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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shadows and Fire - Part 1


I pulled my cap down lower, over my eyes. This was always harder if I could clearly see the people: nervousness over the ones who stopped and shame over those who didn’t. The cap didn’t prevent me from seeing them, but it helped. Checking to see that everything was ready, I began sliding the bow gently across the strings of the violin.

I teased the string, one note singing out clearly to the throngs of people. I let it ring, knowing the power it contained to perk ears. I heard footsteps stop. I let the note peter into nothing. I let the silence hold for a moment, well as much silence as you can have on a busy street corner. I repeated the note.

The music took off. Notes that followed were slow and long, though, not as long as the first. Gradually, I increased the tempo. My fingers glided smoothly, finding each note with precision. The music climaxed. I’d stopped paying attention to the people lingering around me; the sound of coins clinging into the open violin case at my feet; to the cars honking; to the general everyday music that belonged to New York City.

I climaxed. The note hung once more in the air. I could almost feel anticipation of the few that had actually stopped to listen to me. I picked up the music again softly, holding each note carefully. In my mind, I saw the one word instruction on how to play this part.

Dying.

So that’s what I did. I softly let the music die. It ended with the same note as in the beginning, hanging in the air, not that anybody would know. Nobody hardly ever stayed to hear a full song.

I lowered my bow, giving myself a moment to recover from the rush playing always gave me. I always started my set with that song. It was my favorite. It had lots of major/minor shifts and beautiful harmonies that left me hungry for more. It was dramatic and I loved it. It deserved so much more than a busy street corner, even if it was close to a fountain. It needed the fantastic acoustics of a concert hall instead of being sucked up by music-hating vampires, otherwise known as noise. But it’s not like that would be happening anytime soon.

Some people clapped for me, realizing I’d finished the song. There was an increase in the clanking of coins before people started drifting away. You don’t clap for a song like that. It was a serious mood killer.

I watched the people wander away for a moment. My eyes found those of a boy, probably my age at eighteen. He was sitting on the edge of the fountain, watching me. I turned away, feeling a flash of anger. He was, what I liked to call, a leech: absorbing the music as it pleased him, but giving nothing in return. He hadn’t dropped any coins into my case. He just wanted a free show. I tugged my cap down lower over my face and turned back to my music.

My anger fed into my violin. I selected song after song filled with intense technical skill. They were the real money bringers anyway. I hardly stopped to breathe between numbers. Whoever said playing music wasn’t a workout, had never played music well.

Fine, okay, I don’t know if anybody’s ever said that, but the statement still holds. I would be feeling this in my arms tomorrow.

I ended my set with a few impressive, but less exhausting songs. More clanking of coins as people realized I was done. As the crowd dispersed, a kid ran up and scooped some of the larger bills from my case before fleeing.

“Hey!” I yelled after him. I couldn’t leave my stuff and the rest of my cash to go after him, so I had to settle for clenching my fists as he disappeared. Some of my listeners looked at me sympathetically and dropped a few more bills into my case. I gave them soft expressions of gratitude.

A special compartment was built into the bottom of my case. I opened it and tilted the case, swiping all the coins into it before any other urchins got clever. Minus what the young boy had taken, it looked like I’d made a pretty good stash for two and a half hours’ worth of playing. As I closed the compartment and secured my violin and bow carefully inside, a twenty dollar bill drifted down, landing across the strings. I closed the case lid over the money before the extremely generous tipster could rethink. Twenty big ones! I snapped the clasps into place and looked at the tipster still standing over me. Apparently, this one wanted to talk.

It was the leech, I realized with surprise. He’d leeched two and a half hours of music. He seriously didn’t have other things to do. At least he’d paid for his pleasure. I guess that didn’t make him a leech after all. But I still felt inclined to call him that. For some reason, I felt like it applied.

I stood quickly, lifting my case with me, so he wasn’t so loomy over me. “Thanks,” I nodded at him, forgetting the leechiness and remembering the twenty now pressed up against my violin’s strings.

“You deserve it,” he smiled. “You’re very talented.”

I paused to examine him. He had dark hair that curled just above his ears and crystal blue eyes. His face was pleasing to look at. He stood five or so inches above my 5’5. His body was lean and well defined. He had to have girls crawling all over him.

I wondered where he’d ditched them at.

“Well,” I said awkwardly, “thanks again.”

I slung my case over my shoulder and walked away. I could tell he was stunned at my abrupt departure without to looking back. He probably had more to say, but I wasn’t in the mood to make pleasantries with him. I wanted to get home to talk to my little brother and count today’s haul.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

(Other Side of the Mirror) Chapter 2

The final installment of this story going on this blog.



Chapter 2

The world was upside down. At the same time, though, it didn’t seem like it was upside down. I used to think that when you were upside down, something inside you still explained calmly to you which way was up and which way was down. In most circumstances, it does. Like on the monkey bars. The blood rushing to your head also helps. But I realized that this is not always the case, like being in a rolling car. Then everything just gets confusing. All of your surroundings are in normal orientation, it’s only when you look outside that you realize the trees have been planted in the sky and someone took the ground away.

In a rolling car, you’d expect things to be happening too quickly to notice such things. But it wasn’t. Well, actually, it was until it wasn’t. Let me start from the beginning.

We were on a lonely two-lane highway. The roads were slick. Not rain slick, black ice slick. My mom was driving. We hit a patch and our car started drifting into the other lane. Usually, this would be a horrible problem, as I said, it was a lonely road. But there was a car coming, and it was way too close for comfort. Mom overcorrected and we spun off the road, flipping hardcore. We hit the ground once, the roof smashing into the ground, before we were airborne again. That’s when everything slowed down. I was going to die. I knew it. People say who suffer near death experiences always talk about weird things happening. I heard things tended to slow down, but I didn’t know that when they said slow down, they meant standstill. I also didn’t know that the whole slowing thing only happened to the things around me. I was thinking clearly and perfectly able to turn my head and look around me.

When I did, I wished I hadn’t. My mom’s short golden hair was sticking up, or is it down, mane-like. Her arms hung loosely, resting against the roof that was now smashed in enough to make me curl my head toward my chest to avoid touching it. I couldn’t see an injury, but in the few seconds that had passed since our car said adieu to the road, she was covered in lots of blood.

Maybe I was dead and that was my blood on her. I looked down at my shirt, a white blouse, of course, it was dabbed in little spots of red, but I couldn’t tell if there was any hurt.

The car was still spinning, though slowly. It landed on its wheels, bouncing a little as normal gravity resumed, and came to a rest. There would be no more spinning.

I looked at my mom. A spider web of cracks spread across the half of her window that was remaining. There was so much blood. I tried to open my door, but it wouldn’t budge. I had to get out. I kicked at it, screaming.

Someone’s face appeared looking in at me from the other side of the window. The next moment, the door was gone, as in, completely gone from the car. I wasn’t in my right mind enough to think about it. I tried to get out, but my seatbelt stopped me. I fumbled with it but was having trouble getting my fingers to work. It clicked and I was free.

The stranger was pulling me from the car. His eyes roamed over my body, looking for injuries. “I—No—Me—My mom!” I choked out. So much blood.

The stranger looked past me at my mother. “She’s gone,” he whispered hoarse.

Something about this man looked familiar. He was my age. Did he go to my high school?

The slight familiarity was all I needed. I wrapped my arms around his chest and sobbed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Story 7

Fog

My brain was foggy.

I blinked my eyes to clear it away, trying to focus on the things around me.

I blinked my eyes again in surprise.

