She sat down in exactly the same spot, looked out of the exact same window at the exact same time. Then, carefully, she waited for eight seconds, before opening the curtains and watching Mr. Next Door mow his lawn. He kicked a switch at the bottom and the mower began to roar. Mr. Next Door walked up and down the garden, mowing neat little strips of lawn, and then kicked the switch again. Amanda watched as he pulled out a drawer and tipped the contents of it over his fence into the small stream by the side of his house.
She sighed and waited until he'd pushed the drawer back into the machine. Now it was safe to move.
Life was no fun anymore. OCD was a lifelong condition and she just had to learn to live with it. Every Saturday at ten o'clock, she'd wait until the church bell struck in the distance, she would run up the stairs, counting them, and sit in the chair opposite her mother's bedroom window. Wait for eight seconds...and then watch the man do his gardening before going to drink exactly five hundred millilitres of water. Of course she had to wipe the glass first. Wipe the glass, of course.
Sometimes her brother tried to mess things up, push a picture to the side or turn back the clock hands, but it only messed Amanda up, not her routine. She'd cry, and cuddle up in a corner chanting words to stop him from dying. It had now come to the point where David couldn't have friends round anymore; Amanda couldn't bear to touch someone else. She's tried to do it, just for him, but there was always that little voice telling her about all the things that could happen.
You and I, of course, would happily be able to let someone else into their homes, but OCD is troublesome, it can tear you apart. I bet that you've seen programmes where actors play people with OCD, and they cover everything in cling film and refuse to touch anything or anyone else. They'll clean things millions of times, only to no avail. But really that isn't how it is. It's much worse.
Amanda hadn't always been like this, there was a time when she could do things of her own accord. But suddenly, when her father died, it became apparent to her that if she didn't follow a routine, her brother and mother would die too. On school days, she'd eat set meals wrapped in hundreds of layers of cling film. She'd never sit next to anyone, and the teachers had a special part of the Learning support room just for her. Amanda had tried cleaning things millions of times and tried to touch something unclean and dirty, but she'd scream and scream until the perpetrator had to stop.
In the corridor they'd call her OCD Girl, the Freak, the Weirdo. Amanda had to go from lessons five minutes early so that she didn't bump in to anyone. Her mother had to pick her up from school an hour before the end with seat wrapped in plastic carrier bags. There'd have to be a map in the glove compartment, and a half full bottle of water in the side pocket. When they went past Marlborough drive, her mother had to switch on the windscreen wipers for five seconds and when they got out of the car, Amanda would wait until her mum had turned off the burglar alarm and signalled for her to come in.
But for now, it was Saturday, and having drunk her water she would now settle down and watch The Saturday Show, and then Top of the Pops Reloaded.
Her brother was sat in the living room eating a bacon sandwich. She ignored him, and wiped down the sofa with her hands before sitting down.
"Remote," she said, holding out her hand.
David grabbed the control from the side table and pushed it towards her. Amanda let out a squeak.
"Oh, sorry..." David muttered. He pulled out some tissues from the box and wiped the remote, handing it to Amanda.
"Five, just as normal."
"Thanks," she said, and took the remote from his hands. She switched on the TV and watched the screen as The Fratellis performed their new single on PopWorld.
In the background, the church bells rang to tell everyone that it was half past ten.
"Wha-? Oh, do I have to?"
"Yes." she said firmly. "Say it."
"What can I get you to drink?" he groaned.
"Cherry coke please. With-"
"Three pieces of ice."
As David went to fetch her drink, she stared around the room, checking that everything was there. Two statues on the mantelpiece, one clock, a bowl of fruit and four vases. Everything was there.
She heard David rummaging around in the freezer.
"Not to touch them with my hands, get a spoon and stir and then bring it in on that special tray that mum uses." he finished.
"What am I?"
"The best brother in the world."
"I know!" he said.
Amanda watched the TV for a bit. After all, there are times when you are occupied and you forget about OCD, but only for a short while, and after that you snap back into reality and remember the routine. Amanda straightened up, David read her and handed her a writing pad and a permanent marker. She took it from him and started to scribble.
