8:02 a.m. Dawn broke on another Monday morning. The slightest ray of light creeping through her curtains was enough to wake Mary up. No alarm needed. Her eyes sprang open and she leap out of bed on to her feet with all the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. Dashing to her dressing table on the other side of her bedroom, almost stumbling upon pencils left on the floor which she had been colouring with the night before, she gazed into the mirror wondering what she would see.
For most people Monday was a daunting day. The first day back at work after a couple of days off. Back to the job they hated, with people they can’t stand, performing mundane tasks. Monday is the one day of the week the majority of people do not wish to see and prey it is over as quickly as it seems to arrive.
But this was not the case for Mary. Whilst everyone else gets that Friday feeling, quite rightly, on a Friday, she had it on Monday mornings. The reason for this was because she had a unique gift. For the last few weeks, every Monday when first light appeard, Mary awakes with a new skill which is beyond normal human ability. Last week she was granted the gift of metamorphosis, or shapeshifting. This was one of the more fun abilities she had enjoyed using, as she could turn into anyone or anything she wanted. She even played a trick on her best friend and one of her housemates Pippa by transforming into her doppelgänger and mimicking Pippa’s every move.
It wasn’t always fun though. The week before last Mary was given the gift of telepathy which she did enjoy for a day or two, but by the end of the week she’d had enough. Her mind was no longer silent and all she could hear were other people’s thoughts, making her mind a very busy place. She was happy to see that one pass.
“So, what is it to be this week?” Mary said staring at herself in the mirror, hoping to see some kind of clue in her appearance. It could sometimes take her an hour or two to discover what ability she had been given that week. But this week it didn’t take her anytime at all.
“Gosh!” she said as she caught a glimpse of few feathers peaking over her shoulder. She quickly turned her head and peered down at her back. To her amazement she saw the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.
“Wings!’ she exclaimed “I have wings!”.
Stunning angel like wings made of delicate crisp white feathers protruded from her back. She turned with her back to the mirror and looked in the reflection to see them in all their glory. Mary was mesmerised and couldn’t take her eyes off them. Whilst admiring them she couldn’t help but notice just how brilliant white they were. It was as if they had a faint glow around them.
A sudden loud noise at Mary’s bedroom door immediately pulled her out of her trance like state. She looked over toward the door and it swung wipe open, revealing a woman wearing a white nightgown.
“Good morning, Mary” said Pippa as she stood in the doorway.
“Pippa! Pippa look! I have wings!” Mary gleefully yelled and turned to show Pippa her back.
“Oh, well yes I can see. Is that this weeks gift?” Pippa replied in a sombre tone.
“Of course it is” Mary said snappishly as she spun back around to face Pippa. “You never seem excited by my abilities.”
“I’m sorry, Mary. I was just hoping that this week you wouldn’t have a special gift and we could go back to normal.”
“What do you mean by that? I love my gifts. Why would you not want me to have them anymore?”
“Well after you played that trick on me last week I was hoping it would stop. Also don’t you remember? Your parents called by last week to see you, but they weren’t impressed when you transformed into a dog.”
“I thought it was funny.”
“Yes, but they didn’t did they. They said they would come by again this week once that gift had finished and it was a new week. I thought perhaps you might wake up without a new ability for a change.”
“My special gifts are the only things that make me happy lately. I don’t want them to go away.”
“That’s not true. What about your drawings? You always seem happy to me when you’re working on some of your art.”
Mary paused for a second and looked down at the floor where she had left her pencils.
“I guess” she replied in a calmer tone.
“And what about the other girls who live here?” Pippa added, “You’re always happy around them.”
“I guess” Mary repeated. She then lifted her head high and announced. “I do have good friends here in this house, don’t I. Just like you, Pippa. Which is why I don’t need my parents”. Her eyes were drawn to her mirror once more and she gazed at her newly gifted wings.
“I have my friends and this week I have my wings. What more do I need?” She said.
“But what about your parents?” Pippa questioned as she began to walk into Mary’s room. ” Do you not want…”
“They threw me out of the house!” Mary screamed, interrupting Pippa. “They don’t like my gifts. They’re jealous. Why would I want to see them?”
“Because they care about you, Mary. They know what they did was wrong and they want to fix things with you. I don’t think I could stay angry at my parents for along as you have been with yours now.”
“Well you’re not me are you, Pippa. Your parents didn’t throw you out, but mine did. You don’t know what I’m going through.”
“Then why don’t you tell me” Pippa said, sitting down on Mary’s bed whilst staying calm the entire time.
Mary turned away and shook her head. A long silence followed with only the background noise of the other girls in the house getting up.
“Come on, Mary. Don’t be upset with me” Pippa said, standing up and placing her hand on Mary’s shoulder.
Mary stayed silent with her back to Pippa.
“I have some more of those sweets you like” Pippa said and reached into her pocket. Maybe you could have some now before we go and have breakfast with the girls.” she said trying to put Mary in a better mood.
“I don’t like them” Mary replied in a grump. ” My friend Marcus says that sweets are bad for me.”
“Ok. Well why don’t we go and have breakfast, then afterwards we could go outside and you can show me if you can fly with those wings?” Pippa asked Mary.
