Change

As I sat in the sun, embracing the rays as they gently kissed the surface of my skin, I longingly stared at the sky, it was so blue, a beautiful shade of blue with not a cloud in sight. I laid back in an old deck chair of ours whilst my music flooded my ears, right through me making me feel like nothing or nobody was around, I knew they were though and I knew it was probably best if I acknowledged them but I felt so relaxed and lost in the moment that I quite frankly wasn’t bothered if anyone considered me rude or antisocial. I felt happy, genuinely happy and the existence of other people wasn’t going to get me down, not today. Not ever again.

I wasn’t the best at dealing with social situations, in fact, I was the worst. I would panic at the smallest of things for example if my mum left me at a till in the supermarket to get some milk when it was nearly our turn to pay or if I had to order food in a restaurant. My hands would clam up, I would shake my legs, my voice would keep crackling and sweat would drip from my forehead. I was indescribably pathetic so at each and every moment that I felt relaxed and happy, I had to take advantage of it and make the very most of it.

I had been an awkward person for as long as I could remember, my siblings were forever making fun of me for it but I just didn’t let it bother me. It wasn’t until high school where it got really bad, I couldn’t put my hand up in class because I feared of answering questions wrong, I refused to eat school dinners to avoid conversation with dinner ladies who are usually friendly, I was just an embarrassment, when people began to notice this, they didn’t even pause for a second, I got called so many names such as a ‘pathetic bitch’ that’s the one that stuck with me the longest and made me realise I had to change my ways. After so many people called me names and talked about me behind my back, it was difficult to make friends and I became even more awkward. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye, I couldn’t stand still if someone was talking to me, I would mumble and it made me feel like an imbecile. For a few years I just coped with it but I just remember one day as I was trying to get to sleep, I was feeling something strange, it wasn’t sadness though, it felt worse than that. I let my mind wonder about that until I eventually drifted off but I decided to ask my mum about it the next day. I remember the exact look she gave me and the exact words that left her mouth… ‘You are lonely sweetheart’ as soon as she said that, I couldn’t stop thinking and I just knew I had to get out there and make a friend. And it could have been anyone.

I remember it so clearly because it is one of the most significant days of my life, my mum had asked me to go to the supermarket for a few groceries, I was nervous but I felt a rush of determination, determination to change and to be confident.  I was walking down the road and there was a boy sat on a bench, he looked a similar age to me and straight away I could see that something was wrong with him, he had a strange look on his face, as if something bad had happened seconds ago. I panicked but my instinct was to talk to him, console him. I wiped my clammy hands down my legs and slowly approached the bench where the boy was sitting. I sat down next to him and stared at his face, remembering this moment makes me feel so embarrassed, it was like I had never seen a human before, I just stared at him, observing everything about him, I didn’t even know whether he had noticed me but still, I continued to stare.

“Can I help you?” He asked rather quietly.

I recall thinking ‘oh Christ’, I had no idea what to reply and it felt like hours that I sat there thinking about what to say but eventually the words crawled out of my mouth with an embarrassing little stutter.

“Hi, I’m Emily, you look upset”

Had I said the right thing? Did I sound like a fool? Oh my god he was going to stand up and walk away and my confidence was going to go back to zero. I just stared at him, I am laughing thinking about this, I must have looked so silly. I thought I had gone above my standards by talking to someone highly attractive when I have issues talking to any old person. But he was gorgeous, anyone would think so. I felt so stupid because he was now staring at me, no words leaving his mouth. It was an awkward situation but it didn’t feel awkward and that confused me. After a good 5 minutes he finally replied to me.

“Hi Emily, I’m Dan, and nope that’s just my face”

The way he said that made me smile, and I let out a little giggle. He smiled back at me and I could feel my cheeks turning pink, I was blushing like a little bitch. He asked me to walk with him, I completely forgot about what I was initially out for and followed him, we walked for hours but neither of us really saying a word. He led me up to a giant hill and he sat down, so I did the same. He then began to talk, he talked, and talked, and talked. I was amazed, happy, relieved all at once, only god knows what my facial expression must have been when he finished speaking. He was exactly like me, literally the male version of me and I knew in that moment that we would get along perfectly.

