I wake up and my mouth is dry. My pillow cradles my heavy head and I can smell that my hair is dirty. Like, really dirty. I try to sink deeper into the little body groove in my mattress. I can’t squeeze my body down any further and my throat starts really killing me. Somehow I lift my blanket and dislodge myself from my quicksand bed. I stumble into the bathroom in the pajamas I wore yesterday and the previous three days before that. My throat feels like it’s on fire. I drink two glasses of water and it tastes so rusty I can barely swallow it.
Somebody calls my phone and I answer it, ignoring the face on the screen. I can hear noises but I don’t know who it is because they sound like they are in a bubble and I feel like I’m in a bubble. I stare out to the trees beyond my window and as they sway in the wind I sway too. My vision blurs and a spiraling begins in my head. It starts like a pinprick in the middle of my brain and like a black hole grows larger sucking everything in. My knees buckle a little so I open my eyes again.
There is a bird on a branch staring at me and I want it to go away. Then I remember I’m on the phone and the words sound like chirping and for a moment I think the bird is talking to me. There is a long silence and I realise I have been nodding in reply to the sounds I refuse to comprehend. I don’t really feel like talking anyway so I hang up and when it immediately rings again I turn my phone off.
Back in the bathroom I mechanically brush my teeth wondering what the point is since I’m not going to smile today anyway. Not today or any other day for that matter. I collapse in a sullen heap and sit cross-legged on the cold bathroom tiles, an indignant protest to no one. My ass goes numb and I just start to enjoy the painful pins and needles in my feet and legs when someone taps lightly on the bathroom door. I hear my Dad’s voice say my name a few times before telling me I have 20 minutes. I don’t respond or even look at the door and when I know he is gone I drag myself over to the toilet and throw up.
Rinsing out my mouth at the sink I catch my reflection. I barely even recognize myself. The dark bags, pale lips and hollow eyes all belong to a stranger. I’m a mess and I shouldn’t look like a mess. Not today. I quickly shower. I even wash my hair. I blow it dry very carefully. It takes me ages to do my makeup because I want it to be perfect but its not and I almost cry but then my mascara would run so I break my eye pencil in half instead.
I stand in front of my closet for a long time. Door wide open I contemplate crawling inside but I know there is no Narnia in there or anywhere. Nothing in my wardrobe looks like it belongs to me and I wonder how someone else’s clothes got in there. I choose the darkest pieces of material I can find. My skirt feels strange and too short and it clings to me like a foreign object. In the mirror I look small and faded like a shadow. I can’t focus my eyes on my face.
I hear my Dad’s footsteps coming up the stairs and he knocks on my door. I open my mouth but it is full of cobwebs and dead moths. He is standing in the doorway angry because I’m taking too long. Finding my voice I scream at him because I can’t find my hair clips. He screams back at me then immediately apologises with tears in his eyes. I apologise too and silently wish that Mum was still here but she isn’t and that is just tough shit. My Dad leaves and I hurry to get ready as fast as I can but the burning in my throat is back. I ignore it and go downstairs.
My Dad is waiting on the footpath and I approach him with my head down. I’m wearing Mum’s coat and when he notices I don’t want to see his face. My eyes follow the asphalt all the way to his shoes and I have never seen them so shiny. For a second I remember that not too long ago my life was shiny too but not anymore. The big black hire car pulls around for us and my Dad reaches for my hand. I let him take it for once because the spiraling has started again and he squeezes it all the way to the cemetery.