Mary instantly began to smile.
“Yes!” she yelled, delighted at what her friend had suggested. “I really want to see if I can fly with them.”
Pippa was relieved she had pulled Mary out of her bad mood.
“Can we go now, Pippa?!” Mary asked “I’m too excited! Let’s go now!”
“After breakfast” Pippa replied. “We should eat something before we go outside”.
Mary’s mood dropped again. She hated being told what to do.
“Come along, Mary. Let’s join the others for breakfast.” Pippa said as she stood up and walked to the door.
Mary followed her but wasn’t happy. She didn’t like rules and never understood why she had to go have breakfast before she could do anything else with her day.
The pair walked from Mary’s room into a long corridor with stairs at the end of it heading downstairs. One of the other housemates was waiting outside of Mary’s door. A man named Brian. Mary wasn’t sure if she liked Brian because he rarely spoke and she found this quite rude.
“Look at my wings, Brian” Mary said, but just as she expected, he didn’t react. He just turned his back to her and closed her door. This made Mary even more sad and she looked toward the floor, beginning to sulk. She looked up to her left and saw Pippa heading towards the stairs.
Suddenly Mary felt a cool breeze blow past her. She quickly looked to her right down the other end of the long corridor and saw the window was open. She looked back at Pippa who was still walking the other direction away from her. Then at Brian who still had his back to her while continued to fiddle with her door.
Mary saw an opportunity to test her wings out before breakfast. She began to run towards the open window. The noise of her bare feet running on the wooden floor attracted Pippa and Brian’s attention. Both stopped what they were doing and looked over towards Mary, who was almost at the window.
“MARY!” Pippa screamed at the top of her voice and began running after her. “MARY, STOP!”
Brian also began to chase after Mary. But both were too far behind to catch her. Mary didn’t look back at them as they came after her. She just couldn’t wait to test out her bright new wings. She was going to fly so high and show Pippa that her gifts really are a blessing.
“STOP, MARY!” Cried out Pippa again. But it was too late. With her eyes closed Mary leapt out of the open window, spread her arms and began to flap her majestic wings. She felt the cool wind hit her face as she soared out into the air. I’m flying! I’m really doing it! she thought to herself. She felt so free and alive. She opened her eyes to see the beautiful sky and before her was the cold looking cobbled ground.
“MARY!” Pippa screeched once more as her and Brian reached the open window. Both looked down, from where they stood on the fifth floor, at the ground. Mary’s lifeless body lay there.
“I’m sorry Dr. Reynolds” Said Brian to Pippa “I couldn’t reach her in time”.
Later that evening Dr. Reynolds met with Mary’s parents in her office and explained the events that had taken place that morning.
“All I can do is apologise, Mr. and Mrs. Graham. I ‘m deeply sorry for what has happened.”
Mr. Graham hugged his sobbing wife as the pair of them processed the news.
“I can take you along to Mary’s room if you’d wish so you can collect some of her belongings?” Dr. Reynolds told the Grahams. The couple continued to hug and nobody said a word for a good minute whilst Mrs. Graham continued to cry.
“I’ll leave you both for a moment” Dr. Reynolds said as she stood up from her chair and made her way to her office door. Just before leaving she turned to the couple.
“I truly am sorry for your loss.” she said and closed the door behind her as she left the heartbroken couple alone in her office.
In the corridor outside of her office, Dr Reynolds leant back against the wall and let out a huge sigh. Her mobile phone began to vibrate in the pocket of her lab coat. She pulled it out and looked at the caller id before answering.
“Hi mum.” She said.
“Hi Pippa. Sorry to bother you. You’re probably in the middle of your dinner.”
“No, no. I’m actually still at work.”
“Still? But it’s gone eight o’clock. Why are you there so late?”
Pippa began to tear up and started crying on the phone.
“Oh Pippa, my love. What’s wrong? What’s happened?” Her mother asked.
“It’s nothing, mum” Pippa replied, wiping the tears from her eyes. “It’s work stuff. I shouldn’t really tell you.
“Nonsense I’m your mother and I don’t want to hear you upset”.
Pippa began to blub again.
“Oh. Aww, Pippa. Tell me what’s bothering, my love. I won’t tell anybody if you don’t want me to. But if something is making you sad it’s always good to talk about it.”
Pippa wiped her eyes once more and composed herself. ” I’m sorry, mum. I didn’t mean to cry”
“We all cry. Now tell me what’s got you into this state.”
“We had one of the patients die today, mum.”
“Oh dear, my love. That is sad. Was she an elderly patient?”
“No. It was a young girl. She was only nineteen.”
“Aw what a shame. How did she die?”
“She suffered from hallucinations and thought she had magic powers. She woke up this morning thinking she had wings and jumped out of a window trying to fly with them.”
“Oh gosh! That is dreadful. I can see why you’re upset.”
” I saw it happen, mum. Myself and one of the care assistants Brian were collecting her for breakfast this morning when she just ran to an open window and jumped.”
“Oh you poor thing. Are you ok? What an awful thing to see.”
“I’m ok. I’ve just met with her parents and had to tell them the news. That’s why I’m a little upset right now.”
