~ Chapter 8: Pursuing the Horizon ~
Final Fantasy and all its characters belong to Squaresoft.
What lies behind us and what lies
“Sorry to keep you waiting Miss Heartilly,” the doctor said out of breath as she entered the room. “I had an emergency that I had to take care of. I apologize.”
Startled out of her trance, she grabbed the apparatus on the table in a fumbling attempt to stop it. “Oh it’s no problem Mrs. Westman. I haven’t been waiting long,” the young sorceress said. Only twenty-five long minutes of sheer unadulterated boredom, she thought to herself while smiling brightly at the woman as she walked behind the desk in front of her.
“Well I know for a fact that any time spent in this dull room alone can seem like an eternity. And please, call me Carrie.”
“As long as you call me Rinoa,” the other woman winked.
“Darn it…I did do that didn’t I? Sorry, it takes me a few minutes to get out of the ‘formal’ mode I’m forced into when I have to speak to the medical board. They’re a tough crowd, believe me.”
“Yes, I am sure they are.”
“Anyway, how have you been doing these past couple of weeks? How has everything been going for you since our last session?” Carrie queried as she adjusted her glasses and shuffled the paperwork in front of her.
“It’s been well. Physical therapy is still keeping me busy on a daily basis. They said that I would be finished with all of that soon. So that is a relief.”
“Yes, I’m sure it is. You have certainly come a long way in the two short months you’ve been here.”
Rinoa’s mind drifted back over the long weeks of endurance. It had been difficult, but she was now able to walk, and almost all her motor functions were fully restored. She remembered the day she planted her feet upon the cold tile for the first time. Quistis had been in the room with her, and she had talked her into helping her stand up. The blonde had hesitantly agreed after giving in to her ceaseless pleading. She had felt strong that day. The therapist had been coming in the room daily and helping her to exercise her leg and arm muscles. So she had made up her mind. Rinoa Heartilly was determined to walk, and damn it she was going to walk right now.
“This is a bad idea Rinoa. I really think we should wait for the professionals to help you with this.” Quistis had said as she looped one of the girl’s arms around her neck and lifted her up into a sitting position.
“They take too long! Besides, it’ll be fine Quistis, stop worrying. If I have to spend another day in this bed, I’m going to go crazy! I can do this…piece of cake.” She maneuvered over to the edge of the bed with Quistis’ aid.
“Are you really sure about this? I mean, maybe it would be better to take this more slowly. You never know what might happen.” She began lifting her up to a standing position.
“Oh come on, where’s your sense of adventure Quisty? What’s the worst that could happen? I fall flat onto the floor and crack my head open. Then you never have to put up with my nagging again.” She smiled.
Quistis blanched and looked at her horrified. “That is not funny Rin.”
“Oh lighten up, I’m just kidding. Now let's lift!”
They pulled together, and suddenly she was standing again. It was an almost overwhelming feeling that nearly took her breath. She felt the accomplishment of a child who learns to come off of its hands and knees for the first time.
“Oh God…I’m standing! I’m standing!” She shouted joyously. Quistis laughed and shared in her reverie while holding her tightly to keep her from falling. Now if only she could get her muscles to obey her. She looked down at her feet and concentrated. Suddenly she felt something click and her right foot lifted slightly and moved forward.
“Ahh…I did it I did it!” She squealed.
“Rinoa, this is wonderful!” The older woman said, tears forming in her eyes.
She lifted her head to look at her friend. And that was when it happened. She lost the sense of equilibrium. The walls stretched and the room began spinning dizzily.
“Oh Hyne in heaven,” she said slowly.
“I know it’s a miracle Rinoa!” Quistis said, still staring down at her feet in disbelief.
“Quistis, help me back to the bed!”
“What? Come on you’re doing great Rin! Keep going!” Obviously, she had mistaken that her statement was something less than a demand.
“No…Quistis…really I need to sit back down…right now.”
