It was as if I'd woken up, but I wasn't at home, and my inner, circadian rhythm felt uncomfortable. I tried to rub the sleep out of my eyes, yet there was none. My make-up was already on my face.
Beneath me, the floor was cold and hard. Then, I recognized the pattern on the tiles. Quickly, I got to my feet. I was at school!
How did I get here? I wondered. This is too vivid to be a dream. I brought my watch to my face, and checked the date. It was Friday, as it was meant to be. But the time! It was the beginning of fourth period. I had a class to get to!
I turned around to get my bearings, and saw the urinals. What the heck was I doing in the boy's bathroom? What if someone comes in here?
I ran to the door, waited until the hall was relatively clear, and made a run for it.
What about lunch? I have to eat! Wait... no, my stomach feels full. Eww, what did I eat though? What's this poignant salty taste in my mouth? Gross...
I turned around, to see if anyone had spotted me. And that's when I saw my binder and Biology textbook near the door. I rushed back, and closed them. Taking them up in my arms and speed-walking over to Biology, I realized I had utterly no memory of anything that had happened today.
Is this some kind of amnesia? My long term memory seems fine, doesn't it? Would I even know if it wasn't? I think it's just today. Today, total memory loss. It's like my recent short-term memory was erased, before I could go to sleep and commit it to long-term memory. I think that's how it works, anyways. Did I do this to myself by accident? But wait, why was I in the boys' bathroom? Did Ricky do this to me?
I sat down at my desk, just before the final bell rang. Once again, Mr. Belmont was substituting... and staring at my chest. Nasty old man.
Was there something I forced myself to forget? Did I witness something disturbing? Am I repressing something? As I opened my book to the page my neighbour's was open to and began to copy his answers for the homework, I tried to focus on earlier today. But there was nothing. Nothing at all.
That's it! I thought, raising my hand for Mr. Belmont to see. I've got to go see the nurse.
"What is it, Priscilla?"
"Sir, I can't explain why in front of everyone, but I need to go see the school n--," my voice was drowned out by a booming electronic voice.
"INITIATE LOCKDOWN PROCEDURE... INITIATE LOCKDOWN PROCEDURE... INITIATE LOCKDOWN PROCEDURE..." it kept repeating.
"Sir, is this a drill?" someone yelled over the noise.
"No!" Mr. Belmont answered. "I don't think so."
"Shit!" I yelled, "Jade's not in the room!"
Everyone turned to look at Jade's vacant seat in front of me. Somehow, my instincts told me Jade had been here today, though not a single memory surfaced. But sure enough, nobody told us that she'd been absent in other classes. Damn.
And the instructions over the PA system stopped blaring at us, though we were still under lockdown until further notice.
"You know what to do, everyone. Hide under the desks, while I lock the doors with Ms. Jenkins' keys," the teacher told us calmly. "If any of you are gonna break the rules and use any cellphones, iPhones, Blackberries or other text-messaging devices... just make sure I can't see them, okay?"
I sat under the desk, closed my eyes, and tried to focus on relaxing my body. I felt tense. For some reason, my neck was strained and there was a pain in my throat. Am I having a nervous breakdown? I tried to tune into my inner senses, hoping to hear something, if only a word, from my siblings.
I tuned out the rustling of chairs and stools, the hushed voices of my classmates, and the substitute teacher's annoying habit of tapping his nails on the desk. Finally, I was there, in that place of inner mind.
Thought waves I didn't recognize, that were unfamiliar, drilled into my skull. And I heard a voice, a voice I'd never heard before.
"You killed her, my darling Priscilla. You killed her."
"Ahhh!" I screamed, out loud and in my thoughts, and my cellphone fell out of my bag, flipping open to display a flashing text message from Claire: "missed final bell locked out of caf and stuck in hall".
"How unfortunate," said Mr. Belmont as he took the cellphone from me and read the message. "Unfortunate indeed."
Then, he leaned back down and had the audacity to slip my cellphone down between my breasts. I was seething at him, but the pervert just told me to calm down. I had half a mind to make a scene, but I knew better than to make the situation worse. I was scared as it was. In disgust, I spat out that nasty thing that had been lingering in the corner of my mouth.
It sat on the floor, like a half-dried dab of glue amongst my saliva.
Beside me, Ben sniffed the air and glanced from my spit to my face, then asked, "Is that whose I think it is?!"
"Huh?" I answered, keeping my voice in a low whisper.
"Wait, no... he was in the caf for the last seventy-five minutes. How long has that been in your mouth?"
"I don't remember," I admitted. "I can't remember a damn thing from earlier today. I just woke on the bathroom floor a few minutes ago. Feels rather surreal."
"Ohh... so you don't know what that is."
"No, but it tastes nasty," I told him. "What's it gonna be, Ben, a guessing game?"
"I'm not sure," he whispered. "You might be better off not knowing. But tell me, has Belmont done anything more than shove your phone between your --"
"No! God no..." I said, and then my mind realized what it was. "Eww, gross... what the fuck was that doing in my mouth?"
"Nate's been in the cafeteria with me for the last seventy-five minutes. Can a person go that long without swal--"
"Where have I been? Was I at lunch?" I asked, frantically interrupting him.
"Umm... you were there, like always, to eat, and then you went off to the bathroom with Jade..."
We looked at each other in shock.
Did I actually have something to do with Jade's disappearance?
"What kind of trauma causes short-term memory loss?" I asked Ben.
"I dunno, is your head bruised?"
I poked at my skull, through my hair, "Now that you mention it, my scalp is sore. But it's more like someone has been pulling my hair."
Ben's ears went read, "Ummm... I dunno about you, but if you ask me, it sounds like... nevermind. It's just wrong."
I closed my eyes, pretending to wince, but I was actually trying to focus on Ben's thoughts. I wished he'd be more candid. I struggled to pick up a thing. And then two letters came to me, in order, 'B', 'J'. I was desperate, I couldn't help but ask, "What's... uhh... BJ?"
"What's a BJ!?" Ben broke up into quiet, stifled laughter. "Seriously, Priscilla..."
"That's not what I meant!" I said quickly. When I had realized what I seemed to have said, and put his reaction together with what he'd said earlier, my thoughts began to form an answer, and that answer gave me another question: Had I been orally raped?
I knew that Nate could never be so rough as to pull my hair or cause so much pain to my throat. I surmised that it had to be against my will. And yet, why repress my memory of the entire day? It simply didn't make sense to me. I surely wasn't behaving like a rape victim. Then again, I'm not a normal person.