Do you see what I see?
The girl had never liked parties. In fact, the last time she'd had one herself she'd been seven or eight. She could never quite put her finger on why such a feeling of crippling horror would overcome her whenever she was handed an invitation to any form of celebration. Initially, she had thought the reason was solely due to the people and more particularly, the number of them but there was always something more, inexplicably there, feeding her ladlefuls more of rich, scalding unease. But what?
When she was a little girl she had hated party games. She hated dancing in front of everyone and god forbid the music stopped when, during pass the parcel, she was currently clutching the present for her following reaction was more a kin to that of someone being cornered in an alleyway, rather than childish glee. Now, however, she wasn't playing pass the parcel or musical chairs, instead she'd 'pass' on every type of alcohol that came her way and honestly she didn't really want to sit on the chairs at the clubs because heaven knows how many stomachfuls of vomit had graced their upholstery over the years.
Really, why was she here? Oh, yeah.
It was an old schoolfriend's twenty-first and for the sake of politeness she had felt compelled to show face - or whatever part of her face that could be shown considering most of it (and everyone else's) was consistently being berated by all manner of highly invasive strobe lighting.
She hadn't actually seen the friend whose birthday it was yet, partly due to the aforementioned lights and partly because she hadn't made it much farther than the concrete pillars, a couple of metres from the club's entrance.
And she would, in fact, only get this far at all.
It wouldn't be long before she was driven out of the place. Not by the force of some burly security man but by her brain. It was already telling her to get out of there, the neurones were overloading.
She wanted to stay, she wanted to experience a party the way others did, without the somewhat painful cacophony of people and music and flashing colours. She knew that were impossible though, for she would never escape the inevitable. And that inevitable was creeping ever closer as she groaned, leaning back on the concrete pillar. She felt dizzy and detached from herself, her dark blue eyes darted skittishly across every inch of the room drinking in more from every facet than an artist may do when painting still life.
This was both a pleasant and unpleasant ability of the girl's. It was a kind of incredibly profound analysis she performed on everything she allowed more than a brief and solitary glance. She analysed people; animals; places; words; songs; art; society. And so many of these analyses stayed with her for years, some went as far back as to when she was aged only two. However, with so many analyses came a brain so wildly active that the owner of the aforementioned organ couldn't keep up with it - at least, not without an inevitable short circuit and coinciding mental implosion occurring.
That's probably the main reason the girl disliked parties so much. There was always a wealth of activity to be involuntarily analysed at such a gathering and this led the girl into an overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia as her brain pushed for the analysis of what seemed like every tiny thing in her line of vision. This was what was happening right that moment.
The girl tried to hang on to a more simple part of herself, a part of her that worked like the others around her, a part of her that could smile and excitedly run towards the bar to do a shot and then drunkenly dance with friends in the same non-existent state of sobriety. Though, it's hard to hang on to a part of yourself that quite blatantly doesn't exist beyond a fleeting and somewhat desperate dream. And so, as previously alluded to - the inevitable will always occur.
It was almost a subconscious action the girl set in motion, turning steadily on her heel and calmly exiting the club. She never ran nor wore an expression of distress to match the feelings that churned within her, for that would only cause alarm and uncomfortable attention from all who witnessed her.
Sometimes she did wish people could tell of her raging internal battle, sometimes she wished for a response from them, not even vocally but perhaps some kind of look her way that conveyed a mutual understanding, maybe even empathy. Please avoid misconstruing the latter emotion as the girl's attention-seeking plea for your pities - pity was the last thing she yearned for. She just wanted a hint, a glimpse of herself, her condition in someone else's being. She wanted to know, in some inexplicable way, that she wasn't alone. That others, or even just one person, could fiercely nod in affirmation to the query she wished she could put to the faces of the strangers in the streets around her.
"Do you see what I see?"
She longed for the day when this question of hers was answered positively. She knew it would never be a simple answer, not spoken, not written, probably not even a physical response at all. Rather, she expected a somewhat subconscious response. A response that would, indirectly, bring forth the undeniable truth and, in turn, the instantaneous feeling of fulfilment she yearned.
But, of course, the world is home to seven billion people - too many to put her question to; too many to analyse. She could only hope that somewhere near someone had the answer she was looking for.
