Claire Harmer, Grade 10, Macksville High School
The wall was blue wallpaper, with yellow flowers printed on it. I’d never been in the teachers’ staffroom before, but I’d always imagined it would have looked nicer. There were tears streaming down my cheeks; I was numb. What’s happening? I know I’m avoiding what they just told me. But how couldn’t I? It wasn’t real. I was happier sitting here and pretending all that I cared about was the teachers’ lack of decorating style.
“Alyssa, it’s your father on the phone,” a teacher came up to me, a concerned expression on her face, like I was marked, ‘Fragile, Handle Carefully’.
“No, no,” I said, backing away. I wasn’t conscious of the words coming out of my mouth. I couldn’t stop them, nor make a real sentence, just express how much I couldn’t talk to anyone right now. But she insisted, putting the phone to my ear and then Dad was there, and I couldn’t say ‘No’ anymore.
“Hey, hey sweetie,” he said, in that same fragile caring voice that the teacher used, but I could tell his throat was choked with tears like mine. “How are you?”
Horrible, I wanted to say; torn apart inside like the victim of a horrific car wreck. “Okay,” I managed to cough out.
“I know, I know,” he said. “Look Al, I have to go now, but you know I’m here for you, right? We’re in this together.”
“Sure, yeah. Bye Dad,” I mumbled. He hung up and I sat for a moment listening to the beeping. It was a constant, a reliable, a sound that would never go away. Then it stopped. I let out a sob and everything came crashing down on me for the first time since they told the news. My mother was dead.
I went back to staring at the wallpaper, filling my mind with the meaningless pattern. I pulled my knee’s up tight against myself, tucking up smaller, hiding from the world. My friends would probably think I’m insane if they saw me like. I laughed to myself. I probably am insane; I need medicine, I need a straitjacket. Hell, I need a new life!
My friends. My friends would be there for me. They could be my normality, my miracle cure in this crazy new world. They would know how to make this all better.
“Can I - Could I see my friends?” I walked out of the door and straight into another teacher. “Amy, Jessie, you know?”
“Right now?” the teacher said with surprise, and then corrected herself. “I mean, of course you can. We’ll go see them now, okay?” Yes, you can have whatever you want, we wouldn’t want you to break, we wouldn’t want you to shatter.
When they stood around me, they did their best. I could see that. But I realised my friends were just people, not miracles, and they couldn’t do anything to help me. Slowly I turned, walking back into the world of wallpaper and numbness; the world I had to live in now that my mother had crashed her car on the way home from work and died.