Author's Note: If this chapter seems rushed, well it was. I had written it awhile back and because I thought I was going to add a chapter before this, I did not post it. Anyways enjoy.
Chapter: 14: The Ripples.
Over the next couple of weeks Joan's sessions with Dr. Dan were tense. She played it off as the result of the incident with her Parents and his belief that she had been a lesbian. It was during one session she confided in Dr. Dan about her darkest secret.
"I haven't been completely honest." Joan said, squirming on the couch.
"That's alright," Dr. Dan's voice was quiet, full of resentment. "I wouldn't want to force anything out of you, I want you to feel comfortable about this."
"Those people I claimed to see..." Joan paused, "they came to me as God." Ever since that day she regained her memories, she had been struggling with them. When she first came to Gentle Acres she had been convinced that they were mere hallucinations brought on by the Lyme Disease. She hadn't seen them since then, or so she thought. Now that she knew the secret, she saw them everywhere. She feared that she had relapsed somehow.
"God?" Dr. Dan said, whatever was bothering him was gone.
"He, well sometimes he was a she, would come in different guises." Joan said, "sometimes he was a Chess Master, a garbage man, old lady, a goth kid," Joan stopped and sat up. "He would ask me to do things jobs for him. I guess you could call them 'missions.'"
"What made you do these missions?" Dr. Dan asked scribbling fiercely on his legal pad.
"You can't really turn down God, can you?" said Joan thoughtfully. "Well he told me I could. He told me I had Free Will and could back down at any time."
"Have you ever... not obeyed?" Dr. Dan asked. "Did he threaten you?" Joan thought back and sifted through the memories that had once been so fogged.
"No. He didn't punish me. But if I did what he asked, there were good ripples." Joan suddenly wished she had just kept her secret a secret.
"This is the result of the Lyme Disease, which made you see things that weren't there. This resulted in a break from reality. You then transfered all of your anxiety onto the hallucination and invest in your fractured perception." He explained this all to calmly for Joan's liking. But it made sense. They continued to discuss what her missions from God involved. Each time he would point out that the odds of anything actually bad happening were slim to none. It was true, Desolation had not ended.
That day at Crafts, just like she had been doing since day one, she built another Lamp. She focused all of her confusion into this one. The end result was a Lamp made out of a plastic milk jug wrapped in old shagged carpet. Thin metal rods stuck out of the bottom as if they were insect Legs. After finishing, she found Ascension on the table. It was the only real link between Joan and Adam. They shared letters from time to time, when Joan wasn't sick of talking about herself. But the letters felt impersonal. Joan wanted to be close to him, to feel his warmth wrap around her. The letters didn't do that, but the small statue of Ascension did. She still longed and ached for Adam, but holding the statue in her hands was enough.
"You seem to have fallen in love with that," Mr. Patterson said, startling Joan. She had often wondered how such a large fellow could get around so quietly.
"No with it, but with him," Joan mumbled. It took her a second to realize she had spoken it and blushed.
"You know Adam?" Mr. Patterson asked. He was either oblivious to Joan's emotions, or didn't care.
"He goes to my High School back in Arcadia." Joan said as her finger traced his initials.
"I have kept in contact with Adam over the years," Mr. Patterson said thoughtfully, "he told me had a girlfriend, but her name was Jane." Joan squirmed as she heard her nickname, she hated when other people used it. To her it was a special connection between them and only them.
"When we first met he couldn't exactly remember my name." said Joan remembering how it used to frustrate her, "it became his pet name for me."
"Adam was always an interesting fellow," Mr. Patterson said and laughed. "I am pretty sure he thought this was some sort of Art Camp when he was here. I heard when he was in sessions that he would only talk about his art." It may have puzzled Mr. Patterson, but it made perfect sense to Joan. Adam expressed his feelings through his work. He was hard pressed to articulate what he meant verbally or even written. But give him what you may think is Junk and he will be able to express all his feelings flawlessly. They exchanged a few stories about Adam, mostly Joan shared. She loved being able to talk to someone who actually knew Adam.
That night, when she thought Judith and Darlene had gone to sleep, she allowed her sorrow to engulf her. She was sobbing loudly, and she was scared they would hear her. But it was to late, she had opened the floodgates. The top bunk shook, startling Joan. She tried to dry her cheeks and attempted to stop her uncontrollable sobbing. She failed.