I was standing in a room, Hogwarts great hall style minus the tables, crowded with people dressed Victorian England style. Looking down at myself, I was too. Where were my jeans and Converse? The skirts of the dress sat heavily on my hips, and my shoes felt pinched and achy. I never went anywhere without my converse. I only took them off to sleep, if even then. I wanted my normal clothes. Though, this dress was an excellent shade of turquoise. It matched my eyes.

All of the people were looking at me, cheerful, anticipatory smiles on their faces. My face, in that horrible way, started burning. I hated being the center of attention.

Someone grabbed my hand.

I realized that I wasn’t the only one the people were staring at. The man standing at my side, holding my hand firmly in his own, was tall and handsome. But not my type. His hair was pale and so were his eyes. He looked very . . . regal. I don’t think I’d ever used that word to describe anyone before. But he just, was, decked out like some Victorian lord.

Despite the paleness, there was something dark about him.

What kind of wacky, messed up dream was this?!

He called to the people, his voice carrying, “Friends.”

There was no way all those people were his friends.

He continued, not hearing my sarcastic thoughts. “I apologize for taking time away from your evening. But,” a smile spread across his face, “I’d like to announce that the Lady Gavan has just given me her consent!”

Consent for what, to smack him upside the head? I felt like that would be a good thing to do at this moment.

“We shall be wed as soon as we can find a priest.”

WHAT?!

Oh no, he didn’t!

On no, I didn’t!

I jerked my hand out of his. “WHO ARE YOU?!”

His eyes narrowed.

The people on the floor started murmuring quietly to themselves, sounding like the gentle hum of a microwave.

The man wrapped his long fingers around my upper arm and dragged me, off balance, from the room.

I wanted to pry my arm out of his fingers, but he’s was pulling me down the hallway so quickly I couldn’t find my balance.

A servant, she was dressed in little more than rags, stepped out of one of the doors lining the hallway. She stumbled back, seeing the fire in my captors eyes.

“Where is the physician?!” he yelled at her.

“I . . . He . . .” The poor girl was kind of freaking out in the face of this jerk. She took a quick breath. “He requested that his supper be brought to his quarters.”

Mr. Not-Right-In-The-Head, Angry Man stormed past her.

I banged on his arm with my free fist, accenting each word with a punch. “Let. Go. Of. Me!”

He turned on his heel and backhanded me across the face.

I was stunned into silence as he continued to drag me down the hall. My face burned with pain and embarrassment.  Nobody had ever struck me before. My forehead creased. When had I started using words like struck? Why hadn’t I used hit, like a normal person?

Wait, that hurt! You’re not supposed to be able to get hurt in dreams.

I pushed the thought away, not liking where it was taking me. There was no way any of this could actually be happening. It was too impossible.

Mr. Jerk stopped at a door on the left before kicking it open and throwing me in.

I landed on my hands and knees. Quickly, I scrambled to my feet and stepped away from the man. I folded my arms and pushed out my lip. Yeah. I was totally pulling out the pouting card.

Unfortunately, it fell unnoticed. Mr. Angry had already forgotten I existed. He was looming over a little, portly man. He was squinting like he’d forgotten he put on his glasses. Did they even have glasses in whatever time period I was dreaming in? I made a mental note to Google it when I woke up. Was this the physician?

Mr. Angry was yelling at the little man. I felt kind of bad for him. “She lapsed! She lapsed when I was making the announcement of our intentions! She was supposed to have another hour! What happened?!”

The physician wiped sweat, and probably spittle, from his forehead. “M’lord, it’s possible that she is developing a resistance to the effects of the drug.”

“A drug!” I burst, losing my pout. “You have not been drugging me!”

The physician looked confused. “But we have been drugging you, Lady Gavan.”

Mr. Angry glared at the physician and he fell silent. Angry took a moment to let himself become not so angry. “Fine. It won’t matter after we’re wed. Do you have any here we can give her now?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I interrupted. “drugging me won’t make me marry you.”

“You’d be surprised at what I’ve made you do under its influence before. Your consent was witnessed by more than myself.” His voice was cold.

I couldn’t stop myself from wondering, what had I done? Nothing, I reminded myself. This was just a dream.

“Do you have any more?” Mr. Angry’s question was directed at the physician.

“Nay, we cannot give her more now, M’lord. Even if the drug isn’t working, it is still in her system. To give her more would be dangerous.”

I snorted, very un-ladylike.

Angry whipped his eyes at me.

I raised an eyebrow at him. “You actually think I’m going to sit there and let you drug me? Well, newsflash, I’m not.”

He looked a little confused at the word “newsflash,” but he definitely understood “not.”

“Is that so?” a small smile curled the corners of his mouth.

Not the reaction I was expecting. I tried to maintain my superior attitude, folding my arms across my chest, again. “Yup.”

He stepped away from the physician. He threw open the door and pushed me out in front of him. His fingers returned to their favorite spot on my arm as he dragged down a different hall. “It would have been better for you, had you remained the meek lamb.” He threw open a door.

Did he know me at all? I had never in my life acted the meek lamb. Why did he want to marry me, anyway?

Past the door, cold stone steps led down in a circular staircase. I had to struggle not to trip as he forced me down them. A soldier at the bottom stood at stiff at attention.

“Follow me,” Mr. Angry ordered the man.

We were in a dungeon of sorts. Was this guy serious?

There was only one other guest that I could see in the row of cells. Angry opened the next available cell and shoved me in. I really doubted this guy’s mother had ever taught him to be nice to a lady, even one as rough around the edges as me.

The soldier locked the cell behind me.

I turned and pressed my face against the bars, glaring at Mr. Angry.

“You will be obedient to me. Before long, you will be begging for that which you so ardently refuse.”

He turned to the guard. “No food. No water.”

I started screaming everything I could think of as he walked toward the stairs. “I plead the fifth! I demand to see a lawyer!” He didn’t turn around. “You’ll never take me alive!”

To that, he did turn around. The smile on his face made me take an involuntary step back. “My dearest Rebecca, you cannot take that which you already possess.” He was gone.

I suppressed a shudder and sank to the floor, cross legged, thinking.

Before I could settle too deep into my thoughts, my neighbor interrupted.

“Becky, what happened? Are you all right?”

Normally, I would have bristled. Nobody calls me Becky but the people I give permission too, like my friends and family. Not a random stranger in Mr. Angry’s dungeon. But I kind of liked the way it rolled off his tongue, so I put my claws away.

It was too dark to make out much about him, but I tried. His voice didn’t sound much older than me. His hair was dark, making his face look pale. I tried to pick out more details, and failed.

He was crouched against the bars of our adjoined wall. “Becky?”

I remembered he’d asked me a question. I smirked. “I’m afraid you have the advantage over me. Who might you be, mysterious stranger?”

He barked out a short laugh. “Ha, real funny, Beck. Don’t avoid the question. Why are you down here? I thought you were all set to marry your one true love.”

I detected something bitter in his voice. His nonresponse muffled me but he said true love as if he were quoting me. That made me angry. “My one true love! Mr. Angry? Are you serious? What kind of unreliable gossip chain are you listening to down here? You’re almost as bad as him. Telling all those people I’d given my consent—”

He cut me off. “Becky, I was there, remember? Don’t play these games with me. Allow me to quote you: ‘I would gladly give my hand in marriage to my one true love.’” It sounded like the words hurt him.

“I never said that!” I spit back at him. “I think I would remember.” So Mysterious Stranger was the witness Mr. Angry had mentioned earlier. Why would Mr. Angry have my consent witnessed by a prisoner? Not that I’d ever given it or anything. I was only 18, sheesh.

