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Together – Part 3

“Just by that blue car would be great, thanks.” I turn to the driver and smile warmly but it is a wasted effort. He is too busy looking at the road. I let the smile slip and close my eyes briefly, steeling myself for the effort of getting out of the car and into the flat. Why couldn’t we live on the ground floor? I don’t feel ill as such, just tired through to my bones and still disorientated. I smile again, at myself this time. There is no question after this that I would ever try proper drugs. Just the thought of it makes my stomach heave and the driver suddenly becomes less relaxed and more interested in getting me out of the car. They have paid for the taxi. It was the least they could do, in my opinion, giving that they are not going to take any further interest in my recovery. A wave of disoriented fear makes me start to shake. The driver is suddenly on the pavement beside me, holding out his hand ready to pull me out of the cab. From a distance it probably looks old fashioned, a courteous gesture but I understand that he just wants rid of me. He makes sure I am clear of the door and closes it behind me.
“This house?” The question takes me by surprise. I look at him stupidly for a moment before nodding. He guides me to the step and rings the bell. “Do you have a key, love?” His kindness surprises me; I can feel the tears piling up behind my eyes. I fumble through my pockets, looking for the key and praying that I will get indoors and up to my room before they start. He takes the key from me and opens the door.
“Get some rest” he advises before giving me the key back and returning to his car. He drives off and I’m left, feeling crazily lonely as he turns out of the street. My feet are like lead and I have to force myself to lift them and walk into the stairwell. All I have to do is climb the stairs and then I’ll be almost at my bed. I have never wanted anything more. The experiment was just meant to be about the effect that severe disorientation has on the body; I don’t know what they did exactly, but I don’t feel whole anymore. It is scary and exhausting. All I want to do is sleep until the world stops spinning.
I can hear Emily and Lola in the kitchen, talking and laughing. I really can’t deal with them right now, so I creep past the door. I’m almost at my room when my knees just give in and I sag heavily against the wall. The giggling in the other room stops.
“That you, Kerry?” Lola calls out.
“Yeah, it’s me.” I call back, trying to keep my voice level. “I’m knackered, just going to bed for a couple of hours.” If I was hoping that they would take the hint and leave me alone, I was being naive. I can hear them heading this way and making suggestive noises, speculating about where I have been for the past few nights. They obviously weren’t worried at all, which is a bit insulting. I sigh and wait for them. If I go into my room now they’ll only follow me and I’ll never get rid of them. It’s probably best to just let them get it out of their system here, in the hall, hopefully then I can slope off to my bed in relative peace. My head is starting to swim again. I can see disjointed images, swirling around in there like dreams that just won’t leave. As the kitchen door opens a sudden waft of burnt toast takes me by surprise.
“What’s wrong with the toaster?” I ask.
“Nothing… Dunno, haven’t used it for a while.” Lola looks at me oddly. “Strange thing to just come out with after going missing for days.”
“You won’t distract us that easily.” Laughs Emily, taking my arm and trying to lead me into the living room. I dig my heels in and don’t move.
“Where have you been, Kerry? You look awful.” Great, Lola has chosen now to get concerned. I decide to go for the truth; I just want to lie down and the smell is getting on my nerves. I feel frustrated by it for some reason, as though I was looking forward to that toast. I try to work out if I am hungry or not, but can’t concentrate as Lola repeats her question. I fish around in my coat pocket and hand her the cheque that they gave me as payment. She looks at it and then at me; her eyes wide, her mouth tight.
“They were advertising for people to do some medical trial. That should cover my rent, and the other stuff I owe you.” I try for a reassuring smile. “Told you I was good for it, didn’t I?” A sudden noise makes me flinch and Emily joins Lola in staring at me like I’m an idiot. They look like disappointed parents.
“I never doubted that you were good for it, Kerry, or I wouldn’t have given you the money in the first place. You’re just going through a rough patch; there was no need to do anything as stupid as this. Do you…” Lola breaks off to jump forwards, catching me just before I hit the ground. Both of them grab at me and haul me into my room where they dump me on the bed. I want to object, or possibly to help, but I can’t make my limbs or my mouth do what I want.
“Get some sleep” Emily orders roughly before adding “do you have any idea what they gave you?” I nod and try to speak, but all I can think of is the burnt toast. Some part of me is starving but it isn’t my stomach. As I fall back to sleep I hear myself decide on a pepperoni pizza. I really don’t like pepperoni.

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