Script & Storyboard
Most people at my school look forward to lunchtime, [1.2] but it's the scariest time of day for me. [1.3] Luckily, we manage to avoid the rush. My best friend, Sophie, and I sit at a small table near the edge of the food hall. [2.1] I watch as more students flood in and start queueing up to get their lunch. [2] Some of them are messing around, pushing each other and laughing. [3] Even Jennifer, the most popular girl in school who actually hates me, is in the queue just giggling and flirting with all the boys. [4] I've started bringing my lunch from home instead. [5]
"Ella?" Sophie breaks my train of thought. "I asked you how the maths paper went…" [1] That morning we were given a practice maths test. The pressure is on for our real exams which are taking place in a few months. [2] "Could have been better, I'm so behind." [3] "Ah don't worry! There's still time to catch up. You're doing great being back here!" Sophie tries to reassure me. [4]
She's right. I have been doing much better recently, this time last year I couldn't have made it into school at all. [1] I notice Jennifer and her friends sit down at a table close to ours. [2.1] I shift in my seat. [2.2] Those girls make me feel so uncomfortable; they just think I'm a weirdo. [P] They start talking loudly about the maths paper and we can't help but overhear. [3] "I should have done well! I was going totally crazy in there, seriously OCD, checking everything." [P] Jennifer's sharp voice rings in my ears, she's laughing. I feel frozen, stuck to my chair. Sophie's concerned eyes meet mine. [4]
"It's okay!" I lie, speaking quietly so that only Sophie will hear. "I just need to get out of here for a minute." [1] I hurry out of the hall. All of a sudden everything seems so overwhelming, there are too many people talking and eating. I silently pray that the bathroom is empty. [2]
Fortunately, there's no one else around. I stare at myself in the mirror, I'm trembling. [1] I have contamination OCD. [P] Feelings from last year come rushing back; I'm terrified of getting ill. [2.1] I wring my hands, they must be dirty already. [2.2] Mentally I start listing everything that I've touched throughout the morning, so many germs. [3] I've probably also touched my hair, clothes, maybe even my face. [4] By now, I'm dirty all over - contaminated. [P] I pull a paper towel from the dispenser, and discard it. [5] Maybe somebody touched that one. [P] I take another, and use it to turn on the tap. [6] I start washing my hands, scrubbing quite hard. I feel sick which only scares me more, even though logically I know that nausea is a daily side effect of my medication. [7] I try to breath. What am I doing? It's so frustrating. [p]
This all started when I was around 11 or 12. Nothing traumatic happened; the doctors eventually said that my OCD was triggered by puberty, [1.1] a chemical imbalance in my brain. [1.2] At first it wasn't a big deal, people just thought I was odd. I liked things to be a certain way. [2] I started showering before and after school, but I was still functioning fairly normally. [3] Around my 14th birthday it started getting worse. I would spend hours washing myself. [4] My mum caught me about to take bleach into the shower, [5] that’s when we went to the doctor. [6]
But I am better now, I'm coping. [1.1] I don't know why Jennifer's words are throwing me off like this. [1.2] People say that kind of thing all the time - it's just a silly phrase. [1.3] I spend a few more moments composing myself and finally turn off the tap. [3.2] No paper towel. [P] I better go and find Sophie, she's probably worried. [3.3] I walk out of the bathroom and turn back towards the food hall. [4]
Suddenly, someone bumps into me, trying to grab me to avoid falling. [1] Horror courses through me. A girl is touching me, pulling at my clothes. [2.2] I scream and stumble backwards, recoiling. [P] The girl falls to her knees. [2.3] I stare open-mouthed, mortified. [3.1] It's Jennifer. [3.2]
"Oh my god, I'm so sorry" I stammer. [1] But, I'm already retreating back into the bathroom. [2] I start desperately ripping off my jumper. [3.1] Jennifer follows me, her face threatening. [3.2] My jumper has fallen to the floor [4.1] and I'm frantically washing my hands again. [4.2] Jennifer stares at me as though I've completely lost my mind. Oh god, maybe I have. [4.3]
"What the hell is wrong with you? I'm not diseased or anything you freak." [1] Her voice is hard and cruel. [p] Tears are sliding down my face. [2.1] I want to explain that I can’t help it; it's like a reflex for me to avoid human contact. [2.2] But, I can't. [P] "I'm sorry" I sob again. [2.3]
I feel out of control. The exams, the school itself, it's all just too much. [1] Repeatedly apologising, I stumble past Jennifer and out of the bathroom. [2] Sophie is there, she calls my name but I keep running. [3.2] At some point I realise that my jumper is still on the bathroom floor, I don't care. [3.3] I need to go home. [3.4]
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