Fragmented
splashed my face with cold water to dull the redness of my eyes and turned off the running water. I ripped a piece of paper towel from the machine and dried my face. I looked back at my mirrored reflection with new determination. This was for the best, I decided. I deleted the text messages and Jenn’s number from my phone.
     
     
    I was still feeling unsettled and annoyed by Jenn’s text message when I arrived at my next class after lunch. But seeing Raleigh in her usual seat for our afternoon psychology class brought an unprompted smile to my face. She hadn’t changed her class schedule to avoid me.
    “Hey, I missed you this morning,” I remarked, sliding into the vacant chair beside her.
    Her normally bright eyes looked tired. “I know,” she sighed. She ran her hand roughly through her hair, which for the first time since we’d met, seemed to lack its usual luster and shine. “I had a fight with my aunt. Her punishment was not bringing me to school where I’d be exposed to the university’s liberal agenda. I had to take the bus instead, and it took forever to get here.”
    “She can’t do that,” I gasped.
    Raleigh made a face. “She did.”
    “What were you guys fighting about?” I hoped it didn’t have anything to do with my unannounced visit at her aunt’s home or me taking her to the harvest festival.
    “It’s not important,” she dismissed. “Suffice to say, my aunt is the worst, and I can’t wait until I don’t have to live with her anymore.”
    I could appreciate her desire for privacy, so I didn’t press for more details about their argument. Instead, I grabbed my anatomy notebook out of my bag. “Here’s the notes from this morning.”
    “Thanks.” She pushed her long hair out of her eyes and leaned her elbows on the tops of her thighs. “God, I can’t wait for this day to be over,” she sighed miserably.
    I couldn’t agree with her more.
    I wanted to be able to cheer her up, to have just the right words to bring a smile to her face, but I was understandably having a pretty terrible day as well. I shoved all of those external distractions out of my head, however, when our professor walked into the room.
    “Good afternoon, everyone,” Professor Glasglow addressed us. “Today we’ll be discussing a mental condition that often gets mistaken with multiple personality disorder.” He picked up a piece of chalk and began to write on the blackboard.
    My heart sank into my stomach after only the first five letters: S-C-H-I-Z.
    “At its core, schizophrenia is a disorder of perception.” Professor Glasglow wiped the chalk dust from his hands. “The sights, sounds, and experiences perceived by a person who suffers from the illness seem just as ‘real’ as those experienced by anyone else.”
    He paced in the front of the classroom, and I tried to focus on his movement rather than on the reactions of the students seated around me.
    “Many hear voices that others don’t hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, plotting to harm them, or controlling their thoughts. It can be a terrifying experience, causing people with the illness to become withdrawn or extremely agitated.”
    He turned his back to us and began to write on the chalkboard again. “There are three categories of symptoms: positive, negative, and cognitive.”
    I stared down at my notebook. At the top of the page was the day’s date, but I hadn’t written anything else yet. I sucked in a sharp breath. You can do this, Harper, I told myself. You can think about this sickness objectively and not make it personal. I focused on the movement of my pen across the page and began writing down everything my professor said.
    “Despite its name,” Professor Glasglow continued, “positive symptoms are defined as psychotic behaviors not seen in healthy people. The patient loses touch with reality, often manifested in hallucinations and delusions. Who can tell me the difference between the two?”
    Arms shot

Similar Books

Convictions

Julie Morrigan

The Fever Tree

Jennifer McVeigh

Compulsion

JB Brooks

Perfect Gentleman

Brett Battles

White Bird in a Blizzard

Laura Kasischke

Red Lightning

Laura Pritchett

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

Faïza Guène