Day 241 – Folie à Deux – Part 11

Word count: 1645

Catherine was having the best sleep she had had in ages. The tablets were working! For two days straight she was falling asleep at the correct times. She did not have any dreams: there was no garden or old house and there were no giggling children. Catherine was unbelievable relieved. It was the morning of the third day of anti-depressants and she woke to her alarm clock with glee. Another peaceful night.

She jumped out of bed, threw today’s dose down her throat and grabbed a shower. It was the morning of her final exam. Physics was her favourite, though, so she didn’t feel that she had anything to worry about. For months now she had been studying, her brain was numb with information. Downstairs in the kitchen a lovely breakfast awaited her. She beamed at her parents, who had left her a little present wrapped in gorgeous paper and a purple bow.

“Aw, mum, dad! You didn’t have to!” she tore open the box. Inside was a beautiful white gold necklace with intricate little clear crystals. “It’s beautiful!”

“French toast?” her dad waved the frying pan in the air as her mum helped her put on the necklace.

“Yes please!” she replied.

Her dad dropped her off at school. Vicky was waiting at the gates for her. Catherine ran into her arms.

“Last day!”

“I know! Are you prepared?”

“Screw that, it’s the last day!” Catherine was so excited. She had not been this excited in weeks.

They wandered the school grounds a bit, reminiscing where they had grown up.

“Remember here when we had that water fight on the last day of term?”

“God I know! We got absolutely soaked!”

“And you hit Mr Jefferson right in the eye!”

“Oh god no wonder he gave me a fail for that essay!”

They giggled all morning – their exam was not until the afternoon – but they were at the same time, so close to tears. They had arrived here girls and were leaving young women. Catherine could not help but think of the line from Little Women. There were some things, she thought, that cannot be taught in an English lesson…

“Are you scared?” Vicky asked Catherine.

They were sitting on the low wall that separated the car park from the rest of the tarmac playground. Catherine did not need to ask Vicky to specify what she was talking about.

“God yeah. It’s been at the back of my mind for weeks now.”

“I can’t imagine not coming here again. It seems too…”

“Unreal?”

“Yeah… I’m too young to go to university, to pay rent, get a job… by the end of the day we won’t be kids any more. We’re going to be this weird sub-species of adult…”

“Who don’t quite know what to do with themselves…”

“What if we make mistakes?”

“I don’t know…”

“I’ve always had mum… she’s always been there for me… Will she suddenly stop?”

“No… no I can’t.. I wouldn’t imagine…”

“I’m scared I’ll get thrown out of university. I’m scared I’ll fail, end up on the streets…”

“Don’t be silly. We’re both going to find rich husbands.”

“Not the way you’re going,” Vicky nodded forward and Catherine turned to see Dave approaching.

The worms in Catherine’s stomach instantly activated.

“Hey, guys,” Dave said lazily, his usual demeanour. “I’m having a party at mine this evening, final exam thing.. you guys are more than welcome…”

“Sure!” Catherine found herself saying a bit too enthusiastically. “We’ll be there.”

Catherine could see Vicky looking at her strangely from the corner of her eye. Dave shrugged his shoulders and murmured a good luck for their exams.

“Wow, that was… err….”

“Desperate?” Catherine suggested. “I know… I er.. got nervous? I don’t even know if my parents will let me…”

“So we’ll sneak out?”

“Err….”

“Come on Katy-Cat! Do something exciting!”

“Katy-Cat?!”

“It suits you! Probably, well just come anyway! It’s about high time you experienced a sloshy teenage drunken party – and who knows maybe you’ll actually have the guts to get it off with him tonight!”

The school bell rang. It was time.

“Well,” Vicky slid off the wall, “I guess this is it….”

They filed into the exam hall and took two seats together. Catherine lined up her stationary along the edge of the desk. It wobbled slightly. She sighed: she had had this exact same desk the other day. Once everyone had taken their seats, the invigilators placed the exam and graph paper on every desk. One of them, the older lady of the four, stopped at her desk.