“Because.” She breathed. “I’m going to throw up!”
Rinoa smiled at the memory. Though there had been nothing funny about it then. But the panicked look on Quistis’ face had been priceless. She did take it more slowly after that however. And now she could walk with ease. It amazed her how the simplest of actions are taken so much for granted…until they become lost. Regaining them was like no other feeling she had ever known.
“Rinoa? Are you still with me?”
She brought herself back from her thoughts. “Yes…sorry.”
“Where were you just now?”
“Oh nowhere…just thinking.”
“Would you like to share?”
“No, it’s nothing, just remembering how far I’ve come.”
“It is certainly an amazing accomplishment. You should be very proud of yourself.”
“Well, I should be thanking you, all of you. The doctors have done so much for me here. I can’t thank you enough.”
“We do things to a certain extent around here, but believe me, we don’t do it all. There is a major part of the healing process that is entirely left to the patient. And you have astonished us all.”
The other woman smiled. “So where shall we begin today?”
Rinoa shrugged her shoulders. “Wherever.” She found herself almost laughing at the nearly familiar statement.
“Alright. I thought we might try something new for this session, if you are willing.”
“Sure…okay. What is it?”
“My biggest concern that I have had during our time together is how you are coping with your emotions. There is a lot for you to take in. And you seem to have trouble letting your feelings out. It is nothing uncommon, as many people who go through severe trauma often have these same difficulties. The ‘ability’ of sorts to suppress emotion is part of the bodies’ own defense mechanism. It is good and necessary for a time, but then it becomes a double-edged sword. While the mind does this for the benefit of the body, at the same time it is accumulating these emotions like a dam. Unfortunately, it is an unstable structure, and it can only take one instance to send the flood over the walls. I want to help you recede some of those waters before you become overburdened with these kept up feelings. I’ve treated several patients who have had to deal with overwhelming emotion. It consumes them. It keeps them from functioning and leading a normal life. Does this make sense to you?”
“What I would like to try is a series of therapy treatments to guide and step you through this.”
“What kind of therapy treatments?”
“Hypnosis. Are you familiar with it?”
“You mean like the guy with the funny moustache who sways a pocket watch back and forth and says ‘you are getting sleeeepppyy’ in a really thick accent? And then I’m going to stand up and wark like a chocobo?”
Carrie laughed. “No I’m afraid it’s nothing like that.”
“Thank Hyne,” Rinoa said sharing a small laugh with the doctor.
“There are no pocket watches or medallions involved, and people who have been hypnotized do not lose control over their behavior. You will remain aware of who you are as well as where you are. You will not be forced to do anything you do not wish to do. All we will do with this exercise is gently resurface your experiences and help you come to terms with them.”
“So would you be willing to give this a try then?”
“Yes. I think so.”
“Great! Then let us begin.”
She looked at the doctor with a bit of uneasiness.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, I promise,” she said reassuringly. “You will still be in control of yourself, and we will not go anywhere you do not wish to. If it becomes too much for you to handle I will bring you out of the trance immediately. You have my word on it.”
“Well…okay. Let’s give it a shot.”
“I would like to tape the session with your permission to review and assess your progress,” she said showing her a small tape recorder.
“Yeah that’s fine,” Rinoa replied. Carrie stood and motioned for her to follow to a couple of plush chairs in the corner of the room. She complied and sat in the chair facing the doctor.
“Okay Rinoa. First of all, I want you to take some deep breaths. Letting the oxygen travel to every extremity of your being.”
She complied. Filling her lungs with the air around her.
“I want you to close your eyes now,” she continued in a soft and soothing voice. “That’s good. Continue your breathing. Now, before you let go and fall into a deep hypnotic state, let yourself listen carefully to everything I am going to say to you. Hypnosis is going to happen automatically…so there is no need to think about that right now. All you need to do is focus on relaxing. You will begin to notice the muscles in and around your eyes relax all by themselves as you continue breathing. Without thinking about it, you will soon enter a deep, peaceful, hypnotic trance, without any effort at all…because there is nothing more for your conscious mind to do. There is nothing really important except the activities of your subconscious mind…And that can be just as automatic as dreaming…And you know how easily you can forget your dreams when you awaken…”
The doctor paused and saw a nod of acknowledgement from the young woman.
