The house lights clicked on, at their usual time of 6pm sharp, just as twilight started seeping in through the windows, which were always securely fastened shut, just in case of any attempts at escape. The scientists wheeled me in to the kitchen, my head propped up by pillows, after another injection of balancing hormones and fluroxine. Scotch on the rocks in my hand, and a diamond ring on my useless brain, I attempt to make dinner, but as usual it turns into a hash of failed hopes and wigged-out desires, cemented onto a plate. Nevertheless, the kids and Ray lap it up gratefully, pretending not to notice my vacant stares from across the dinner table.
“So, Sassy darling, how was college preparedness training today? Did you get your marks yet?”
My daughter rolled her big blue eyes to the ceiling and flicked her long blonde hair carelessly, like any typical imperious teen starlet,
“No, mother, they won’t give us the marks until we’ve finished the final assignment, which I simply REFUSE to do!”
“Oh?’ I inquired, feigning interest with my painted-on smile, ‘what was that assignment, precious heart?”
Sassy rolled her eyes again, and I pretended not to notice, “mother, they are forcing us to make contact with the outside world, which you know is strictly forbidden by house rule number 707.”
This time she got me. I gasped in genuine wonder, “what?! The teachers were given strict instructions and the complete list of house rules before we enrolled you into that tawdry online school! How dare they?! Ray, are you listening, honey?! We’ve got to do something about this!”
Ray nodded and made a mumbling noise but never looked up from his Bible, which he always kept at his side, and quoted from at will, usually at the worst possible times to do so. This time however he didn’t even attempt to feign interest in our conversation, he simply “tutted” a few times and shook his head. I became enraged, or at least as mildly annoyed as my ingested pharmaceuticals would allow, and stood up, woozily,
“Ray, you simply MUST listen to this! If Sassy does not complete this assignment she can’t get into college. And if she DOES complete this assignment she will be breaking house rule number 707, and we will be thrown out onto the streets. What do you have to say about that, Ray?!”
Again, he simply nodded and muttered, “yes, yes, woman, I heard you the first time,” never looking up from his Bible.
“Well I’ll tell you what, missy,’ I snarled, ‘I will message the principal of that no-good school personally, and give him a piece of my mind tomorrow, after I wake up, of course.”
Sassy looked disinterested but weakly nodded, “yes, mother.”
“Waking up” usually involves being roused by the scientists at 2pm, showering, then sitting in hair and makeup for 45 minutes while being dosed with caffeine, balancing hormones and anti-depressants for breakfast. Gradually I recover the will to live, then I am wheeled into some artificially-lighted room, and sat in front of either a computer or a carefully-screened television for several hours, until it’s time for my next dose of painkillers, anti-depressants and balancing hormones. This process goes on every four hours until it’s dawn, and time for bed again.
Basically, I am a modern day vampire, without the blood-sucking. Or maybe that’s involved too. I honestly couldn’t tell you- I lost my memory six months after moving into the house. It’s been either misplaced, or replaced. I’m not quite sure, but my pharmacists assure me that I am making tremendous progress. The shakes and night terrors are almost gone, and I no longer try to open the windows, a big no-no in the long list of house rules.
My every need is taken care of my doctors and pharmacists, and our food and drinks are delivered twice a week. We never see the delivery boy sadly. That too is taken care of by the approved house staff. No contact with the outside world is allowed. I haven’t seen or touched another human being for almost five years. The children are too “grown up” for hugs, and Ray is as cold and unresponsive as a jellyfish. In fact, I’ve had more romantic partnerships with images on computer screens and my own imagination than I’ve ever had with Raymond.
But I lost interest, somewhere past the third dose of fluoxetine…