A lot happened there, in that house. I mean, a lot was revealed. About Isabella and her mental condition. About Isabella and her love of alcohol. Forgive me for not building this up with careful foreshadowing and well-timed reveals. It would have been a more interesting read, I suppose. But it’s not.
One thing I need to relate, though, is the first room on Isabella’s cleaning list was the bathroom. She gathered cleaning supplies and asked me to handle the toilet. Almost breaking into tears, she excused herself to her (our) bedroom. I called through the door just to check on her. She said she was okay, so I thought it best not to press on the subject. After making the toilet presentable, I started in on the tub. Isabella came back. At first, she boxed and organized all the soaps and other bathroom essentials. Then she really got to work on the sink. She didn’t say much, but when she had to ask me to make room because I was in her way, I noticed a southern drawl in her voice.
Concerned, I asked, “Are you alright?”
“Why, of course darlin’. You must be David. My name’s Alice.”
“I’ve heard nothin’ but good things ‘bout you, David. Happy to meet your acquaintance. I’m sorry. It must be terribly disorientin’ for you to hear me speakin’ outta Bella’s mouth. How do I look?”
That’s how I met Alice. Turned out, when Alice looked at herself in the bathroom mirror, she saw a pretty 5’7” redhead. Isabella was 5’10” and a brunette. A caretaker personality, Alice helped fill me in on some of Isabella’s history. She didn’t stay long after finishing the sink, but said she’d return. Then she did a kind of double-take with her eyes and pressed a hand to the bathroom wall.
Suddenly, Isabella was back. Clearly shaken, she darted into the bedroom once more.
I followed cautiously and spoke with her at length about what happened. I carefully explained what I’d just witnessed. Giving her plenty of time and space to sort through her divergent realities, I mapped out my experience of things as best I could.
There was more than just one other consciousness in Isabella’s head. Later, we’d learn Isabella suffered from DID - Dissociative Identity Disorder (what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder). This meant certain alternate personalities (“alters” for short) would step in at any given moment to protect her core personality from potentially traumatic events and/or thoughts. Usually. Unfortunately, not all her alters were interested in Isabella’s welfare. Also, whenever her awareness switched over, Isabella wound up with holes in her memory. She called these perceptual blackouts “lost time”. These holes in her memory lasted anywhere from fifteen minutes to several hours, although sometimes a particular hole might last up to a few days or more.
Bella was Isabella’s core. The “innocent” one, so to speak. The one who thought the world might actually be an okay enough place despite itself. Isabella, on the outside, was feisty. Bella, on the inside, had too much to lose. Together, they were closely intertwined. They blurred into each other and shared most memories equally. While Isabella and Bella were facets of one central core, the other personalities I interacted with were manifold not only in name, but in essence as well. Here’s a short list, loosely ordered chronologically according to when I learned their names:
1. Alice (alter)
2. Isabel (spirit ancestor)
3. Vivienne (past incarnation)
4. Courtney (lost soul)
5. Heather (alter)
6. Chelsea (alter)
7. Brad (lost soul)
8. Catherine (alter)
Alice I’ve already described. Isabel was a German witch from Isabella’s matriarchal family line, going back seven generations. Vivienne was a flapper from San Francisco (roaring ‘20s and all that). Courtney was a runaway teenager. Heather was a man-hating drinker who liked to scrap. Chelsea was a timid little girl fearful of family abuse. Brad was a young black man who promised to help me keep Chelsea safe. And Catherine was a vindictive Trojan Horse of a personality. More on her later. Much later.
All of this was as exciting as it was frightening. But, if you understand anything I wrote in IB3: My Truest Fiction, then you should have a semi-decent notion regarding my level of preparedness when it comes to navigating the weird and unknown. In fact, I kinda almost get off on it. Kinda. Almost.