We find an examination room and sit tight, Sally curled up on the padded table, her head in Pat's lap, as if trying to endure the fibrillation of her brain without imploding. Afraid. Frayed. Why are you so a-frayed? she keeps asking. I repeatedly tell her I'm not afraid. Then the logic of her insistence dawns on me: She wants me to be afraid for her. I am custodian for the terror that the hollow exuberance of her mania won't allow her to feel.
 
This exuberance, I begin to understand, is the opposite of the truth. She is beleaguered by certitude because she is certain of nothing. She thinks she's eloquent, when she can't put together a coherent sentence. She demands control because, in some interstice of her psyche, she knows she is hurtling out of control. This realization brings me closer to her. I can't witness her disintegrations without somehow taking part in them, and, closing my eyes, I feel myself racing, too, as if her flutter has lodged inside me. "I feel like I'm traveling and traveling with nowhere to get back to," she says in an almost casual whisper.
 
Pat whispers something in return, gently stroking her hair. The gesture seems to soothe the agitated solitariness that, it's increasingly clear, is her chief terror. Sally's need to feel understood is like one's need for air. (Isn't this everyone's struggle? To recruit others to our version of reality? To persuade? To be seen for what we think we are?) I envy Pat's ability to make her temporarily believe she has penetrated her mind, but I couldn't do it myself. I don't want to enter her world, I want to yank her back into mine.