Chapter Three: Déjà vu
I didn’t have to open my eyes to know whom the concerned voice belonged to.
My lips wouldn’t move and my eyelids still felt heavy, weighed down with exhaustion. A twinge of pain came from my right eye and down my arm; they felt extremely warm and thick.
A frantic wave washed over me, unable to open my eyes or move my lips, I screamed internally hoping that he’d hear it. I tried to lift my left hand, seeing as it was uninjured, all it did was twitch. I felt utterly helpless, but my head was beginning to clear and it was like a boulder of darkness had been evaded. Michael must have seen me attempting to move because only a moment later his warm handed wrapped around my own.
My body relaxed finally, giving me the power I needed to open my eyes. My icy blue eyes fluttered open, as if I was on a Soap opera as the comatose lover who had finally come to. I turned my head, trying to suppress the laughter that had boiled up into my throat, and then turned raw.
“Michael.” My voice was soft and just above a whisper, and I caught his intense expression.
He was leaning over me, a smile spreading warmly across his face, consuming most of his boyish charm. Leaning over me, he inspected my face, neck and arms, but that Cheshire cat nightmare seemed so clear.
“How long have you been here?” I stuttered.
“Well, I got to follow the ambulance in my car here behind you, and I haven’t left since. Does that answer your question?”
I returned his smile. “Okay, better question. What happened? And how long, as in hours, have I been here?”
“You passed out in History, and … it’s about six-thirty.”
“Four HOURS?” My voice was strained and it squeaked on the last word.
“Yupp. There’s food on that tray for you, but I ate your jell-o.” He smiled cutely, making up for eating my favorite dessert.
“Thanks.” My tone licked with sarcasm. Looking around the room, I found it empty and lonely, though I’d never known the rooms at the Boundary Trails Health Centre to be inviting. “Where’s my Mom?” Don’t they usually call parents when things like this happen?
As I turned back to look at Michael, his smile vanished, as if someone had just told him I’d died. “They couldn’t get a hold of her, that’s sort of why I’m here.”
My lips formed into an “O” shape, but I wasn’t really surprised. Marley always had a way of disappearing, even though she worked days at Boston Pizza, and possibly nights as some sort of Cat Woman. My own Mother couldn’t be contacted in case of an emergency, it was worrisome, and I shuddered at the thought. Michael responded and squeezed my hand a little, comforting me though it wasn’t necessary.
“I get to take you home. Like a new born babe.” Michael teased, leaning closer into me.
“Ha. Ha.” I snaked, though my tone clicked nervously.
“Oh, come on. It’s funny.” Michael nudged me a bit, gently not to aggravate me.
I turned my nose up, suddenly resenting Michael out of memory. “So, you and Skylar get along well.” I muttered cruelly.
“What? Oh, you mean at lunch hour. Ya, we skipped fourth period together. We couldn’t find you.” He added defensively.
Once again, that fire burned up into my throat, words lashing against my teeth that I fought back. What was happening to me?
Michael watched me carefully; as if he could feel the anger I had smothered. If that’s what it was. His eyes wandered across my face ad down my right arm. Bruised from hitting the ground when I’d passed out, but I couldn’t remember if that’s what I’d hit or not. His stare burned my skin and I flinched slightly while he watched, I felt nervous with him looking so closely, while I just lay there before him like an offering. It unnerved me, and I turned my eyes away. My one and only friend in the town I now called home was male, of course something would always be out of place.
I physically flinched just then, and Michael responded. “Are you alright?” Concern thick in his voice.
“I’m fine, just stop staring at me.” My tone was venomous unintentionally, and obviously it hadn’t been read as such.
Michael’s eye twitched and he released my hand. “I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be back in a bit.”
I glanced across the room at the bathroom, but I knew better than that. He would go for a walk, just to get out of the room and give me my space so that our friendship could survive just a bit longer than this. I felt guilty for making him feel unwanted, but at that moment I couldn’t stand being near him. I was confused, and feared I would say something stupid. If it was truly anger I felt, why did I feel so close to him?
There is no way I can be jealous. Is there?
