For the Valentine's Day Contest

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For the Valentine's Day Contest

Post by arkngard »

Her Name is Annaliese

French class was boring, as always. It was only my second day, but it confirmed my suspicion from the day prior that French would be my least favourite class. It certainly wasn’t making me wish I was fluent, in any case.

Instead my mind focused on the sunrise from that morning, and on Katja. In spite of everything that had happened in the past few days, I could still hardly believe that everyone here were so stable. Like I was the only one who actually needed to be here. Even despite her eye patch and manner of speaking, Katja was probably the easiest person to get along with, while my broken self felt entirely out of place compared to everyone else. I grew uneasy at this line of thought, hoping for anything to distract me.

The girl who sits next to me came in ten minutes late. Had no idea why; she didn’t seem too keen on telling me, either way. Her headphones were in, as per usual, and I could hear faintly what she was listening to. Once she started staring out the window again I could tell that she would have rather been anywhere but there.

Twenty minutes passed, and I couldn’t help but recall the day before, when I royally screwed the pooch and scared her off with that frustratingly inane question about sandwiches. Even then I knew it would be a while before I stopped beating myself up over that one.

She detests you.

Out of nowhere my thoughts decided to piss on my parade. What little attention I paid to the teacher quickly vanished and was replaced by a sense of dread.

She abandoned you.

I could hear my pencil fall out of my hand and hit the table.

She’s just like Gustav.

My ears were ringing. My sight was darkening.

He abandoned you. It’s his fault you’re here.

I couldn’t stop myself thinking these thoughts. I grew more and more covered in cold sweat. I hated every second of it. I felt alone. Terrified. Tried in vain to make it stop.

Gustav hates you. He’s never coming back.

I grew desperate, trying the last thing I could think of to break this train of thought.

Erik, stop. Breathe. In, and out. In, and out.

I regained a hint of control over my thoughts.

In, and out. In, and out.

My vision started to clear painfully slowly.

In, and out. In, and out.

I became aware of my surroundings once more. My breathing was heavy; my face covered in sweat. French class had already ended, apparently.

There was a hand on my shoulder. I looked to my left; the girl sat next to me silently watched me, waited for me to regain my composure. She seemed to genuinely care, in her own way.

Behind us, Fran started to applaud way too loudly. I could feel all eyes in the room on me, apart from two. The girl next to me drew her hand away from me immediately and turned her gaze downward onto her desk, trying as hard as she possibly could to stop existing.

There was a worksheet in front of me on my desk, covered in questions devoid of answers. I picked up my pencil and wrote ‘Thank you’ at the bottom of the page before sliding it into her view. A ghost of a smile crept onto her face as she began to write a reply. She quickly returned the page to me once she finished writing and booked it out the door as fast as she could.

‘Annaliese’, is what she wrote. I smiled to myself, feeling a sense of relief that yesterday’s gaffe didn’t ruin my chance at befriending her, until Fran saw and started applauding way too loudly again, before dragging me to dinner for the second time. The rest of the day went swimmingly.

That evening, I got a text from Beatrice, asking all about my time at St. Dymphna's so far, how I like my classes, if I’ve made any friends, all that. I smiled a bit as I read it; it felt good seeing her so invested in my school life. I wrote out my reply pretty quickly, since the first sentence was the only one I really cared about:

‘Her name is Annaliese.’
In postgrad for Linguistics.

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