“Oh dear. Not a nice thing to have to do. Are you sure you’re ok?”
“I’m fine, mum. I’m just saddened even more because we were finally getting somewhere with this girl. She’d been here for almost a year and when she arrived she had voices in her head, an imaginary friend, and lived in a completely different world to the rest of us. She also had a tendency to be extremely violent. But as time went on she was getting better. She was taking her medication and working really well with me. Then a few weeks back she changed. Her imaginary friend came back who had told her that she shouldn’t take her medication and she starting thinking she had magic abilities. She pretended to be different people or animals and even said she could hear other peoples thoughts, but I think it was just the voices in her head returning.”
“Oh sweetheart, how awful for you. And how awful for her parents. How have they taken the news?”
Dr. Reynolds suddenly noticed there were sounds of movement from inside her office. “Both very upset I think. Actually I should probably go, mum. They’re still in my office.” She said.
“Ah ok, my love. I’ll call you back later.” her mum replied.
“Did you call me for something?”
“No, no. It wasn’t important, honestly. I’ll call you later on”.
“Ok. I best go. Love you.”
“I love you too, sweetheart. Talk to you later.”
“Bye mum.” Dr. Reynolds said to her mother, and then ended the call.
Mr. Graham suddenly opened the office door, startling Dr. Reynolds. “Doctor” he began as he closed the door behind him. “I was wondering if I could see Mary’s room alone? My wife is too upset to do it.”
“Of course.” Dr. Reynolds replied and led Mr. Graham to Mary’s room.
Dr. Reynolds opened the door to Mary’s room. She then stood aside and gestured for Mr. Graham to enter the room first. Mr. Graham hadn’t seen inside Mary’s room since the first day she was committed to the psychiatric institute. Mary didn’t like to see her parents and whenever they visited she would only see them in one of the communal areas or in the grounds.
Mr. Graham gazed around the place which looked quite different to the plain white walls and no window room he remembered.
“My god.” Mr Graham exclaimed and continued to look around the room for a minute. “Did Mary do this?” he asked Dr. Reynolds.
“Yes.” she replied and walked into the room. “Everything drawn on the walls is all Mary’s work. She would add something new almost every week”.
Mr. Graham stared at the walls. It was covered in drawings of the things Mary had in her bedroom at home. They weren’t outstanding works of art, but he could tell what they all were. A wardrobe, a chair, a dressing table, a mirror, all drawn on in different coloured crayons. She’d even drawn herself a window with the same curtains as those back home. Mr. Graham began to tear up.
“She wanted to make it feel like home” Dr. Reynolds told him. “That is what she told me when I asked her about it. Every morning when I would come and see her before breakfast she would be looking at herself in the drawn on mirror.”
At that moment another family, a mother, father and young boy, walked past the open door.
“Ah, Dr. Reynolds.” the lady said, and poked her head into the room. “Could I have a quick word?”
“Certainly” Dr. Reynolds replied. “Excuse me for a moment, Mr. Graham” she said and walked into the hall to speak with the family.
“Mr. and Mrs. Collins. How can I help?”
“Sorry to interrupt, Doctor” Mrs. Collins began “We’ve just been to visit Sarah. A little later than we’d usually stay here, but it’s Timmy’s birthday today” she said looking down to the little boy holding her hand.
“Aw, happy birthday, Timmy” Dr. Reynolds said to Timmy.
Timmy didn’t reply and stared into Mary’s room.
“Say thank you” Mrs. Collins said to the boy, but he still didn’t move.
“Don’t worry” Dr. Reynolds said.
“Anyway” continued Mrs. Collins ” As I said we’re here late because it’s his birthday and we thought it would be nice if we could all spend some time with Sarah as a family for a change. But my husband and I just wanted to say thank you to you. Sarah seems to be doing so much better and it’s nice to see her like her old self.”
“No need to thank me, Mrs. Collins. It is my job after all”
“I know, but we really appreciate what you’ve done, and continuing doing with our our Sarah”.
“Well thank you both.”
At that moment, Timmy let go of his mothers hand and ran into Mary’s room, past Mr. Graham and stood in the corner of the room looking at a blank area of the wall.
“Timmy, come back here” Mrs. Collins called, but he did not move. “Timmy!” she called again and walked into the room to fetch her son. She grabbed his hand and dragged him out of the room.
“I’m so sorry” she said to Mr.Graham as she walked past him.
“That’s quite alright.” he replied.
Back in the corridor Mr and Mrs Collins said goodbye to Dr. Reynolds and began to walk away toward the stairs.
“Why did you run in that room?” Mr. Collins questioned his son in a stern voice.
“The boy told me to go into the room to play with him” Timmy answered.
“What boy?” his mother replied.
“Marcus. The boy who was in the corner” Timmy told his parents.
“Silly Timmy” Mrs. Collins said to her son. “There was no boy in that room.
The family continued to walk downstairs. Timmy felt confused for a second so he looked back.
He saw the boy, Marcus following them down the stairs.
By Neal Timothy.
Inspiration taken from Creative Writing by Eva Glettner.
Art by Geof McFetridge.