“Good. You are doing well Rinoa. You can let yourself relax even more and your subconscious will listen to everything I say…it keeps becoming less important now for you to consciously listen to my voice…Your subconscious mind can hear even if I whisper… You are continuing to drift into a more detached state as you examine privately in your own mind. The secrets, feelings, sensations, and behavior you didn't know you had ... At the same time, letting yourself go completely. You continue becoming more relaxed and comfortable as you sit there with your eyes closed…
“Peaceful,” Rinoa said slowly as her eyelids fluttered.
“Good. That’s very good.” Carrie said as she adjusted her glasses. “Now we’re going to take a trip back through time Rinoa. Back to a time that may feel unpleasant, but understand that it cannot hurt you anymore. It is in the past and will have no power over you now in the present. Do you understand what I am saying to you?”
“That’s fine. You’re doing great. Okay we’re going to travel back through time now. Imagine a long stretching hallway full of doors. These are doors to the past. Each door holds past memories within them. All you need do is reach out and turn the knob to access these memories. Where we are going to travel is back before you were awakened here in Esthar. The last memory you can recall before that point. Let’s walk down the hallway and find that door Rinoa.”
She stopped for a moment, allowing her to locate the memory. “Have you found the door now?”
“Okay, now slowly I want you to open the door revealing what is inside.” She watched as the girl obediently reached for an imaginary doorknob and turned it. “Where are you now Rinoa?”
“I’m standing…in a desert.”
“And what time of day is it?”
“So it is evening or night?”
“No…there is no time.”
The doctor listened to her reply with a little confusion. “Where you are now…time does not exist?”
“Have you been to this place before? Do you recognize anything or anyone familiar to you?”
“No. It’s so empty. Cold. Hard…it’s hard to breathe.”
“Just relax, remember you are not actually here anymore. You are only visiting this place for a short time.” Carrie waited until Rinoa’s breathing once again became slow and even. “That’s right. Now, why are you here? Is this before you were taken to the Sorceress Memorial?”
She paused for a moment. “No,” she said with certainty. “After.”
Now the doctor was even more perplexed. She had intended on delving into her thoughts just before she had been sealed in the memorial. This didn’t sound right. “Rinoa, so you are saying that you were here after you had been frozen?”
It dawned on her that perhaps they had stumbled upon a dream. It would certainly explain the misplacement of time and the descriptions of a surreal landscape. “Is this a dream you had while you were in the containment chamber Rinoa?”
“I…I don’t know.” She was hesitating, trying hard within her mind to understand it herself.
“It’s alright, it’s alright. Let’s leave this place for now and travel back a little further in time.”
“No…I can’t…I can’t leave. I can’t leave until I find him.”
“Who are you looking for?”
Her voice became more quick and frightened. “I have to find him…he won’t make it…he’s going to die…I have to find him!”
“Alright, alright it’s okay. You don’t have to leave. Stay and find who you are looking for.”
She watched as her patient went through frightful and agonized facial expressions. Carrie was uncertain what was the best course of action at this point. To let her go through this apparently frightening experiences, or bring her out the hypnosis immediately. Her intrigue was quickly overriding her sense of safety.
“What’s happening now Rinoa?”
“I’m running. Oh God…this place is so endless. Squall please where are you!?” She shouted. The tears were now streaming from her closed eyes. “I can feel him! He…he’s fading. Squall…no…please…” Her words were becoming anguished sobs and her hands trembled violently.
“Rinoa, I’m going to bring you out of this right now. We are going to end your trance righ–”
“I see him.” Rinoa said quietly.
