I gathered up my books, pens, and various other ‘stuff’ that I’d taken to psychology class, including a little packet of Bipolar Disorder medication, which I shoved into my bag. I suffered from the hypomania (milder) symptoms of BPD, and because of that, some people chose not to accept the eccentric, manic, side of my personality…and I had left all my friends in Bristol. It made university all the more lonely.
I hated taking the late classes, but it wasn’t the tiredness, or the worry that I would be mugged in alleyway, or run over whilst attempting to cross the busy streets of this new city. It was the coldness and that loneliness I experienced; of course, I’d been the new girl at school and college before, but every time it came round, I was finding it harder and harder to fit in, as though my illness was obvious from the moment people saw me.
There was one angelic voice in the night that I waited for to cheer me up after bad lessons. That voice was not always pleasant, but at least it made me feel a bit more wanted.
“Sel…” whispered the voice that always came in the emptiest street on my journey back, wandering home to my empty flat. As always, I whipped around to find no-one there, before jumping as my shoulder twinged as though someone had prodded it. But there was nobody in the darkening street. Except…I knew there was, I could feel a presence colder than the evening breeze around my shoulder; someone winding her fingers into the ringlets of my dirty blonde hair.
It was my dead sister.
Apart from those ‘backstreet’ meetings, I’d never met my sister. She had leukaemia and died before I was born. My parents always told the story with tears in their eyes: how their beautiful baby girl got better, and then had a final fit, caused by a hidden cancerous change in chemicals that killed her. They always spoke of her not me. No wonder I became bipolar.
Of course, I could never have told mum or dad about Anya’s spirit; they would never have believed me, or would attribute my ‘hallucinations’ to the BPD.
You see, Anya has been with me my entire life, from those times when there’d be a light, glowing orb in my bedroom, to now, as I was hearing voices in deserted Scottish streets.
Finally, the figure of my sister appeared faintly on the corner of the worn-brick house that I’d just passed. Unblinking yet smiling, sometimes she’d be wearing the plain black dress that she wore on her last birthday, her head without hair due to the chemotherapy; other times she would be dressed smartly and in her twenties, long hair, poker straight just like my mum’s, and blonde, reaching past her shoulders as she nodded a greeting at me.
This day it was the latter, and she’d chosen to imitate my ‘interesting’ sense of style; calling it smart-rock would probably have been the closest to a correct definition.
Anya would never speak any other word but my name, and that too was the quietest of whispers in the wind.
It was Anya’s appearances that made my life bearable. The man I had previously fallen in love didn’t want me, and I was swimming in deep water without a lifejacket.
She lingered a little longer, following me to the end of the street, then, as she lifted a hand as though in a salute goodbye, she faded into the air once more. I gathered my jacket about my waist and stumbled to my flat through the dark night.