The Wednesday I Never Existed

Reilly Jenkins likes the way things are in her humble town of Gordon, living in a house as rickety as a railway with two beefy parents where the weather can change with a click of a finger. When Reilly goes to bed like usual on an ordinary Tuesday night, she wakes on no ordinary Wednesday. Suddenly everything changes. Her parents think she's the neighbour, her school teacher's forgot her name and her entire life is turned upside down, her identity falling from her grip like loose change from your pockets.

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2. Centuries?

School on Tuesday was worse than Monday. I ate my lunch in the bathrooms and soaked my clothes, my back to the wind just outside the bathroom door. My eyes were heavy by the end of the day. Kaitlin, who’s my best friend, followed me in through to the bathroom, her hands on her poky waist.
“Urgh! What are you doing in here?” She leered at my drippy hair. She approached me closer and brushed her fingers through it.
“Too hot!” I moaned.
“It’s gross in here!”
“It’s only deodorant.”
“Not the smell!” Kaitlin hooted. “I mean to eat a sandwich in the restrooms it’s – yuck!”
I shrugged as I nibbled at the crust with just my front teeth. Kaitlin pierced me with her eyes. The window let in shafts of sun which blinked on her greasy pony-tail. Her legs were short and her knees were small but she was a pretty fast runner.
“Are you coming out?”
“Nup.”
“Why not?” Kaitlin whined. “If one of those girls caught you in here you’d never hear the end of it.”
“I don’t care!” I simply stated. “I’m fine where I am. Can’t you feel it’s cooler in here?”
Kaitlin sneezed.
“Gracious!” She giggled.
She let her cinnamon hair fall to her shoulders in sweaty clusters.
“Gosh Gordon!” She chewed on her hair tie. “This weather makes me sick!”
“Have you got a chance to look at the library?”
“No!” Kaitlin’s eyes were big. “I want to though. I can’t believe they’re almost finished.”
“They’ve only put the walls up!” I moaned. “It’ll take centuries to finish.”
“No it will not. I can finally get a place to escape to!”
“Escape what? The heat?”
“No! To escape those girls and more things like...”
“Why do you keep saying those girls?”
“Because I hate them. They’re snotty.”
The glow of the sun reflected off the carpeted cobblestone ground outside. My eyelids squinted furiously, my elbow raised up to my face to shadow away the light. Kaitlin pushed past.
“We’d better go or Miss. Ryan will have a fit.”
We hadn’t heard the bell and already we were five minutes late.

“Kaitlin and Reilly?” Miss. Ryan uttered. “Where were ye?”
Kaitlin yawned a sorry. “I won’t be taking none of ye attitude, okay?”
“We didn’t hear the bell.” I grizzled pathetically. Miss. Ryan leaned against the chalk board. “Both of ye – detention!”
The air conditioner was broken and if that wasn’t hard enough, Miss. Ryan made us write and rewrite the word sorry for seven pages until the bell went.
“Now what do yer have to say to meh?”
“Sorry.” We both droned.
“Run along or ye’ll miss ye bus.”
“Thank you!” Kaitlin remarked as we drifted out into the dry, bittersweet winds of Tuesday.
“The bus is going to be here soon!” Kaitlin stabbed a bony finger at the bus shelters. “We’d better get a move on since Miss. Ryan kept us in late.”
As we skip-walked to the bus shelters, Ally grabbed my arm so tight like metal to a magnet. “Better be watching your sky!” She said with large, round eyes and a gaping mouth. “After a hot day like today there’s a storm ‘a brewin’.”
I always thought Ally was a weird one. She was always talking about the weather nineteen to the dozen like the actual weather man on television. I bus grumbled to a stop.
“See ya’s!” Ally shot as she began to shrink into the distance.
“Ew! Hot – hot – hot – hot!” Kaitlin waved her hand beneath her bottom at the seat. “These seats – yeow!”
“I ain’t swapping, don’t look at me.”
“Rats, Reilly!”
“I don’t get any of this algebra stuff, would you ask you mother if you could come over tomorrow to help me out a little?
“Sure can Reilly.”
“Thanks a heap Kait.”
“When do you get off, again?”
“Just up this street.”
The bus made a sharp corner before burping to a stop. “See you!”
“Bye.” I jumped the steps down the bus and waved a goodbye to Kaitlin as the bus rattled to a start again.

 

“I’m home mum!” I shouted from the kitchen.
“You are?” Mum seemed desperate. “Could you make me a sandwich while you’re in there?”
“Sure. Whadaya want on it?”

