Short story by Cobus Vermeulen
(Photo is for illustration purposes)
THE room’s layout was typical of a young girl’s room. It was coloured in shades of pale pink and royal purple. There are some abstract art pictures on the wallpaper and also the “Heroes Corner” – delicious men in the pictures. Men any teenage girl would pine over! The girly bedding stood in direct contrast to the teddy bears invading the bed.
The desk against the wall at the window stood with a few sheets covered with poems. Also, one signed love letter – your secret admirer. In the special corner, her true love is on the table, in the picture frame, both, together.
They look so happy and free, in the picture.
The door was pushed open and she came in at full speed, “I do not want to hear it!” she yelled, drowning out the whispering voice.
Suddenly she only sees white in front of her, a little panicked.
“I just want to tell you what’s going on.” Wes desperately pleaded, needing to explain to her.
Teresa wasn’t going to give him the chance. She walked to her white bed, laying over half of it, not caring. Wes could just look at her, knowing this would happen, nonetheless, he needed to try to help her!
Suddenly she turned and looked at him with tearful red, light-blue eyes, the white makeup around her eyes, started to run. Her cheeks went all red and she started sobbing again. Her beautiful dress had suffered as well; there were small red spots and white stripes – the kind that would never come out!
Wes wanted to go to her, but he didn’t think it was a good idea.
“Why are you still here? I do not want to see you again! I do not want to hear what you think we should do! I know what you want to say, so give me a very good reason why I should make this easier for you?” Teresa couldn’t move around easily at the best of times, and this day was one of those bad ones. It was as if something was draining her strength. Other times she felt so clumsy, but on days like this one, she had little energy and almost no coordination. Wes could not understand her on most days. One moment she would be as deadly as a cobra and then the next, as gentle as a lamb. One of the many reasons why he loved her so absolutely.
“I want you, need you to listen to me carefully. I have to tell you…” Wes tried again. She jumped off the bed and grabbed her favourite teddy bear, the one of their first anniversary together. She flung it at him with a force that would make any boy jealous. “What! Wow!” he reacted shocked, dodging the pink teddy at the same time. The bear hit the white wall behind Wes. It remained there, hanging by some invisible string. Again, she wondered what was going on. Theresa realized that the room was very quiet, appreciating it for the time being. There was far too much to plan and get done. She heard the radio was playing, but couldn’t clearly hear what song that played. She would have to concentrate hard. She turned to the radio, kneeling down so she was closer to the speaker on the floor. At that moment the black box started to sink into the white floor.
She couldn’t think straight. Had she changed the colour of her room? Why did everything look so different now?
Wes stretches his arms out, palms open to her, hoping she’d believe he just wanted to tell her the truth, “Please listen to me, I must tell you something.” he tries endlessly. “I know you must have a different girlfriend, one who can go to the prom with you! This is why I haven’t seen you in the last few days! I don’t want to hear what you’ve got to say!” she shouted in the last sentence, forcing the point across. She presses her palms against her ears and turns so quickly around that she falls on her bed again. When she opened her eyes, she saw that she was on her bed, after all, soft material cushions, and shapes on the floor.
“I don’t have another girl, Theresa.” Wes tells her desperately, seeing her expression, she’s in pain. He knew very well what came next. Blood started to run from her nose. Theresa screamed or at least she thought she was screaming, yet, no sound came out of her mouth. She kept on hitting the floor with her fisted hands. “What’s wrong? Did you hurt yourself?” Wes asked, kneeling next to her. “I do not want to hear it! You are just lying to me! I just cannot trust you! What is going on?” the questions echoed through her mind, but there was only silence in the white room. With her continued exertion, she fainted again. Wes stayed right there with her.
He watched her lying quietly and peacefully. She was out cold, but she wasn’t resting. Her one hand once more started jerking, and her repeating nightmare again invaded her peace.
THE sun rose and set again. A day and a half had gone by. “Wes, where are you?” Theresa cried out in terror. “I am here with you. I am not far away. We just have to talk first.” Wes whispered softly against her ear. Theresa jumped off the bed and stopped just before she walked into the white door. She looked past the door, remembering the day when Wes walked into the clear glass door himself, it cracked her up back in the day, and then a second later the smile faded like the memory. “I just want to get out of this white nightgown. You should get out of the room for a moment.” Theresa blushed, “Wait… I cannot get out of the dress! Can you help me?” She walked over to the cupboard and started taking out other clothes – a white shirt, white shorts and white socks, which would fit perfectly with the white sneakers. Wes walked closer. Teresa turned around before he could touch her, she walked up to the window and opened it.
“The sun will shine nicely today. Would you come with me to the lake?” she asked happily, turning to him and hop-scotching till she landed in front of his pale face. Wes waited till she had passed him, as he knew she would. “If that’s what you want to do? But, before you go, we have to talk about something.” Wes again tried. “I just want to get something out of the closet, something I can wear outside in the hot sun. You do know it’s summer and we could go for a swim, but even better, what about a picnic? I haven’t been… oh, in forever… in such a long, long time.” Theresa mused thoughtfully, “I really cannot remember how long ago I last was on a picnic. Was the last one not when Wes took me?” she wondered.
