- Vol. 07
- Chapter 11
All it can take is a sudden change in the light for everything to become different. To see things as they truly are. Audrey gets so flummoxed when this happens, when I have what she calls one of my “episodes”.
“I’ll need to tell your parents, you know,” she sometimes says. “If this keeps happening.”
But she never does. She needs this gig way too much. Times are hard. There aren’t many families seeking the services of a governess these days. If people do have kids, they have far more pressing issues to worry about than giving them education. Like giving them food.
Still, I try to hide when it happens, just in case her concern about my mental state ever wins out over concern about her next pay cheque. My parents wouldn’t do well here, in the real world. Their survival hinges on their charmed existence.
Today, my episode is brought on by a thunderstorm abruptly switching to a sun shower. My father’s study transforms, polished mahogany turns to piles of trash. There are no books to speak of, and instead of a chair I’m sitting atop a jar where the bottom half of me is concealed in a thick, milky liquid, something — most likely something of myself — pulsating beneath the sickening murk. I’ve never had it in me to explore further. I like to instead focus on my surroundings. Did you know that in the real world's colour is inverted, like photograph negatives? On these unexpected visits, I like to focus on the colours. They are preferable to the odour. They are far more preferable to the ghostly figure lurking in the corner.
Now Audrey is examining me, concern clouding her eyes. Even though I say nothing, she can always tell when I’m having an episode. I can’t hide the unusual shallowness of my breath, my sudden lively interest in a dull room I’ve known all my life.
The EpisodesThe thing is, she shouldn’t be worried for me. She’s the one living in pretence. I see her as she really is now, her neat but shabby dress is actually rags that barely cover her, her usually sleek, pinned-back hair is akin to a rat’s nest, while flies circle her head. This is reality. She hasn’t a clue.
I’m overwhelmed by an urge I haven’t had before. She needs to see it. How can she possibly hope to live her best life when all she knows is a lie? That sounds very noble. Really, I’m just sick of being alone here.
“Do you want to see?” I ask.
“How it really is?”
“What are you…” she trails off. Probably because deep down, she knows.
I hold out my hand. She hesitates briefly then clasps it in hers, pressing her eyes shut and taking a deep breath before the real world strikes.
Her first episode.