"Fear? Fear, look at me. What did you see? What's wrong?" Joy crouches in front of the couch, hands reaching out to Fear who huddles in the deep corner, Sadness sobbing at her side.
Fear had sat in the same position, blinking only occasionally while we attempted to reach her. Joy's radiant smile had dimmed when Anger's abrupt shaking and sharp slap wouldn't even cause Fear to focus on anything but a distant mirage. Disgust has taken a seat on the couch but won't look at the quivering, weeping pair. She sips at a tepid drink from a sky blue cup, one of the few left in the cupboards.
I sit to Joy's right, stunned. When Fear had stopped registering our presence, I had gone from casual regard to concerned patron. I panicked. Now all I can think is this was my fault. I had pushed her, pushed them all by demanding they tell me about their fears. Before, she had been panicked. Now she was a mere bundle of frayed nerves.
"What have I done?" I murmur, reaching out a hand to touch Fear's knee. She starts back and I recoil to lean against the coffee table, cradling my hand as if stung. I look at my hands and whisper, "This is all my fault."
"Not your fault, madam," rumbles a deep voice.
I look up to find Myths standing on Joy's other side. I shiver. "Wh-what do you mean?" I stammer.
Myths waves a hand in Fear's direction. "She saw her biggest fear, fears, come true."
Joy extends a hand and clutches Myths' long, gray fingers. "Oh, please, Myths. You must tell us what she saw."
He looks down at their connected hands, her uplifted head and pleading eyes. I tilt my head assessing his dark gaze. He nods, curtly. He breaks the grasp first, clenching his hand into a fist.
"She viewed two realities. One overflowed with confidence, light and determination. Inspiration flowed, that version of yourself, " he nods to me, "had a full calendar and a stack of stories on her desk. This was the image of ultimate success. The other," he turns to look at Fear, "was ultimate failure."
Joy exhales sharply, Anger stiffens and Disgust takes a deep gulp of her tea. I wait for him to continue.
His gaze finds my own. "In this reality, there is little light or hope. All attempts of recognition or publication are denied. You cannot find words for projects in progress and inspiration has gone dry. Any avenue to regain creativity goes sour. Your husband, the one who has believed in and supported you the most, has lost faith in you and asks you to quit." I shudder at his words, a lump forming in my throat. "Defeated, you close the door to your dreams and walk away, never to create again."
Joy is aghast. "That's horrible!" She looks back at Fear, worry etched on her face.
I am silent, unable to look at anyone besides Myths.
Anger recognizes my anguish and marches up to Myths and pokes him hard in the chest. "Take it back! Show her something different!"
Solemn, Myths shakes his head. "I cannot. Until she faces the fear, it will continue to play on repeat."
"That's torture! You can't do this!" Anger is livid. Her face has become flush and her hair is beginning to frizz. In any other moment I would snicker, but I'm numb, hollowed out by his words. The ultimate failure and ultimate betrayal, too.
Myths faces her quietly, letting her rail. "It is my purpose to reveal your fears. I can do no more." With that he disappears again, leaving Anger waving her arms at empty air.
"We have to do something," Joy whispers. She looks at each of us in turn and asks, "What can we do?"
Silence seeps into the room, chilling all present. No one speaks because no one knows the answer.
Join us tomorrow as we continue to unravel this dilemma.