Day 118 – Folie à Deux – Part 4 – Catherine

Word count: 913

Catherine’s head was pounding. Where was she? She was lying down on a bed – but it was not her own. This was not her room. The walls were generically white; she was still fully clothed, though her shoes had been removed and there were Healthy Living posters plastered strategically. Rubbing her eyebrows, Catherine realised she was in the sick bay at school.

She had been here once or twice before but it had changed slightly since then – perhaps she had just gotten bigger though. Sitting up right, she felt her brain slide forward inside her skull. The room was spinning a little and everything when a little fuzzy. How did she get here?

Outside the room, she heard the sound of approaching voices. Instantly recognisable was that of her mothers, who seemed to be in deep conversation with what sounded like the school nurse. Catherine sat on the edge of the bed, massaging her temple and listening in as the two of them lingered on the other side of the closed door.

“I’m really worried about her – she’s putting in a lot of hours studying… We only really see her for meals. I know these are really important exams…”

“It’ll be fine Mrs Stevenson. Catherine’s just suffering from exhaustion. It might be best to have a few days off the studying and we can notify the exam board about her condition if you get a note from her doctor…”

“… I guess. Is she awake right now?”

“Maybe – she was pretty out of it when I last popped in about ten minutes ago though.”

The door opened and Catherine smiled weakly at her mum, who rushed in and wrapped her arms around her daughter.

“You are coming home with me now and I’m going to wrap you up in your duvet downstairs and we’re going to watch some good girly films and eat ice cream, alright?”

Catherine smiled, “That sounds great…. but… how did I get here, what happened?”

Her mum withdrew a little from her and turned to the nurse.

“We found you asleep in the corridor. You’ve been completely out of it for about two hours. We couldn’t wake you or anything.”

“Really? I remember being in class… that’s.. that’s about it.”

“Just get yourself home now and have a good rest. You’re clearly overworked and stressed.”

Catherine nodded, “I guess.”

* * *

Catherine was cosily wrapped up in her duvet downstairs on the sofa, some romantic comedy film playing and enough comfort food for five people. Her mum, though keeping her company, kept on dashing back and forth to sort out things in the house. Catherine quite appreciated this, as being constantly asked if she was all right was getting a little wearing.

It was weird being home at half one in the afternoon on a school day; not studying and being told not to think about school work for the rest of the day. But instead of absorbing herself in the film or day dreaming about the amount of cake she had just eaten, her mind was on what had happened to her that day. Catherine had been studying relatively hard all year; in fact she was taking it quite easy recently. Looking over her notes, there was not much she did not already know. Could she really be overworked and stressed because of exams? She had never been before. During the drive home, her mum had suggested that it was the pressure of going to uni in a few months time, but Catherine could not help dismissing this. She searched insider herself and she knew that she was not stressed about either of those things at all. They were just things that happened; how could she get stressed about them?

Collapsing into a deep sleep in the corridor sounded scary, though. She tried to remember if she dreamt at all and if they were dreams about what might be troubling her, but all she could remember from it was fuzzy images of a green lawn and a hauntingly old country house. None of what had happened made any sense to her.

The front door slammed shut as someone came home. For a second Catherine thought it might be her mum – but then realised that she was out the back taking in the washing from the line. It must be Vicky as it was far too early for her dad to be home. She could hear Vicky tearing off her high heels – which by the grunts coming from the hallway were undoubtedly uncomfortable. Catherine was about to shout out a hello, but she stopped herself when she heard Vicky talking to herself. Vicky must have been on the phone – but that was not what was unusual. She was sounding really angry, disgruntled and annoyed. As opposed to her usual light hearted hippie tones of student life, she was swearing down the phone.

“I’ve told you before – I don’t fucking have it. I never fucking had it. Don’t fucking call me again – no you wouldn’t dare! Grrr! Why don’t you just believe me? I paid you for it!”

The living room door was creaked open as one of the cats decided to stroll in and Vicky suddenly saw Catherine lying on the sofa, listening to every word. She looked panicked, eyes widened.

“I’ll call you back… no I’ll call you back now.”

Vicky gathered her handbag and jacket and sprinted up the stairs, clearly petrified of any questions Catherine was poised to ask.

~ by S.G. Mark on February 2, 2012.

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