Day 95 – Folie à Deux – Part 2 – Catherine

I’m really, really, really, really, really tired. Which, come to think of it, is ironic. And the ending of this had been thought of a while ago, so it’s not ending like that just because I couldn’t think of anything else.

Anyway, this is apparently my 100th post on here. Not my 100th story – that’ll be in 4 days time (Day 99, as i started on day 0). What can I say so far? Well. I have an itchy left ear….

Word count: 1151

“Can you pass the salt, please?” Catherine’s mum asked her.

Catherine was engrossed in the large mound of food that had been piled on to her plate. As brilliant a cook her mum was, she always failed to attempt presentation. The lovely roast that she had prepared was but a mere mudslide of gravy and mash with globules of dumplings scattered like fallen boulders on a mountainside. Aesthetics aside, Catherine could not possibly stomach the weight of food on the plate. Consumed with nervous energy, eating was usually the last thing on her mind.

Meanwhile across the table from her, Catherine’s sister Vicky was scoffing fork after fork down her throat. Catherine would almost not be surprised if Vicky were to gulp the fork down as well, venting a lovely stainless steel burp to the room afterwards as well. Vicky was one of those annoying people who defied the laws of physics and would simply refuse to gain weight no matter how much she ate.

“Kate, salt please!” her mum shot her a stern look, enough to snap her out of her reverie.

The family unit was reunited once more. Vicky was returning to home for the summer after her first year at university. Catherine’s mum had been looking forward to this day for weeks. She could barely contain herself that morning when she could finally start cleaning the house and preparing Vicky’s favourite dinner and ensure that her bed was drowned in all her old soft toys. Even her reserved and controlled dad seemed excited when he left the house to go and pick her up from her flat. Catherine, however, could not say she shared the same feelings.

Playing with her mashed potato and peas, she quietly listened to her family talking to each other.

“Of course – mm – the essay was difficult, but we worked so many hours during the last week before the deadline – mm – it was – mm – alright in the end,” Vicky was chewing and talking at the same time.

“Oh, I don’t like you spending all your time studying, Vicky. It’s not healthy,” her dad said.

“Mm – I know – but – mm – you know me, hard worker to the bone!” another shuttle of mashed potato flew into orbit around her epiglottis.

“And you’re all sorted for flats and things next year, you say?” her mum asked, neatly shearing a chicken bone of meat.

“Absolutely – well that was another story, but yes, we’re well on the way to getting our own flat together,” Vicky replied, downing her glass of juice in one.

“Would you like some more?” her mum asked, seeing Vicky’s almost-empty plate.

“Oh yes please, mum, that was delicious!”

Catherine’s mum got up to fetch seconds for Vicky when she spied the completely untouched plate of Catherine’s.

“I don’t know why I bother,” she began, slopping spoonfuls of seconds onto Vicky’s plate. “I try my best, I really do, Catherine, and you can’t even attempt eating it.”

“But mum, you know what I’m like right now.”

“Yes, but you need your strength. You shouldn’t be nervous about exams. You’ve done them before.”

Catherine noticed that her dad slouched back in his seat at this point, as if attempting to withdraw from the line of fire.

“Yes mum, I know that… but they haven’t counted for anything like this before.”

“What have we told you before? We’ll love you no matter what.”

Catherine kicked the side of the table in anger. Everything on top of it shook. The three of them turned instantly on Catherine and stared in disbelief.

“So you give a damn when it’s Vicky’s time to shine, but as soon as it’s mine it doesn’t really matter if I succeed or fail?”

“Right, that’s it,” her dad scraped back his chair, “Go to your room. Now.”

Catherine threw herself to her feet and knocked her plate forward in anger. She stormed up the stairs and burst into her room, landing on her bed and dissolving into tears. She hated when her sister came home. Her parents seemed to change who they were to suit Vicky’s needs.

Downstairs she could hear her parents clearing up – Vicky’s voice shrilling high above the clatter of cutlery and plates being piled into the dishwasher. It was growing darker outside. A small gathering of flies had accrued next to her window, spying her glowing, revolving globe on her desk. Catherine wiped away her tears and tried to collate a grip on reality. She started to feel a twinge of guilt for the over-reaction, but it was not enough to return downstairs. Instead, she ventured over to her desk and flicked through a few books, trying to picture up any additional facts and ideas that might be tested.

A vibration went off near her laptop. It was a text. Jenny – Catherine’s best friend – had just asked her to a party next week. It would be the night before their first exam. Catherine’s thumb hovered over the keypad.

The door knocked.

“Hello?”

“Leave me alone,” Catherine said through gritted teeth as her dad gently pushed the door open.

“Aw Kate,” he said, sitting down on her bed. “You have to calm down. I know you’re stressed. But you have to let us help you.”

Catherine could not look him in the eye.

“You have to tell us things – we can’t read your mind. Tell us why you’re so worried lately. And texting isn’t going to help with the revision, by the way…”

“Dad, I’m alright.”

“No, Kate, you’re not. You’re permanently in a bad mood and you’re always knackered.”

Catherine was trying so hard to keep focussed on a tiny little crack on her phone’s screen. She needed something to aim her frustration and rage at and one look from her father would make that all crumble into disarray.

“Ok, I’m going to leave you here. Don’t tell your mum I’ve been in – she’s crying downstairs and she would hate me for trying to talk to you right now. You’ve really hurt her, I hope you realise.”

Her dad paused for a moment before leaving, as if hoping Catherine would run to him for a hug, but she did not. Instead something else was happening to her. Still concentrating with all her mental power on the tiniest of cracks on her screen, she felt herself becoming hypnotically drawn inwards. The world seemed to be spiralling around her and her eyelids were growing heavy very rapidly. It was as if a tidal wave of fatigue was drowning her. Before she knew it her head was resting on the edge of the desk, her body slumped forward. There was nothing she could do to stop it. Her arms were weak and unable to move. Her eyelids now refused to open and somewhere far off in the distance she thought she could hear the sound of children screaming with laughter and delight….

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~ by S.G. Mark on January 10, 2012.

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