Mystery sat down and rested his head his hands. He slowly massaged his temple, like he had some massive headache. I had one of my own starting to creep in.

“Stop playing your games with me, Beck. I can’t take it.” He rolled forward onto his knees and stretched his arm through the bars to reach me.

I was out of his range and didn’t try to move any closer.

His hand dropped slowly. He clenched the bars. “Whatever I did to make you hate me so much, I’m sorry. Tell me what I can do to fix it.” He sighed. “I know I should have told you this a long time ago, but I was too much of a coward. I need you to know before he comes back.” He paused, as if, even now, he was trying to gauge what my reaction would be. “I love you, Becky.”

I climbed to my feet and backed as far away from him as I could. “What is it with you people?!” I shrieked. “First, Mr. Angry stands me up in front of whole bunch of people and tells them we’re getting married. Then he throws me in the dungeon. Now, you’re telling me you love me. You won’t even tell me who you are!” I smacked the side of my fist against the bar, the pain giving me something to focus on. “Why won’t I just wake up?!”

“Wake up? You’re not asleep.”

Though I couldn’t see details, something about him seemed so incredibly sad. Maybe I should have been more tactful in spurning his love. “Of course I’m asleep. It’s the only way any of this makes sense.”

“You’re not sleeping, Becky.” His voice was more solid. Even so, he paused. “You really don’t know who I am? That wasn’t you just trying to be funny in a completely not funny way?”

“No,” I whispered. I had to be sleeping. My throbbing hand said differently.

“It’s me,” his whole posture pleaded for me to remember, “Bennett.”

I tried. I honestly did try to remember. I wanted to. But there was nothing there but the fog. “What’s going on?”

Bennett slumped against the bars. “I wish I knew. I haven’t know what’s going on since you walked into my life a few weeks ago.”

“Walked into your life?” Under my despair and confusion, I was honestly curious. “Where did I walk into it from?”

He laughed soundlessly, shaking his head. “I’d tell you if I could, really. But you never told me, despite how many times I asked.” He paused again. “Do you really not remember anything?”

I huffed. “Am I supposed to?” Even I knew my question was stupid.

“What did he do to you?”

I shrugged, resigned. “I don’t know. After he made the announcement and I yelled in his face—”

“Wait. Stop.” I could hear the smile in his voice, even if I couldn’t see it. “You yelled in his face? I bet that didn’t go over well.”

I smiled too. “It didn’t. He got pretty upset.”

I kind of liked lover boy, Bennett. We shared the same sense of humor.

“Anyway,” I continued, “After I yelled at him, he dragged me out of the room to find this physician guy. Apparently, I’ve built up an immunity to the drug they’ve been giving me. I told Mr. Angry I wasn’t going to take his stupid drug. That’s when he threw me down here, so I would beg him for it or some other nonsense.”

Bennett was silent.

“Oy, Mystery Lover Boy,” I smiled to myself at the unintentional rhyme, “what are you thinking about over there?”

“I’m thinking, a whole lot of things just started to make sense.”

“What do you mean?” Maybe he could spread his sense to me.

“You might not remember everything, but I do. There have been quite a few things you’ve done over the last little while that haven’t made sense.”

Why wouldn’t he just come out and tell me? He was playing with me! Maybe we were too much alike. Oh, I would definitely play with him. I took slow steps toward him. “Like what?” I asked smoothly.

“Like how you called him your one true love. I can’t see you saying something that corny to anyone and really meaning it.”

I silently agreed with him on that point. I would have done it vocally but it would have messed with my game.

I crouched down in front of him. “Silly Bennett,” I whispered our faces only inches apart. He was frozen. “You should know that you will forever be my one true love.” I turned his face in my hands and pressed my lips gently to his check, letting them linger for a moment before releasing him and sitting back on my heals

He was absolutely silent and I had to fight to keep from bursting into laughter. After a several long seconds, he found his voice, but it sounded more confident than I’d been anticipating “You’re mean. I forgot that you like to play dirty.”

His hand snaked out and grabbed mine, catching me by surprise. He pulled me back to the bars. His strong hands cupped my face. This time, it was me who was to shocked to move as he brought his lips to mine. After a few seconds of my head swimming, he pulled back, our foreheads still resting together and teasing me.

His voice was like silk gently brushing my skin. “But you have also forgotten that I know how to play dirty too.”

He released me and moved to sit with his back against the stone wall next to our adjoining bars. After a few seconds, I sat down next to him on my section of the stone wall, less than a foot between us. His fingers slipped through the bars and intertwined firmly with my own. I didn’t pull away.

Crazy dream or not, but I think I was falling in love. In a dungeon. With a boy whose face I couldn’t even clearly see. I had no idea it was that easy. What if he was ugly? I hoped he was ugly, then it would make it easier to wake up. But, for now, I didn’t want the dream to end quite yet.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

(Untitled Story) Post 1

Another new story. This idea came to me last night. And it really is nothing more than an idea. If I could figure out the plot, it might turn into something more. But right now there is NO plot. Just idea. Tell me what you think :]




“You are the most foolish of all the foolish boys! You know that, right?”

I could see a small sliver of his hair from I grate I was using to look down into the cell. At the sound of my voice, he tilted his head until I could see his face. He smiled at me and pushed himself to his feet, turning to face me full on through the grate. His dark green eyes gleamed out mischievously at me, even in the dark night. “Course I know. But I also know that I can afford to do ‘foolish’ things now and then ’cause I know you and the boys can always spring me.” He attempted to look past me into the darkness beyond.

“You can stop looking. You’re not going to find them. Will and Allan are providing distraction for the guards and John’s playing lookout for me round the corner.” His eyes still held that mischievous gleam. I reached my hand through the grate and flicked his forehead.

He pulled back involuntarily, the gleam in his wicked eyes fading a bit.

“And,” I continued, drawing the word out, “just because we always can spring you, doesn’t mean we always will. You need to start being more careful before we decide you’re a lost cause. We do have better things to be doing with our time. Promise you’ll start being more careful.”

He took a step back and gave an exaggerated bow. “As you wish, my lady.”

I glared at him. “Promise! I want you to say it so you can’t back down later saying you never promised.”

He stood up straight, and pressed his face against the grill again. “And if I don’t.”

The sound that came out of my mouth was something like a snarl. “Then good luck getting yourself out!” I pushed myself up off the ground and started walked away, my arms crossed tightly over my chest.

“Mari, wait!” his voice had taken on that serious tone, and I knew he was done fooling around. “Come back, please. I promise I’ll be more careful in the future, but you’ve got to get me out of here!”

I crouched down by the grate and pulled out my dagger, pointing it at him. “I’m going to hold you to that.” I moved my dagger to the brick next to the grate. In a smooth move, I cut away the thin layer of putty surrounding the brick, revealing what only few people knew. The brick wasn’t attached to the wall. It hadn’t been for some time now. Not since we started making our enhancements to the prison a year ago in case anyone of us was foolish enough to get tossed in here.

I handed him the dagger through the grate so he could free the brick on his side as well. Pulling a smaller knife from my boot, I began digging out the wedges we’d installed by the iron bars of the grate. I sheathed my knife and retrieved my dagger. As I was doing this, he worked the grate until it fell free from its place. With its absence, we were able to push the brick from its resting place. The brick may have been free of any constraints, but it was still heavy. Soon, it was gone, and the hole left by it and the grate was big enough to climb in through. Or out.