Dan and I met almost every day that week, and the week after that and every other week until now, in fact, he’s sat right beside me as I write this, reminiscing how we met and how perfectly we clicked is making us both smile like idiots. I had finally met someone who understood how I had felt all of those years because he had been through the same and we wanted to help each other so very badly and we knew that we could. We shared a whole summer together, going to restaurants and ordering food, it took a while but we did it, we ran errands for our parents and visited museums and art galleries and by the end of summer we felt like normal people. We hadn’t made any other friends but it didn’t feel like we needed to, we had each other and we knew if it came to a time where we had to interact with other people, there would be no problem. He really is the most amazing friend I have ever had.

I never really knew whether Dan had feelings for me, I knew I was always attracted to him but never really expected anything from it because we were friends. But one day, we decided to visit this fancy restaurant, we were going a little bit out of our comfort zone but still, we would be fine. We sat down and were having a laugh, talking about our days and as we were waiting to order our food, Dan stood up in front of a full restaurant and denied his love for me. It was such an amazing moment because it was a giant step for him to talk publicly like that and especially to admit something as big as love. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, it was the single most adorable thing anyone had ever done for me, ever. And ever will do. I will never forget it, it was so lovely and heartfelt and I have never felt so special. He’s cringing whilst we reminisce this but he knows it’s in my top five memories that we’ve shared.

He was perfect, my family loved him, I loved him and he had made me a better person, I was no longer a caterpillar waiting to leave its cocoon, I was a butterfly ready to explore the world and meet amazing people and so was Dan, we both applied for university and we attend the same one, we have been together almost 6 years now, time really flies when you meet the perfect person. We have an amazing group of friends who know all about us both and we’ve been told so many times how confident, loud and easy to get along with we are. You would never expect that we struggled to order food in a restaurant before we met each other.

Dan and I’s story proves that once you meet the right person, your life can change for the best and you will become a different person, everyone is so proud of me and I am proud of myself. I would never survive in the world if I was still as awkward as I was in high school, I can only tolerate certain people and when I feel happy, I really take it in because I know I truly deserve it, everyone deserves to be happy, you just have to fight for it but I promise you it is more than worth it. 

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A Christmas Date.

