Finally Awake

Adelaide Browning gazed placidly over the sunset from the balcony. She studied every detail carefully, analyzing every bramble she could see poking over the distant hills. She prided herself in being an excellent observer, and was frankly hoping that the stunning view could distract her from her younger sister’s awful chatter. Suddenly, she stiffly shifted and glanced at her sister. “Don’t be ridiculous Claire.” She was becoming irritated. “But Addy…” Her sister wailed. “No.” Adelaide spoke firmly. She couldn’t stand her sibling’s petulant voice. Wearied, she flicked her copper curls over her shoulder, clutched her skirts and paced away. Claire briskly followed. When Adelaide heard her sister’s hurried steps, she abruptly shifted to face her; her piercing green eyes glaring. “Don’t be irrational Claire, man will never fly. It is 1834 for goodness’ sake: If the Lord had wanted us to fly, we would have wings by now.” She sighed. And with that, she left her dumbfounded sister in the empty corridor and headed for her chambers. “Machines to make man fly? How absurd! She muttered. Claire even had the audacity to suggest that in future, women would wear trousers. Trousers! Obscene. When Adelaide left for the gardens later that day, she noticed her sister slumped on an oak branch, sobbing long sighs. When she started for the oak-tree, intentioned to scold her sister for being incredibly foolish and improper, she suddenly felt faint, as if death was flowing through her, first from her fingertips, spreading impassively and steadily up her arms like spilled ink, diffusing up, until it veiled her eyes and her world went dark. When Dr Brookes heard stirring, he skeptically raised his eyes from his clipboard. Everything seemed in its place, the machines whirring and beeping, tubes stretching to the arms and nose of his comatose patient. Her heartbeat seemed regular, and as always, she seemed still as glass. He had been monitoring Olivia’s coma for a few months now, and although some may find this job quite dull, he found it intriguing, the way a body could be alive without a mind. He was smoothing his scrubs and resettling down when Olivia stirred again. Gradually, she woke. Gushing adrenaline overwhelmed Brookes and he began to investigate. He was well-taught, and knew that a coma was a confusing exit, so when Olivia finally spoke, he was relieved. “Who are you?” The girl spoke with attitude. Strange, thought Brookes. He imagined Olivia as a sweet girl. He was about to speak when the door erupted and people poured in. “Olivia!” A shrill shriek perforated the air as Olivia’s mother flung herself at the girl. Incomprehensible words spilled from her mouth in excitement when Olivia raised her finger causing the room to silence. “And who are you?” The mother’s smile fell. “You… You were in a coma...” She whispered. The girl’s face remained stoic, but with a trembling voice she hissed: “I am not ‘Olivia’, my name is Adelaide Browning and I demand to know where I am.”

by Giulia Toffoli, Year 9

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