I woke up with my fan on my face, my sheets taped to my legs. I groaned as I wriggled from the prison and sat upright, rubbing at my eyes which felt powdery with sleep. My cheeks felt burnt and blemished as I ran my fingers over them. Out through my window was the street and Mr. Lawson’s dewy front yard. I threw my legs over the side of my bed and sat slouched and run-down from  nothing at all. I pressed my fingertips into my bed mattress; the back of my neck feeling like a train just ran into it.
I tip-toed down the hallway listening intently for the sound of running water. Mum wasn’t in the shower so I figured I could fit one in before she woke up.
I grabbed my school uniform and a pair of fresh underwear and locked the bathroom door behind me.
The water spat at me. It was freezing water and it got in my eyes. I pressed up against the cold glass of the shower door.
“Mum?” I called. My voice bellowed through the thin walls of the shower cubicle. I tried to turn on the hot but it didn’t make any difference. “Mum! Have you got the taps goin’? Mum!”
No response. I ran the soap up and down my body and got out of there, twisting the taps off.
As I walked down the hallway, I could hear the crackling of bacon and its salty smell sit on my lips.
“Mum?” I walked in through to the kitchen and stood facing the back of her head. “What’s for breakfast?”
She spun around. Her body! It was thin! She was so much less fat than I could imagine her. Her eyes were startled.
“It’s Mrs. Jenkins to you!” she shepherded me out with ruthless fingernails, onto the front lawn in my socks. “Run along now, you’re mother is going to be worried about you.”
“Who?”
Mum was hobbling back into the house.  “Hey!” I squalled.
Mum spun a full 180 degrees. “What? Your house ain’t far, now get moving!”
“What is this?” I reviled, sauntering back in through the door. Mum grabbed me by the collar and jerked me back outside onto the crunchy, butter grass.
“Who do you think you are? I don’t particularly think it’s all too respectful to come into somebody else’s house and demand breakfast!” she tongued.
“I’ll do my chores if you let me in.” I said this, but I knew something was wrong. Mrs. Jenkins couldn’t drop forty five kilograms in one night.
“Do your chores? I’ve already done mine. You should be on your way...”
“Mum? What are you talking about?”
“Oh!” Mum scoffed. “How dare you say a thing like that? If your mother heard you calling me that she’d have a fit!” Mum’s cheeks were scarlet in the primrose sunshine. Her skin was so fine and thin.
“Where’s dad?”
Mum ignored me and trundled back into the house, gushing on about respect. I thumped to the locked flyscreen after her and pounded on it so it clattered in its frame.
“Is this some game?” I smirked. “Or have you seriously forgotten who I am?”
Mum’s face appeared on the other side of the thick flyscreen.
“I think you’ve hit your head my dear.”
She disappeared into the dark house.
“Dad!” I yelled. “Daddy!”
“Go away!” Mrs. Jenkins snapped.
Where was I supposed to go? I sniggered in my mind.
Where did she think I live? Who did she think I was? Why has she lost so much weight? What does my father think of this? Is he thin too?
I went to school in socks and no bag.
The walk was long and hot and soon I took my socks off. I got a splinter in my big toe but ignored it. It wasn’t as painful as what my mother was playing at. The path was scorching and my souls were red and sore after a while.  There was hot wind too, that stabbed at my face and drew lines across my forehead. My arms were dead-weight flopping at my waist. The shrewish, angry sun kept harrying my neck as I hid me head down between my shoulders, watching the cracks skein and twist in the pavement. I could the whispers of wind through trees and the jaws and yabbers from close neighbours, their fences red with rust dividing them from me. My ears tingled in the heat. Something was wrong. Something was seriously wrong.
My next surprised came not long after. I arrived at the school, my eyes wide with astonishment. Where builders once where was a newly established library with sun-shot windows and bagged cinder-block exterior.
“Aye!” came a saucy shout. I turned my head slightly. Miss. Ryan was walking in my direction, arms pumping ferociously by her sides.
“Hello,” I cleared my throat.
“Yer a little underdressed for school, aren’t ye?” Miss. Ryan had pomposity in her tone.
“Sorry Miss. Ryan...”
“I don’t believe ever telling ye my name – yet before I do I’d like to know yours.”
“Excuse me?”
“Excuse you!”
“You already know my name.”
“I’m afraid not,” yawned Miss. Ryan. Her face was impatient.
“It’s Reilly.”
“Reilly who? I’d like to know yer surname too.”
“Jenkins. Reilly Jenkins.”
“Reilly Jenkins, aye? And what’d ye be standing ‘ere goggling at our library?”
“Well, sorry for my goggling, but it wasn’t finished before I believe.”
“Did you just climb out from under a rock? We’ve had this library for eight years and still standing. Now how long have ye been at this school for, eh?”
My throat felt dry.
“I’ve been at this school my whole life.”
“Are you sure? Then it’s a little odd you not knowing about this library then.”
 “Sorry?”
“Ye’d better be on yer way to the office so you can get some shoes for your feet.”
I looked down at my veiny feet.
