And Mandy is in her own dream of sorts, though its daylight now, and in this inhospitable place. But she’s elsewhere, gone from there, escaping into the soporific cover of early afternoon. Her mind is wandering to far more pleasant places, and to people she wants to see.
Of course, there’s only one person she wants to see, and there he is, standing right behind her, his arms lifting hers as she handles the rifle, helping her aim for the shoot.
‘It’s all in the balance,’ he’s saying, ‘And in perspective. When you look down the sites and know your target, it’s all the perspective you will ever need.’
His breath is soft and warm against her neck, her cheek. She thinks she feels its force making her hair wave, a billowing welcome to him. He’s teaching her to brave, to stand up for herself, to be the frightening one, not the frightened. His father taught him, he says, and he can teach her.
‘I know how it feels,’ he whispers, ‘I know how it feels to be different, to be alone to have a destiny and a purpose the others can’t comprehend. And I know what it means, you have to be prepared, you have to ready yourself for the moment, the moment you come to be.’
She shoots and hits the target, a natural he tells her, proud. She is brimming with joy to make him proud, to be one who evokes pride. It is something she had never thought she would experience, something she never thought she could be.
‘And again,’ he says, his warmth enveloping her, as though at any moment he might not just help her aim, but take her finally, finally in his arms, the embrace she yearns for, dreams of, needs…
Dreams of…a blanket of darkness falls and the daydream slips to real sleep, and her head nods and she falls from her chair to the aisle between the school desks. When her body and head hit the floor it hurts, the sharp pain waking her, stealing her away from her daydream of Damien, back to the world. When he spoke to her of learning to protect herself she’d felt wrapped in his warmth, and this daydream was just her mind’s way of regaining that sense. But now it brought her something else. First the pain of a harsh floor, then the far harsher pain of being seen by this group, her classmates, none of which looked on her with a moment of kindness.
Even David, she saw, as she struggled to sit back up and stop herself from crying as the harsh laugher rang around her. Even David was laughing this time, any residual sympathy he might have once felt for her disappearing into her own stupidity, her own absurdity. A pratfall makes a prat, after all.
She shuts her eyes, but seconds too late not to see the particularly vicious, triumphant look of Jasmine, and if she could shut her ears she would, just so she didn’t have to hear the words that witch-bitch said next.
‘Might as well stay on the floor, it’s where you belong!’
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved