King City, ON – Present Day
I sat up quickly, and frantically searched my room for the intruders to come. A bad dream. That was the fifth time I had that dream this week. It always ended and started the same way, and no matter how many times I groveled over it, I couldn’t make any sense of it. I crossed my legs under the covers and hunched over, trying desperately to slow my breathing, I didn’t want to give myself another panic attack. I had suffered with severe anxiety for as long as I could remember. Any sort of stress or nervousness brought it on and caused me to become completely incapacitated, which resulted in me being sent to the hospital. Not today….I swear to God I will NOT have this happen today. By now the paramedics knew me well, as well as the hospital staff. I hated the way they looked at me, sorry written all over their faces. I hated their sympathy, I hated the way they treated me like some fragile porcelain doll. Even my professors at college treated me the same. I could never live down the amount of times during each exam week I would flare up like a balloon and try desperately to suck air into my lungs. Some of them would frantically rush over, waving their hands in the air all dramatic-like. Others by now just calmly called the on campus nurse and had me escorted out of the lecture hall. And there was that few that just pointed to the door, disgust and annoyance radiating from them as I would scramble desperately to gather all of my things and rush out of the door. All of the other students would just sit and stare, some whispering amongst each other. “Freak…..like this is already super annoying.” “This happens every year, shouldn’t she just drop out by now?!” “Omg and there she goes again, I swear she does it for attention, what a cunt.” I shook my head violently back and forth, No…No I can’t think like this right now… I glanced quickly at my watch. 8:45 am….Ok, I had some time. My first class started at 10:00 am, I had a few hours to get myself clear-headed and organized. I threw myself back against the pillows, splaying myself across the twin bed. I closed my eyes, breathing in and out slowly until my heart stopped fluttering in my chest.
I rolled my head over to glance out the curtain-less window (as any thick fabric caused the room to get too stuffy, complicating yet again, my ever present problem. Even my bed sheets were paper thin, which sucked during the winter season). I lived on campus at Seneca College, taking the Veterinarian Technician program. I smiled as I smelt the odour of fresh manure coming through the open window. Funny…I didn’t remember leaving it open last night…..I sat up and shuffled over to the window sill, sitting on the ledge and gazed out on the horizon. The sun was still just coming up, bathing the sky in a beautiful orange and pink colour swatch. Time always seemed to go so slow here, and I could stare out at the trees all day. The tree tops caught the light, looking as if someone had painted them. Every time they would sway over with the wind, the sunlight would peek through, blinding me temporarily. Leaving sun spots in my eyes.
I scanned over the view of the forest that branched behind the Vet Tech building. I would often walk the trails that led in and out of the Seneca Forest, the fresh spring air helped calm me on my worst days. It seemed even the trees where singing with the wind today, their branches swaying with the flow of the air, their leaves rustling as if they were shivering with excitement. I closed my eyes again as the breeze swept through my window, feeling the sun wash over my face. In the distance, I could hear the lambs baying and the horses whinnying to each other. I felt the corners of my mouth lift, here I was happy. This was my happy place, sitting and looking out my window. It was the only quiet place I had to think and just be without being judged, laughed, ridiculed…..
“KAMARIA AMBER WAYLAND GET YO ASS UP GURL!” I jumped out of my reverie at the sound of my roommate, Andria Rodriguez shrieking and banging at my bedroom door. I smirked and hopped off the windowsill, closing the window, to go open it. I swung the door open dramatically like a movie star entering the stage on her opening scene and leaned against the door frame with my leg lifted halfway up it. “Hola senorita”, I said with a very bad Spanish accent. Andria sighs and her hands as fists on her hips, “If you’re going for the whole let’s-try-and-make-Andria-smile-today-by-being-stupid act, it aint working.” she huffs at me and crosses her arms. She’s in angry mom mode. Standing with her red plaid pj pants and grey tank top, her dark, shoulder length, curly, chestnut hair tied back in a small ponytail, staring at me fiercely with her big round brown eyes. Her tanned skin is all shiny with water (She probably just got out of the shower) and she’s wearing her ever present rose quartz choker, a crystal shaped in a heart with a black band. I smile seductively at her, “Oh come on papi, don’t tell me you don’t want me.” waggling my eyebrows at her and enunciating each word slowly to make the rhyme stand out, inching my way forward along the door. I see her angry expression fade to a small grimace. Ha…I got her. She keeps her composure for all of two seconds and then bursts out in laughter, crumpling to the ground, her shoulders shaking violently with each laugh. Seeing her in such a state, I can’t help but fall on the floor laughing as well. We lay there for two minutes both of us heaving for breath and crying joyful tears, when we stop, one of us would start to giggle and the laughing would continue.