"JoJo?" Judith said sleepily.
"yeah?" Joan said trying to sound in control, happy. Anything then sad. Judith slowly climbed out of bed. As she stood over Joan, she could see that something was causing her real pain.
"You weren't..." Judith began remembering the first few nights. Joan shook her head and Judith sighed in relief.
"Well whats wrong." Judith gently nudged Joan over. She slowly climbed into bed with her.
"I don't know whats real anymore." Joan confided. She wondered if she should tell her about God. She shook her head. No, then who would be her friend here? Darlene?
"How do we know any of this is real?" Judith asked philosophically. "Perhaps this is a nightmare of some creature." Joan couldn't help but laugh.
"Well then how do I know if what's part of this creatures nightmare and what shouldn't be." Joan prompted. Judith laid there in silence, mulling over the question.
"Do you believe in god?" Judith asked. Joan froze, what kind of question was that? She let out a bewildered laugh. "For along time I didn't believe in God. Not a God that cared about me at least. When I was... well you know. It only proved it. But I wonder. Maybe God had sent you to talk me out of it?" Judith turned on her side, and in the dark their eyes met. "How else could you explain how you found me?" Joan thought back and she couldn't find a plausible reason. A few days after the Thunderstorm Joan looked for the place on an old map. The creek had been over four miles away. More importantly, it wasn't just directly south of Gentle Acres. It was more to the southwest. Other then dumb luck, there was no way she could have found Judith.
"What does God have to do with me not knowing whats real." said Joan, wishing she could break the eye contact.
"Do you think what you see is real?" Judith asked, "or do you think its just hallucinations?"
"I have this feeling that it's real... but" Joan started crying again. Judith wrapped her arms around Joan. They laid there through out the night.
This happened several times throughout the rest of her stay at Gentle Acres. Joan struggled with her feelings on whether or not God was real. At times she accepted that God was real and other times she believed Dr. Dan's belief that she was suffering from impaired perception. The Lamps she had been created had taken on a symbolic meaning towards Joan. It was her attempt at trying to find the Light, to reveal the truth.
The days dwindled by and soon the inevitable came. Joanith stood at the parking lot. Parents were arriving to take back their unruly or mentally unstable children. Joan's parents arrived first. Joan tried to persuade her parents to wait until Judith's arrived. Judith simply explained that they were busy psychiatrists and stuff and insisted that she would be fine. They gave each other one last heartfelt hug, and much to Joan's displeasure she could hear her mother aww. They exchanged email addresses and phone numbers and promised that they would keep in touch. They both shared a quick glance, and they knew that somehow their connection would bring them back together. What they shared was one of God's most beautiful gifts at work.
She was sitting in the Park. School would be starting soon, and her mind wandered over what to expect for the year to come. She was wearing a white dress with faded flower design. She had only worn it once. It had been a gift from her father, someone who rarely understood fashion. But for some reason, she was wearing it.
She felt something was wrong within her, something had broke. Perhaps it had been the break from Judith? But as she looked around the park she knew what it was. Each person she saw, a part of her wondered if he or she were God. Another part scolded her for this. God didn't exist, another part of her would whisper. She was at war with herself. Her spirit vs the mind. Each time she saw a new person, her gut would sink and fear would rise. She wanted to cry out, but feared she might only further the idea that she was 'crazy.'
She then heard a familiar voice. A voice she had longed to hear since she had left for Gentle Acres.
Author's Note2: I can't believe the story is over. I may come back to this chapter and rewrite the ending. Right now the story in my mind is finished. I tried adding another chapter, and I couldn't get into it. I take it as a sign that the story is finished. Now I know I have probably left some loose ends. If you PM me I could explain them. Anyways thanks for reading. Now a little update on my next JoA fanfic. The Mourning Grace. I have been writing it. In fact I maybe up to four chapters. I just need to type it up, right now its in a notebook written in terrible handwriting. I should have the first chapter up on monday sometime. The Mourning Grace is going to be my first in a series of stories taking place after the season finale of JoA. Some of them will deal directly with Ryan Hunter, others are going to be indirectly while others are going to have nothing to do with him. This idea was inspired by CharlesTheBold's own series of stories. And if you haven't read his JoA stories, you should probably do that while I type up The Mourning Grace ;)