My best friend in Vancouver had been Melissa Bremner and together we were a pair to be recognized. The two of us did everything together, even double dates, when we had them. But she’d moved to Edmonton the year before I left and I hadn’t heard from her since, it was almost as if she’d never really existed.
In Morden however, things had been so awkward and unfamiliar, and by chance on the Ferris wheel during the Corn & Apple Festival, I’d been paired with the ditched Michael. It took no time before we were laughing and had run off together, riding the rides and eating cotton candy until midnight.
Michael. A soft hum shook my chest, sighing outwardly I relaxed my muscles and calmed myself just as a nurse in scrubs slipped into my room.
“And how are we doing Olivia?” The nurse smiled one of those genuine smiles that crinkled the nose and wrinkled the skin around the eyes, making her appear much younger in a sense.
I responded quietly, with a nervous nod. Please just let me go home! Silently I begged.
As if the nurse had heard me she brought me my clothes and bent a clipboard down to eye level.
“These are the discharge papers, dear. Just sign there and you can go home.”
I had to blink hard, disbelief thick on my face. “Um, alright.” My fancy signature with a large, rounded out “J”, sprawled over the ‘guardian’ signature spot, my name almost inscribable.
“Alright. You can change and you’re free to go.” The nurse winked and left the room as Michael skulked around the corner.
Michael eyed the nurse in questioning, blinking then stretching out his legs and arms with a moan. Slowly he stalked towards my bed as I fidgeted with putting my bra on under the gown.
“They’re releasing you already?”
Scowling, I didn’t look up at him; instead I picked at the loose threads on my jean shorts. Blonde hair tumbled down my shoulders, casting threads of gold down my chest to where it stopped just underneath my breasts.
“Yes they are.” Still, I didn’t sound convincing enough.
“Alright. I guess I’m taking you –”
“How did you get there in time to follow the ambulance? I mean,” I scrunched up my nose in concentration, “if you were skipping class, how did the office get a hold of you?”
Now our eyes met, locking in an intense stare, both of our eyes wide and glowing. Yet, we were different: mine full of questions while Michael looked hurt, yet amused. Michael was the one to break off, lowering his head and striding towards me, chestnut hair flying in the air conditioning. Lowering himself onto my bed, he moved me over and lay next to me.
“I heard sirens and like always, I flocked to them. Seeing the ambulance pull up in front of the school, I left Skylar and managed to ram my way into the school. Mr. Johnssen caught my arm and asked me to come with him. At first I thought I was in shit for skipping, but then he told me about you and the situation with your Mom… Well, here I am.”
I folded my arms across my chest, covered in the backless hospital gown. My eyes were fluttering as I struggled to accept his story, but that voice in the back of my mind was wailing on a siren. “Really? What made you flock to the siren, if you were skipping? And… you hate hospitals.”
Michael looked up at me, as if I’d kicked him in the stomach. “… I don’t know. I guess… Okay, this is going to sound really weird, but what if I told you, I already knew what had happened?”
“What? How?” My voice raised two octaves.
“Skylar.” His voice sounded final, and monotone.
I looked up at him, eyes wide and mouth gaping open. I didn’t quite understand what it meant, but questions rose to my tongue steadily.
“What are you talking about?”
“Skylar. She, well, she told me that you were hurt and that you needed me. I don’t know how she knew, but she was right.”
Michael ran a hand through his dark hair, mussing with it embarrassed.
“I really don’t understand. Her friend wasn’t in class, so they couldn’t have communicated.” I shook my head.
“Ya, I think that’s her name.”
“She was with us.”
My eyes widened. Quickly I brought back the images from before all had gone black. Michael leaning over me grinning wildly, just like he had been when I had woken up. Could Skylar have seen it too?
“Ollie?” Michael called to me, as if I were far off in the distance.
“Hm?” I replied, still in a daze.
“Are you there, or am I talking to a pod?” Michael teased.
“Ya, I’m here. I think I’m ready to go home. Just let me go get changed.” I grabbed up my clothes and wrapped myself in a blanket before sliding off the bed. Wandering across the room to the bathroom, I slipped in through the door and inspected myself in the mirror.