“I figured you’d remember me.”
“What was that, eh?”
“Nothing.” 
I ambled my way to the office when Kaitlin walked of the office doors, her fringe stooped in parted arches, scalloped with ringlets, apple; red and green nail-polish and powdery blush on her freckled-face. She was wearing dark, shadowy amber lipstick like I’d never seen her. She coughed back a laugh as she looked me up and down.
“Kaitlin!” I grabbed my mouth, remembering she probably had forgotten as well. She walked on, ignorantly anyway.
The office was of course cold with air conditioning. There were two lounge chairs by the wall and a desk curtained by gridded chicken wire for supposed safety reasons.
“Hello,” I began, “Miss. Ryan sent me down for shoes.”
The front desk lady, Mrs. Wont stood on her tippy-toes to see my feet.
“What happened?”
“They got wet,” I lied, “With mud and Miss. Ryan won’t accept them.”
“Alright, I’ll need your name and size.”
I was sort of puzzled. Mrs. Wont of all people should remember me.
“Don’t you know my name?”
Mrs. Wont had her pen ready to write, but looked up.
“No – sorry, that’s why I asked for it.”
“But it’s Reilly. Reilly Jenkins, you have to remember me.”
“I’m sorry, you must be a new student...”
“I am not a new student!” I shrieked. “I’ve been at this school all my life and now suddenly no one remembers. Not Miss. Ryan, not Kaitlin, not even my own mother who probably thinks I’m just one of her neighbours. Mrs. Wont you can’t have forgotten who I am.”
Mrs. Wont stood uncomfortably with her pen in her hand.
“I am sorry Reilly, or Rhiannon. I didn’t mean to upset you. May you give me your shoe size?”
“Six and a half.”
“Thank you.” Mrs. Wont hurriedly shuffled out of the room. I did a runner. I wasn’t going to wait around and just pretend that I wasn’t Reilly Jenkins. I ran back home, my feet pounding the asphalt. I came to the front door and violently bashed my fist against it.
“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Mrs. Jenkins came and pressed her nose against the flyscreen before opening it. “Courtenay, what are you doing here?”
“Courtenay? Who’s Courtenay?”
“You are, silly.”
“No! I’m Reilly.”
“Are you feeling okay, you look like you have a hot flush.”
“No mum!” I scream-cried. “No! You can’t have forgotten, you can’t have!” I collapsed into a squat, burying my face into my knees.
“Come on Courtenay, aren’t you suppose to be at school. And why do you always have to be calling me mum?”
The tears stained my cheek and chin. Mrs. Jenkins hauled me up by the shoulders and brushed the hair from her face.
“Oh darling, let me call your mother.”
You are my mother!” I cried.
“Look, you might be crying but I’m not going to just play along my darling. Are you ill?”
“No!” I stabbed her coldly. “I am not ill! I am most definitely not ill!”
I stood up straight. “What is this? If this is a joke, it isn’t funny!”
“What joke? Courtenay dear, lemme call your mother.”
“But you can’t!” I screamed. “Who are you going to call?”
“You must be ill if you can’t remember your mother...”
“I know my mother! You’re my mother! You are!”
“Courtenay, I’m afraid all I can do for you is call your mother.”
I rubbed my eyes desperately. “Oh Lord!”
“Let me make you some tea so you can calm down a little.”
I shrugged in my puddle of tears. She grabbed me hand gently and pulled me into the house. “If you stay out there too long, you’re going to make a scene. The last thing I need is a camera man and snobby news reporter tracking footprints over my front lawn.”
I sat down in the couch. This was the couch I usually sat in. “Actually,” I changed my mind, “I think I’ll just go up to my room.”
I made my way up the staircase when mum stopped me with a shout.
“Stop! Where do you think you are going?”
“To my bedroom!”
“What bedroom, Courtenay?”
“Stop now mum. This is really ridiculous, give it a break.”
“You come down. I’ll call Pamela.”
“Who’s Pamela?”
“You’re mother.”
“Stop saying that!”
I jogged down the stairs and accidentally knocked mums favourite vase onto the floor. It shattered into a millions pieces of scattered glass. Mum gave a cry of dismay.
“Oh Lord, look what you’ve done now!”
I side-stepped around the mess and looked mum in the side of her head. “I’m sorry.”
“Could you please leave? I am sorry but I’m not used to having kids in the house. Besides, you’re mum’ll want to know where you’re at.”
This can’t be true, I told myself, this just cannot be true. My mother would never forget me let alone my name or who I am to her. My father would be outraged with this. Mother would never play such a foul trick. I wasn’t going to so easily accept that mum has got amnesia and lost forty or so kilograms in a dream and woke to find she actually had. Mother was a bollocky tomato immune to weight loss. Nevertheless my father couldn’t loss nothing either. Where was he at anyway? Mother has got to have hit her head or something. But that’s terrible! I can’t think that way. Have I hit my head? Nonsense!
“Stop staring Courtenay, please just go.”
I turned and walked out. What was I supposed to do otherwise? Where was I to go? What was I to do? Who was I to stay with? Who was I, anyway? Was this me Reilly?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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