Duvet,

    by Summoner Skye (summonerskye@yahoo.com)

____________________

i am falling



That was the first day, I think, that I really noticed Mary. She had this way

about her that made her completely insignificant; part of the landscape. She

wasn't remarkable in any ways. She was very pale and thin, and only barely

making five feet in height, she was one of the shortest people in our year. She

had small features, save for a mouth that was a little to big. Her limp brown

hair was cut in a short bob that fell forward, virtually untamed, obscuring her

face and herself from the world. She wore baggy, earth-tone clothes and walked

quickly, with her head tucked down to her chest. Even her voice, quiet and

murmuring, was mere white noise, blending into the din of high school until it

almost disappeared completely.



But her eyes. Her eyes were the sole noticeable thing about her. They were an

unremarkable muddy brown, but there was this... feeling about them. They were

hungry and frightened and lonely... They were screaming, screaming out pain and

hurt...

The first time I noticed those eyes was the first time I noticed Mary.

It was at lunch, and I was sitting with my friends talking about frivolous

things; boys and clothes, recent breakups and who was with who. I had glanced up

at Cassie, who was passionately telling us about a particularly nasty occurrence

in science that morning, when I saw her. She was several tables behind us, with

nothing but a salad and a bottle of water in front of her. She was all alone at

her end of the table, also; no one was even relatively near her. She looked up

at the clock, and for a split second, as she was turning back to her meal, my

eyes met hers.



It was only for a second, but in that second those eyes communicated a lifetime

of emotions- indescribable emotions.



"...And then, you will not believe what he said to me then, he said-" Cassie was

saying, continuing on with her inane story as if nothing had happened. But then,

I realized, nothing had happened.



Soon enough I was drawn back into the conversation when the topic of Homecoming

popped up and the incident was pushed to the back of my mind.

__________

It was later that day that I first approached her. She was standing at her

locker, shoving her homework into a nondescript brown backpack.



I had been passing with a group of my friends, and extracted myself from them;

caroling out 'goodbye's' and 'see you later's'.



I attempted to sidle up to her locker, but that wasn't possible. Instead I

viciously fought my way through the screaming hoard that descended upon our

school whenever the bell rang. Once I finally reached her locker I stood there,

studying her. She paid no attention to me, only swung her pack onto her shoulder

and began hurrying down the hallway.



I blinked, not expecting complete ignorance. "Hey!" I called, hurrying after her

"Mary!"



I knew her name, now. I had paid attention during roll in math, for once. Mary

Johnson. A simple name.



"Mary!" I called again, catching up to her. I spun around in front of her,

facing her. "Hi."



She looked up at me, surprise written all across her tiny features. The

surprise, though, was instantly replaced by a cold fury.



"What?" She asked, her voice quiet, but as hard and sharp as steel.



I blanched. Whatever I had been expecting, it was not this. "I- I just wanted to

say 'hi'."



The anger contorting her features never wavered. "Well, you've said it." She

brushed by me, continuing on her way down the hallway. It was as if our

encounter had never happened. Her features resumed their accustomed blankness.

The sudden straightness of her back that had come while addressing me

disappeared, replaced by her normal hunched way of holding herself.



She said something, too, when she passed me.



"Leave me alone."

i am fading

"Lissa!" Charley complained, wrapping his arms around my waist, "You haven't

been yourself lately." He was kissing me, and I gently extracted myself from his

grasp, glancing around for any signs of a teacher. Or her.



I guess Charley was right. I haven't been myself lately. Being the nosy bairn

that I am, I had been unable to resist trying to get closer to Mary. She...

intrigued me, and was sort of a strange obsession of mine.



We'd had several encounters akin to the first one, but I got as far as

introducing myself once.



"I'm Lissa." I had said, "Lissa Richmond."



"I know," had been her reply.



I peeped at the clock and discovered that we had exactly forty-three seconds to

get to class. I blew a kiss to Charley and started hurrying down the hallways to

class.



Mary, apparently, was also running late. She was walking quickly in a parody of

her usual gait; her head tucked down and her feet flying.



