Short Stories

Conflicted

This is a true story…

Conflicted

We were in the car when I pulled over. I was getting that feeling again, the one behind my eyes that made me feel like I was looking through a long tunnel.

“Bea, what’s wrong?” my sister asked.

“Nothing,” I said but I could hear that my voice was slurred.

“No,” she said, “something is wrong.”

I didn’t answer – I couldn’t. In my head the voice spoke, but not in words. I was getting emotions and impressions. I was a little like I’d been immersed in water right over my head. I could hear things but they were distorted. My sister’s voice was loud and yet too slow. Then I saw a light, it bathed me in its brilliance and I let it wash over me. It felt as though my head had broken through the film of the water and I could breathe again.

Terry was shaking my shoulder. “Bea, what’s wrong?” She sounded panicky.

“Nothing,” I said again and I was happy to hear my voice return to normal. “Just a headache. I’m okay now.”

I pulled the car out back onto the road. I could tell she was watching me wearily. We were going to University and I also knew that I had to say something.

“There’s going to be an argument tonight.” A visiting lecturer was coming and I was organising everything. “Don’t do anything. It will all work out in the end.”

“What?”

“Just don’t…”

“Don’t what?”

“Act like you,” I said. Terry would jump in and try to protect me if things followed the dream, and that would be bad.

She looked at me hard and then turned to the road. “Okay.”

A huge weight lifted off my shoulders. “Thank you.”

She just huffed.

I drove the university and we sat through two hours of droning and then went to the cafe. I repeated the warning and our friends looked at me oddly but they all agreed not to do anything. I left to meet the lecturer. He was a nice guy.

“Can I have your USB?” I asked.

“My what?”

“Your presentation,” I said smiling but the smile felt stretched.

“Oh, it’s on my laptop,” he said and I knew that this was it. The problem was this. “Don’t worry though I know how to make it work.”

Except he didn’t. And it was my fault. After all I was no more than a student. But I didn’t lose my temper. Instead I got a person in to help. They arrived looked at the problem and said, “Press F5.”

Bingo – everything came to life. But my then I had been shouted at by the department, the visiting lecturer and most of the students. I took it all. I had to. You see I knew what would happen if I didn’t. At the end I bought the lecturer a drink and he offered me a place on his PhD course. I declined and thanked him.

We all walked away without a scratch, but if there had been no warning then my life may have suffered a small explosion, enough to knock me off course. Still, there after my friends never treated me quite the same.

As we would get in cars to go somewhere they would ask what the travelling would be like and I would go into the black water. I’d then give them an accurate report. It was a joke that left an uneasy look in their eyes. They drifted away, and I am sure it was because of that one day. Sometimes I wish that all I have to do is hit F5 to make everything fine.

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