The girl drove home in a dark cloud of self-hatred and pained guilt for her friend. She still lived with her parents unlike everyone she had known from school. They lived either in their own flats or with roommates in university accommodation. There was no point in her doing the same for she hadn't a degree to work towards, she didn't have a university place and she didn't have the qualifications to get one. Why? The analyses were too much to cope with every day, every year at school and across every subject they chewed her up and spit her back out like her very own intellectual take on Jonah and the Whale.
Truly, she had hoped someone at school would have answered her question in the affirmative, every time she would hand in an essay, every time she answered a teacher's inquiry she felt herself almost beg for one of them to get it.
"Do you see what I see?"
But they didn't. Admittedly, she felt as though some got close, at least closer than most did, but ultimately they saw her only as a troubled young person with a quiet, perhaps nearing dull personality - overall, a bonafide swot.
So much for that. Wasn't being smart supposed to be a good thing? A blessing? And yet to her she wondered if it were a curse, the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.
The girl moped her way up the stairs towards her room, grateful that no one heard her enter. Even in her home, her own bedroom, places she'd been countless times she still fell victim to her constant need to analyse, her surroundings seemed to throb around her area of vision, pouncing on her, begging to be mulled over once again.
Her head hurt. Her head always hurt. Behind her eyes was the very worst as if someone were using her retinas as gongs in an anatomical orchestra. The girl groaned and screwed up her eyes in pain before throwing herself into bed in apparent surrender.
It couldn't have been before half past noon when finally the girl emerged from the snug confines of her duvet. Over half the day was gone and yet unlike the vast majority of people who slept in 'til that time she wasn't frustrated nor panicking for having done so. Instead, her face held an expression of complete apathy as she rose from her bed, languidly, limbs akimbo like someone drunken with tiredness despite her considerable lie-in. It was like this every day for her. Of course, one may view this behaviour as a despicable display of absolute laziness but the fact was the girl simply had nothing to get up for. What was the point of her getting up to do, for all intents and purposes, nothing?
She chucked some random clothing on and flung her stringy chestnut hair in a bun atop her head before stumbling across her messy floor to grab her phone. There was one new unread message from the friend whose birthday party she had fled the night prior;
"What's the story? Em said she saw u leave straight after u walked in?"
The girl trembled as she tried to come up with an adequate response. But nothing seemed truthful nor comprehensive enough. Sighing slightly, she typed, "Sorry," into the message box and hit send.
"You don't see what I see."
At times like these the girl truly felt useless. Useless and ridiculous. With a brain that could operate and function perfectly, in theory, but that couldn't play by the neurotypical rules, in practice. At times like these the girl renounced her hatred for the tale of Cinderella and found herself begging for her fairy godmother to come and make her sociable and amiable and approachable. Begging her to come and make her normal, to make her like everyone else. Of course, she knew this was an impossibility and so it was also at times like these the girl buried her face in her hands and cried.
Every day of the girl's life bled together into one horrible, unsatisfying perpetuity. She detested it, deep down she knew she was meant for more. Well, she hoped she was anyway. To live her entire life out without friends or a family, without a career, a purpose, a reason for getting out of bed each day, simply an incentive to smile. That was a bleak, barren, unforgiving iniquitous way of life.
The girl worried her whole life would consist of her analysing, of her near constant need to scrutinise the world around her. She worried that one day it would kill her. Say, one day whilst driving on a busy road she might analyse the people in their cars just a bit too intently, causing a fatal car accident. Or perhaps one night walking home, analysing the twinkling stars above her with such intensity, she fails to hear the footsteps behind her and ends up a statistic in the rape and murder of young women.
Most of all, the girl worried - no feared - she would never find that person who understood her, who saw the world like she did. She feared they simply didn't exist, that this person was purely a figment of her far too emotionally-involved imagination, and that she would forever feel alone in a world only she could see.
"They'll never see what I see."
These fears, these possibilities for her future made her angry. She didn't know who or what her anger was truly aimed at for it was not anyone's fault she had this condition and she knew, ultimately, she could have much worse. Yet her anger never quelled, rather it grew and grew like a cancerous tumour, deep and dangerous in her being.
Suddenly, she grabbed her phone back up and, without stopping to allow any feelings of hesitation invade her current rhapsodically incensed state, she hurriedly composed another text to her friend, her fingers shaking uncontrollably as she typed, a single tear of exasperation rolling down her cheek.
"I don't see what you see."