When I came to, I found myself gazing up at a clear night sky. As I sat myself up, I held my face in my hands. I couldn't remember falling asleep. In all honesty, the last thing I remembered was that I was going back to the dormitories. I sighed, my head was throbbing and I felt overall awful. What was wrong with me? I wondered and rested my head against one of the statues, the giant horse I noticed. Vaguely, images surfaced and I furrowed my brows.
Scanning the dark roof with my eyes, I was relieved to find the music box not far from my reach, standing in the shadow of the very statue that I was leaning against. I picked it up carefully and played the tune once, before I scrambled to my feet. Shakily, as if I'd never used my legs before, I made my way to the roof door and from thereon to the dormitories, where I collapsed on my bed. With great effort, I managed to put the music box on my night stand and after that fell into a restless sleep.
I found myself walking through dark tunnels again. I was bare feet and I shivered as a cold wind blew through my white cotton night robe. I can't stop, I have to keep walking, I told myself as I suppressed the stinging pain in my feet. In front of me lay nothing but darkness, but I knew what was behind me was far worse. I felt it creep up from behind, ready to pull me back into the endless darkness at any moment. My breath got caught in my throat and I quickened my pace. Looking at my feet, I noticed they were bleeding and, entranced, I watched as they left a trace of blood behind. Lurking shadows pulled me out of my hypnosis and urged me to speed up. As I ran through the endless maze of corridors, I felt the darkness behind me getting closer. What was I running to? I wondered. And more importantly, what was it that I was running from?
Suddenly, a shadow got hold of my left foot and I tripped, falling over and grazing my knees. I scrambled back to my feet and ran on, my robe now stained with dirt and blood. When I turned another corner, I came to a short stopping. I'd hit dead end. I was trapped. Just as that realization dawned on me, the darkness took hold of me and pulled me under.
I woke up in start, panting heavily and lying in a pool of sweat. Trying to control my breathing, I sat up and hugged my knees. In the silver moonlight, I gazed at the white of my night robe, but found nothing of the dirt or blood on it. It was merely a dream. I told myself, but my body wouldn't stop shaking. My arms were covered in goose bumps and I felt my heart beat wildly in my chest. That night would be one of the worst nights I'd have in years.
pagebreak ~'Is it because of Christophe?'
I stared at her, rather dumbfounded. We had been stretching our legs, to warm up before dance practice and we hadn't said anything to one another until that moment. How I'd managed to get down to the ballet studio in one piece was beyond me, however. When I'd woken up my whole body was feeling week and painful, and I had been quite sure that my legs would buckle the moment I'd try to stand on them. In all honesty, it still felt like that.'What?''This depressive behavior, is it because of my brother?'
No,' I frowned deeply, 'God, no, Adrienne. Why would you think that? And I'm not acting depressed!' While adding the last thing, a part of me realized that I really was.
'Well, if I recall correctly, this all started the day of our lunch date.. If it is because of something I said, if my behavior was really out of line, I apologize. But please, Angèlique, get a hold of yourself.'
'I try, but..' I shut my mouth and stared at my feet. I had almost told her. I had almost told her about the nightmares, that tortured me both day and night, ever since I was a little girl. About the monsters that kept me from sleeping, about the black void that had filled my insides since I got the letter. I wanted to tell her. But I knew I couldn't.
I shook my head. 'Nothing.. it's nothing.'
'Yes there is, I can see it.' She grabbed my arm. 'Come on, you can tell me. That's what friends are for, right?'
Biting my lip, I considered my options. I could tell her, but I'd surely be put in a mental asylum the moment I'd finish talking. Or I could keep my mouth shut, but by doing so hurting Adrienne's feelings. 'I've been having.. unpleasant dreams.' I said, still gazing at my feet awkwardly.
'Yes, I suppose you could call them that.'
'What are they about?'
I cringed, I knew she'd ask that. The one question I really did not want to answer, couldn't answer. 'I can't exactly explain.. But they keep me up at night and haunt me during the day.'
She nodded understandingly. 'I didn't know, I'm sorry.'
'It's fine, I just… I'm just exhausted and it's consuming me wholly.'
'We should tell Madame, I'm sure she'll show some understanding.'
'No, Adrienne, you cannot tell her. Please, promise me you won't tell her.'
For a moment, she looked like she was about to argue. But when she looked me in the eye, I think she saw the urgency behind my plea, because she only nodded. 'Fine.'
I gave her a weak smile, then quickly left her and made my way to the other dancers.
pagebreak ~As I roamed the corridors absent-mindedly, I thought over my conversation with Adrienne earlier that day. It was true, I had been feeling rather low ever since the lunch date with her brother, but I couldn't figure out what the connection between the two was – that is, if there was any at all. Perhaps it was just coincidence..
My legs were aching and my head felt like it was on fire. The throbbing was deafening, but at the same time it also numbed out the rest of the world, which was a good thing. Everyone was so worried about me, but I couldn't imagine why. How absurd it all was, there was absolutely nothing wrong with me!
My vision blurred for a moment. Perhaps it was better to rest for a bit, I thought, but immediately pushed the idea aside. I was perfectly fine. These things would pass, they always did.
A sound made me whirl around. Too fast, because I had to reach for the wall to keep myself from falling. There was nothing, apart from shadows. I frowned, perhaps I was becoming crazy after all. I took a deep breath, as I suddenly noticed I was trembling, and smoothed my hair with my free hand. Calm down, Angèlique, it's nothing. Probably just a gust of wind.
Another sound and I thought I saw something move in the corner of my eye. When I turned my eyes were met with nothing but shadows once more. 'I'm seeing ghosts,' I murmured, shaking my head with a sigh.
Casting a glance out of one of the tall windows, I suddenly noticed I had been gone for longer than I had originally thought. It might be better to go to dinner, before the others would get even more worried.
With my legs still trembling and my head still aching, I pushed myself up from the wall and began my way to the dining hall. Suddenly I felt myself grow uncomfortably warm and a wave of dizziness engulfed me. Shadows clouded my vision and before I could help it, my legs buckled beneath me and I was crashing to the ground. Before my body even hit the wooden floor, I had lost all consciousness once more.