Finally, we seem to finish our laughing crusade. “Ahhh…,” exclaims Andria, “Dammit gurl, I hate how you just know what gets me. You know too much…this is a dangerous friendship.” She sits up and pulls her legs in, wrapping her arms around them. “Not really, just don’t lose me as your BFF and your secrets will forever be safe with me,” I say smartly, still laying on the floor. She gasps, “You cunt, you wouldn’t!” “Hey well, Stephen does own a radio show…..” I trail off, looking at her from the corner of my eye. “HEY HEY NO NO NO!!” I freak out as she dives into me and starts to tickle my sides. “HEY NO FAIR…GOD ANDRIA STOP PLEASE IM SORRY!!” She finally lets up and releases me from her torturous hands. I gasp for air, all winded from the tickle attack. Stephen was the on campus’s radio show host, he was in Andria’s Economics elective class, so we kind of all became friends. Although he made it obviously clear that he wasn’t a huge fan of me and was just including me for Andria’s sake. I shudder at the image forming in my mind, Andria and Stephen….together….gah. It wasn’t that I didn’t want my best friend dating someone else, it’s just that I didn’t want her specifically dating HIM. Rule Number One in the Best Friend Code: Always have the approval of the BFF before dating can commence. And in my books, Stephen was far from my approval. Besides, at the moment, Andria was oblivious to his obvious attempts at flirtation. Thank god.
I stare up at the white ceiling of our kitchen/living room, Seneca dorms consist of four areas. Our front door leads from a small mini hallway (which in Andria’s mom mode, made us a mud room, consisting of a boot tray on the side for the winter months and a carpet for our summer shoes. Above on the wall; a key rack for our keys and lanyards, with bigger hooks at the end for our jackets) into a kitchen complete with a fridge, toaster, sink, dishwasher, and a small, plug in, one pot stove. The wall atop the sink had two shelves which we stored our spices and other ingredients, as well as our plates, cups and what not. Underneath the sink were small cupboards that had our utensils, cooking pots and pans as well as Tupperware. I both cringe and smirk at the organization of it all, thanks to Andria, everything is labelled with sticky notes that are of course laminated and taped on so we can easily remove them after we graduate. If you were to open the fridge, you’d see that all of the contents, included the shelving and drawers are also labeled. I glance around the rest of the room. The living room, which isn’t really a room just a black table and two leather bound, metal chairs in the corner of the kitchen, has been set up for breakfast. She had the usual set up, two plates, two forks and knives and two glasses filled with OJ. I can already smell the Toaster Strudels being made in the toaster. The bathroom, which was on the other side of the kitchen separated by a doorway was large enough for just the two of us and our things. The porcelain tub and sink didn’t have a speck of dirt on it, the mirror shined with a fresh wash, even though she had just taken a shower. The only evidence of such was the little trickles of steam that were still rising off the tub to hit the ceiling. Dishes and laundry were done every night, our rooms were always spotless. I swear, without Andria I’d be lost. Of course, I help out when I can but Andria prefers to do it all herself. She’s in the Under Water Welding program and even though her schedule is as hectic as mine, she always seems to be done everything on time and take care of everything around the dorm.
Andria gets up, “Now, the reason I came to wake your ass up is that you’re late for class.” My breath hitches, “Wait what?! My class isn’t until 10?!”. “Yeah, but Dr. Kennedy is holding a special seminar that YOU signed up for about Domestics…..the one that you were ranting about for 4 hours yesterday?” Crap. “Oh yeah…that.” I lay there on the floor for a few seconds. “Umm earth to Kam…Come OOON.” Right. “Yeah I guess I should go to that.” I sigh and get up, heading to my room. “Are you okay? Did something happen hun?” she asks me. The truth was nothing had really happened, my mind was just preoccupied with the dream. My head swimmed with questions, Who were they? What did they want? Why was I involved? And why that time period? I looked at Andria, and I saw the raw concern in her eyes. Damn…I would be truly lost without her.