I remember when I was a child, walking outside and breathing out warm air, telling my little brother that I looked like a dragon. Strolling down the cobbled streets, holding his hand, trying hard not to slip over. That memory of my childhood was so vivid, especially in the winter, we used to do that walk every day to school. I missed him. Now that I was older, I imagined it to be different but I still got the same wintery feeling I did when I was younger. The city was a lot busier now though, it always was near Christmas. It was 3 days before the 25th and I had a date tonight. I was nervous, I hadn’t properly communicated with anyone since I lost my little brother in the crash. But I think I was ready, I was lonely and this would help me, of course it would. I wandered down the streets of London, window shopping for a festive dress. I was thinking red, maybe a royal blue. I stopped outside a posh looking shop, and a dress in the window caught my eye, it was perfect and I had to try it on. I entered the shop and the atmosphere was strange, a variety of smells hit my nose. Cinnamon, mulled wine, gingerbread… I spotted a little old lady sat at the till, sewing something and humming along to Cliff Richard- Mistletoe and wine I made my way over to the dress…
“How much?” I asked
“£25 my dear” The woman replied.
I smiled and took my size off the hanger, I tried the dress on and it was perfect for the occasion, I couldn’t not purchase it. I was getting butterflies about this date. How do I act? My mother always told me to be myself but I wasn’t sure if I liked myself so why would anyone else? I left the shop and an icy breeze hit my face, I could feel my cheeks turning rosy red. I put my hat on and made my way back home, I had 2 hours to prepare myself. I practised my smile in the mirror until I felt comfortable. I looked at my wrist watch and my date was arriving in 15 minutes. The butterflies began fluttering again. I heard my doorbell ring, it couldn’t be him. He was early! I looked through the peep hole but all I could see was a red blur. I slowly opened the door and there was a gentleman holding a large bunch of roses. He gave me them with a note which read ‘See you soon beautiful. Love William.’ Wow. I was speechless, the man handed me the flowers and I admired them, the colour matched my dress exactly. I replaced them with some Lily’s which had been in my favourite vase for a few weeks and I smiled to myself, this man was definitely going to be someone special.
I powdered my nose, combed my hair and took a deep breath, my doorbell rang again. I took another deep breath and opened the door.
“Hello you.” He said in such a sweet, calm voice as he grinned. I didn’t know how to react so I giggled and said greeted him back, matching up to his friendliness. The first thing I noticed was his eyes. They were a deep hazel colour, they reminded me of the fresh bark on a growing tree, they were huge and his eyelashes were thick and long, I looked into his eyes and found myself getting lost so I shook my head and followed him out of the door. He brushed his hand against mine as we walked down the street and I took hold of it, I had never met this man before, but it felt right already.
“Thank you for the roses, they are beautiful.” I thanked him.
“You’re welcome.” He replied. We strolled down the cobbled street which reminded me so much of my little brother, I felt myself tearing up and grasped Williams hand harder, took a deep breath, looked up at him and smiled. I admired the Christmas lights, my favourite one was the dancing Santa which was above the bakery where I bought a donut for my brother every Tuesday afternoon. We entered a small Italian restaurant where we had reserved a table.
Time went by and we had shared a creamy carbonara pasta dish and a delicious black forest cheesecake and chatted the whole time, he had so many stories to share and so did I. He was such an interesting person and I didn’t feel bored at any moment. Why had we clicked so well? I asked myself. We were very similar and that helped us get along a lot. But I started asking myself whether he was feeling the same or whether I was being a hopeless romantic, what if I had started interacting with others too quickly after my brother’s death? I felt it was helping me though, I had to stop overthinking and panicking, he wouldn’t have sent me flowers or let me hold his hand if he wasn’t interested. We walked outside and the temperature had definitely dropped from before. I looked at him and he had rosy cheeks like me, He looked at me and smiled. I suddenly felt a lot warmer, his smile was enough to make any girl feel like a princess. We took a stroll by the Thames and he suggested we visit the German Market. It was very romantic and Christmassy, I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible in the space of this night. But it started to get late and I was feeling sleepy, he noticed it, I thought that was so lovely. He walked me home, still holding my hand. He stopped and put his hands in his pockets. Had I done something wrong? I worried, but he brought his gloves out of his pocket and gave them to me. I was really falling for this man. He reminded me of someone but I really couldn’t put a finger on who it was. He continued walking back to my apartment, the temperature constantly dropping. My thoughts were invaded with things such as ‘will he kiss me?’ ‘should I kiss him?’ ‘will I see him again?’ but I tried not to panic.
We reached my front door and the moment had arrived. He held both of my hands and looked deep into my eyes. There were the butterflies again.
“I’ve really enjoyed spending time with you, I’d love to see you again.” Inside, I was screaming and dancing and all things crazy you can possibly think of but on the outside, I remained calm and collected.
“Me too William.” I kept it cool and I was proud of myself despite the fact I was actually going crazy due to my excitement. He began to lean in. Oh my. What do I do? He is going to kiss me. I was panicking. But I wanted to kiss him, I really wanted to kiss him. But my mind started overloading and all I could think about was who this man reminded me of. His lips were nearly touching mine and then it came to me. It was my little brother. He reminded me of my little brother who was tragically killed in a car crash 2 months ago. He paused and caught my eye, I felt myself welling up again.
“I’m sorry.” I said, and entered my house.

Restraints: A short story.

