Introducing the lovable and oh-so-wacky cast of characters:
THE HOST (Personality): Lola Murray – Age 51, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. Hospitalized 30 years at Tillman Hospital for Mental Wellness. Desperately seeks to find out who she is.
ALTER (Personality) ONE: Maria – Age 46, mother figure to the other alters. Hopes to keep “the family” together. Strives for peace and organization among the alters, halters and Host.
ALTER TWO: Tim – Age 40, father figure to the other alters. Hopes to help Host escape. Wishes for independence from Host and the other alters. Serves as the family “security expert” and jack of all trades.
ALTER THREE: Clare – Age 35, best friend to Host. Free spirt who enjoys making people laugh. Loves to entertain and refuses to be silenced.
ALTER FOUR: Zoe – Age 29, surrogate mother figure to the younger alters. A collector who thrives on drama and dreams about one day making it to the big stage. Resents Host for holding the alters hostage.
ALTER FIVE: Frog – Age 20, big brother and protector of the two youngest alters. Serves as a back-up and friend to Tim. Strives to keep other alters from emerging.
ALTER SIX: Rabbit – Age 14, the smartest and most tech savvy of the alters. Lonely and depressed, Rabbit wishes she could find a friend her own age. Goal is to one day be “a normal kid.”
ALTER SEVEN: Samantha – Age 7, the youngest and happiest of the alters. Having never lived outside a host or institution, Samantha loves her alter family and wishes things would never change, despite it being “kinda smushy in here.”
What do you do when you are waiting for round one edits of book two? You start book three, of course. As I anxiously await Toni’s Wave to Papa edits, I happily introduce Alters–
“Lola, party of eight.” - Host
“It’s kinda squishy in here.” - Samantha, age seven, the youngest alter
Two arms, two legs, ten fingers, ten toes. One brain, seven alters and one host. Sometimes, the numbers just don’t add up. After thirty years in a mental hospital, multiple personality disorder patient Lola Murray and her seven alter egos are trapped. Locked inside, they must work together to find their shared voice and, finally, freedom. What does it take to get a control freak, recluse, comedian, dreamer, protector, techy, and child to agree? It’s really a matter of how you — or they — see the bigger equation.
As I turn the corner on 4,000 words, I give another nod to the math in this. (Who knew it may be a good idea for a journalism major to go past Algebra two?) Thankfully, my little brother is a math teacher. Math and I are like onions to a six year old. We just don’t work. Fortunately, he was able to calculate the square footage of a woman who is 5’8 and 160 pounds (7.56 sq ft). In what took him less time than it did for me to write 500 words, he was able to help me develop Lola’s alter, Tim, who happens to be both a math wizard and more than motivated to get out of the female body he’s stuck in.
For the curious (and brave), here’s an unedited excerpt and where my words will take me as I await Toni’s mark ups:
“Leave her alone! …Please!”
“She’s fifty years old! She doesn’t need electric shocks. She’s fine the way she is!”
“… She’s done nothing wrong!”
“Hush! You’re just upsetting her worse!” His voice is as cold as the uniform he wears.
Has he no feeling? No remorse?
“Am I okay?” A frazzled woman with the wrinkles of a thousand lifetimes skittishly pleads for reassurances as the orderly rolls her down the corridor. Heavy mascara runs down her face, which appears to be melting.
A motley group doesn’t miss the opportunity to appease the woman. They call “Yes!” and “You’re okay! You’re okay!” Their voices echo like broken promises. No one believes them. And Lola stopped believing in promises years ago.
“She’s not okay! None of us are okay!” This voice is darker, not nearly as afraid. Lola tries to ignore it.
She can barely hear her friends’ muffled comforts as the large black man in white hastens his pace. A restraint buckle clicks against a wheel as he rushes down the bleached hallway. She wishes she could turn her head but knows better than to fight against manacles. She lost her own voice years ago and lacks energy to find it now.
The orderly mumbles as he turns the corner. He has to get out of here. He isn’t sure who is more insane – the patients he works with or the doctors who order their treatments.
The woman shakes. Maria? Help!
“Again? Really? I’m coming. I’m coming! I’ll be right there. Tell Clare to take a nap. She’s caused enough trouble today.”
I don’t have a lot of time to talk now. I have to help Host. Damn Clare got her in trouble again. I’ll do my best, like always. It’s not easy being the oldest in Host’s head. But I wouldn’t want any other position. When you’re trapped, you take any control you can get. I don’t know how Samantha does it. But being born in an institution, she’s never known independence. There are seven of us – five girls and two boys; or more accurately, three women, two men, and two girls. It’s crowded.
My name is Maria. I’m forty-six-years-old. I was born the day a first grade teacher mistook Host for a boy. Host is what people would describe as a “girly girl.” I, on the other hand, couldn’t be bothered with things like fancy nails and eyeliner. Frankly? I think Host looks like a clown and smells like a brothel. But had it not been for her fascination with all things Maybelline, I may never have been born. It is what it is, I guess.
Host is a rare bird. They say it takes sexual or physical abuse to become a host. But we – she – can’t recall any such thing. I guess I’d like to think there was something more there than someone mistaking her for a boy. But maybe she’s just that weak. Either way, I’m here. And I think I’m here to stay. It’s been more than forty years now. The others could not do this without me. And Host? Well, she’d just be lost.