I think back to the first time we met. It was middle school, I was attending Allan Drive then. Then I was your normal average kid, there wasn’t anything about me that made me stand out from the other students. Well, except my damn anxiety of course. It was during one episode that Andria came to my rescue. It was after math class, and since it’s my worst subject, the exam we had was all that much tougher. I had ran out of my class into the hallway after handing in my exam paper, (I didn’t even answer one question) and I was gasping for air. In my confusion I knocked against the wall of lockers in the hall, spilling the contents of my open backpack and the text books that were in my arms. Damn, why do I always forget to close it?! So cliché Kam. All around me kids were snickering and whispering amongst themselves. “Wow, did you see that?!” “Omg is she sick?!” “It’s people like that, that give this school a bad rep you know?” All around me the voices were deafening, I willed them, no, begged them to stop. I fell to the ground, curled up in a ball, wishing for the floor to just open up and swallow me whole. Just when I was about to give up, “HEY! DON’T ALL OF YOU GUYS HAVE CLASSES TO GO TO? GET THE HELL OUT OF THE HALLWAY AND MIND YOUR OWN GODDAMN BEESWAX!!” I strained to look to where the voice came from, but I was frozen in place. I tried getting my legs to uncurl, my arms to unwrap themselves from me, but I couldn’t will them to do so. It was as if my mind was disconnected from my body. I had become a statue on the ground, unable to think, feel or move.
Suddenly, arms wrapped around me and pulled me in a sitting position on the floor. My head was gently pushed back against the lockers. “Open your eyes babe.” I didn’t even realize I had closed them. I slowly opened my eyes, blinked a few times to get the bleariness out of them. Each time I blinked her face came more into focus. “Hey…you ok hun? Don’t mind those assholes they are so 2012.” “Huh?” I said in a small voice. Who was this girl? “Umm…thanks I guess.” I gasped again for air. My lungs felt like they were on fire, I struggled to try and stand up. “Hey hey take it easy, my name is Andria. I just moved here last week, awkward right? Being the new kid, so I am determined to make friends right away. Do you need help getting to the office? Or do you just want me to take you to the bathroom to freshen up? Hey I really like your sweater is it new?” Wow, she talked a lot. Although strangely I loved it, it was the first time anyone had ever had a full conversation with me that wasn’t an adult in a doctor’s office. “Yeah…that would be…great. Umm…the office please.” I said in between breaths. She basically lifted me up then and carried me from the hall towards the front desk. From then on we were nothing but sisters.
“HELLOOO KAM! What the hell man, why are you zoning so much today?” And like that I was back again in our dorm room, still standing in the door way of my bedroom. “Oh yeah sorry, it was a long night.” Concern was literally washing off like waves from Andria, it hit me with such force, I couldn’t look at her when she was like that, and it just made me want to cry for some reason. Her raw emotion was just too much. Why was I so goddamn sensitive to this? “Look, I’m fine, listen, umm…just give me a few seconds and I’ll go to the last part of the seminar or I’ll just catch the next one that’s in the coming week okay? I’m fine, go and get dressed and do whatever it is you were gonna do.” I turned to walk to my dresser to pick out my scrubs for the day. “Okay…breakfast is ready if you want it. Oh and by the way, nice nightgown, I didn’t know you owned one.” With that, I heard her turn around and walk to her room, shutting the door. My breathing slowed again, I looked down at myself for the first time that morning, and I was wearing the blue nightgown…the one from the dream. I felt time slow itself, my heart pounding in my chest, my head throbbing. Quickly I threw off the garment and shoved it under my bed, backing away from it as if it were a venomous cobra. I walked backwards slowly until I hit the wall and slunk down to the floor. I sat there and stared at it nightgown, trying once again to slow my breathing. It couldn’t be…that’s impossible. It was a stupid nightmare, fake, nothing….I was sitting there, muddled in my thoughts when I heard a tapping at my window. I felt myself freeze and turn my head slowly to look out the window. There sitting on the window sill was a black raven, with a white spot on its chest. It was tapping its beak against the window pane, when our eyes met, I gasped at their colour. They were the deepest blue I had ever seen on an animal. In its pools I found an intelligent being, one with understanding and meaning. I got up slowly and walked almost zombie-like towards it. It cawed at me suddenly, making me jump back. It was if it was laughing at me. It glanced over at the spot where I threw the nightgown, and back at me, tilting its head. Almost asking, why? “I wish I knew myself…” I found myself whispering. With that it cawed again, spread out its wings and flew away towards the forest.