out-of-state and out-of-place New Yorker named Benny mutter to his friend. Her ears tune out some of his conversation but they tune back in to catch the final few words, “if you can’t, then you’ll be forced to take your medicine,” he threatens as he pats his waist with his hand, showing who she can only assume now is not his friend that Benny is packing heat. It doesn’t bother her too much. She knows Benny. He's a nice guy although he always acted suspiciously when she tries to talk to him.
Benny silenced the person across the table from him in time for Sarah to catch the tail end of a conversation between Julie and her daughter, “Mommy, I don’t feel good here, when can we go home?” Julie tried to simultaneously sooth and shut her daughter up. Don’t get her wrong, Julie is a great mother and even if she is single, struggling and has turned to sex work as of late, she still loves her daughter. Her daughter’s name is Sarah too and grown-up Sarah has always wondered if every other girl is named Sarah. Little Sarah, as grown-up Sarah has come to call her, tugs at her mother’s sleeve and pleads with her to leave. Julie reaches to take her coffee from Lucille and tells Lucille to keep the change. Sarah catches Julie’s eye as she’s turning away and she smile and wave. Julie, on the other hand, twists her face into a confused grimace and leaves. Like James, Sarah doesn’t think she knows her.
Julie shoves herself past Shaydon as he tries to enter the establishment. He turns and looks at her like he’s above her like he dies with most people. Turning his head around and reaching for his wallet, his eyes catch Sarah’s. His dark brown eyes have a nice, mischievous sparkle to them. He smiles at her seductively before looking back towards to bar. The coffee in front of her continues to cool as she blinks herself out of a trance. She knows his game, she has seen it before. Shaydon has been married for 16 years to a kind-hearted, very naive woman. For 13 of those 16, Shaydon has been cheating on her with any woman he finds attractive, any woman he thinks he can get, and any woman he doesn’t know. His poor wife is, has been, and will be clueless.
Shaydon has a way about him with his black suits, Rolexes, fancy shoes, model physique and…Sarah trails off in thought as she daydreams about him. She snaps out of her makeshift trance as she watches Lucille take his order while trying to prevent herself from swooning. Shaydon rests his back on the bar and eyes the room before landing those chocolate kiss eyes on Sarah again. Lucille, stumbling through her words, hands him his order, and he walks Sarah’s way. Sarah's mind switches into a teenage-fangirl-panic mode. “My way! Oh no, what do I do? Is this happening? How do I look? Will he –“ he reaches for his screaming phone and puts it to his ear, “Yes, it’s on the table next to the…you can’t grab it yourself? Okay fine, I’ll do it but next time you need to not rely on me, she needs her medicine.” He hangs up the phone and winks at her, which allows her to finally exhale.
Sarah has seen him in here so many times, picking up women, leaving with them, and never seeing them again. She loathes him and wants him so bad. Weird feeling, isn’t it? She knows what her friends would think if she left this café with him if she slept with him. “But isn’t my happiness important to them?” Sarah wonders aloud but quietly to herself, “They wouldn’t judge me if they thought so. I guess I can’t make them all happy.”
There’s a loud, high pitched noise from outside the café; it sounds like a car hitting something and screeching to a halt. The patrons scurry to their nearest window to witness what Sarah thinks is an accident. She just stays where she’s seated. “No need to panic, the MPD will take care of it.” The police have always been reliable, if not a little sketchy at times. Sarah thinks she hears a familiar name come from someone’s lips. The name echoes off the soft walls of the café in whispers, “Shaydon.” Sarah forgets her own words from mere seconds ago, “what? Shaydon? He was just in here. Was he what was hit?” Her mind loses itself as she physically freezes at her table.
“The Minneapolis Police Department will fix it, the MPD will fix it,” she silently chants to herself. Ritualistic in its tone, the five words roll out of her mouth without her consent now. Sarah’s heart races to try to catch up with her breathing. The words start to slur and blend together in different ways, “Fix it, MPD. The fix will MPD.” Police sirens pierce the words but cannot stop them. They can never stop them. She wonders in her head, “why can’t I stop myself?” The words continue to pour through her lips, “will it fix the MPD?” Who was she asking? Was it even a coherent sentence? “Fix the MPD, fix the MPD, fix the MPD.” She pleads now with whoever or whatever she thinks she’s talking to. “MPD, MPD, MPD.”
Chaos starts to ensue as those three letters ring through her brain and fall out of her mouth. She looks around the room and notices colors blending together and sounds visually pixelating and blurring. Looking at the bathroom door, Sarah sees it open. A man walks out. This man seems invulnerable to the twisting and blurring sounds and colors. His white lab coat glows in a brilliant outline. His footsteps are silent yet relaxing and unnerving. His voice breaks the sound of mine and the sirens and the chaos, “you’re scared, I know that. Here,” the man with the soothing voice says as he holds a paper cup inches from Sarah’s face, “this will fix the MPD.” She cautiously takes it. These won’t fix anything. They only numb the pain.
"Well, we got her to take the medicine but she still seems trapped in her mind," the doctor says harshly, "whoever told Sarah that her ‘happy place' was the place to go all the time obviously forgot about reality." He was frustrated. The doctors have worked closely with Sarah for some time now, and whenever they seem to have made progress, Sarah starts chanting about her multiple personality disorder and falls back into her spell. She's a unique case, so the doctors say. Sarah is fully capable of carrying on full-length conversations without realizing what she's doing. After getting hit by a car, she developed a strange disorder that resembles that of multiple personalities.
Unfortunately for them, Sarah seems to be too far gone, “we don’t know what else to do, doc. She’s been here six years and we have taken one step forward and two steps back for years.” The doctor looks away from Sarah and out the window as his nurse turns to Sarah, “how does that feel?” She didn’t expect an answer but it was worth a shot. Maybe someone in her brain will hear her voice and register it. “We have tried explaining to her that she has a problem, we have tried threatening her with medication, we have tried everything under God’s glowing sun.”
"Still, she talks of these characters or people: Shaydon, Lucille, and whomever else." The doctor grinds his teeth but soon exhales with a newfound sense of hopefulness. “Where do you think her mind takes her, nurse?”
“Why, I’m not quite sure. Wherever it is, it must be better than some hospital.”
“I’ve wondered for years where she goes, why she talks to herself, how she can manufacture voices that aren’t her own. I just don’t understand. “
The nurse clutches at a crucifix necklace around her neck and hesitates, “maybe she’s possessed?” She wished more anything that wasn’t true.
“Oh, save it for the birds, nurse.”