The right side of my face was red with a tiny cut by my eye, slightly bruised as well. Other than that, my make-up was all washed off and my ivory skin glowed in the pale light.
Ollie, you look like a ghost. Why can’t you tan like all the other girls?
I pulled on my shorts and red tank top, covering my slim figure with a large black hoodie. It made my ivory skin glow even brighter and my blue eyes glittered under my blonde bangs.
A light tap came to the door and I spun around to face it. My heart skipped up into my throat, even though I knew it was just Michael. Shaking my head, I relaxed and moved towards the door, a slim, pale hand outstretched towards the brass knob, but I froze just before it.
Olivia, just do it! But I couldn’t move. What’s wrong with me?
“Ollie?” Michael called from the other side of the door. “You decent?”
I was shaking, but for no apparent reason. “I’m just finishing.” I lied and my arm dropped to my side. Taking in a deep breath, I relaxed my tired muscles and calmed myself.
Once again my hand reached towards the knob, but it was already turning. The door opened inward and there was Michael and the nurse. Blinking hard, I stared back at the two questionably.
“You are okay. Hm, what do you know!” Michael grinned, stating what I’d just said.
“Ya. That’s what I said.” My voice seemed shaky and that worried me, I hoped that he couldn’t hear it.
Michael just smiled, folding his arms across his chest in a smooth motion. It reminded me of the boy that had sat next to me in History, and the way he’d moved silently towards the desk. Somehow that edge he had wasn’t present here with Michael and I relaxed easily.
“Alright then. Let’s get you home before you lock yourself in the bathroom.” Michael teased, but his eyes still hinted at worry.
I just nodded, plastering a fake smile on my lips, trying to forget about the déjà vu or the twisting of my stomach.
On the way out of the hospital, I couldn’t help but notice the silence that filled the air between us. Michael had an arm slung around my shoulder protectively and his eyes faced forward into the early evening sun.
What’s he thinking about, I wonder.
Watching from the corner of my eye, he never even flinched when he pulled his keys from his jean pocket. His little red Mazda Protégé waiting for us quietly in its parking spot. Shoving the key into the lock of the passenger side, he opened the door for me and I slid in painlessly. The door shut only moments after, with Michael rounding the front of his car and climbing into the driver’s seat.
The ride home was also very silent, nothing but Power 97 playing roughly as background music. Even with the highway full of cars for the supper rush and getting to and from work, it was easy enough to maneuver through the traffic. I expected Michael to curse when a black Honda cut us off, but instead he just glared. I imagined him politely shoving his hand out the window and using a bit of sign language. I giggled at the image.
“What’s so funny?” He asked, his face amused by my cheerful squeak.
“You.” It wasn’t enough of an answer, but I saw the question rise on his brow.
“And what’s so funny about me?”
“I just find it hilarious how you’re acting so calm, so out-of-the-ordinary like.”
“How so?” He pressed, lips drawn into a flat line.
“You were just being so quiet. You always have something to say.” Where’s Michael?
“Oh really now?” Michael smiled and gave a sigh of relief.
There he is.
“Well, I just thought you didn’t want to talk about today. I mean, you seemed a little edgy about the topic, so I figured silence was better.”
“Well, it’s not. It’s annoying.”
“Then I’ve fulfilled my day’s goal.”
“Ha. Ha. Very funny Michael.” I smirked, wrapping my arms around my chest glancing back out the windshield.
Morden was in sight and we were coming up on Boston Pizza. The parking lot was packed with a variety of vehicles, and without surprise, my Mother’s truck was not there.
Where could she possibly be now?
“Maybe she just went to do groceries.” Michael had read my expression.
I turned to look as the car’s speed decelerated to 50 within the town.
“Maybe.” I repeated.
The Mazda cruised down the highway away before making a right on Nelson traveling North for 4 or 5 blocks before we hit Parkhill. My Mom had bought a bi-level house for us, with 3 bedrooms and a finished basement. Her business in Vancouver provided this ‘home’, but it felt empty to me.
