As time goes by~ a group story

Written by Bree (Linde) and I (safeandsound101)-- for Linde's contest

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Chapter 2


When August comes to, the first thing she notices as her sight stops blurring is the ceiling. It’s white—not the pure sort of white, nor the creamy sort; instead it’s a horrific, bleached color which, frankly, reminds her of a toilet seat.

Then she sniffs gently and resists the urge to sneeze as a lemony scent enters her nostrils; it smells cheap, the same sort of stuff they use to clean the school hallway. That thought makes her eyes dart away from the ceiling in alarm; is she at school?

Instead, August become conscious of the fact that she is wedged into a rather uncomfortable chair. Many people are seated in the same manner, ranging from a grouchy looking old lady to a young boy with bubblegum, who can’t be much older than nine. He keeps glancing furtively at a woman filing through glossy magazines behind him; August assumes she is his mother.

“August?” an anxious voice inquires. It originates from her left, and August glances aside quickly. Relief washes through her at the sight of her mother, and she smiles timidly. Her stretched mouth feels unnatural; forced.

“What happened?” she mutters, rubbing the back of her neck. “I just sorta—blacked out.”

“Exactly,” Lisa Montgomery says, an edge to her tone. Her dark eyes glisten sternly and she points an accusing finger at her adopted daughter. “You scared the hell out of us.” August raises her eyebrows at the trembling tone, feeling somewhat guilty. Before she can apologize, however, her mother speaks up again; somber and quiet this time. “You haven’t been trying to diet, have you?”

August flushes, embarrassed. “No! Of course not.” Biting down on her bottom lip, she remembers where she was before being shipped off to the hospital. Oh, goddamn it. How humiliating. “Mom, what about the party?”

Her mother’s gaze flutters away nervously. “We’ll celebrate after we get to hear what Dr. Thompson thinks, okay?”

By now, August’s cheeks are positively red and she balls her fists. “But, mom!” she protests. “Everyone faints every now and then—it’s happened before, you know that!” She doesn’t mention the headache that still lingers in her head, and begins to tug anxiously at a stray hair. “Can we please go back?”

One reprimanding gaze from Lisa makes her squirm in her seat, and August gives up, unsettled by how the day is spiraling downwards. Of all days to pick, fate had chosen this one; later on, August would remember the irony.

*

Dr. Thompson, a balding man with round glasses, stares at August with a frog-like smile. His two front teeth stand out in the rows of white and August stares back blankly, somewhat mystified that this creature is a doctor.

“So, August.” Something crunches audibly as he closes his mouth again. Candy? “We’ll just need to ask a few questions before taking a blood sample, all right?” Thompson draws a file from his desk and grabs a pen, clicking it repeatedly in a manner that makes August’s blood curdle. Judging by the impassive, tight face of her mother, she suspects she isn’t the only one.

What if I say no? August wonders, twining her fingers together. Instead, she nods obediently. “Yes, Dr. Thompson.”

That odd smirk again. “You can call me Andy. Now—have you fainted before?”

“Yeah.” August ignores the urge to start swinging her legs back and forth and glances at a painting on the wall opposite her. The glass reflects its surroundings vividly, and she is sure that it’s polished twice a week; if not more often.

“How often?” Dr. Thompson presses, glancing at Lisa. He offers an apologetic smile and pushes the tips of his fingers together.

August shrugs indifferently and bites down on her bottom lip again obstinately; it is bright red and swollen by the amount of times she dug her teeth into it, and she can taste blood. It’s tangy and bitter in her mouth—nothing special, as Twilight fans sometimes claim. “Last time was half a year ago,” she admits. “It happens every few months or so.”

There is a short, stunned silence, and then an angry voice fills the room. “August!” Lisa says, taken aback. Her brown eyes are both bewildered and enraged, and gleam with some other emotion scorching from her soul. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because I didn’t think it was important,” August mutters in return, picking at her dress embarrassedly. It seems a pity now, that she’d dressed up so nicely; August swears never to wear pretty dresses again. Although it seems ridiculous to consider an article of clothing an ill omen, she hates it nevertheless.

Dr. Andy Thompson scrapes his throat uncomfortably. “Well, August.” Another crunch. “Are there any other symptoms, besides fainting?” Her stomach knots as August realizes he skipped right over, ‘did you eat this morning’ and questions regarding other possibilities. Dr. Thompson thinks something is wrong with her, and she didn’t even tell him anything yet. Her throat feels as if hands are folded around it tightly all of a sudden, and she swallows; trying to breathe through her nose.

“Migraines,” she blurts out. “Sometimes I feel really nauseous, and—,” here August throws an anxious look at her mother and draws in a deep breath,”—and occasionally I feel like I’m going to throw up.”

Whatever Andy Thompson is thinking, he keeps his face impassive and shares a gracious, inexplicable look with Lisa Montgomery while scribbling illegible something down. “Well.” Crunch; smile. “It was a pleasure, Mrs. Montgomery; August. I think it’s best if you go to my assistant Teresa. She will take a sample of your blood, if that’s all right with you.”

And what if it’s not? August speculates nervously as she is towed out of the room. Her feet trip over the threshold and she gulps again, wondering when this horrid day—a day that was supposed to be perfect, almost identical to every other day in her ideal life—will come to an end; and just how catastrophic that end might be. Because now, despite her initial laxity, August Montgomery is scared stiff.

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