SO THAT’S WHERE this all started. Thinking back on it now, I wonder why I didn’t get out of the whole darn situation that morning when I had the chance. I could have gotten up from the sidewalk and figured out what to do on my own, instead of following Templeton’s lead. I could have made my own choices, instead of simply allowing things to happen to me. I could have stayed miserably single, instead of becoming so fatally involved.
But I wouldn’t have sat on the bus with Templeton that morning if I hadn’t slept with him the night before; if I hadn’t had that argument with Professor Nickwelter in the back of his car; if I hadn’t waited four nights in a row at The Strangest Feeling; if I hadn’t left Ville Constance to come to Boston; if I hadn’t met Cindey Fellowes; if I hadn’t been rejected from the Doneau High basketball team.
Now that I think about it, I probably should have learned my lesson after running through the hedge that one afternoon before even thinking of joining the basketball team in the first place.
It’s starting to make a little more sense now, isn’t it? And I’ve only just scratched the surface of explaining how I got here. In this box without light. This cage without air. This life without hope. That’s not too dramatic, is it?
I was doubtful at first, but now I’m sure that my left arm must be broken. It hurts to touch, but I can’t stop myself from feeling the bones under my skin moving in ways they shouldn’t be moving. I’ve never had a broken bone in my life. It feels cold on the inside, but it burns to the touch.
I start thinking of my parents, back home in Ville Constance. The last time I’d seen my mother, I told her all about my feelings towards Templeton Rate. Well, at least Templeton as he had seemed at the time, from my own delusional standpoint. I know that through standard and practical parental advice, she had just wanted to make sure I was safe out on my own in the big world; that the decisions I was making could never hurt me. I know that now, but a whole lot of good that advice does at this point. I wonder if my parents ever regret giving advice as much as I regret having to listen to it? I wonder if they’re even the least bit worried about me right now? I suppose they could find some solace in the fact that I’m currently laying in the safest possible place in Boston. According to Templeton Rate, anyway.
After all, he did tell me that I’d be safest in here.
That this was the one place in the city I could be if I wanted to stay the way I wanted to stay.
My only hope for a last chance.
My last chance at death.
I pull myself up off the floor once again. Then I take a deep breath in and ready myself for my next big attempt at getting out of here. I charge across the floor, like a crazed Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae). Because of the darkness, I’m not the least bit certain when I’ll impact with the other side, but I trip over my own feet before I even get there. I hit the wall awkwardly with my forearm, rather than connecting with my shoulder as I had intended. But that isn’t what really hurts; it’s the fall back to floor where I land on my left arm that really hurts.
The real truth is that all the lies I’ve been told are what really hurt the most. It’s the reality that one single person can be so cruel. Not just to me, but to an entire city. I think for a moment about whether my feet had tripped over something other themselves, but I figure it’s probably best to take care of the throbbing pain in my arm instead.
It’s radiating a smelly, wet heat now. I touch my arm to find that my broken ulna has now pierced right through the skin. The sight of blood is one of a number of things that really makes me uneasy. The smell of blood is another. Thankfully though, the lack of light is currently negating one of those fears. I begin to feel light-headed; it’s getting harder to think. I console myself with the thought that at least my bones aren’t hollow, like that of a bird, or else I might have shattered my arm completely.
I want to come up with the most sensible way out of this horrible predicament, yet I find myself contemplating curses instead. I’m trying to think of which precise word I’ll be yelling out loud in my one great final moment.
Awkwardly, I pull my right arm out of my Christmas Island Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) t-shirt, and then I slide the shirt over my left shoulder and carefully down my arm. I make sure I don’t snag it on the exposed bone. The blood-soaked shirt will have to do its best to absorb a little more of my insides. Hopefully I won’t need any more makeshift bandages tonight, because I’m quickly running out of clothes. And I’m finding no comfort in the fact that an endangered species t-shirt is saving my own life right now.
I hug the metal floor once again. Just what is going on outside right now, I wonder? Are things really as bad as I suspect they are? Maybe I would have been better off out there. I mean, in all my life to date, I’ve never liked being the odd one out. Who does? But now that I consider it, embracing change has to be the way to go, isn’t it? If you’re the last to change, you’re automatically the odd one out.
No. I’m not seriously trying to convince myself that being on the other side of these walls is the better option, can I? This lack of oxygen is really starting to take its toll.
Focus Isabelle. Where was I?
That image of Zirk in his costume suddenly pops into my head. It triggers memories of spending Halloween with Templeton. The answers were all right there in front of me that night, weren’t they?
If only I’d paid closer attention to the details.
How could I have been so blind?
I used to believe in witches. I suppose the fortuneteller I had visited in my youth with Cindey Fellowes was a witch, wasn’t she? Over time, I had convinced myself that witches were simply characters created to be antagonists in movies and to scare children in October. The same applies to ghosts and haunted houses.
I used to believe in angels. I used to believe in Santa Claus too. I used to believe in doing the right thing. I used to believe in Templeton Rate. And I used to believe I’d find a way out of here. Now I’m not so sure.
Right now, I’m not sure what it will take to believe in something else again.
To really dream again.
Or to truly live again.
Should I ever get the chance.