From the moment I saw her, I felt like nothing else in the world had a meaning. Her eyes were a deep, crystal blue, with skin as soft as fresh snow. I felt like it was impossible for anyone not to fall in love with this woman once they had looked into her eyes, they were so big, full of secrets, bad secrets, the kind you’re best not knowing. Yet something drew me to her, they made me want to know more about the kind of person she was, the kind of life she was living. I saw her every day, and I looked forward to it, every day. I had worked at the asylum for years, and not once had I built up the courage to even say hello to this woman. Hell, I didn’t even know her name. So how was it possible that I felt all these feelings for this woman? How did I want her so much? I didn’t know anything about her, and it scared me. I studied her face for longer, her hair was thick, a golden brown colour, like the sun, beautiful. Her tiny waist, I longed to hold her in my arms, hold her fragile hands, and feel her touch against my body. I wanted to hear her voice whisper sweet words into my ears, I just wanted her to notice my existence. If I felt this strongly about a woman I didn’t know, I was sure she was the one for me.

I looked at him from a far, he always seemed so happy, so composed. I asked myself questions about him constantly, wondering if he looked at me how I look at him. I caught him looking once, but I didn’t know if I was dreaming. I admired his facial features, he had the perfect cheek bones, his face was ever so defined. His lips looked soft, I had imagined kissing them, feeling them against my shoulder as we lay down, staring at the ceiling. But why did I feel this way? Maybe it’s because I’m crazy, I didn’t know, all I knew was that I was drawn to this man. He was like an angel, his eyes were perfect, and I felt like I could look into them for hours without getting bored. They held so many stories and I wanted to hear them, I needed to hear them. I couldn’t approach him though, he knows I’m crazy, he would just think it was my illness which made me want to talk to him.

It was a late Autumn morning and I arrived at work earlier than usual to set up breakfast for the patients, I sat at the table with my cup of tea and watched the caretaker sweep up the crisp leaves which had recently fallen from the trees, winter was swiftly approaching. I loved to sit by the window and think about everything. I thought about her, that beautiful woman, who I saw and admired every day. I had to know her name. I went to the reception desk, luckily there was nobody there and I checked each patients files, I must have done this in an impressive amount of time because it felt like I had been there for hours but only 10 minutes had passed, and I had found the file. Her name was Evelyn, Evelyn Carter. Even her name was beautiful. I couldn’t wait to see her again.

It was beginning to get breezy in my room and I was shivering in my overalls, waiting for the workers to hand me the jumper we get each winter. I missed being at home for winter though, I could barely remember curling up on the sofa by the fireplace drinking hot chocolate and listening to Christmas songs, surrounded by people I loved. And now look where I was, locked up, going out of my mind. I felt like I was ready to go home but I knew that was a phase. I wonder if I would see him today, I wonder if he will look at me today, all I could think about was him. My brain was overloaded with thoughts of him. His face, his voice and his body. I wanted to see him and I wanted to bring myself to talk to him.

It reached 12pm and I was preparing dinner for the female patients, this was the moment I would see Evelyn, I was getting ready to introduce myself, deciding what I would say to her, I felt like I was going mad! How do I act around a woman? It had been so long since I had experienced this. Do I say ‘Hello Evelyn’ or ‘Good Afternoon Evelyn’ do I even use her name? Would she wonder how I knew it? I was getting nervous and I didn’t know why, I am usually a confident man but I suppose in situations involving women I was the shy type of guy, the patients began entering the room and my eyes suddenly became focused. I was like a hawk spying on its prey. I looked out for her and noticed her instantly, her eyes stood out. Wow, she was even more stunning than I remembered, I felt mind blown. I panicked, I didn’t know what to say. She was approaching, she was smiling. Was she going to say something? My heart began to beat faster and faster, I’m sure the other kitchen staff could hear it however I could have been paranoid. After all, I think I was about to speak to the woman of my dreams for the very first time in my life. I was ready.

I looked at him straight away, I felt excited but nervous too. What if he didn’t like me? What if he treated me like a child just because I was a psycho. Who was I kidding? Why did I even begin to think it was a good idea to talk to him? He worked in an asylum, he knew the kind of people we were, no way in hell would he even look at me, I had definitely been imagining this, making stories up in my head as usual. However, deep down, part of me, a very strange part of me at that urged me to say hello, I asked myself whether I should about ten times until I released it was my turn to get my food, I looked at his eyes and the butterflies in my stomach felt like they had all suddenly transformed from caterpillars at the exact same time. I laughed, smiled and said ‘hello.’