She doodled. She drew hangmen and skull and crossbones. But this pad. This little notepad was like her sanctuary. She could let everything out onto a flimsy bit of paper.
Her brother used to be weirded out by what she wrote about him every Saturday, but as the family got used to the OCD, he got used to the routine. She wrote it over and over again until she was sure nothing would happen. She usually stopped after around ten lines and put her pen down, which she did today. She kissed the notebook gently and threw it back to David who placed it on the wooden table. Amanda flinched, trying to stop her hand from reaching out to straighten it out and put the pen across the top. She slowly pushed out her hand, making it look as if she was nonchalant, just randomly doing it, but David got there before her and turned the notebook around without looking, but Amanda felt an even bigger prickling in her stomach. She shoved her hand out to satisfy herself and placed the notebook on the edge of the table, with the pen at a 45degree angle against it.
Ben looked up from his dinner and raised an eyebrow. Amanda looked away.
She darted a glance up at the clock. Ben sighed and went back to his magazine. Amanda was ashamed. Yet again.
She had to punish herself. Looking down at her wrists, she studied each of the perfect parallel scars. She got up. Time to put another notch on there.
"Where are you going?" Ben asked.
"The bathroom." Amanda said flatly.
She got up the stairs and grabbed the scissors, slamming shut the bathroom door and locking it. This was the only time when she could be free, when disciplining herself. The only time that she didn't worry about washing her hands or touching things.
She has to stop it.
My sister, she thinks I don't know what she's doing, of course I do. I know where the scissors have got to. For a start she leaves blood on the carpets. I've never tried to stop er before, but this, this is the tenth time, and counting, and I can't let her do this to herself.
I bang on the door. There's a crash. And silence.
"Amanda come out!" I scream.
"No!" comes the muffled voice, she has been crying, I think to myself.
There is a click. And a creak. The door opened. Amanda is red eyed and her white blouse is stained with that same red liquid that I have seen many a time. She sniffle, and lunges forward to hug me.
After a second or so, I feel warm blood from her wrist running down the back of my neck and I push her away.
"Go and clean up." I say, not daring to look at her.
"I-…." she stammers slightly, and begins to cry again, walking though the doors and into her room.
That is the last I see of her for a couple of hours.
Endings can never be happy can they? Amanda thought. She had been sat on her bed, staring out of her window, crying continuously for the past three hours, waiting for the pain and bleeding to stop. She ignored the pool of blood soaked into her bed, spreading until it covered nearly all of her blanket. Ben had tried, and failed, to stop her. But no one could stop her. No one.
She wiped the tears from her reddened face, and watched them roll over her fingers until they dripped onto the floor.
There was nothing for her here anymore. Why had she been crying? She had to be punished.
Again, Amanda grabbed the scissors, already with dried blood on them from their previous encounter with her wrist. She yanked open her door, and almost tripped over her brother who had, presumably, been sat outside her door for the past three hours.
"Ben….." she whispered, hiding the scissors in her pocket, but he was too quick for her. Snatching, the scissors from her hand, he glared at her.
"Go back in your room." Ben snapped.
"Go….back." Ben said through gritted teeth.
Mum's back. She can sort my sister out.
She doesn't know about the wrist slitting. But now she has to. She's been growing more and more suspicious ever since she saw blood on the carpet. She must have figured it out. But if she has, why hasn't she stopped it?
This is madness. All of it. Why am I putting up with it?
Because she'syour sister. I hear my conscience say.
They hate me. Every one of them. Who can blame them though? Really?
The more blood comes out of my wirst the more I can forget everything. Forget that I'm still alive here. I sort of drift in and out of conciousness, until I snap out of it, and get up and resume my routine. But this time, something's changed. I don't snap out of it. I can feel my eyes watering, and my heart is slowing. There's nothing I can do to stop myself falling off the bed.
"Amanda!?" I hear them shout. "Amanda what's that noise?"
Mum's back, and I can hear her footsteps on the stairs. She opens my door and squeals, rushing forward to pick me up. Again, she screams as her hands feel the blood.
"What are you doing?!" she screams. Ha! Like it's not obvious.