I gave him my hand for leverage as he began to slowly work his way out. The physical exertions took their toll and we were both sat panting on the ground for a moment before erasing the signs of our presence. With a final touch, I reached through the restored grate and smeared clay from my jar along the edges of the brick. Though, I said smear, I wasn’t sloppy about it. It had to look the mortar on the other bricks or it’d all be ruined.

When I was finished, I turned to my companion and saw him donning the presents I’d brought for him. I waited until he’d slung the bow over his shoulder and pulled his standard hood over his head, hiding his features in shadow.

Then, we took off on silent feet, collecting our friends as we went until we were safely beyond the reaches of the prison.

 

>>>--------------------------->

 

The two figures hiding in the shadows of the prison courtyard waited until the girl and boy were safely out of hearing before they spoke.

Predictably, it was the doctor who spoke first. “What do you think, Sherlock? Will you take the case?”

Sherlock smiled at his companion. “My dear Watson, there is no case to be taken. We just witnessed exactly how this boy keeps getting out. Therefore, we’ve solved the security breach.” He looked carefully at the place where the two figures had vanished. “However, in the interest of interest, I think it’s time we took a closer look at this young, Robin Hood.”

Watson look at Sherlock, started for a moment. “But Sherlock, Robin is a ghost.” Then he paused as the pieces fell into place. “Wait, are you suggesting that that boy is Robin Hood? He’s nothing but a lad?!”

Sherlock smiled at his friend. “That is exactly what I’m suggesting. He may be a lad and a ghost, but he leaves some pretty heavy footprints. It’s about time we followed them to see where they lead.”



 >>>--------------------------->

Robin was first through the window. He turned and extended his hand, helping me over the ledge. We stood in his room silently for a moment, letting our breath catch up to us. He was smiling at me, the thrill of the night rushing through his veins. I glared at him and turned to the door to leave. He snagged my arm before I could make my escape.

“Come on, Mari. Don’t be like that.”

“Robin,” I hissed, exasperated, “how do you expect me to be?!  My father would skin you alive if he knew all the crazy stupid schemes you got me tangled up in. You’d be out of this house so quick your ancestors would feel it.”

His smile was gone. He squeezed my arm a little tighter and pulled me close to his face. “Don’t stand there and act like everything we do is on my shoulders. You come up with just as many ‘schemes’ as I do, so don’t stand there and act like I’m a horrible person. You love the life just as much as me.”

I couldn’t respond to him. His words rang true in my ears and I couldn’t deny it. But I also wasn’t ready to stop being angry at him for letting himself be caught. Again. And he could see that. He knew too well how to read me.

He released his hold on my arm and sat down heavily on his bed. “I’m sorry, Marian. I know sometimes I do stupid things. But you have my promise that I’ll try to be more careful. I don’t know what else you want me to do.”

He looked tired and weary, the night’s adrenaline leaking out of him. I could see that he meant what he was saying in the downward curve of his shoulders and his lowered head. I walked to the door, opening it soundlessly. “Get some sleep, Robin,” I said, not unkindly.

I climbed into the sheets of my own bed in the room down the hall from his. Though I was weary, it was still a long time before my eyes decided to stay shut.

(Other Side of the Mirror) Chapter 1

I know I said I wasn't going to put any more of this story up on this blog, but I realized that the prologue and first two chapters are all so completely different from each other that I need to post them each to give people a little hint at what my story is even about. Since that hint doesn't show up until chapter two, I need to give you chapter one as well. Though, thinking about it, people could not read chapter one and still understand the scope of my story just fine. It is really more like a second prologue only slightly more unnecessary than my other prologue. But my second attempt at finding a good starting point for my story resulted in this and I really like it so you get it. (My first attempt was truly very awful. I wrote something like two pages and I hated nearly every word of it. It just was not working so I've been trying to find a different place to start my story, one that, you know, actually worked. As soon as this little starting point jumped into my head, I loved it. I had to change some of the details to accommodate but as I was changing them, I kept thinking "Why did I ever think this was a needed detail anyway? This works just as well.") It's a short chapter, but I really couldn't start in on her "moment that changed everything" like I planned on. The tone is so completely different from the rest of the story that I decided it needs to stand alone. And as the writer, that's my creative license.

Anyway, enough excuses, explanations, and begging you to read the chapter on my part. Without further ado . . .






Chapter 1
 

You know that point in your life when everything changed. Maybe you don’t. It’s possible you don’t have one of those points. I, on the other hand, do. That point will forever be in my mind like a lighthouse on the harbor shore. The brightness of it starting to fade when, BOOM! The light in the lighthouse has made another revolution, searing my eyes with its bright burning, leaving ghost lights of the memory hovering in my eyes everywhere I look. My only solution is to turn away from the lighthouse completely, turn my back on my past memories that only hurt.

I don’t want that hurt.

But I also don’t want to let go.

Letting go would mean losing my mom forever, instantaneously, instead dragging out the pain by losing her in little bits day by day.

Let me take you to that moment. That one moment that changed everything. It was actually a series of moments taking place much, much too slowly over the period of about ten seconds. But one of those moments sticks out in my mind clearer than all the others . . .

Oh wait! Maybe I should make some dramatic statements before fading away to the moment and the impact it had on everything in my life afterward. Rover does say that I can sometimes have a flare for the dramatics, but I don’t see any harm in it. Let’s see, what to say. Okay how ‘bout this:

Hi. My name is Sam. Short for Samantha if you weren’t quite able to pick up on the fact that I’m a girl. But I go by Sam, and nobody had better try to call me Samantha if they know what’s good for them. I had a good life, though, I guess my life now couldn’t be considered as bad, or actually, it probably could. But you’ll find out that for yourself later. Anyway, I had a good life. Right up until this moment. Everything changed in that one moment. Some things were definitely worse after. Other things . . . well I still haven’t decided if he is better or not, looking at the situation he got me into. Though, he argues that it was my choices that got me here which, is arguably true. But that doesn’t matter. It’ll matter later, but not now. That one moment is what matters now. Because, that moment is the moment my mom died and this whole mess got started . . .

(Camera, zoom out from me. Everything fade into blackness. And . . . cue the car.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

(Other Side of the Mirror) Prologue

This is the only chapter of this story I'm posting on this blog. The rest will be on my private blog Falling Through Time. If you wish to read more but haven't been invited to view my other blog, leave your email address in the comment section. I moderate all comments and won't let anybody else see your email.

This idea has been hovering around the edge of my consciousness for months and in the last week it has finally started taking form. Hope you enjoy.



Prologue

“Hurry up, Rover! They’re gaining on us!”

Six-year old Rover stumbled along after his brother. They’d been on the run for as long as he could remember. Rover’s lungs burned in his chest. The heat seemed to spread out from there filling his limbs. He felt so hot, he had to be was steaming. This wasn’t from running, though. Rover knew he wouldn’t be able to contain himself for much longer.

Rover hurried up the street. His brother jumped behind a building, and watched the street past Rover. He was looking for signs of Them.

Rover ran past his brother into the alleyway. An alley? There was no way out except the way they’d come. Rover couldn’t be sure why his brother chose this place to run to. His brother continued to watch down the street, waiting for something. The walls on either side stretched up so Rover had to crank his neck to see dark sky. It was darker than it had been the day before. The walls themselves were blackened as if by fire had scorched their surfaces. It probably had, Rover decided. The town they’d been running through was abandoned and as near as could be to destroyed while still standing. Buildings still remained everywhere, but there were husks, gutted out first by fires then by looters. They were in one of the first places to be ravaged by Them.