My heart melted, was this real? Did this perfect woman just greet me? Was I mad for being attracted to a patient in the asylum or was this normal? I didn’t even care, it isn’t as if I could help it, she was beautiful. I greeted her back ‘Good afternoon Evelyn.’ She smiled at me and my heart melted a little, I smiled back, I couldn’t stop. Her eyes made it look as though she was looking straight into your soul, as if she knew things about you that you didn’t know yourself. I was so intrigued by her. Her face looked sad but happy at the same time, I couldn’t read her expressions, she seemed emotionless. I just wanted to get to know her. But this was different, I couldn’t just ask her out for a drink or to the cinema, of course I couldn’t, she was psychotic but I think I had fallen in love, she had a soothing voice and I noticed that from a simple hello. I needed to get her out of this place. I needed her to be mine. I was so determined, a rush of adrenaline made its way through my body, and again, and again and again. I needed this woman, I would do anything for her to be mine, as crazy as it sounded, I would kill for this woman, I was going to help her escape.

He had a strange look in his eye once I had greeted him, as if he was trying to say something to me using eye contact but I wasn’t that smart, I just smiled back, I wanted to be his, I went back to my room and sat, imagining what it would be like to curl up to him in the winter, sing Christmas carols with him, decorate a house with all the decorations and pretty lights. I was over thinking the situation, we had only said hello to each other yet, there was a connection, a spark, it felt right looking into his eyes and I could picture myself telling him I loved him, but I didn’t want to get carried away, it was unhealthy for my illness. I heard a knock at my door, and I saw a note slide through the crack at the side of the door. It read ‘I will get you out of here if it’s the last thing I do’ was I asleep? Dreaming? I peered through the crack and it was him, the man who had taken over my every thought. I read the letter over and over again. Was this real? I wouldn’t know. I decided I should help him, if he was serious about getting me out of here, helping him was my only option. I was desperate to leave, this man was my knight in shining armour. I was about to escape the place I had dreamt of running away from for over 6 years. I could not believe my luck.

I crept into the medication ward in the early hours of Saturday, everyone else was asleep but not I, my heart and determination were taking over my brain and all I could think about was running away with this woman and living happily with her. I quick scammed each bottle on the top shelf until I came across one labelled ‘Geodon’ I read the description ‘Can keep you asleep for over 5 hours’ I thought to myself ‘this will do’ grabbed the bottle and made my way to the kitchen, my plan was to spike the water machine with this medicine causing every member of staff to collapse so I could take Evelyn away and be with her, where nobody could stop us. I posted her another note, telling her not to drink out of the water machine in the kitchen and that everything was going to be okay. I waited up all night, I must have drunk over 10 cups of coffee to stay awake but I had made it and I saw the sun rise at daybreak.

What was going on? Was this man crazy? Anyone would think he was the one schizophrenic, not I. I heard strange noises outside my room, it felt late, normally I would be having breakfast now but nobody had come to get me, time went by and it began to feel as if I had been locked in my room for hours, I waited and waited for someone to let me out but still nothing, yet the strange noises were still coming from outside, they sounded like screams, as if people were in pain, I began to feel anxious, panicky, I began to hallucinate and I could feel myself about to start screaming at the top of my voice, it was times like these when I felt crazy, I could see nothing and all I could hear were the screams of others around me. I wanted the man to rescue me, he said he would. Where was he?

