I was back at school, fourteen years old with hot sweaty hands trembling beneath the table strangling a biro feverishly. Wishing...just wishing, over and over again, to be anywhere else but here. So many eyes watching me, making me feel sick to the core. My face burning red as I tried and failed to say something, anything. Stand up for yourself! Someone was screaming in my head, a voice I recognised but I was frozen with humiliation feeling myself shrinking smaller and smaller like Alice with the mushrooms. I hate this. I hate you all. I want to go home. I want to home. I never should have come. I want to go home. I wanted my hair down, to cover my face, to hide away. They were laughing at me and memories were flashing like club lights, being pushed and pulled and taunted one way then the other, stabbed with words after hurtful words. Uncertain, uncomfortable, lost in this sea of swirling misery. Why are you listening to this? This is bullshit! The voice wasn't shutting up trying to drone out the voices around me, I realised who it was speaking inside my head....it was me. My voice, grown up me, the me that I am now. I'm not fourteen anymore. I'm not a dog. I'm not pathetic. I'm not small or invisible. I don't want to be invisible. Pull yourself together
After I left I felt like I could breathe again, and the cool night air was blissful. My head was hurting a little and my own voice was stern, I was angry with myself.
"What the hell was that?"
"You completely lost yourself back there"
"What was I supposed to do? argue, let loose and storm out?"
"If it was anyone else talking to you that way you would have done"
"This is different, it's real life now"
"That's bullshit. You let yourself down there."
"I don't have a choice right now. This is the best I've got"
I was almost at the taxi rank and the glaring white lights were comforting.
"There's always a choice. You didn't have to take that just now. You let them make you feel stupid and you're not stupid."
"I just clammed up."
"I know. But you're not a kid anymore, no ones smashing dictionaries into the back of your head or stealing your stuff"
"I'm losing my mind here. I hate this"
"Finish the books. It'll turn out alright."
"It's going to take me years."
"Well that's all we've got. Look it doesn't matter what happens here, we've been through hard times we can go through them again. Just don't let tonight happen again, do you understand?"
"Say it, say what you should have said back there"
"I am awesome. I will succeed"
"You are awesome. One day they'll realise who you are, and they'll find it hard to believe they knew you."
"I don't care if they forget."
"They'll remember. Because...?"
"Because we are awesome, and no one will make us feel insignificant"
I sat shivering violently in the little booth waiting for my taxi, the security camera glared down at us both but only caught me on the film. Though honestly for the conversations in my head there might as well have been her sat there in the seat next to me. When the driver pulled up I got in and proceeded to tell him about my awful evening and the C***s I'd spent it with. He was nice. Backed me up 100% the way a friendly stranger does. I had a consistent headache for the next 3 days and I knew what it was, it was those bad feelings hammering away at my confidence, my dreams struggling to force their way back into sunlight, and Grace helping me tread my way through the debris, picking up a crumpled piece of paper here and there.
Finish the books. That's all we have for an escape plan.