It had been risky coming here. They were always more safe in the sanctuaries. Never completely safe, but more safe then when they were out of them. But Talon had heard rumors that what they were looking for was in the ruins of Chicago. So here they were, gambling and, from the looks of it, losing.

Talon was eight years older than Rover. He’d been taking care of Rover his whole life. Rover had never learned what happened to their parents, and Talon refused to talk about it. Talon always seemed to know what to do, where they should go. The street adjoining the alley was littered with rusting cars. Someone trying to drive anything would find themselves out of luck. That is what Talon had been counting on. If They wanted to follow the brothers, they’d have to do so on foot.

The heat was becoming too intense for Rover to handle. He pressed himself against the wall for support as he tried to control himself. “Talon!” he called through gritted teeth.

His brother, Talon, glanced over at him. “I’m sorry Rover. You just need to hold it in a little longer.” His eyes held an emotion that was hard for Rover to read, especially in his current state. Rover closed his eyes and worked no controlling his breathing. He counted slowly in his head like Talon had taught him. The burning was still there, but it wasn’t in control of him anymore.

Talon broke through his meditation. He turned to face his little brother. “They’re here Rover. When I say now, you need to pull that same trick we did in Houston. Got it?”

Rover suddenly understood what they were doing in the alley. “But that was an accident. I don’t know if I can do that on purpose.” He was desperately afraid he’d let his brother down. Then They would capture them and it would all be over.

Talon left his position at the corner and knelt down in front of Rover, putting his hands on his shoulders. He looked his brother directly in the eye, and spoke with no hesitation. “You can do it, Rov. I know you can. You have a lot more control than you did back in Houston. You can do this, you have to believe that.”

Rover took a deep breath, feeling the heat respond inside of him. He nodded his confirmation to Talon, knowing that speaking would betray him.

Talon released him and resumed his position at the corner. Rover imagined for a moment that Talon had released him because the heat that he was overwhelmed with too strong of his brother too stand. But that wasn’t that case. The only person that could feel the heat was Rover.

Taking more calming breaths to control the heat, Rover half-turned to face the back wall of the alley. He pictured what he needed to do in his head. He saw himself repeating the action over and over. A sense of calm surrounded him. For the first time, Rover realized, he could do it. When Talon ran toward him, telling him it was time, Rover was ready.

He stretched his hands out to the back wall. The heat in his body gathered into his hand and shot to the bricks. With a breath, he clenched his outstretched fingers. Thousands of bricks pulled free of each other. Rover would have enjoyed watching that part in slow motion if he hadn’t been concentrating: millions of cracks spreading practically instantly across the entire surface of the wall, each brick pulling and breaking free of its neighbors . . . all of it happening silently. The silence is what always amazed Rover the most.

In another breath, Rover turned to the open end of the alley, throwing his hands over his head toward the entrance like he’d watched kids do with soccer balls at the sanctuary in Los Angeles. With his hands, the bricks flew as one to the other end of the alley just as They first started making an appearance. The brick swirled harmlessly around the two brothers. The same couldn’t be said for Them. The bricks were littered in a massive pile from the entrance of the alley to the other side of the street. Those crushed under the weight hadn’t even had time to realize their dire situation until it was too late.

Rover collapsed forward onto his hands and knees with the sudden release of so much power. The heat had completely disappeared from his body, but it had taken all Rover’s energy with it.

Talon pulled him too his feet. “I’m sorry Rover, but we have to keep moving. More will be coming.” He maneuvered Rover so he was riding on his back. He ran toward the wall-less  building at the back of the alley.

Rover was too tired to notice the route they were taking, but sense that Talon was looking for an exit.

Something pulled at Rover’s consciousness. “Talon,” he whispered into his brother’s ear, “it’s here.”

Talon stopped cold. “Are you sure?”

Rover nodded against his brother’s shoulder.

“Where?”

“Upstairs, third floor, it’s the second door on the left.” Rover was certain how he knew, but he did.

Talon found the stair and started climbing. Rover could feel his strength returning slowly. Another flight of stairs, Rover felt the beginning of the flames curling slowly in his stomach. It would take days for it to come back as strong as it had been before. It used to take longer than that. Talon said it was because Rover was getting stronger. Rover didn’t know how he felt about that. Would the day come when he had to release the heat constantly to avoid being overwhelmed? Rover hoped not. He didn’t know how he could survive that way if it always left him feeling this exhausted. He would have no time for recovery. Rover had never shared this fear with Talon. His big brother had better things to spend his time worrying about.

He noticed Talon was panting when they reached the third floor. With some of his energy returning, Rover decided he could make it the rest of the way without being carried. Sometimes it was easy to forget Talon was only fourteen.

The second door on the left opened up into a room that was all but empty. The only thing that remained was a charred, floor-length mirror leaning up against one of the walls. Rover felt a blast of heat coming from the mirror, reaching out to him. Rover glanced over at Talon, but he seemed unaffected but heat. He was staring at the mirror, his mouth hanging slightly ajar. Hope and joy misted over his eyes. Talon leaned against the door frame for support. “We found it,” he whispered. “We actually found it!”

Rover walked over and stood in front of the mirror. He knew, in theory, what he would see, but looking in the mirror and not seeing himself looking back was eerie. In the mirror he saw a room that was similar to the one he was in. There were however a few exceptions, the lack of himself being one of them. The room that looked back at him, appeared slightly smaller than the one they were standing in. The walls were splattered with graffiti he couldn’t begin to hope to read. There was a broken table tilting awkwardly against the wall and the remains of a chair scattered on the floor next to it. Rover couldn’t help but wonder what story this room carried with it.

He turned back to his brother, and was surprised by the look of sadness painted across Talon’s face. What had happened to the joy and hope? Rover grabbed his brother’s hand and tried to pull him toward the mirror. “We should go, Talon. Like you said, before They show up and destroy the mirror.” Rover felt awkward. He wasn’t used to telling his brother what they should do.

Talon stopped a few feet from the mirror, not moving any farther. He smiled sadly down at Rover. “I’m not going, Rov. Only you are.”

Rover was confused and hurt. “You can’t stay here! What about Them?!”

“That’s why I have to stay. You don’t need me anymore. You have enough control of your powers to take care of yourself. I need to stay here so I can keep an eye on them, until it’s time for you to come back.” This plan sounded sound.

Rover understood why. “You’ve been planning this all along, haven’t you? I’m not strong enough to do this without you.”

Talon hugged his little brother. “Yes you are. You are more strong than I think anyone imagined. In a few years from now, nobody will be able to stand in your way.”

Tears trickled down Rover’s cheeks as he hugged Talon. “I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too.” Talon’s voice came out raspy. He cleared his throat and stepped away, wiping at his eyes. “But I have an idea so we’ll still be able to talk whenever we want.”

“How?” Rover felt some of his own hope returning.

“We need to destroy both of the mirrors so They can’t use them. But first you need to use your power to cut out two perfect pieces. If they are exactly the same, they’ll stay linked even if we move from this spot. We’ll still be able to communicate.” Talon could tell Rover was still upset. Talon was sad too, but this was how it had to be. He gave Rover a small push toward the mirror. “Be brave, little brother.”

Rover looked back at him. “You too, big brother.”

He stepped through the mirror.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

(Dreams) Chapter 7

It was late evening when my parents finally decided to come home. But I wasn’t alone when they did. I heard voices outside on my balcony as the gravel crunched under the tires of my parents car.

