Novella excerpts: In My Head, chapter one

I pat down my dress nervously. I’m nearly terrified. It’s been six months since I’ve modeled, after all; how am I going to handle a damn televised interview?
Robby, my “bodyguard”, seems to notice my agitation. Even though I told Kyra, my manager, a thousand times that I don’t need a bodyguard, she won the battle, like she always does. Robby is the one that’s lasted the longest, probably because of the fact that he takes my emotions into consideration. “Marla, it’s all right. You’ll be fine. If anything goes wrong, I’ll make sure you’re off the cameras in a heartbeat,” he says gently.
I smile shakily at him. “Thanks, Robby,” I say. (Oh no, you won’t, you’ll be late like everyone else, like Tay and me, you’re never on time)
Someone knocks on the door. “Miss Grace? Are you ready?” It’s Edith’s assistant.
I smile. “Yep, I am!” I say. (Like I have a goddamn choice)
As I walk onto the pseudo stage, fake applause comes from the audience. “Welcome, Miss Grace,” Edith Menkins says, although I notice the way her light brown eyes travel towards Robby. It’s to be expected, especially from women nearing middle age; Robby is handsome in a Jim Caviezel as John Reese sort of way. Sometimes, when I’m really anxious, I look at him and imagine that he’s actually John Reese, and I know I shouldn’t be too scared; as long as I have one of the best badasses in the world by my side. It’s stupid, but I think it’s okay.
“Thanks, Edith,” I say charmingly. I sit down on the comfy chair across from her.
After we discuss the Mystique Fashion Industry, which is where I model, Edith apparently thinks the interview is getting boring. In an annoying effort to spice things up, she says, “So, Miss Grace, I understand that you were in a mental hospital recently?”
I nod solemnly. “Yes, yes, I was.” (Like you’d be interviewing me specifically for any other reason)
“Can I ask why?”
(You bloody know why) I grip my dress in an effort to hide my shaking hands. “I was assaulted,” I say boldly. The audience fake gasps. (Like you really care)
“May I ask what happened?”
“It’s not appropriate, Edith…” (We’re just talking and laughing about something, me and him, we’re friends after all, and then he lunges forward and kisses me hard, and it hurts, and oh God no thanks, and then he begins to finger the buttons on my shirt)
“I’m not asking for details, Marla.”
I pretend to smile thankfully. “Thanks, Edith.” (Like I was planning to say any). I sigh and adjust in my chair. “So…we were friends, and…”
“May I interrupt?” (You just did) “So, it’s another case of friendzoning gone bad, huh?” she says as a lame joke. The audience laughs, and I fight away the nausea cramping my stomach. (This is not a bloody joke, this is real, I’m screwed up, messed up, paranoid, stop laughing stop stop stop)
I hide these thoughts with a sad smile. “Oh, I wouldn’t quite call it that, Edith,” I say. Edith gestures for me to continue. “He hadn’t asked me out, you see,” I say, and the audience laughs. I fight back the nausea again. (How is this funny, is my interview a joke, I don’t want no no no)
I glance at the audience. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t laugh,” I say softly. I see that a few members are taking it seriously, but I see others roll their eyes or mutter something like, “Ooh, she’s triggered.” I silently curse social media websites that overreact and give the term triggered a bad name.
Edith nods at me to go on, so I do. “Uh, he… We were just talking. I don’t remember what about… Then he kissed me.” (As he tries to unbutton my shirt, I snap out of the shock and pinch the back of his neck, I’d try to get the eyes but my hand is closer to his neck. He cries out and stops for a moment, a moment too long for him, and I fall off the couch and run) “I was petrified. I couldn’t move.” As I talk, I’m painfully self aware of the fact that I’m not saying anything new. It feels like a cliché. “He nearly… You know. But I managed to snap out of it. I poked him in the eyes. I ran out of the house, and I called the police.” Currently, every word is a damn lie. I’m a liar. But they can’t know what really happened. No one. Only Kyra and Robby and even Chelsea are allowed to know.
Edith looks politely bored. “What happened then?” she asks.
“The police came and took him away.” (I stumble into the kitchen but hit my elbow in a sharp corner, and God, it hurts so so much, and I’m so afraid, I may vomit, and there are stars in my eyes from the sickness and pain, and then he’s back, he wraps his arms around my stomach tightly, too tightly, and I want to get sick even more, oh oh no, maybe he’ll let go. I jerk away from the touch. He’s smiling at me. He thinks I’m playing hard to get. Without thinking, I fall towards the sideboard and grab a kitchen knife and point it at him)
“I went to the hospital. They just said I was in shock. But then I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. I was jittery and paranoid, and my roommate was worried about me.” I swallow. This part will be true. I can’t think of any more lies. (He laughs at me, I’m just a skinny modeling twig, I can’t wield a knife, I can’t defend myself. I’m a wimp. He gets closer, and I lose it, I lose it. There’s the smell of blood, and his shirt is stained, I cut his stomach, but it’s shallow, so shallow, he can’t die. He’ll just get mad. He’s pissed, oh God, he’s pissed, he lurches towards me again, tries to get the knife, but he only gets a slash on the palm, it’s deeper this time. He slaps me with the other hand, I nearly drop the knife, but I don’t, I manage to hold it so tight my knuckles are the color of snow. My knees are turning to water, and I may die from the skipping heart, I lose my head again and I fall, and now the blood is coming from his knee, the knife is gone, it is trapped in his kneecap, oh God, what have I done no no no)
“I was an insomniac after this. I was so desperate to sleep… Damn, I may have been hallucinating. I don’t remember this, but my roommate says that I took too many sleeping pills, probably in the insane hope I could sleep well. I don’t remember doing that. I just remember waking up at the hospital. The doctors couldn’t tell if I’d tried to kill myself, so I was sent to a mental hospital. There you have it. An assault case like several others.”
Edith shrugs. “I wouldn’t say that.”
I smile. “No, you wouldn’t. But you would think it.”
Edith looks aghast, and her mouth hangs open and shuts. “Erm, thank you for coming today, Marla. I have one more question; how’re you doing today?”
I blink, (I wake up in the middle of the night, my heart pounds. It’s better, I don’t do this so much, but I do, but I’m getting better, I don’t have to go back, I need to get my life together again, can’t miss anymore of it, can’t afford to). “I’m doing well, Edith. Better than I have for the past few years.”
(Damn liar.)

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3 thoughts on “Novella excerpts: In My Head, chapter one

  1. It’s too late for me to read this tonight. I will try to read it tomorrow in between cooking, doing the dishes, laundry, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, my dentist appointment and balancing my checkbook.

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  2. Finally got around to reading this; can’t believe you posted this before Thanksgiving. Where does the time go? The story is kind of grim, but I kind of enjoyed the part where she lost the knife in the assailant’s kneecap. Ew!

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