There was no vehicle sitting in the driveway and all the lights were off. Instinctively, I shuddered, already aware of how lonely the house would be. Though, I was used to it. Ever since we’d moved here, Marley had been out for long periods of time, only the faint smell of her perfume indicated that she lived here.
As Michael parked he looked over at me, his fingers twitching on the steering wheel, his face seemed to contort with pain and apologies all at once.
“Can I come in?”
I looked at him, measuring up his expression with logic in mind and shrugged. “I suppose. But … I’ll probably just eat and go to bed.”
“I could use some food.” He smirked.
It was good to see that he still had an appetite after watching me sleep for four hours. “Alright. Pizza pops on me.” I clicked my door open and he followed; the two of us wandering up the front steps.
Inside, the porch light was on above the stairs that lead in two directions. Up to the main floor, or down to the basement. Since the kitchen was upstairs, we made a beeline for the laminate covered stairs. I ran my hand along the wall before ascending and flicked on as many lights as there were switches.
And then there was light! I stifled another laugh and went up the short flight of stairs. The kitchen was a sharp turn to the right, wide open on all angles. A small island stood up in the center, cluttered with papers and a knife-block. Obviously Marley had been scheming.
“What did your Mom do in Vancouver exactly?” Michael flipped through the piles.
“Secret Service.” I teased.
“C’mon Ollie, seriously now.” Though I caught a hint of a smile in his voice, his face was somber.
Whatever she wanted, she owned her own business. “Design.” I finished, stumbling over to the fridge.
Michael’s eyes were on me in a second, but I didn’t look back. Normally I was more graceful, my Mom used to say I was like a cat. I appeared out of nowhere, hovering over shoulders quietly, and hours could pass before they knew I was even there.
“I see. Got any Canadian?” He changed the subject, obviously losing interest.
“Sorry, only meat lovers.”
“Suck it up.”
“I would, but I enjoy my meat. So I’ll bite.”
“Sure. Anything you can eat, you’ll bite.” I chuckled, keeping my eyes from his face.
As I tossed the pizza pops in the microwave, I caught my reflection again in the black tinted window. I looked sullen, tired, and weak.
“Hey, Michael?” I turned to face him.
“Yes?” He lifted his eyes from a book on the counter to meet mine.
“Was I wearing make-up this morning?”
“How would I know?” Michael shrugged.
“Never mind. Do I look dead to you?”
Obviously this question caught him off guard, his eyes bulged. Nice going, Ollie. Scare him a little why don’t you.
“Uh – well – umm …” He trailed on without being able to form a complete word. He was only saved when the microwave finished.
“What is it with guys that makes them so incapable to answer a simple question?” I sneered.
“Don’t know. Got any ketchup?”
It’s always food with him. “Fridge. On the door.” Sighing, I grabbed at a plate and pulled the doughy entrée onto the ceramic surface and made my way over to the dining table. Michael followed suit.
Just as we finished eating, the sound of tires in my driveway pulled my attention elsewhere.
“Do you think your Mom’s home?” Michael asked, swallowing his last mouthful.
“Probably.” I nodded. But I really couldn’t be sure. My head spun for a moment, thinking of anything at all to say to her.
Hi Mom. Where the HELL have you been? That wouldn’t go over very well.
Footsteps could be heard clearly now, coming up the front walk and steps. Then the door jiggled open.
Standing there in the porch, taking off her shoes, was Marley. Her light, golden brown hair was pulled back into a clip. Feeling eyes on her face, she looked up, smiling of course.
“Hello Olivia. Michael. How was school?” Her tone was casual and pleasant. It was as if she was completely oblivious that her daughter had been hospitalized. Did it even occur to her how awkward it was to see me without any make-up on? Mom…
“How are you feeling, kiddo?” Marley was at my side now. Her gray eyes were loving, rounding out her heart-shaped face.
“So you know?”
“Of course. Paige filled me in at work.” Her cheeks lifted in a smile, but her arm extended until the heel of her palm rested on my forehead, checking my temperature.
“I’m fine.” I lied. I was completely confused.