My balcony door swung open. I could see two silhouettes against the dying sunlight. I didn’t have the energy to do anything but watch, measuring their progress against that of my parents.

They hesitated. The same glaring light that prevented me from making out their features prevented them from seeing me.

“Is she here?” The taller one asked. His voice sounded young, probably my age. The voice that responded jarred me. “I think she just arrived with her parents.”

I’d heard that voice before. I knew it. It belonged to the dark-haired boy.

He continued. “Find somewhere to hide so we can be here when she comes in.”

The first voice responded. “What’ll we do then?”

The dark-haired boy didn’t respond.

There was a shuffling of feet as they entered.

I closed my eyes wishing I could disappear.

The first boy’s voice sounded above me and I couldn’t help but open my eyes and look at the intruders face. “Kiewit! She’s not with her parent! She’s here!”

Even in the fading light I could see that the first boy’s hair was cut short and dirty blond in color. I couldn’t pick out the color of his eyes. Brown? His face was deeply suntanned and a shark tooth hung from a beaded chocker necklace at his throat.

The boy was pushed aside, replaced, by the dark-haired boy who had inhabited my thoughts for the past few days. Seeing his face now was different than I’d ever imagined it would be. Every plane and angle was etched in anger. Looking into his blue green eyes, I was startled to realize that I had put it there.

I was too weary to look away.

“Don’t get too close,” the dark-haired boy said. “Last time I was here, she flipped me.”

Last time?

It felt like he was reading my soul. He examined each fragile part thoroughly before moving to the next. As he searched me, I watched confusion take the angers place. It was followed closely by suspicion. Somehow, I knew this last emotion wasn’t directed at me.

“She was here,” he whispered to the other boy.

The blond boy stepped forward until he was again in my frame of vision. “She who?”

The dark-haired boy turned on him. “Who do you think?!”

The blond boy paled. “Anna? How’d she find out about her?” He looked back at me in fear. “Has she been blocked?!”

In answer, the dark-haired boy placed his hands on my temples.

I saw a flash and standing before me was a girl, white in every way except the twin black holes that rested where her eyes should have been.

I gasped, the image dissipating. Finding some hidden pocket of energy inside myself, My hand leapt, grasping onto the boy’s wrist as he held my head between his hands.

“Ashton,” I whispered, the name slipping from my lips like the tears from my eyes. I knew immediately that the name belonged to the dark-haired boy. “Help,” I begged, my eyes doing the pleading my voice couldn’t.

Ashton nodded solemnly, resolve filling him. He closed his eyes, concentrating.

Immediately, a heavy blanket lifted from my mind. Slowly more layers were removed, leaving my mind lighter than it had been in days.

“Cadence,” my mom called as she walked up the stairs to my room.

“We have to go now, Kiewit!” The blond boy hissed.

Ashton looked like he was expending great amounts of energy. “I can’t stop! I won’t have enough energy to start over later.”

So he was using energy. I felt great. Fantastic, even.

“Now, Kiewit!”

Why did the blond boy keep calling him Kiewit?

“The wall won’t last a few more hours, Kaman!”

“Cadence, baby, are you feeling better?”

Ashton’s hands disappeared as the blond boy, Kaman, used his superior size to drag him to the balcony. All of the heavy blankets crashed back to my mind, suffocation it. The tears that had been silent before exploded from me, leaving behind a shriveled, shaking mess.

Ashton fought to get back to me to no avail. The handle of my door started twisting and both boys froze. As it inched open, my mom trying to be respectful of my privacy, the boys scrambled out to the balcony and closed the door silently behind them.

My mom poked her head in. “Cadence! What’s wrong?!” My dad was on her heals as they ran to my bedside.

I couldn’t answer her question, and even if I could, I wouldn’t have a logical response to give her.

* * * * *

“What are they saying?”

Ashton waved him aside trying to listen. He couldn’t make  out much of what they were saying. Cold washed over him. “I think they’re planning to take her to the hospital.”

He got as low to the ground as he could and peered into the room through the glass on the door. The girl’s dad lifted her from the bed and carried her out the door.

Ashton ducked away from his own door. He nudged Kaman. “Come on.”

They climbed over the balcony railing and lowered themselves until they were only a few feet from the ground before dropping. They scrambled around the side of the house, looking around the corner to the driveway.

“This is not good,” Ashton muttered as the father laid Cadence down in the backseat of their car.

“What’s not good about it, aside from the obvious wall shattering business?”

Ashton wanted to yell at his friend. How could he not get the blindingly obvious?! He watched the car pull away, taking Cadence away from him. His anger at Kaman was quelled by his worry for Cadence. He looked at his friend, despair seeping from his eyes. “At the hospital they’ll give her something to slow down her body and put her to sleep.”

“Isn’t that a good thing? If she sleeps then all is well.”

Ashton shook his head. “Kaman, she can’t sleep, not until I can remove the block. Her body is already running a lot slower than it should be. If they give her something to slow it down more, her heart will stop. She’ll die.”

Kaman looked like a lost puppy. “What are we going to do?”

Ashton bowed his head, asking himself the same question. “I need to get more energy.” He looked at his friend. “If I could get enough, quick enough, I could project myself to her before the doctor’s had a chance to do anything. Where’s the nearest hospital?”

Kaman pulled out his iPhone. His face glowed in its light. “Google says . . . just over twenty minutes.”

Ashton clenched his fists. “We have to hurry. If they make it to the hospital it’ll be too late!” A disparate idea began to form in his head. He’d never tried it before and it might just kill him, but he was out of options. If she died, it wouldn’t matter if he was alive or not. “Come on.”

They went back around the house and climbed back into Cadence’s room.

He looked at Kaman. “We need to find something sharp. Something we can use to cut.” Kaman, being Kaman, nodded and ran out of the room to search.

Ashton went into the bathroom adjoining Cadence’s room. He almost started looking rummaging through the doors and cabinets before he realized that there were probably things in there he didn’t want to see and Cadence wouldn’t want him to see. He braced, telling himself that there was no other way.

Kaman’s voice floated up to him. “I found some scissors!”

Ashton sagged against the counter in relief. “Perfect, bring them back to her room!” he called back as he left the bathroom.

After Kaman hurried through the door, Ashton took the scissors from him. He saw the lamp (wasn’t that the lamp he broke?) in the corner, and ran over to it. He yanked the power cord from the wall. Using the scissors, he cut the cord and frayed back the edge, exposing the wires.

“What are you doing?” A kind of horror had entered Kaman’s voice as he started to understand what Ashton was thinking.

Ashton handed the cord to Kaman so he wasn’t touching the exposed wires. Then, he plugged in back into the wall. A few sparks spouted from the wire’s end. He positioned himself in front of the sparks. “Don’t let me die, Kaman.”

Kaman was too shocked to do anything to stop him.

Ashton reached out his hand and touched it to the sparking wire.

Electricity surged through him making every muscle in his body clench.

Kaman dropped the cord and yanked it from the wall.

Ashton started sinking into the floor as a dark sleep claimed him.

Kaman stopped him from falling on his face but there was nothing else he could do.

* * * * *

When Ashton opened his eyes again, his dying haven greeted him through an energy field so thick he could see it. The field hugged his body. He couldn’t stop himself from smiling. His plan had worked, and he wasn’t dead.

He closed his eyes away from the scene of destruction and concentrated on the girl.

* * * * *

Now my eyes hurt from crying as well as sleep deprivation. I had a blinding headache that made me want to sleep more than ever. I was having trouble focusing on any one thought aside from sleep. Cruel fate had torn relief away. More and more the boy seemed like a dream. What was his name again? I couldn’t remember. What did it matter anyway? He was just some hallucination my troubled mind had created.