I was likewise looking down, but this was because of a stray paper threatening

to relinquish itself of my binder. I was tucking it back in when I suddenly felt

someone collide with me and send me flying to the ground.



A scream, a scream that warranted much, much more than a simple hallway

collision to grant it, was emitted from the other person in the accident- Mary.

She had a shocked expression; sitting there among her papers littering the

floor. Her eyes were wider than I'd ever seen them, and she was clutching at her

chest, panting.



"...Mary?" I asked, dusting myself and collecting my spilled school supplies.

The bell rang, but I paid no heed to it as its shrill shriek reverberated around

the hallway; its sound magnified by the cold tile that we were sprawled on.



Her head jerked up and she stared at me.



I've never felt more naked, more exposed, than I did in that instant. Her eyes

roved me, and I felt that they were picking up much, much more than my simple

appearance.



She gulped in a breath of air and turned to the ground, gathering up her things.

She said nothing as she collected her supplies and stood up. She looked at me

once more, then turned heel and ran down the hall.



I sat there for several minutes before I regained composure and was able to

collect my things.



As I was shuffling the spilled papers into a neat stack I noticed one that

wasn't scrawled all over in my loopy, sprawling print. It was filled out in a

neat, precise script, and adorned with the name, Mary Johnson.

__________

It wasn't until the break between fifth and sixth periods that I found her. Mary

hadn't shown up at lunch, and I missed most of it searching for her.



When I did find her she was, as usual, hurrying through the halls en route to

her locker.



She paid no attention me as I called her name and tried to catch her attention.

I was rushing after her, and I grabbed her shoulder when I finally reached her.



She jerked away from me with a raucous cry, and looked at me with the same

expression as before, when we had collided in the hallways.



"Don't touch me." She said; pleaded, almost.



I was speechless, and could do nothing but wave her forgotten paper

halfheartedly in front of her.



She snatched it from me, and left. I stood and watched as her back receded

quickly from sight, driven from my line of sight by the flow of students exiting

the classrooms.



Why? Why did she seem so... so afraid of being touched?



I, of course, had to find out.

__________

I stalk-er, followed her after school. Using the free phone in the office, after

having picked off some stray gum some joker had decided on the mouthpiece, I

called my mom and told her I was going over to Cassie's house to work on the

boatloads of homework that our evil algebra teacher had given us.

Cassie, of course, knew nothing about these plans and we had an

uncharacteristically light load of math work that day.



I followed her from a safe distance, hoping to learn some more about my

obsession. That's what Mary was. I was obsessed with her. There was something

different about her, something that frightened me, yet pulled me in. The

expression of her eyes, her... resentment to being touched, her lack of friends,

her lack of... anyone.



I'd noticed that she never talked to anyone. She spoke only when spoken to, and

sometimes not even then. She had no friends. She never unnecessarily touched

anything, even. She kept her hands folded in her lap, kept her feet off the

floor, and seemed reluctant to even take a paper from anyone.



I wanted to know why.



I kept my distance, choosing to follow her on the other side of the street. I

don't know if she noticed me; she paid no heed to me even when I made my

presence painfully obvious.



Anyway, she didn't go to a house as I expected. She went to the park, and parked

it on a bench, where she took out the small bit of algebra homework that we had.



The bench was situated in a secluded corner of the park, near the river. I had

no idea that it existed, and I frequented the park often. It was shielded from

view by a large stand of flowering bushes. Their sweet smell filled my nostrils

as I crouched behind them, peering at my quarry.



It was quite a pleasant place. The air was filled with the sweet murmur of

running water, coupled with the distant shouts of shrieking children as they

celebrated their freedom from school for the day. Everything was bathed in a

warm, golden light as the sun slowly dropped toward the distant horizon.



She sat there for hours. After she finished her homework she pulled a book,

infinitely battered, out of her pack. The front had fallen off ages ago, so I

couldn't discern the title.

i am drowning

I grew tired of waiting after a time and decided that she wasn't going to do

anything else anytime soon, so I might as well approach her.