“Thanks Mike, for bringing her home.” This time, Michael looked up at her, with only a half nod in acknowledgement.
“Mom… Where were you?” I asked finally, the air felt heavy.
“Winnipeg. I was in for an interview.”
“Oh,” was all I could come up with. But once again I felt Michael’s stare on me, scrutinizing my every movement and expression.
“I should get home, Ollie.” Michael’s voice seemed to shake, almost as if he were holding back tears or a scream.
“Alright. I’ll see you tomorrow. Thanks again.”
He gave me a half-hearted smile and left, striding down the stairs and slipping his shoes on, only to stumble roughly out the door.
Graceful exit, there Michael. I snickered.
“So now… what happened?” Marley’s stare was intense, burrowing into my mind.
“Nothing.” I growled. “And you know what? It’s pathetic that my own Mother can’t be contacted in case of an emergency.” Sliding my chair across the hardwood, from the table, I stormed downstairs into my over-sized bedroom. My eyes stung, I felt tears welling up behind them with force. Why can’t I just have a regular family? A mom, a dad, maybe some siblings. But no. I have to have a parent who manages to disappear every second that I need her. Man this sucks… I wonder if Smallville is on tonight?
Picking up the remote off my nightstand, I fell onto my double bed and sprawled. The TV screen flicked onto channel 39. ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ was just finishing and Smallville was on next. I made myself comfortable on my four pillows and fluffy duvet. My room spread out around me, my desk and computer was on the opposite side of my room to my left, and my door on the right. It was comfy and the tears fell freely now, but there was no sobbing.
Ollie, you are one creature that may need a therapist most in the world. Smallville should NOT be able to fix everything. Whatever happened to Sex in the City?
A sharp knock echoed through the odd shaped room and I instinctively shot a glance at the oak door. I’d forgotten all the dramatics of slamming and locking it.
Too late now.
Marley slipped effortlessly through the doorway and dropped to my bed, cutting off my view of Tom Welling. So with a heavy sigh, I snapped off the glowing box and stared down my Mother.
“Why are you crying?” Grey eyes probed my face.
“Olivia Jade. What on Earth is so horrible that you have to cry? Did they stick needles all over you? Did the doctor have cold hands?” A smirk slid onto her pale lips.
Cold? Like the floor in the History room?
My limbs felt like jelly for a brief time lapse before I let my eyes lock with her’s. “It was just scary. One minute I was sitting in class, the next …” I was seeing Michael before I even knew about him in the room, “… I was somewhere else, sort of.”
Marley’s face paled, but it was shock not confusion that struck me. It was as if she understood completely. “Olivia?” She sounded winded, as if she had just been out on one of her morning runs. “What do you mean by ‘somewhere else, sort of’?”
It was innocent enough, but her throat seemed to vibrate harder in the last part of her sentence.
How do I explain? “I had my eyes open, but it was like my classroom changed to the hospital room I later woke up in. Almost four hours later.” I felt my cheeks warming.
Marley was perfectly still, her eyes distant. I wondered if she thought I’d hit my head just a little too hard.
“Did you experience Déjà vu afterwards?” Her tone scared me. It was severe, almost as if I had broken a house rule and she was about to punish me.
“Well…” I was nervous. Would my answer drive her to calling a shrink for me? Or would Eden have a new resident? “Yes?”
“Get some sleep.” The words came out so quickly, yet they came sweetly from her and she patted my legs, almost as quickly exiting the lop-sided room.
Was it something I said? Had it just been a nightmare? Oh man, I think I’m really going nutty. Maybe I should ask Michael to come to the beach this weekend. It’s supposed to be hot.
My mind jittered on, but slowly I felt my eyes sag and my breathing slowed. Fighting back the sleep was impossible, and before eight, I’d fallen into a hectic dream world scattered with that day’s events and people. I could still hear my Mom walking around upstairs, and then the phone was ringing, but as I tried to open my eyes I only fell further into the bustling abyss, trapped by my own subconscious as I lay sprawled on top of my covers, a pillow clutched to my chest. For almost a second, it was dark and silent, and then the nightmares came.