The doctor stopped. “Where is he?”
“He’s on the ground. He’s not moving. I…I want to run to him but…I’m…so…scared. What if I am too late?”
“Go to him Rinoa.” Hyne, she didn’t know what she was saying anymore. “You won’t know until you go to him.”
“He…he’s so pale. I touched his face. He feels so cold. Squall. Squall can you hear me? Please wake up! Oh Hyne, I don’t think he is breathing! Someone please help him!”
“I won’t let you go! I won’t! Damn it do you here me? Open your eyes!”
“…Please.” The last word escaped her lips in a sorrowful gasp. She was crying harshly now. Her breath coming in shaky gasps and hiccups. She appeared to have her arms around an imaginary body while she threw her own against it. Carrie decided she had to intervene right now.
When suddenly she stopped and seemingly looked up towards the sky. “Rinoa what’s happening.”
“The darkness is moving. I’m blinded by a bright light and…we…we’re in a field.”
“Do you recognize the field?”
“No…no I don’t think so. I can smell flowers. I see cherry blossoms floating in the air.”
“His voice! I heard him say my name. He’s alive! Oh Hyne in heaven he’s alive! He is looking at me. He can see me. Squall…I’m here. I’ve got you…don’t let go.”
A sudden burst of laughter escaped from her lips.
“He is smiling at me. I’ve never seen him smile before…it’s beautiful.”
“Is he alright Rinoa?”
She nodded. “I…I think so.”
The doctor found it difficult to retain her professional manner. Whatever this dream was, it was exceedingly real to this young woman. She wondered if the frozen state of sleep she had been in had manifested her dreams to appear this vivid in her mind.
Suddenly, Rinoa let out a terrifying scream.
“I’m…being pulled away. No, don’t let me leave him! Not again!” She cried in anguish.
“Rinoa I’m not–”
She looked down at her hands in a horrified expression. “I’m fading…It’s getting cold again…dark…I can’t see him anymore. No…please no!”
“Rinoa listen to me now. Listen to the sound of my voice. We’re going to leave this place now. Do you understand?” The girl made no further movement. “Give me a sign of acknowledgement if you hear me.”
After a moment, she nodded slowly.
“Good. Now, I’m going to count back from five Rinoa. At the count of one, your eyes are open, and you are fully aware. The events that you have just experienced will remain locked behind the door. You will remember this encounter only when you are ready. You’re mind will know when you are ready. Do you understand?”
“Okay five, slowly and easily you are returning to your full awareness once more. Four…each muscle and nerve in your body is relaxed. Three…you are feeling emotionally calm and serene. Two…Your eyes begin to feel clear. On the next number I count, your eyelids will open and you will become fully aware, feeling calm, refreshed and relaxed. One…eyes open, fully aware now.”
Rinoa took a deep breath and opened her eyes. She felt strangely calm, yet she couldn’t remember what had occurred while she was asleep. She felt the dampness on her cheeks and she raised a hand and wiped away a tear from her eye. “What…happened?”
Carrie reached over to the table and handed her a tissue. “Let’s talk about it next time,” she said gently. “I think you’ve been through enough today. Why don’t you head back to your room now and get some rest okay?”
“Okay,” Rinoa said slowly as she stood up. “Thank you doctor.”
“You’re welcome,” she said smiling as she extended her hand to her. Rinoa grasped it with her own and returned the smile. “I’ll see you next session. You did very well today.”
“Goodbye,” Rinoa said as she walked out of the door and into the hallway. She rubbed her head as she made her way down the hall searching her mind for the empty minutes that had escaped her during the session somehow.
Carrie Westman returned to her desk and took the cassette tape out of the small recorder. She looked at the ceiling, going back through the events in her mind in an attempt to sort through the information she gathered from the strange dream. She flipped a pen idly between her fingers and looked back down at the tape on her desk. Carefully she wrote out a name on the label. The name Rinoa had said over and over.