Theresa couldn’t recall so well. Not even when last she was in a swimming pool. She turned back around and walked to the closet. The door was still open and she stuck her entire head inside. She looked around but saw that everything inside looked so similar, in colour, texture, and fabric. She didn’t feel so comfortable in her own skin anymore!
“You must go so that I can get myself ready.” she told him, “We do not want my parents to get the wrong idea here now, do we? That would surely give them cause to stop us seeing each other, and they would not allow you to come visit me.” she said, “You’ve not been here in a while and I would hate for something like that to keep us apart – although we’ve been together… I cannot just go blab it out at them, can I? I will call you when I’m finished.” Wes walked towards the door. Teresa turned around suddenly and looked at the clock. Shockingly, she saw that half the day had passed. “Is that the time? I did not know that it was lunchtime already! Wes, we have to make sure that we take an umbrella with us. The clouds rolling in looks ominous. Even so, I will burn badly in the sun, whether or not those clouds bring rain, I still don’t want to get soaked either.” Theresa wasn’t making too much sense; Wes was used to it by now. She looked out through the window at the clouds. They did not look too ominous, but still, she wanted to be cautious nonetheless. “We can do that, but just wait with your plans, we need to talk. There’s something very important that we’ll have to talk about!” Wes raised his voice on the last words, immediately regretting it.
With this shock, Teresa stumbles past Wes and falls on her bed. Wes reached out to her, he wasn’t quick enough to catch her – she wasn’t upset with him, she could hardly even catch herself these days. She fell more often lately. Fortunately, for her, her white bed could do it nicely and safely.
“I FEEL drunk! Everything is turning so fast! What is going on? I know that something is wrong, but what is it? Why can I not stop turning? Why do I get tired so quickly? Why is my room turning so often?” Theresa screamed fearfully, the pain in her voice was clear. The bed on which she lies, slowly drop away into the white and then she lies on the pillowed floor again. She lies still on her back and stares up at the white ceiling. As if by magic and before she could understand it, the closet disappears as well, along with her table, and her letters from Wes. She desperately reached out to save the letters, but she couldn’t get to them. The table moved too fast for her drained body.
“What can I do to help? Why don’t you answer me? What’s wrong? Are you hurt? What is it? What’s going on?” Wes asked terrified.
“Help me, Wes! I am fading away and do not know how! I am really scared and everything around me is becoming darker! The room just keeps on turning, and I’m trying my hardest to stop it! It just doesn’t work! I’m struggling to get off the bed and my legs aren’t working either! Oh, I feel so nauseous, but why? I haven’t eaten today!” Theresa pressed her palms against her head, “My headache also doesn’t want to go away and it causes my nose to bleed!” Teresa shouts terrified, her anxiety just keeps on growing.
The tears rolled down Wes’s cheeks and he crouched by her side. Teresa’s head and legs started to jerk, and he didn’t see how he’d ever get her to relax. Wes can only wait there, until she gets weak, and passes out. She wouldn’t get any rest though. “Teresa! Teresa, you must fight against it! That’s all you need to do. I am here for you and I will help as far as I can, but then you also need to help! I cannot do everything alone! I will stay here for as long as you need me, but…” Wes stopped talking, he saw she was passed out. There was so much he needed to tell her, but he would try once she was awake again.
LOOKING at this, a man in a white coat and two other people with him, stood by the window in the door. He kept watching the young woman in the padded room. “Doctor,” the word barely left her mouth, “How long do you think… will it take before she can… leave this place?” the soul-wrenched woman wanted to know. Looking as sympathetic at her, as he could manage; “It would all depend on her. What’s currently going on with her is not clear, probably not even to her. This is the best place I can treat her. Overcoming the accident… the young man’s death… accepting it and processing what happened, well, that would take some time.” he told her, unsure if it would help at all. “Doctor, I know that you have more than one patient who you’ve treated here, but she’s our only child. Wes’s death… lost us, one child, already. We don’t want to lose her also. You have to help us, help her please!” the broken-hearted man pleaded with him.
(Photo for illustration purpose)
He looked at both parents, fighting back the tears welling up in his own eyes. He knew he had to hold it together for their sake, although theirs was a heart-wrenching situation. “I sincerely do understand how you are feeling. It’s a little more difficult to witness one’s only child go through this, but it does not even come close to what she is dealing with right now. Theresa is here barely a week, so it is early days to formulate a plan for helping her. She was the one who would decide just how long she would be struggling. Neither I nor my staff ever give up on any patient, nor would we do that with her. I’ll do everything I can come up with. Please, you just need to keep holding on for her sake. She will need all the support in this trying time.”
THEY’RE forced to turn from the window, from the room, from her for now; walking down the endlessly long white corridor.
Short story written by Cobus Vermeulen
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