The bus ride was humiliating. People gave Eliza weird looks as she got on the bus and she could hear people whispering behind her back. The rest of the school day was even worse. There was no respite from the pointing and taunts and everything else that teenagers come up with to harass each other.
“Eliza! What happened to you? You look...different.”
Carrie had been trying to make eye contact with Eliza all day and every one of her attempts at conversation had been thrown back in her face. At lunch, Carrie had finally managed to corner her friend and force her to talk.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Eh, we’ve been through worse than wardrobe changes.”
Carrie pushed Eliza into a seat at an empty table and opened her lunch box. She gave her food a disgusted look and reluctantly opened the bag that contained her ham and cheese sandwich. It looked like it had been through a nuclear armageddon, for it was all squished and mauled beyond recognition. The cheese looked old and the ham was slimy, but Carrie never complained. Her life was hard enough to know that food was not to be wasted, even if it was weeks old and was covered in black mold.
Carrie took a bite of her sandwich, but Eliza snatched it from her hand and threw it into a nearby trash can.
“I’ll buy you lunch if you promise not to make fun of me when I tell you why I’m dressed like this.”
Carrie wasn’t a complainer, but the thought of food that wasn’t going to give you food poisoning later in the day was always an appealing thought.
“I won’t laugh, I promise.”
Five minutes later, the girls returned to their table with their trays of food. Eliza’s held the usual pizza and french fries, but Carrie had piled everything she could get her hands on into the tray.
“Please don’t tell me you intend to eat all of that. You’ll get ill.”
“My mother has not gone grocery shopping in two weeks. If I have to, I’m going to carry this stuff out of here in the pockets of my jacket, but right now, that’s not what I’m worried about. I’m worried about you and your sudden change in taste.”
“Alright, I’ll tell you, but you can’t think I’m crazy. The other night I was cleaning out my closet and I came across some clothes that I don’t remember buying. Mom said I got them at the mall two weeks ago, but I have no idea where I got the money from to buy them, or even going to the mall at all. In fact, I don’t remember anything from two weeks ago.”
“Maybe everything just became so dull that last week became an unimportant blur.”
“Maybe, but where did the clothes come from? Mom wouldn’t lie to me about something like that.”
“If you hate them so much, then why are you wearing them?”
“This morning I got up and found these clothes at the foot of the bed where I usually lay out my clothing for the next day the night before, but I don’t remember anything past dinnertime last night and I don’t remember setting out these clothes. I’m also starting to think that my alarm clock was set deliberately later so that I would have no choice but to be in a hurry and wear these. When I went into the bathroom, there was a note on the mirror that said, ‘enjoy.’ All my makeup was gone and had been replaced by different stuff. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m really worried.”
“It really just sounds like someone is playing a joke on you. It’s mean, but it’s not serious. No one’s going to get hurt. Just play along and whoever it is will lose interest and stop harassing you. Your makeup might not be returned, but you can always get more.”
Eliza wasn’t convinced that a prank was the only thing that was causing her problems, but it seemed like the best idea there was.
Except Eliza knew that she was avoiding the truth. She knew that there was another reason that she was losing her memory and having strange things happen to her, but it wasn’t one that she wanted to entertain. The loss of memory she could attribute to stress. Eliza couldn’t think of any reason for why she had heard a voice in her head the night she had discovered the clothes.
I must be losing my mind.