People were collapsing around me, I was scared. Did this make me a monster? Were they alive? The medicine said it would only make people fall asleep, I was terrified. I couldn’t believe I was doing this for a woman I didn’t even know, but I craved her. I double checked the bottle, I hadn’t checked the back where the small print was. My hands were shaking as I read about what happens when mixed with water, my stomach jolted when I read that it can burn away at your insides. What had I done? I broke down but quickly remembered what I was doing this for, I was doing it for love, an intense feeling of deep affection that I longed for. I had been alone for such a long duration of my life, I deserved someone to love and it was her. I ignored all the staff and raced to Evelyn’s room, I could hear her screaming from down the corridor, I kicked and punched the door so much but nothing was happening, I needed to get in, one of the guards behind me affected by the water had a huge collection of keys attached to her belt, I ripped it off and tried every single one. Halfway through, the door opened and she leaped at me and tried to hit me, I must have frightened her. I held her and I got a sudden rush of excitement. This felt so right.

I had a break down. But I recovered as soon as he held me in his arms because it felt so right, I felt like a normal girl and it was nice. We ran straight to the door, on the way out I grabbed what I thought was another patients bags off the floor which contained a liquid substance of some sort. My head was messed up. I told the man to drink it and it would calm him down without checking the label first. I shouldn’t be out of that asylum, I was ill and I was supposed to be in there no matter how much I hated it, I wasn’t safe out here. I was scared. I watched him drink it, intrigued by the way his lips wrapped around the bottle top. He fell onto me, his eyes rolling back and forwards, his skin went 3 shades paler and I panicked. What had I given him? I hadn’t even checked. I read the bottle and dropped it in shock. This wasn’t medicine, this was poison to get rid of rodents in the asylum kitchen.

My skin began to bubble, it felt as though something was eating away at my flesh. I felt drowsy and as if I was heading into my own little world, the last thing I saw were her eyes, her deep, crystal eyes, staring into mine with a look of concern, I could finally see her emotions. I was lead to believe she felt the same about me, the way she looked at me wasn’t just a look of someone who was an acquaintance, there was something there, something special. I was panicking, I felt like I had just rescued a princess from her tower and now I felt like I was about to die. I heard her voice in my ear ‘I’m going to find the antidote, I’m going to find the antidote’ she said it about 5 times before I found myself drifting off, not knowing whether I would wake up again or not.

It was a late Autumn morning and I woke up in a freezing cold room with padded walls and no windows. I looked to my side and the nurse was there, cleaning the end of the syringe and the needle. ‘Everything will be okay Daniel, it’s all over now’ what was she talking about? I had just rescued the girl of my dreams. ‘Where is she? Where is Evelyn?’ I panicked. ‘It’s been 10 years since you killed her Daniel, she isn’t here anymore’ I didn’t understand. I didn’t know what to do, I was lost, in my own mind and nothing or nobody could help me, not even my medicine. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I stared into the nurses eyes, I felt like I was about to cry. ‘You’ve been hallucinating again Daniel’ the nurse explained. ‘They’re very common when you’re suffering schizophrenia, don’t worry, you can get yourself back to sleep now, your medicine will keep you safe.’ I looked at my door, wishing it was a window so I could watch the Autumn change to Winter but I was stuck in this life and I was never escaping it.

The House.

Inspired by positive music:

I remember, he was there, at the top of that fragile staircase, looking down to me, as I stood on the doorstep, smiling nervously. He took a couple of gentle steps down the staircase, I studied his facial expressions, his eyes were so mysterious, I could sense there was deep thoughts stuck in his mind but I didn’t care, he still gave me butterflies. He lead me onto the veranda outside and we stared at the starry sky, it felt like something from a movie. He made me feel like a princess as we slowly danced on the veranda, I had fallen in love.

Inspired by negative music:

I felt it as soon as I entered through the heavy door, it squeaked a lot and it wasn’t how I remembered! Daring as if sounds, I forced myself to walk across the landing. I felt a sudden shock of cold air and I felt a shiver creep its way down my spine. There was a liquid substance dripping from the ceiling in front of me and the smell coming off that was enough to make anybody vomit. I walked into an open room and to my shock and horror, the door slammed behind me, the lights flickered, I heard a high pitched scream and the next thing I knew, I was awake, sweating in bed, my sister beside me, rocking my shoulders to wake me up.