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Cherry Coloured Note – Prologue
By the time the alarm clock lying askew next to my futon starts ringing, I’m already wide awake.
I’m wide awake not because I couldn’t sleep, but because I didn’t.
Swaddled in a cocoon of thick blankets, I stare blearily ahead at the glowing screen of my laptop, my gaze fixed on the cursor flickering periodically on a white screen. It takes me a few seconds to realise that I’m unconsciously letting my sight drift out of focus; I have to blink a few times to bring the words I’ve poured onto the screen back into relief.
I throw up my hands and lean back in my ergonomic chair, swivelling it so that I end up spinning lazily, around and around. Hugging my knees, it occurs to me, not for the first time, that my room looks so, so much bigger when it’s empty.
There really is nothing left.
In place of the junk I’ve accumulated over the two years I’ve spent holed up in this room, there is now only a disconcerting, disorienting emptiness. It makes me wonder if this is actually the room in which I’ve slept, the room in which I’ve read, the room in which I’ve written, for a good portion of my life. With all of my belongings gone, this large, empty space feels like a strange, extradimensional pod that exists in a state of perfect isolation, utterly separated from the world that I’m familiar with.
Gradually, the revolving motion of my chair comes to a stop, leaving me facing the spacious wooden desk on which I’ve been working through the night. Aside from my bedraggled futon, this desk is the only other item in the room that suggests it’s currently lived in. As usual, it’s overflowing with paper; hastily scribbled notes in my own handwriting, dusty volumes of light novels I’ve somehow never gotten around to reading, and drafts of my work, replete with line after line of edits, corrections and revisions in red ink.
I force open my weary eyes and glance at the large buff envelope that’s sitting squarely on top of a pile of old, unpaid bills. Even though I’ve already opened and read its contents at least ten times since it was delivered, I still can’t stop thinking about it.
I don’t get why I have to go back to school.
Inside that buff envelope was a letter of acceptance from a private academy, confirming my enrolment for the upcoming academic year. It wasn’t something that I would’ve given much thought to, had it not been for a second, handwritten note that came with it.
A small sigh escapes me as I hug myself tighter, fixing the envelope with a resentful stare.
You’re the cause of all this upheaval in my peaceful life …
I’ve never willingly attended a day of school in my sixteen years. The day I graduated from junior high was, without exaggeration, the happiest day of my life, the day I finally wriggled from the chains of compulsory education, free to pursue my own path in life without the demands school made upon my energy and time.
I’ve barely had a year to enjoy my newfound freedom, and now I have go back to school like a good girl? Am I supposed to be a marionette, moving in accord with the whims of those who hold my strings?
Not like there was anything I could do about it at this point.
My options were as stark as they were unpalatable. They were designed merely to give me the illusion of self-determination, when it was clear, right from the start, that there was really only one route open to me.
I stretch my arms, easing the stiffness from my taut muscles, and haul myself back to my desk.
It’s not long before I’ll have less time for work. Might as well get as much done as I can now.
I squeeze my eyes shut, taking a second to slip into the right frame of mind, and when I do, the words begin to appear – they come in a slow trickle, then in a steady stream, and eventually, when I’m well and truly absorbed in the task at hand, they come surging at me in roiling, frothing waves that scream for my attention.
I open my arms and embrace the words that come to me.
As my fingers dance across the keyboard, the sound of the keys, click-click-click, serves as the lone accompaniment to my melancholy.