Day 307 – Folie a Deux – Part 22

Word count: 1458

Catherine was hanging out at one of the self-catering flat’s. One of the girls she went to class with was hosting it and had invited her.
This new life was strange. The freedom to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted to was empowering. Going to lectures independently of nagging was odd. It was so odd. She even wanted to go – the classes were really good so far. She wanted to pay attention. No uniforms either. She felt so grown up – like a proper person. Everyone was quite chatty too – very friendly. Some of them were a bit odd – keeping to themselves or sticking with the right people, but those were easily identified and avoided.
Catherine was in fact having a great time at university. It was beautiful in Cambridge – she could not believe she had got in or that her parents could afford the fees. It was already two weeks since she had moved in and had already explored the place as if she were a seven year old being shown a new magical kingdom. The river side area was fantastic. Old willows that had seen so many fine minds walk by these banks dipped their leaves into the cool, almost still water. Occasionally rowers would speed by. It was peaceful. Catherine could imagine studying by the riverside in the summer when the exams would come. She’d have her two best friends by her side – whoever they turned out to be – and they would be lying on their fronts on the grass with pen and paper, books within reach and the sun glaring down on them.

The party itself was quite small. The mega parties of US frat parties seemed… another dimension to the party that was going on here. It was a tiny flat for a start – there were no massive mansions here – well at least for the first years. There were loads of people crammed in, though. People in the kitchen chatting and trying to throw ping pong balls in their drinks from half way across the room; pot-smokers hanging out the window in the living room to drop their ash and look at the stars; some out-of-placers that Catherine felt she should join out of solidarity and the hosts were wandering through with bottles of all sorts of alcohol, some even home-made. It was quite something on a high school party – firstly everyone was legally allowed to be doing all this, well with the exception of the pot-heads.
Catherine sidled to the out-of-placers. They were looking awkwardly around the room. Catherine empathised. She felt odd being there as well, but at the same time it was great fun just to be in a room with people she did not know the names of and just sit down and chat. She felt almost liberated, in a way. This would never have really happened at high school. There were too many layers of cliques, teenage codes and various forms of “coolness barriers” that prevented such things.
“Hey,” she said to the out-of-placers.
“Hey,” they chimed back, minus eye contact.
“What do you guys study?”
“History,” the first one said.
“Chemistry – well I’ve just started my ph.d…”
“Wow, so you’re not a first year?”
“No, it is my first year here though. I am from Germany,” the second one continued.
“Oh right, that’s really interesting. I went to Germany once – Berlin actually.”
“Ah, yes everyone has been there.”
“It was a school history trip actually – was really interesting.”
“Yeah, I have been once or twice. I am from the south.”
“What is your name?”
“Ina, what is yours?”
Catherine hesitated for a moment. She could just as easily say Catherine – it was her name, but it felt old and even more out of place here than she felt herself.
“Cat,” she replied, eventually.
There was an awkward silence. Cat thought they might want to try talking to her about something she did, but no questions swung by her way. She took a seat on the floor beside them and sipped her drink to stave off the discomfort.
“Hey Catherine,” the host that was in her class drifted over. “You enjoying yourself? Hey there’s this guy you’re going to think is awesome.”
Jenna stretched out a hand to pick Cat off the floor.
“Oh no, Jenna where are you taking me?”
“Somewhere fun! He’s so hot, you wouldn’t believe.”
Jenna dragged Cat into the kitchen and pointed discreetly at one of the ones playing with the ping pong balls.
“Right I’m gonna get you George, I’m gonna get it right your drink!” he grinned with a pre-mature sense of achievement.
Jenna looked back at Cat, clearly keen to get her reaction on how good looking he was. In Cat’s opinion, he was alright. He had a scrubby beard and longish, curly hair. His jumper looked at least twenty years old and was worn at the seams.
“I’ll introduce you,” Jenna walked up to him just as he was taking the shot.
“Hey Felix,” Jenna said, which evidentially distracted him just as he threw the ball. It pinged off the edge of the glass, which wobbled a bit before settling. George, whose drink it was, celebrated with a “Yes!” and promptly started arranging Felix’s glass to be in the middle.
“Jenna! That’s sabotage!”
“Shush, I want you to meet someone,” Jenna urged Cat to come over. She did, reluctantly.
“Felix, Catherine, Catherine, Felix, you two have a lot in common…” Jenna edged away, leaving Cat alone with Felix.
“It’s Cat actually…”
“Oh, I see. Erm, you having a good time?”
“Yeah, it’s fun.”
“Do you wanna play?”
“Erm, no it’s okay, I’ll just watch.”
Cat sidled back to the edge of the room. It was all very well being at the party, but taking part was still strange. It was at that point that she felt as if the ground under her feet was dropping away from her. She rested her back fully against the wall and breathed slowly. It would be alright. She had been through this many of times before. All she needed to do was breathe. The peripherals of her vision were growing dark. Felix had just scored, they were celebrating: she need only to concentrate on that to stop her from falling asleep. It would be difficult to explain – it would be weird too. All these new potential friends… all taken from her by some strange inexplicable disease that made her look like a pathetic life form. She needed to keep everyone from it. She needed to fight it.

All her brain power was taken over trying to tell herself not to give up, to listen to her positive attitude to not succumb to sleep. She was swaying back and forth. Perhaps she looked drunk, but her eyes were still open and her legs were still holding strong. She could do it. She could pull herself… out… and it would be… all….. right
She landed on a bed. Fancy place, big too. Lights turned out and a drone of an air con. She looked around – wait she could look around? It was a dream, right? It was the same dream? She looked down at the body. It felt the same, it looked the same but she was controlling it? Were her dreams finally her own – was this what they called lucid?
This wasn’t the usual old house though. This was new, modern. It resembled a posh hotel – the kind she only dreamed of being able to afford. She looked around. There was the en-suite, far in the distance. It was enormous. Everything was perfectly neat. It was perfect. But she wanted to go out. She wanted to know what was beyond that door. She got up. It took great struggle to at first, but she made it. She was dressed – or rather he – it appeared to be a him. She walked out of the hotel room and was met with a long corridor. She went left. It was so incredibly exciting. She walked and walked and then came the stairs. She went down them – her legs working discordantly. It was as if she were two years old again and trying to walk. Where she was going she had no idea – but it was fun. It was fun controlling this imaginary man. He had been with her for so long that he felt like a good friend. She was only really playing Barbies again…
“Cat? Cat! Cat!” screaming her ear: she was brought back to the party with a slam.
“Cat? Are you alright?” Voices she didn’t recognise…
A bright fluorescent kitchen light bombarded her eyes: she’d have given anything just to be back in a dark little stairwell trying to walk like a puppet.

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~ by S.G. Mark on August 9, 2012.

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