I walked as quietly as I could, and set myself down on the opposite end of the

bench. She didn't look at me or do anything to acknowledge my presence, save for

placing her book back into her bag.



We sat like that for a while, with Mary staring off into the horizon and me,

casting occasional, furtive glances in her direction.



Finally, she sighed and dropped her head, before turning to face me.



"What do you want?" She asked quietly.



I was surprised by this, and it took me several moments before I was able to

open my mouth to respond. When I did, though, I found I hadn't the words. My

thoughts, they kept rising to the surface, then slipping through my fingers

before I could shape them into coherency.



"I don't know." I said finally. "To know... you. About you."



She studied my face, her features unreadable. After a time she spoke again.



"Why?"



Again, I had no words. Why? Because... I did. I just did. Everything about her

interested me; the way she walked, the way she talked, the way she held herself.

Why she was alone and why she couldn't be touched. What the look in her eyes

meant. Everything, really.



I found no way to express this, and made several halfhearted gestures with my

hands.



She looked at me, then sighed again. "I see."



Mary rocked back a forth a bit, picking at her hands and staring a spot up in

the sky. The sun was setting, illuminating everything with its fiery red light.

"You have no idea.." she said.



I felt like I shouldn't- couldn't say anything. Mary had never voluntarily

spoken to me before.



"I'm... different." she said, continuing on with her rocking, "I... feel things

differently." She shuddered and looked a bit nauseous. "It's so hard." she said breathed.



"...What do you mean?"



She finally stopped rocking, and lowered herself into herself. It was like she

shrunk. She seemed even more pathetic and insignificant than usual. It...

frightened me, how a person could look so battered, and diminished, and... sad.



"I- I can't explain it." Mary said after a bit, "It's..." She trailed off and

didn't say anything. We sat for a while and Mary didn't seem like she was going

to offer anymore information.

I reached for her hand, because she seemed like she needed... comfort. She

needed someone to be there and she had no one.

She snapped her hand back the instant I touched it. "Don't touch me." she said

fiercely, the weakness she had exhibited moments before disappearing in an

instant, "I thought I told you not to touch me."



"Why?" I cried, getting fed up, "Why? Why can't I touch you? Why can't I talk to

you, be your friend? What's wrong with you?"



She glared at me, traces of the fury she had first met me with dancing across

her features. I wished desperately that I had been able to contain my outburst.

We had been getting somewhere!



"You have no idea! You don't know anything about me! You, you..." Her words

petered off, but her face retained the same expression. "Fine, if you want to

know, fine. That's just fine."

__________

So she told me.



Mary was different. She... felt things. Just like she said. She had and empathy

that most (okay, no) other people possessed. She was able to discern events from

merely touching an object.



And feelings... She said that feelings "spoke" to her. She could feel them, like

physical beings, calling to her and pushing against her and tormenting her. She

said they never, never left her alone.



And the world has a distinct lack of happy feelings.



I stared and stared at her as the sun sunk lower beyond the horizon, its light

beginning to dim until everything blended together to become part of the murky

twilight that descended on the earth before night.



Then I told her she was full of crap and got up to leave.



"Stop." said Mary.



I turned around and looked at her, long and hard. She had risen from the bench

and advanced a step toward me. The only emotion that her face showed was fury.

She didn't appear deranged in any way, and after that spiel I thought that a

very likely possibility.



"You wanted to know." She said. "I told you."



"I wanted the truth."



"That is the truth!" she cried, almost childlike.



"You expect me to believe that you're some sort of psychic freak?" I said,

feeling my cheeks flame red. "I wanted to be your friend, I wanted-"



"No." She said, "You were nosy and wanted to know what the hell was wrong with

me." She sighed, and looked down at her chest. Her head snapped up, though, as

quickly as it had gone down. "You can't tell anyone."



It was as if she had read my thoughts. She was obviously a basket case, if she

really believed that, and needed help. "Of course not." I said, trying to be

reassuring.



"You're lying." She said, "I know, I know what you're thinking! You can't do

this to me. Please." She pleaded, "Please, I just want to be left alone. I gave

you a chance, and look what happened."



