“And you have no idea why this happened?” Angela asked.
Fatima shook her head.
“I’ve been to therapists, hypnotists, New Age gurus, you name it,” she said. “I even got a CAT scan to check for tumors. No dice.”
“Would it be okay if I do a little digging of my own?” Angela asked. “I only caught a tiny glimpse of your mind from the window.”
“Knock yourself out,” Fatima replied.
Angela took a deep breath and stared into Fatima’s eyes. The bizarre visions from earlier struck first, but she pushed them aside. She caught snippets of Fatima’s daily life; mostly solitary with occasional visits to the gym or the pub.
Angela travelled further back in time, through years of anger and regret and depression, with those imaginary monsters lurking behind every moment. She finally reached Los Angeles, 2003, and the visions vanished. Fatima was painting again, beautiful and vibrant work nothing like the creature in the notebook.
Angela focused on this time period, trying to pinpoint the precise moment when things changed. She landed on a memory of Fatima waking up on a couch with a splitting headache, aware that something was different but not quite sure what. Angela rewound to the night before, but everything was a blur; music, drinks, laughter.
“You were at a party,” Angela said.
“What?” Fatima said.
“The night you lost the ability to paint,” Angela said. “You were at a party and you were really drunk and you crashed on someone’s couch.”
“That… doesn’t really narrow it down,” Fatima said.
Angela focused on the morning after, the details of the room where Fatima woke. Huge plate glass windows looked out at the Hollywood sign. A spiral staircase led up to a balcony. A grand piano sat next to a bubbling hot tub. She described all of these things to Fatima as she pictured them.
“Oh,” Fatima said, smiling faintly. “That party.”