*** 11 years later
It was the first time I remember. I came to myself on the floor with the feel of warm hard wood on my cheek. As I blinked and caught up with myself again I saw the place where the snowflake had hit the glass, landed, softened and melted. The ice-water had run into a smear.
“So Nial. How did you feel after?” the doctor (who wasn’t a doctor) with warm eyes under drooping eyebrows asked me. I shrugged. Re-telling the incident had taken me back into the moment and I blinked as if waking up into bright sunlight. I shuffled in the seat and kicked my toe to my heel to make my legs swing. I watched and repeated, holding onto the seat with my hands as if I would fall off. The doctor waited. I looked down.
I was eleven and knew about adults. They still thought I was a little boy. Purposefully I sat back into the chair making myself smaller. Mother had made me wear my smart trews and polished shoes, a mini version of Dad – I hated it. They were my school uniform and I wasn’t at school. I had tried to wear tartan and trainers and a baggy T-shirt.
I stared at the sharp creases running down my legs. Noticing the edges I followed the lines with my eyes, not moving. I could see the tiniest of flaws where the line shifted.
“Nial?” he asked softly but firm too, like adults who are about to give you a telling-off, or bad news.
“Uh?” startled, my hands flew up and landed on the chair arms. I nodded and said: “Better.” He frowned and tried to make it into a wise scowl instead. He shifted in his seat, opposite me, resting his notebook on his other knee.
“Can you explain that? Tell me how you felt better.” He made some scribbles and I wondered if he was just doodling, making nonsense to reverse-psychology me.
There was a big desk in his room, it was behind him; like the one in our library – highly polished, heavy, ornate; old. I wondered why he didn’t use it, it seemed like a very good desk, better than his knobbly knees. I stifled a grin. He looked up, eyebrows lifting as if they’d take off.
“Before, I was dull. After I wasn’t.” I felt clever. I wasn’t lying. He made ‘umm’ noises and wrote in my notes.
To my right (his left) a window looked over the car-park and the hospital. It was a wide window that made the room light but the view was horrible. The office walls had been covered instead with paintings – large images of woodlands and sea-sides: greens/blues/ambers – calming tones. Behind me were bookshelves and behind his desk, his awards in gold-coloured frames.
I had read about psychiatry because I heard Mother and Dad discussing my treatment. The library at home only had old books on sciences, in fancy leather covers that looked smart but were out-dated. I found a book about phenology and checked my skull for odd bumps. There weren’t any.
School didn’t have anything useful so I bought some from town. I can see them now, blue and red covers with an illustration of a head (parts 1 and 2) – they’re hidden in my bedroom. With the torn pages from the rude magazine (Jamie found it and shared it between the five of us) and my best marbles and – the feather.
part 3 tomorrow folks!