It was dark outside. When had that happened? Had the sun set? I loved sunsets and was sad I missed it.

My mom was talking to me. I only knew that because I could see her lips moving. If she wanted me to hear her, why didn’t she make any sound?

The way my arm was pressed against the seat made it so I could feel my heartbeat. I was quiet, soft, and slow. It was tired and struggling like me. Suddenly, my heart paused, as if taking a breath. I gasped. It felt like someone had punched me in the chest. I couldn’t breathe. My heart continued on as if nothing had happened. I don’t think I’d realized before like I had right at that moment. My heart was failing.

I closed my eyes against it all. I just wanted to sleep. Apparently that was too much to ask.

Something jostled me and I opened my eyes. My hallucination boy was sitting on the seat next to my head. He was smiling like he’d just accomplished something great. Forgive me for not sharing his enthusiasm.

My eyes flicked over to my mom. She was smiling kindly at me, not noticing the boy at all, proving to me that he was a hallucination.

The boy placed his cool hands on either side of my face like he had before. I could almost feel a faint buzz of energy under his skin. He took a deep breath.

Slowly, like before, the blankets began lifting away from my mind. I would’ve cried at the relief if I had any tears left. Layer after layer peeled away from my mind leaving me feeling light and free.

The boy leaned down and whispered in my ear. “Concentrate on me.”

I looked at him confused. I didn’t know why he’d want me to do that, but he was releasing me from my own personal torture. I would do as he asked.

I closed my eyes, concentrating on the feel of his hands against my skin. The last layer of blankets lifted away. I was asleep instantly.

(Dreams) Chapter 6

I rolled off my bed, attempting, and failing, to get my feet under me. I didn’t move from my crumbled position on the floor. Hot tears seeped from closed eyes. As I waited for my come discover me, I fearfully contemplated what was wrong with me. My heart beat in tired sympathy. It scared me.

* * * * *

The boy sat by himself. Kaman and Lele were talking softly in the distance, casting anxious glances at him.

Kaman hadn’t been able to do anything aside from leaving an urgent warning with the boy’s parents. It was suspicious enough as it was without the Californian having an extended phone conversation surrounded in lies with the Brits. Now they were waiting. The boy buzzed with energy. He needed that energy to visit the girl. Or . . . he could use that energy to visit himself. Every passing minute, that second option looked more and more appealing.

He glanced over at Kaman and Lele. They weren’t watching him for the moment. He took a deep breath and let the energy swirl around him. He closed his eyes, thinking of his dark bedroom.
When he opened his eyes, he was sitting on the floor in the corner of his room It wasn’t dark anymore.

The light in his room flared brightly. His mam was sitting on the corner of the bed, cradling his head. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she rocked him back and forth. His dad pounded on his chest, yelling into the phone at his ear. The boy had to force himself not to cringe as his dad touched him, trying to wake him.

The boy felt the edges of himself fading. This was different than the usual fade, where the edges of everything else blurred. He was blurring.

He was dying.

The thought slammed into him with the force of a battering ram. He’d been too anxious, like always, and now he’d let everybody down. Now everybody would suffer.

His edges blurred a little more.

Medics burst through the door in slow motion. To the boy, it felt like they meandered over to his bed. His father slowly stepped out of one medic’s path. The medic searched his pocket and pulled out a syringe with a long needle.

The boy’s eyes drooped. He didn’t have the energy to keep watching.

What happened next, happened quickly. It felt like someone grabbed him by the shoulders and dragged him across the room to his prone body. He was thrust into himself.

He opened his eyes with gasp, trying to sit up. Hands from different directions pushed him back down to the bed. He closed his eyes so he wouldn’t have to look at his mam. The medics prepped him to go to the hospital to flush any remaining depressants out of his system.

He would live.

He angrily thought about the girl. If she’d just listened to him, none of this would have happened. Now he’d have to find a new way to reach her since he’d used all his energy.

* * * * *

My mom pushed the hair out of my eyes and felt my forehead as I rested in bed.

“Your temperature still feels normal, baby. You don’t feel sick at all?” She stood looking anxiously down at me. Dad waited nervously in the doorway. Both were dressed to go to church wearing only the finest.

“No,” I whispered. “Not sick. Just tired.”

My parents exchanged a worried glance.

I closed my eyes so they wouldn’t see how scared I was.

“Just go,” I mumbled, snuggling deeper into my blankets. “I’ll still be here when you come back.”

I felt my mom’s hand on my cheek. “Are you sure?”

I nodded.

“We’ll have our phones if you need anything.” I listened to her soft patter of feet across the carpet followed by the gentle click of a closing door.

I moved my hand to my neck. My heart beat weakly in response.

* * * * *

“We’ve flushed all of the remaining depressants out of your system, but we are going to keep you overnight for observation. You are very lucky, you know.”

The boy stared fixedly at the ceiling, refusing to make eye contact with the doctor. After watching him for a second, the doctor sighed and left the room. He was alone in the hospital room with his parents.

His dad started speaking, a note of lecture in his voice, “Ashton—”

“Don’t call me that!” The boy interrupted. He turned angrily to his mam. “Did you bring my laptop like I asked?”

She nodded sadly and picked up the backpack from the floor, handing it to him.

His dad went to say something more, but his mom gently shook her head and pulled him from the room so the boy was by himself.

He opened his laptop, waiting for it to connect to a Wi-Fi network. He pulled his cell phone out of the side pocket of his backpack and dialed Kaman. He would be awake by now.

He answered on the first ring. “Kiewit! Ah man! Dude, you just disappeared! Is everything—?”

The boy cut him off. “I’m fine. How quickly can you get to Wisconsin?”

“Wisconsin? The girl?”

“Yeah.” The boy opened up the website for British Airways. “I might need some help.”

“I dunno. I’d have to check the flights. You?”

“I’m heading to the airport as soon as I can get out of this hospital.” The boy selected and confirmed a flight. He had two hours to get to the airport.

“You’re in the hospital? Are you getting out legally?”

“No. I’ll see you in Wisconsin.”

“See ya, bro.”

The boy closed his laptop and climbed out of the bed. Now he just needed to find his clothes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

(Dreams) Chapter 5

Hours passed. My eyes remained stubbornly open. Finally, I hissed in frustration and sat up. My head started spinning. I hoped I would pass out, but no such luck. I pulled my blanket around my shoulders and stood. I weaved my way through my messy room. Clutter was part of my life. I know most people can’t focus unless everything around them is perfect, nothing to distract them. The truth for me is I can’t focus on anything unless I want to. If I want to focus on something, I have no problem devoting all my attention to whatever. If I get distracted, it’s because I want to get distracted. When I work on something that bores me, I enjoy those moments of distraction.
I padded across my room to my balcony. As I passed my lamp, I couldn’t help but take pause. Something was wrong with it. I scrutinized it thoroughly, even turning it on and off. Absolutely nothing was wrong. A chill washed over my skin. I shivered and turned away.

My eyes fell on one of the few places on my floor that wasn’t littered with my clutter. I creased my eyebrows. What was I supposed to be looking at? In a flash, a vision jumped across my eyes. The boy, lying on that spot of floor, a soft groan escaping his throat. His eyes snapping open. Blue green staring directly into my soul. The vision dissipated.

