I woke up feeling like I’d been run over by a truck. Whilst still processing my strange dream I stumbled out of bed. In exactly ten minutes Yana would be knocking on my door complaining about how I’m always late for breakfast. I grabbed my toiletries and dashed to the shower.
I was brought back to reality by a knock on my door. “You may enter but at your own risk” I giggled as I knew my statement would wind Yana up. She entered with a hand over her eyes and just as I had predicted went on to complain about my now habitual lateness. With the sweetest look on my face, I begged for her forgiveness and an extra five minutes to comb my hair and brush my teeth, whilst she could check on Hope in the meantime. Her reaction was far from what I had expected. She turned around and with a puzzled look on her face asked who Hope was. Yana was never one to joke this way but I figured she had woken up in a happier mood than usual so I smiled and continued combing my tangled, dandruff-ridden hair.
“Hope, are you going to breakfast?” I whispered as I entered the dark room next to mine. With no response, I assumed she was sleeping and decided not to disrupt her sleep. When I turned around Yana and Eva were staring at me with a cross between fascination and confusion. Eva finally broke into laughter whilst Yana continued to stare with disbelief. “Lulu, all’s well today?” Eva managed to choke out. I was confused. Had I missed something?
After a quiet breakfast of cereal and lukewarm milk, we walked back to our rooms. Finally Yana broke the silence by asking yet again who Hope was. A part of me believed this was a genuine question but surely Yana had lost her mind. I laughed nervously and looked at Eva who seemed in full support of Yana’s question. “You’re joking, right? Let’s go and see her right now. Maybe your question will be answered.” They both exchanged looks but no one said a word.
With the light now streaming into her room, Hope’s room wasn’t as dark as before. I could see the light seeping through the cracks of the brown door. “Hope, you won’t believe what Yana…” My jaw dropped as I stared into the empty room. There was no sign of life - her bed, her clothes, her posters – and most of all, her. I turned around to see Eva looking at me with a genuinely worried expression. “Where’s Hope? Where did she go?” I asked hysterically. At the verge of tears, I frantically searched for any sign of her in the room. There was nothing.
Over the next few days, Eva and Yana transitioned from thinking I was joking to thinking I had lost my mind. I had spent so much time trying to convince them that Hope was real instead of finding cold, hard proof. That’s when it hit me. She wouldn’t answer her phone and had deactivated her Facebook account but the school would still have her records.
I stood in the reception with a puzzled receptionist trying to assure me that no one by the name of Hope had ever attended the school. Had I imagined her? All the times we had spent together. I had touched her, heard her voice, felt her hands on mine. There was no way I had imagined it.
I sat in her room and wept loudly. All the memories I had of her, including those in which Yana and Eva had been part of, were all I had left. “Lulu, we only did this because we love you. It’s only for the best” I heard a soft voice in the background. It was Eva. She wasn’t alone. Along with Yana, there were two men in snow white clothing standing beside her. I felt my heart beat faster as I knew what would come next. The two men began to approach me. I stumbled onto my feet in an attempt to escape but they took hold of my arms and tried to force me out of the room.
“I’m not crazy! Hope, please tell them. Please, no!! I’m not crazy! Hope!!” I resisted with all of my will. That’s when I felt the cold needle penetrate the back of my neck. I felt my bones liquidise and my body collapse into one of the man’s hands. The last thing I remember seeing before passing out was Eva crying on Yana’s shoulder. With that they dragged me to this place - a place with four white walls and no windows. I am locked away like a criminal with the only colour in my world being a memory, or perhaps an illusion, of a girl named Hope.
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