Two years have passed since April Patterson’s husband was shot and killed in the line of duty, and she’s trapped in a haze of grief and uncertainty. Having grown frustrated by all other efforts to engage her in activities where she could meet new people, her cousin pays for a date via 1Night Stand. Not thrilled with the idea, April nevertheless contacts Madame Eve and requests the impossible: a date with her deceased husband. Brilliant software engineer Drew Monroe created his company, Elysium, to help give closure to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, through the use of virtual reality. Though passionate about his work, being constantly surrounded by heartache and death has taken a toll on his mental health. When he accepts the case of a young widow referred to him by Madame Eve, her tragic tale depresses him further, but he commits himself to programming April the romantic date she desires. April arrives at Elysium and prepares to enter Drew’s virtual realm. Will she find the solace she seeks within? Or will she discover she doesn’t need a fantasy world to discover happiness again?
We sat in silence. It was the first time a client had asked me so many personal questions. On one hand, I worried about coming across as unprofessional, but on the other, it felt good to verbalize those thoughts for a change. Putting that aside, April hadn’t come to play psychiatrist with me. I had a job to do.
“Anything else before we get started?” I pushed off the edge of the desk and straightened.
She didn’t get up. “Do you ever go into your own virtual realities?”
“Actually, I don’t.” I ran a finger along the top of one of the screens. “First of all, it needs to be monitored from the outside. I can’t do both at the same time.”
“Got it.” She nodded. “What else?”
A clammy feeling crawled over me. “Nothing.”
“You said ‘first of all.’ That means there must be a second.”
She’d paid attention, I’d give her that. I tried to backtrack. “Forget it.”
Sliding her arm off the chair, she leaned forward, ginger hair spilling over her shoulders. “I want to know what I’m getting into. Tell me.” Face upturned, she stared at me and I struggled to breathe in a normal rhythm. “Please?”
Don’t say it, don’t admit to it, she doesn’t need to know…. Talking to her eased a little of the tension that had been twisting tighter and tighter over time. I ignored the voices telling me not to make a confession, but the words spilled out faster than I’d intended.
“With all the misery and heartache I see in the world, the temptation exists to disappear into a painless fantasy.” The chill spreading through me intensified. “I’m afraid I’d lose myself and never want to come out.”
April blinked her long lashes and straightened in the chair. “That’s one of the reasons I’m anxious about going in there.”