"You gave me a chance?" I asked, "A chance? Yelling at me and ignoring me hardly

counts as a chance."



She looked at me, long and hard. "You can't tell anyone." She repeated. "I won't

let you tell anyone. She lunged forward and grabbed my arm.



I screamed, afraid of what she might do, but soon I was unable to scream. Her

fingers were as strong as steel, and I could do nothing to relinquish my forearm

from their terrifying grip.



Mary had closed her eyes, as if concentrating. Tears were streaming from between

her closed lashes.



It was more terrible than anything I'd ever experienced. My most horrific

memories were running through my head, each one vividly clear with emotions as

sharp as the day they were formed.



The divorce, the death of my dog, the day Cassie was in that car wreck- each was

streaming through my head, and pretty soon I was crying, too.



When she finally let go of me I was thoroughly battered and slid to the ground,

nearly unconscious.



"Oh God..." I heard Mary mutter, as consciousness slipped away from me. I tried

desperately to hold onto it; nevertheless, though, it slipped through my fingers

and the darkness overcame me.



"I am so, so sorry..."

i am hurting

It was night when I came to. All traces of twilight were gone from the sky, and

I was able to discern a few stars, even through all the light pollution of the

city.

I was lying in an awkward position in the park, next to the bench where I had

sat with Mary.



I sat up, and instantly regretted it. I was experiencing the most horrible

headache ever.



It was incredibly loud as I stumbled home. Sounds of screaming, laughing, and

crying were echoing all around me. I was used to noise, having lived in the city

my whole life, but this, and at night...



I was relatively close to home when it hit me that the noise wasn't... noise. At

least, I wasn't hearing it with my ears. It was... inside my head...



I collapsed to the ground, and crouched on the cold cement, shaking. The instant

my hands touched it, myriad of scraped knees and broken arms exploded around me.

I rubbed my knees frantically, trying to lessen the pain of scrapes and bruises

that weren't there.



So, this is what she was trying to say.

help me to breathe

Oh, dear God, make it stop, make it stop, make it stop, make it stop....

Please...



There was screaming around me, screams that wouldn't end, that wouldn't stop no

matter how I screamed and cried and rolled around and stuffed my head in my

pillow.



Shrieks of pain, of loss, of death...



This place, this room, this bed... All had an aura of complete sadness and pain

that echoed around them like a physical thing... An aura that invaded my mind,

my sanity in the form of voices and shouts and memories...

__________



Mary came once.



Her eyes were vacant and hollow. She'd stared at me with a blank expression on

her face, as she assessed all of the machines that I was hooked up to. I'd

stared back at her, met her gaze as she stood by my bed.



She stood there a long, long time.



"I didn't mean it." She finally said, almost in a whisper, before turning and

leaving me as quietly as she had come.



I burrowed into my bed again, wishing there was something I could do to her to

make her feel the hell I was experiencing... But then, she felt this, too...



The voices began with a fresh fervor, and this time I succumbed to them, hoping

that maybe they could take me someplace better, someplace safe.



Anywhere but here.

______________________

Hello! ^.^ Hope you liked it! eh heh heh heh heh... -__-; 'Tis kinda... wierd,

isn't it? This was written for an assignment in school, and so... I wrote this.

:p 'Twas was kinda inspired by Serial Experiments Lain and Boogiepop Phantom;

that was kinda the feeling I was going for. You can decide if I succeded or not.

:p I wanted to do something serious, and it was either this or the magic corn

(...don't ask).

The title and the exerpts are taken from the song Duvet by Boa. This is the

greatest song _ever_ If you haven't heard it before you need to... NOW. You can

download an mp3 of it at Boa's homepage, http://boaweb.co.uk ^.^ A little bit of

shameless advertising never hurt anyone. XD

yay. _-_

Anyways, if you've read this far I would really appreciate it if you'd review.

No flames, please, though constructive criticism is welcome! *gigglesnort*

     -- Summoner Skye (summonerskye@yahoo.com)