This story is fiction, a product of my twisted mind, however there are trigger warnings, for example anxiety, depression, attempted suicide, physical and psychological abuse as well bullying.
© Nicole Hamlyn, 2020
He played the music far too loud. Michael’s favourite rock band screamed their lyrics over the stereo, as the music swelled around us.
I bit my bottom lip and fiddled with the silver band on my finger. The closer the car drew towards their destination the more my nerves intensified. A fear welled up inside of me and all I could hear was my heart beating faster and faster. When we got to the lights, Michael glanced over at me and swore under his breath.
“Shit Macey, damnit. You need to breathe,” he advised.
I jumped, realising that I was showing all the classic signs of my anxiety, the fidgeting, the withdrawal and worst of all the shallow breathing.
“Sorry,” I mumbled turning bright red and sinking lower into my seat. I closed my eyes and put my hands on my stomach, and began the task of returning my breathing to normal. Michael switched off the stereo and continued driving. I could feel him glancing at me, but I focused on the deep breathing techniques I’d been taught in order to manage my attacks.
My psychologist had been working with me for the past few months on my anxiety and depression. One of her calming techniques that she used to help me was for me to close my eyes and concentrate on the fear. Assigning that fear a colour and focusing on where I felt the fear the most. I then have to try to build that fear inside me as I take deep breaths. To make sure I am breathing properly I have to place my hands on my stomach and make my hands move each time I breath in. The more I focus on the making the colour grow the smaller it becomes. After 5 minutes the fear subsided, and I opened my eyes.
We were in the car park and Michael’s green eyes were filled with concern.
“Hey Kiddo,” he spoke quietly.
“Hey,” I breathed and let out a weak smile.
Michael sighed as he scanned the scene around us.
“Do you want me to take you home?”
YES! My brain screamed in my head. But when I looked up at him, I sensed his disappointment in the way he rubbed the back of his neck.
It was a lot to ask of him and he had done so much for me already. It’s been 6 months since the accident. 6 months since he had to leave college and his dreams behind him a move back home for me.
6 months ago, our parents had met a tragic end when their car was rear ended by woman in a four-wheel drive who had been busy texting on her phone and not paying attention to the traffic. Our parents had gone on one of their monthly date nights and I had been woken up 2am the next morning to find 2 police officers and a counsellor at my doorstep.
Being only 16 at the time I needed a guardian, so Michael had come home, temporarily deferring med school so he could play babysitter to his crazy younger sister. That’s when the anxiety had started.
Over the past few months my psychologist and I worked through my issues. She understood that a core part of my problem was that I felt I was keeping Michael from his dreams. 3 weeks ago, during our last session, she sat both Michael and myself down to discuss our options. In the end we agreed to rent the house out and move back to Michael’s college and find an apartment there so he could return to school. It did however mean I needed to transfer in my junior year of high school.
“No,” my breath squeaked out as I blushed.
I looked over and watch the relief flood across his face. I smiled softly before reaching for my bag and the car’s door handle.
“Go get ’em Mace,” Michael encouraged.
“Yeah, ok.” I replied trying not to let the doubt leek out of my voice. “See you at home at 6.30 right?”
“Yeah classes finish at 5.45. Should be home by then,” he smiled.
I closed the door and began walking towards the main building. I ignored the looks of those around me and trained my sight on the main door that was emblazed with the school emblem.
I glanced up and the gasp hit the back of my throat.
To say he was the most handsome boy I’d ever laid eyes upon was a complete understatement. His long black hair fell in waves to his shoulders, completely framing his face. He was tan and built and had eyes exactly the colour of a piece of axinite I had as part of my smoky quartz collection. His jaw was lined with the faintest hint of stubble and his mouth was held into the sexiest, cockiest smirk I’d ever seen. He winked devilishly at me and gave out a throaty chuckle.
I stumbled backwards in shock and fear flashed across my face. He narrowed his eyes slightly and leaned forwards licking his lips. I stood frozen as he face crept closer to mine, my eyes fixed on those lips. The closer he came the more the smell filled my nose. He smelled of vanilla and citrus, and I closed my eyes allowing the scent to wafted over me.
He leaned his closer his lips at my ear.
“You’re going to be mine.”
A moan passed my lips, and I felt my knees go weak beneath me. His hand snaked around my waist as he caught me before I fell. I felt the tingles from his touch, and he drag me to him and pressed me firmly against his body.
“I see you’re already falling for me,” he chuckled.
I opened my eyes as I felt the deep crimson wave flush over my face and neck. I immediately looked down and stammered slightly.
“Give the girl a break Wadzinski,” came the authoritative tone from behind us.
