The sun’s harsh rays disturb me from the equally harsh embrace of sleep. I can’t feel my feet for the cold, November’s end bringing with it the biting temperature drop. I try to move my toes, but find them stiff and unresponsive. Damn. Getting slowly up to my feet, I try and restore circulation, and try to ignore the complaints from the rest of my body.
The glint of my flute reminds me of last evening’s events. I pick it up with my gloved hand, insulated nicely from the metallic chill of my one treasure. My fingers slow and limited this early in the morning, not by the cold, but simply the tightness of the unfeeling tissue. After a night clenched through my disturbed dreams, the skin takes some time to relax. The keys are as stiff as my fingers, but they'll loosen through the day. I dismantle the flute with much difficulty, and nearly drop the lip plate at the sound of the door being forced open. A clattering and groaning reassures me that it is my Dad, back from what he calls 'work'. I can't remember the last time he came back with any money, and I'm pretty sure sitting on the pavement asking for change is not considered a job. I check the time; the clock reads 5:30, so it's probably about 6:45. Now that I have full control of my whole body, I can get ready for school.
My black tights are torn and faded, and also too small for me, forgotten in the corner of the room. I slip them on, positioning the holes so that they do not reveal the bruises from yesterday’s events. Now that sensation returns, I become aware of the dull pain from my knees. Unexplained however, is the stinging on my cheek, although that is fading quickly.
I grab my skirt, which is about the right size, but only at the cost of being too big for the last three years. The grey material is covered in little marks and a few threads that have come loose. The pleats are still stained with ink that spilt months ago, after my last pen broke. I still have to write in pencil.
My shirt and jumper are similarly peppered in the signs of past struggles and trips. Neither fit particularly well, although that is more to do with my size than anything. The last few years, I have learned to expect to go to hungry, I have learnt that each meal is a miracle, though small and not filling. The excessive sizes help to hide it, but people still notice, mainly Ellie. Damn.
After some searching, I find my tie, which I discarded from my throat last night in my attempts to regain some kind of clear airway. It is less damaged than my other clothes, though it is torn at the seams. Pulling ties is not uncommon, at least not for me, in the scraps and scuffles of hormone-induced tension to be found in a school such as mine. I tie it as quickly as I can, despite the limited mobility of my left hand.
Fully clothed, I stumble through to what used to be the bathroom to sort my hair, tripping on the broken step in my tiredness. An equally tired mirror still stands, cracked glass still reflecting, rotten frame still holding. I don’t like what that glass shows me, what that frame allows to be seen.
A narrow-faced, underweight to the point of malnourishment, cut and bruised, Czech girl. She has unremarkable grey eyes, accompanied by the heavy bags beneath them. Her hair is long and unruly, the longer hazel strands hinting at waves but seeming random. Her thin lips are neutral, not reacting to the image before her.
I raise the brush, letting it run through the tangles, a few hairs lost as I battle with the coils and twists. Some kind of order is eventually found, the waves becoming uniform as the individual strands finally agree on a direction. At least it shows I made some kind of effort, but still the narrow face stares back at me, just as tired, just as emotionless. Damn.
I can’t do any more good, although the movement is now soothing. Giving me time to properly wake from my semi-conscious state. No more sound comes from downstairs; I guess he fell asleep on the sofa. Again.
I return to my room to pick up my flute, now safely in its case, and my latest composition so I can practise before school. I usually get a good half an hour or so of peace before the inevitably awful day begins. Ellie still hasn’t worked it out yet, I’m not sure how dedicated she is to making my life hell, so she might not think it worth it to have to get up early, but I wouldn’t like to risk it. I’m not sure if it’s the way she was raised or a frigid heart of her own making, but she seems to spend her whole life looking down at others. Damn her. She latches on to things: a stutter, a foreign accent, a strange glove, weary eyes or perhaps how someone’s fading away, thinner and thinner every day. Damn her. I must have made her so happy. If the happiness she has taken from me is hers now, she must live her life in utter bliss. Damn her. I know not everything’s her fault, but she has a knack for making everything worse, for spotting the slightest weakness, or the most aggravating comment.
One day I will.
That scares me.
Because I know it’s true.
No wait, don’t bother, someone’s already done it.