“Ah, yes… I’m to watch you – apparently you are feeling unwell?”

“Er, uhm yes – I shouldn’t hopefully, but I may pass out during the exam… I’ll be fine, I’ll just be sleeping… just wake me up…”

The old lady smiled and moved on. This was not the first exam in which the invigilators had been told to look after her. She suspected her mum had called in the headmaster and told them that she needed security and a medical team on standby. But Catherine was feeling fantastic today – she was so elated to be finally free of school that she had almost forgotten what it was like to be tired all the time. It had only been two days, granted, but the fact that the anti-depressants seemed to instantly help was such a relief.

“You may now start,” the male invigilator announced as the clock struck one-thirty. “You have precisely two hours.”

Catherine whipped open the exam and her eyes fell on the first question like a magnet. Perfect: she knew the answer straight away. Moving on, second question: slightly more tricky, but she had done these countless times during revision. The entire paper was going brilliantly. Every question she had been able to answer – there was not one that she did not know. Within half an hour she had completed everything but the last question. To her right she could see Vicky scribbling down something for the second time – there were pen marks scoring out previous work on the paper. To her left was a boy she didn’t really speak to much. She was calmly working his way through the middle two questions. Catherine felt bad for being able to see other’s answers, but at the same time she had completed them first… looking at them and not changing her answers weren’t strictly. She put her head down and finished the last question. It was slightly challenging and she had to score out a few lines of working, but she got to the correct answer in the end. It was a proof. Catherine liked proofs: she would always know she was right.

Only a further ten minutes had passed. Catherine couldn’t leave the exam hall. Everyone had to stay til the bitter end. Catherine looked back over her answers again. Another five minutes had passed. Catherine was so bored. Another hour to wait. She checked her answers again; again. There was nothing more she could do except make her handwriting a bit more clearer… She felt her eyelids growing heavy. It could just be out of boredom, she prayed. But within minutes she was yawning, her mind was already running away from reality. Each blink got longer and longer and it was harder to open her eyelids every time. Soon she was seeing a piece of a garden as she blinked. Her mood was sinking; the anti-depressants weren’t working… they weren’t what was making her feel better… she was back to the same dark place she was before… with no escape except through the garden and into the old house….
She was at the front door of it now. She could smell the flowers in the gentle breeze. She could actually smell, in a dream!The front door was massive. It loomed above her but it did not scare her. She had been here before and not just once: this was something she felt she had seen every day for years. The door opened for her. A woman was on the other side. She smiled at Catherine and leant in to kiss her on the cheek. It was very, very odd. The woman seemed to know Catherine – and not just recognise her. The woman took Catherine through to the large hallway and into a dark kitchen. Catherine sat down, she had had no control over her movements at all. The woman went over to the sink and filled up a kettle. Her mouth was moving, but she could not hear anything of what she was saying… it was all muffled, all confused… Catherine tried to speak to her, but her mouth was not moving: she could not even move her arms, her legs. She was frozen – she was stuck.
It was as if she was being strangled. She could fight and fight all she wanted, but she could not move at all… it was defeating her, whatever it was…her own mind.. her dreams… What was this about? Was it subconscious, was it her mind breaking down her fears and projecting them into her dreams? If so, where was this place? Who was the woman? Was it her, as an adult and why was she able to think this clearly when she was meant to be asleep?

All of a sudden a beating. A beating thud; bassline; thud, thud, thud. It was in her ears, it was everywhere, but it was not coming from this place; it was coming from beyond the kitchen, beyond the house and beyond the garden. A flash – bam! She was thrown out of the dream.

Blinking, she was standing in a living room. She was locked arms with Vicky, posing for the camera right in front of her….. no memory whatsoever of how she got here at all…

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~ by S.G. Mark on June 4, 2012.

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