2011 Winner: The Amelia Burns Cup for Short Story – Gaelle Stark

Unfinished by Gaelle Stark

I live a half-life, somewhere between what is real and what is not.

Half of the time I don’t know the difference. Half of the time I do.

Sometimes I am asleep and I think that I am awake. It can get very confusing.

There is a label that society has come up with for this condition. I hate labels. The doctor told me that I had one though.

Stephanie, you have post-traumatic stress disorder. He said.

This is when something terrible has happened to you and you can’t get rid of it from your mind. It haunts you; you relive it over and over. So perhaps you understand why I find it so hard to know if what is in front of me is true. Often I touch things, just to be certain they are there. I don’t touch people; they arrest you for that.

I don’t talk to anyone all that much if I’m honest. I find them exhausting. My friends so want to be pleased or to be flattered and I don’t have the energy. We make friends with those who make us feel good about ourselves, who listen to our little woes—not the complicated stuff, no-one wants that, those who we can have a laugh with on a Friday night.

But, I don’t want to go out. I don’t like the cinema because of the noise, same goes for shopping centres.

Generally I just drift along, lost in amongst all the other bodies, hoping no-one will notice me. It’s like I have my very own invisibility cloak. People actually look straight through me. It’s surprising how easy it is not to be seen if you try.

I am on my way back from therapy. It is close so I can walk. I like to feel the air on my cheeks. It burns when it is cold. Sensation is helpful

When I am with my therapist it is like I am not there. Like I am watching me in a television drama special, or an edgy piece of theatre at The Royal Court…