Elizabeth hears voices, believes she alone can reunite North and South Korea, and goes through three packs of cigarettes per day. She wants to stop smoking.
“Buddha never smoked and that’s how he got enlightened,” she says.
Tobacco stains adorn her arthritic fingers. She has worn her hair in a bun every day for the past twenty years.
“If I don’t tie it back, people pluck hairs out for their instruments,” she says.
The band of gold is still on her finger, though it is now loose. It wobbles when she moves her left hand.
“Hi, Dr. Sold,” she says. Dr. Seld, accustomed to these variations, waves at her and smiles.
She’s so cute despite her psychotic symptoms, she thinks. Or is it her psychotic symptoms that make her cute?
“Do you have a husband?” Elizabth blurts.
Dr. Seld quickly weighs a few options: I can tell her the truth and consider this a boundary crossing. I can ask her why she is asking me this. I can tell her I’d prefer not to say.
Elizabeth once taught children how to play the viola. She lost her teaching skills when the voices constantly told her that the children were playing music of the devil. She lost her musical talent when she developed tremors and stiffness from the medications that were never that helpful. She lost her husband when the voices insisted that she never knew him, that he was never her husband.
If Dr. Seld asks why Elizabeth wants to know if she is married, she thinks it would likely lead to an unproductive conversation. After taking a breath, Dr. Seld says, “Yes.”
Elizabeth smiles, her eyes sad, and clasps her hands. “You’re lucky,” she says.