Beep beep beep.
How dare you wake me up! A voice in my head shouts, suddenly alert. Blearily, I shove my hand to the side of me, fumbling for my new digital alarm clock. That bloody beeping - I still haven't worked out how to set the sound yet, and I'm too stubborn to ask someone or look at the instructions.
In the front of my door, as always, is a plastic, white dinner tray holding a small, cold bowl of porridge and a glass of orange juice; the nurses give me juice on purpose because they know it makes me cranky and then I get in trouble, which results in 6 hours in 'The Calming Chamber'. It is anything but calming.
I stumble over to a set of wooden drawers against the wall and yank at the knobs to find the 'easy' drawer, which the nurses named for my sake because when I wake up I can't be bothered to get dressed, so everything in this particular drawer is 'easy' to put on. If you ask me, when you're tired and feel like crap, nothing is easy to put on.
On my way to my en-suite, I look in the corner of the room like I always do. And she's still there, looking at me, smiling at me, pitying me. She knows I can't do anything but yet she still stays with me, following me round at lunch, sitting on my bed when I brush my hair, standing in the back of the mirror when I brush my teeth. Only when I go to sleep does she stand by the door and turn round so that she won't scare me. But she never speaks; something I've been trying to make her do for years. I'm starting to think she can't.
Everyone thinks I'm mad. That's why I'm here, locked up in this looney bin, when I know I'm not looney. I can honestly say I never pictured myself stuck in a mental health unit. A couple of trips to the doctors maybe, but never something this drastic.
It was my dad. I was 7 when the girl made her first appearance. I was sat under our big, old oak tree in the front yard playing with my favourite dolls - Emily and Senna. I remember asking her to play with me, and she smiled and nodded, grabbing Senna and making her walk up and down the lawn on her peachy plastic legs. I talked to her for hours, until the lamp posts started flickering and my dad called me in for dinner. I never questioned the fact that this girl didn't speak, or that she hadn't even told me her name; I spoke enough for both of us.
Around the table, my dad looked at me strangely and kept glancing from my mother to me, who had just got in from her shift at the local supermarket, bringing home a frozen chicken with her.
Finally he said, "Sasha honey, who were you talking to outside?"
My mother looked at him questioningly and raised an eyebrow, but my father held up a hand to stop her.
"I don't know daddy. She didn't tell me her name."
My dad dropped his fork. It made such a clang on the light, wooden floor that I jumped, spilling my glass of water that I'd just picked up.
"Marcus!" My mother scolded, dropping to her knees to mop up the water with the hem of her dress. "What ever has got into you?!" My father sat quiet for the rest of the meal.
That night when I went to bed, I heard my father whispering fiercely. My mother shouted a response and then the lights flicked off. It didn't concern me at the time what they were talking about, and I couldn't make it out anyway, but I was scared at the raised voice of my mother.
She never raised her voice.
A raised voice became the least of my worries.