Once on the bus, I realised that my palms were clammy and dirty and my hair felt lank and greasy. I should've washed before I left. Maybe I could clean myself up in some public toilets somewhere or other.
I suppose I got stared at. I felt several penetrating gazes from the two other people on the earliest bus, tired businessmen with black bags under their eyes. The busdriver was grumpy and passive, and couldn't stop frowning. In the mirror at the front of the bus I could see him turning the wheel sharply, violently, slamming his whole fist down on buttons and wrenching the life out of the gear lever. He reminded me of myself in one of my own masochistic moods.
I closed my eyes. The throbbing of the engine, the stink of petrol and the drizzling rain in the dark of the morning faded into the background.
I didn't sleep, but I know I had some kind of half-drowsy vision.
In my dream I saw the ghost of the girl in the white nightdress, swaying in front of a black oblivion. She was walking towards me, slowly, limping, lurching to her left side at every step, as if drunk or disorientated. As she came closer I saw her eyes glazed over as if she were blind, her forehead lined deeply, the corners of her mouth dropping in agony. I flinched. But as she lurched farther and farther to the left she turned into Deanna Macpherson, walking sideways in my mind's eye. I tilted my head in my drowsiness to see her walking vertically, but I had turned my head the wrong way, and now she was upside down, and I was feeling dizzy. And her face too was contorted in agony, and pain, and something else. Something that might have been sadness.
I struggled to see more, but how could I analyse someone when they were upside down? It was all so different. Was I upside down? I felt the blood rush to my head, seeming to flow out of my ears and drain me of warmth. And then the beautiful dark-haired girl in distress flashed open her alluring dark eyes, and I couldn't tell whether she was Deanna or Vere. Her face came very close to mine, and I reached out to touch it, to feel the smooth white skin, to stroke and caress my sister's hair - or was it Deanna Macpherson's hair? But my fingers were invisible, and as I stretched their non-existence out to the girl's face, their non-existence felt nothing, because it was non-existant. The girl gave a cry of anguish and keeled over, face forwards, and I skipped aside just in time.
And I was seeing my sister there on the boards in a growing pool of red paint, though some instinct tells me it is not paint, a cruel knife in her chest. I am seeing it again, and I scream and scream for someone to save me from this nightmare.
And so the blackness clears, with the stars of sleep, and I am sitting on a bus with the throbbing of the engine, the stink of petrol and the drizzling rain in the dark of the morning. A tired businessman yawns, and the grumpy bus driver glares at him in the mirror.
My forehead tingles with the pain. Does no one know of what I am constantly going through? Does no one see more than a dirty ugly podgy boy with a mystery? A mystery in the form of a strange contraption holding six paintings for an art competition. I have no mystery. I have no family. I have no friends. I have no soul. I'm a bag of bones kept alive by the nightmare, which uses me and will some day cast me aside, and then I shall be confused and broken.
And there's no one who can help me.