I turned quickly and broke myself out of his grasp. In front of me was clearly a teacher, but not like one I’d ever seen before. Her hair was cut in a pixie style and was dyed the colour of a sunset, pinks and reds and oranges and gold. She stood about 5’7 and she wore a retro dress that screamed 1950’s housewife. She was an enigma and I immediately liked her.
“Harassing the new students again are we Daniel?” She raised her right eyebrow and crossed her arms in from of her, tapping her foot. The slight smirk of her face gave away the fact she was merely messing with him and his face split open in a huge grin.
“Just showing hospitality to my new friend her Miss Gray,” Daniel laughed holding both his hands in the air and taking steps backward. “See you around gorgeous.”
I watch him leave heading over to where some of his friends had gathered outside and greeting them with insults and laughter.
“Ms Tate, I presume?”
My focus was immediately drawn back to the teacher in front of me.
“Y…yes” I stammered softly.
“I’m Mrs Gray, the guidance officer here,” she explained kindly.
My eyes almost burst from my head. Guidance officer? She looked better suited to the carer of eccentric arts teacher. She chuckled and a knowing smile came across her face at my stunned reaction.
“Shall we?” She raised her arm and gestured towards the door behind me.
“Oh…oh yes…of course,” I breathed, turning to follow her inside, down several hallways, staircases and finally into a room that had he name etched on the door.
“I always meet with the new students,” Mrs Gray smiled and gestured for me to take a seat.
I stood stunned at the décor around me. Against one wall was a giant bookcase filled with knickknacks of all shapes and colours, as well as books and framed photos.
Against the adjoining wall was a desk simple and elegant, uncluttered and business like. In the middle of the room was what I can only imagine to be a throne chair. It was ornate and gold and lined in red velvet. Scattered around where beanbags of all shapes and colours and under the window a chase lounge that look like it had been upholstered from scrapes of the most flamboyant colour swatches in the history of furnishing. I gapped unable to figure out where I should sit.
Mrs Gray chuckled, “the chase is fine,” she hinted, and she settled herself down into the normal desk chair swinging it around.
“I always like to see where people like to sit. It helps me understand them better,” she winked at me before wheeling the chair over to the stack of filing cabinets I had overlooked in the corner.
“I like had written files. I have trust issues with computers, and I deal with very sensitive information and times,” she explained when she looked up and noticed my quizzical gaze.
“Oh,” I said not knowing what else to do.
“So,” she said glancing in the file she had prepared for me. She reached in and grabbed a colour coded timetable. “This is your schedule. Sorry I am a bit OCD and I’ve colour coded your lessons to make it easier for you.”
“Thanks,” I smile gratefully taking the schedule and instantly relaxing.
“Of course, your previous counsellor sent over your file...”
I took a sharp intake of breath and sat up straight and rigid in the chair, my eyes darting across the room and the colour forming in my cheeks. Here we go again, I thought as I braced myself and squeezed my eyes shut, waiting for the sympathy speech.
“You should be proud of yourself Macey. The fact you got out of the car and came in today shows amazing courage and resolve. When I spoke to your brother last week, he really questioned him bringing you here and was very concerned about you.”
My eyes shot open in shock. She’s proud of me? I’m a complete nervous wreck how can she be proud of that.
Knowingly she wheeled herself across the room and squeezed my hand slightly, giving me a bright smile.
“After what you’ve been through. My goodness chicken, I’m so impressed,” she smiled encouragingly at me.
The tears welled up in my eyes, but I blinked them away. I smiled shyly back at her. She gave my hand a final squeeze before wheeling back away from me.
“Gemma will be here soon. She is in most of your classes and a very nice girl. I’m a great judge of character,” she winked at me.
“Which brings me to my last item of business today.” She sighed and rubbed her hands over her forehead.
“Daniel Wadzinski. Macey he’s a good kid deep down. Deep, deep down,” she rolled her eyes before continuing. “Just be careful. I noticed that he and his friends have been up to something lately, especially with new transfers. I haven’t been able to pinpoint what’s been going on, but I am keeping a close eye on them. If you have any concerns, please, my door is always open.” She smiled encouragingly at me and we both turned at the soft knock on the door.
“Always open,” Mrs Gray sang out.
“I am here,” a girl announced as she flung the door open with dramatic flair.
Mrs Gray chuckled. “Oh Gemma, right on time of course.”
“Happy to help Miss Gray,” the red-haired girl took a bow before heading over to me and holding out her hand and smiling. “I’m Gemma, my friends call me Gem.”
A genuine smile broke out over my face and I reached in to shake her hand instantly liking this girl.
“Hey Mace,” she grinned back at me.