I wish that I could remember more about that night when my life changed forever, but I cannot. It bothers me that to this day I cannot remember exactly what happened. I have been given various accounts, but I have nothing from my own memory. I do, however, have a vague idea of what happened the next day.
I woke up in my bed, fully clothed and top of my bedcovers, with a feeling of numbness filling my head and most of my body. For a few moments I had no idea whatsoever of where I was and try as I might I could not remember how I got there. I got out of bed slowly, my ears ringing. I had the most terrible headache. I tried to stand by all the blood rushed to my head and a fell back down. After a few tries I managed to stand. I undressed, confining my dirty clothes to the corner of my bedroom. Normally I wouldn't have dared - my mother had a habit of doing surprise checks on my room and she would go on for hours if she found dirty clothes. I decided that today I didn't care. I felt so sick that I could hardly think.
I pulled on my pyjamas and opened my door, only to be greeted by a flood of early morning sunlight. I recoiled and waited for my eyes to adjust, and then staggered out into the hall. I couldn't remember ever having felt so faint before in my life. I wanted to collapse, but I wouldn't let myself. The stairs bobbed into view and I clung onto the stair rail for support. On step at a time I managed to half crawl downstairs. I couldn't hear or see properly and my head was spinning in such a way that the floor began to move up and down. I sat down on the hallway floor to regain my energy.
At that point, my mother came out of the front room.
'Lucie?' she said, and then, more impatiently: 'Lucie!'
I tried to reply but she had already muttered something and walked away. I gradually stood up and made my way to the kitchen. The waves of dizziness were receding and I hear my mother's voice. She obviously had not stopped talking to me when she had gone into the kitchen. I had just been unable to hear her.
' ... ill all the time. And I won't believe that you're that bad. You're not getting off work tomorrow if that's what you're hoping to do. This is just like when you were fourteen and you ...'
I decided that I wasn't all that hungry, made my way to the stairs and crawled back up to my room. When I got there, I collapsed into bed and fell back into a deep sleep.
To my knowledge, nobody tried to wake me, though I was aware of people coming into my room a couple of times. It was probably my mother with my washing. She didn't say anything to me, but she didn't disturb me, so she must have felt guilty for what she had said earlier. When I slept, I did not dream. It was like no sleep that I had ever known.
When I woke, the clock next to my bed said that it was twenty past five, and the sky outside was dark. I stood up, still feeling vaguely groggy, but nonetheless able to stand. I walked out of the room and stopped. I could hear voices. There were many voices, but the ones closest to me, the ones that I could hear with the most clarity, were voices that I knew very well. They were voices that I had known since I was born. They were the voices that had taught me to speak; somehow you never forget those voices. It was my parents, and I could hear them from where they were sitting in the living room. Were they arguing? They rarely raised their voices, but now I could hear them with such clarity. No, they were not arguing. There voices were calm, despondent if anything. But they were loud. I could hear them from the landing. It was very strange.
But there were other voices. I moved closer to the wall on my right. There were voices from behind the wall, and a television set. Why was I hearing these things? I realised, suddenly, that I needed to get out of the house. That was the only way to stop this. I had to leave the house and go to somewhere abandoned. I had to go to the place where the lights would now be starting their nightly dance. I had to be alone. Or not alone. I did not want to admit that even now I was hoping that she would appear. She had done this - I was sure of it. And she would tell me a way to make it right.
I shouted a goodbye to my parents and ignored the various demands as to where I was going. I made my way as quickly as I could to the bypass, and sat on the bench near the hedgerow, waiting.
I was aware that something strange was happening to me as I made my way down. I encountered several passers by. They stepped out of my way but seemed not to see me. It was like being invisible; the people who walked past me seemed aware of my physical presence, but they did not acknowledge me in any way, not even with a nonchalant glance. It was like being and not being at the same time, and I did not like it one bit.
I sat on the bench. I was vaguely aware of the descending temperature, but it seemed not to affect me at all. I did not shiver and I did not feel any desire to move. I sat and stared numbly at the darkling fields. Something was happening to me; something about me had changed. I was worried, but I was not worried. A sense of distance had descended upon me and I had become very calm. Again, I wondered vaguely whether I had finally gone insane. I had feared insanity for years because of the dependence it brought with it; I would not go into I hospital but I would not be able to leave my home for university. I wondered what type of insanity I was experiencing, before I began to convince myself that nothing was wrong and I was just feeling very unwell. I had to be recovering now though. I could walk for a start, and my headache had all but gone. Perhaps it was nothing to worry about, and I would be entirely better the next morning. However, I still had this sense of unease which made all my arguments to myself of recovery seem entirely invalid. Why was I sitting here, waiting, if I was not certain that what was happening to me could not be explained by my doctor? That it warranted some sort of other explanation from the person that had made it happen? And I still could not remember exactly what had happened the night before; that in itself warranted concern. I was determined to get answers. So I sat, and I waited.