Kat dreams of flying.
The first time it happens, she is away from home, at a school camp, wrapped in a sweaty-sticky sleeping bag, surrounded by her restless schoolmates. Her dream self stands in front of a yellow gate covered with patches of lush aquamarine moss. The air is still, and yet not- birds chirp somewhere, distantly- the gate swings open, away from her, lazily, as if prodded by a gentle breeze. The hinges whine quietly. Kat drags her hand across the top of the gate, feeling the spikes against her fingertips. She steps slowly onto the cobblestone path, feeling a sudden lightness, and looks down to see her shadow a little fainter than it was a moment ago. She floats along the path, towards a quaint little house.
Kat approaches the door. Fire-engine red, with a tarnished copper doorknocker, the wooden door looks sturdy and weathered. Windowsills on both sides of the door catch Kat’s eye, and she cranes her neck to her left. The windowsill is baby blue, the paint peeling to reveal a sickly yellow-green hue beneath. It frames a man, probably in his fifties, sits on a shockingly colourful patchwork armchair, a tea set beside his elbow, knitting a purple scarf. His thin wire-frame spectacles are sliding down his crooked nose- which looks like it’s been broken more than once- and his cleft chin waggles a little as he mutters to himself. A woman, looking older than him, sits on the other side of the tea set, stirring her tea continuously, her eyes unfocused and unblinking. Her gnarly knuckles seem set in this positions, and dark liver spots dot her skin. The man harrumphs- the woman starts and passes him her cup. There’s something about this- something’s different-
Kat looks away, across the door, and drifts weightlessly to peer into the window on its right. The frame is dusty pink, patches of paint worn off to expose a rusty blue layer beneath. A woman pulls a pie out of the oven, places it on the windowsill to cool, and shuffles a tray of chocolate-chip cookies in. She crosses the room to an alarmingly-large mixing bowl, picks up a whisk, and begins beating the contents of the bowl. She pauses every few minutes to wipe the perspiration off her forehead, or adjust her headband, or brush a lock of hair out of her face. Why didn’t the woman notice her? She was right under her nose, right in front of her as she set the pie down. Kat looks at the pie. It’s raspberry, judging by the deep burgundy colour showing through the patterns cut out of the top, and the tart, almost sickeningly sweet aroma wafting from it. Kat swallows and leans back, dragging her body along as she withdraws from the house.
Flying feels effortless, intuitive, and muted. Sort of like a mix between swimming, anti-gravity, and being on a pool float, all while wearing earplugs. Things sound faraway, as if someone was trying to speak through a thin wall.
Righting her body, Kat stretches her neck upwards, and she soon she finds herself looking over the tiled roof of the house. She dives behind it and into a second-floor bedroom window. Tumbling in mid-air, she lands noiselessly on the unmade bed. The bed frame is wooden, the same cobblestone brown as the path outside. She dangles off one end to peer at the legs. The wood is frayed and rough around the edges. The walls are covered with a strange myriad of posters and pinnings- she spots glamorous glam-rock, heavy metal, disco, electronic, and emo bands jostling for space alongside polished 40’s pin-up girls, conspiracy theories, and black-and-white photos of mysterious movie stars. Something jolts in her chest. Grabbing a flannel blanket, she swaddles herself up in it, burying her face in the thin pillow, trying to remember the scent. Don’t forget. Remember this, how this is. Remember, don’t forget-
How long has it been? Kat breaks from her reverie, feet sinking into the carpet. She drags the blanket along, deciding to explore the house.
The hallway chokes with the heavy tart sweetness of the pie downstairs. The bedroom is at the end of the ruby-carpeted, dusty cream-walled hallway, and Kat pushes off against the ground on her tiptoes to lie against the air again. Kicking her feet up, she hovers an inch above the staircase railing – she can hear the humming of the oven, and the old woman stirring her tea again. Her gaze travels over the rest of the hallway, and stands upright, dragging three fingertips along the beige walls, collecting dust. She pushes open a door marked Mum & Dad.
The room is dim, heavy maroon curtains blocking most of the light from the window. The air carries the scent of dust and age, like no one has been in here for a long, long time. The bed is huge – a king-sized four-poster with a canopy, pushed against the wall to Kat’s left – but only half of it is made. Like only one person has been sleeping in a bed made for two. Kat frowns in confusion, and moves on. The carpet is maroon as well, soft and warm under her feet. There are books littered all across the floor, all of them old and yellowed. She drifts around the bed, trying to make out the titles. They’re too faded for her to tell.
Kat reaches the untouched side of the bed, the side nearer to the window. The floor here is scattered with loose papers. They look like notes, both handwritten and typewritten, all of them crumpled. Kat picks up a handful of the typed notes.
Citalopram 10mg tablets
One (1) to be taken each day
Paroxetine 10mg tablets
Three (3) to be taken each day
Bupropion 100mg tablets
One (1) to be taken each day
Kat feels a faint jolt of recognition. With a renewed sense of urgency she snatches more notes from the floor. The handwritten notes read like diary entries and make her stomach turn.
Today Dr. Tan gave me stronger pills. I hate taking medicine but I know I have to do this for Samantha and James. I’ve been following the plan but I still can’t see my baby. I’d never hurt her. Samantha. I feel like I don’t know her anymore.
I need to go grocery shopping. I tried to go grocery shopping but I couldn’t get out of the car in the parking lot. I cried. I wanted to call James, but I’m sure he doesn’t need to be bothered by my problems. He’s got his own life.
I washed the dishes today. When will I see Samantha again?
I woke up late today and it’s too hot to go for a walk now. 1.30PM.
I went back to sleep and I’m awake now. 4PM.
Kat’s fingers are frozen, the notes fluttering to the floor. Her chest is heaving. She runs out of the room and down the stairs. She’s making a racket but no one responds. The woman is now sitting at a small table in the kitchen, slicing the pie and scooping ice cream onto the small plates. Kat approaches her cautiously. She can smell the raspberry in the air, heavy on her tongue. She waves a hand in front of the woman’s face. No response. Kat feels like all the air’s been knocked out of her lungs. She puts her hands on the woman’s shoulders and shakes. The woman doesn’t move, nor does she notice Kat. In desperation, she looks around. A pair of cards on the table catches her eye.
Kat picks the cards up, one of them pink, the other blue. They bear the same logo: a green plus sign. They bear similar signatures, signed by a Dr. Elizabeth Tan. The only difference is the tabled contents. The pink card is completely filled out with foreign-looking words, dosages, and frequencies. The blue card is sparse in comparison, just dates and room numbers. Both cards have entries that correspond, each date roughly two weeks apart.
Kat’s head spins. Her mind reaches for answers, a life, a time just out of reach.
Who is she?
Who is Samantha?
Who is James?
Who was she?
Kat isn’t floating anymore.