I gasped and stumbled backwards. I bumped into my lamp, sending it crashing to the ground. I turned around in shock. Suddenly, it was right. Where before the lamp had seemed so wrong, now it was perfect. My breath came out in short gasps. What was happening to me?

I considered going out onto my balcony, but that didn’t feel right either. Something had happened in my room. I didn’t know what, but I couldn’t stay there any longer. My heart raced sporadically. Run, it screamed at me. I did.

I ran across my room. In the half-light, and blinded by fear, I couldn’t maneuver around my obstacles as usual. I tripped over something, I think my backpack. I couldn’t get up from the floor. I was paralyzed to do anything but sob uncontrollably.

I’m not sure how long I was in that position. My phone rang. I jerked in shock. The vibrating caused it to fall from where it was sitting on my bed. I snatched it up from the ground and pressed it to my ear.

“Hello?” My voice was strained

“Cade? What’s wrong? Did something happen?” It was Jason.

“No, I’m fine.” I swallowed back the rest of my tears. I covered the speaker and took steadying breaths. Even I could hear the lie in my voice.

“Why are you lying to me?”

I cleared my voice. “I’m not.” I leaned back against my bed. “Really, I’m fine.”

“Cadence, what happened?”

“Nothing happened,” I reassured him. “I just had a little nightmare.” More like a day-mare. I tried to shake off my earlier fear.

“You don’t sound good. I’m coming over.” End call.

“Ooookkaaaayyy, bye then.” My phone dropped silently from my hand.

Looking around my dark room again, I felt the same fear run over me. I stood and floated to the door like a wrath. I closed the door softly behind me. If I had my way I wouldn’t be going back in there any time soon.

I stumbled down the stairs. My parents weren’t home. The note on the table said they’d gone to make a withdrawal from the bank. They had other errands to do and wouldn’t be back for a while. I rolled my eyes wondering what kind of “errands” they had to attend to. Most likely another charity event they wanted to look good at by making a big cash donation. I wish that charity events could actually be about lifting others, not lifting up yourself. The phrase charity event was almost worse than the phrase sweating like a pig. Just then I thought it would be fun to go wallow in the mud for a bit. Maybe the mucky goodness would soothe me to sleep. I took a black sharpie and gleefully scribbled out my parents’ message. I wrote my own for Jason on the back. I tapped it to the front door so he would know to come on in.

I descended down another flight of stairs and walked by a few doors until I reached the theatre room. I plunked on the couch and stared at the wall of movies, trying to decide which one to watch. Jason was amazing, don’t get me wrong. He was willing to drive almost 18 miles to check up on me. There was only one small problem: I didn’t really want to be checked up on. Why would I? Would you want your new boyfriend coming over to ask what’s wrong when the thing wrong was that you couldn’t stop thinking about another boy with deep blue green eyes and midnight black hair you couldn’t remember meeting and may or may not have been in your room in the middle of the night and broke a lamp that became magically unbroken in the morning who may or may not be responsible for the fact that you hadn’t closed your eyes for more than a few seconds at a time over the last 30, or more, hours? No? Well me neither. I would tell him I was fine, give him a kiss to seal the deal, and snuggle with him on the couch while watching a mind numbing action movie.

My eyes picked out a movie from the rest. I smiled. I stood and retrieved the movie. Inception. It wasn’t super actiony like I planned, but it was good for removing any non-movie related conversation from a room. It was exactly what I wanted.

I sat down on the couch and waited for Jason.

Jason was prefect. We once did this thing in school when we were learning about Hitler where we all stood up. My teacher talked about how Hitler planned to kill everyone who didn’t have blonde hair and blue eyes. All of us who didn’t fit the description we supposed to sit down, having effectively died. Jason was the only one who remained standing. Not that having Hitler endorse his perfection was anything to his benefit. But he was perfect, there was no other word to describe him. His perfect smile, his perfect hair, his perfect grade point average; everything about him was perfect. Jason’s beautiful face hovered in my mind. Against my violation, I giggled. He was so completely different from the other boy it was funny. Jason’s blue eyes vs. the deep blue green eyes of the boy that seemed to pull you in and never let go. Jason was tall whereas the boy was only had me by a few inches. Jason’s blonde white hair as opposed to the boy’s jet black hair that looked as soft as the stars. Its black strands were just short enough that they didn’t fall in his eyes. I imagined myself running my fingers through that hair, and I couldn’t suppress a smile . . .

My smile fell instantly. What was I thinking?!

“Cade?”

I spun at Jason’s voice, my face burning bright red. I was extremely grateful for the dim lighting.

“Oh. Jason. Hi.” I felt my face burn brighter.

He didn’t appear to notice my mortification. It was so clichĂ© romance novel of me to not be able to stop thinking about a boy I’d never met. On cue, Jason’s phone started ringing. His ringtone? I Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Michael Bublè. His phone blared, “I know that we could be so amazing.” 

Really?! The universe was totally against me.

Jason ended the call without looking to see who it was. This little omission helped calm me. It was more important to him to be there with me than to be talking to anybody else. He sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulder. I leaned into him and thought only about him, not about the mysterious wonder boy with the blue green eyes and the jet black hair . . .

I really needed help. But, that’s what Jason was for.

He nudged me. I realized he’d asked me a question.

I took a shot in the dark. “Nothing’s wrong. I was just freaking out over a dream I had.”

“Are you all right now?”

Yes! I’d gotten it right! “I am, now that you’re here.”

I tilted my chin up and gave him a light kiss.

It was obvious from his reaction to the pressure of my lips that he believed every heartfelt lie I’d fed him. I felt a twinge of disappointment. I thought he knew me well enough to see through my straight-forward lies. I guess not.

I pulled away from him and went to turn on the movie.

We hadn’t been very close the last few months, I was sure that in no time he would understand me like he used to.

I took my seat and curled into his side as the opening scene started. His breath tickled my ear. “At least you were able to get some sleep, even if it wasn’t super restful.”

I forced myself not to be irritated. I was the one who’d lied, I couldn’t be mad at him because I was so good at it. I really just wanted to go to sleep.

I couldn’t.

Don’t doubt that I didn’t try. My place at Jason’s side wasn’t a comfortable as I thought it would be. It was almost like we were to puzzle pieces that didn’t quite fit together right. That probably wasn’t the only reason I couldn’t sleep, but it’s what I chose to blame. I did not do well without sleep. People tended to walk the other way when they saw me coming. What can I say? I have a powerful personality.

After the movie he stayed and we talked until he had to leave to help his mom with dinner. We talked about nothing. I don’t think he noticed. To me the conversation felt forced. I was sorry to say that I was happy when it was finally time for him to leave. I needed time to be by myself. I needed to sleep.

My eyes squeezed shut as I tried to restrain the tears. What was wrong with me?

My parents came home as the sun left. I was sitting on the bench swing on the back porch drinking hot chocolate. It started to get cold, but I didn’t have enough energy to go inside and grab a blanket. I clutched my chocolate closer to me and attempted to absorb the heat.

“Honey, what are you doing out here?”

I didn’t turn at the sound of my mother’s voice, but continued to gaze at the stars. They twinkled at me their hello. Sitting out here was like being in my room without the scary flashes of memories that didn’t exist. “Just looking.”

Out of the corner of my eye I saw her shake her head in wonder at me. “Come inside, dear. You don’t want to catch a cold before your birthday.” She extended her hand to help me up.

I took it gratefully. I leaned on her heavily the whole way back into the house, only making it as far as the kitchen table before I had to stop and rest. My mom looked worried.

“Why are you so tired? Haven’t you been sleeping?”

Slowly, I shook my head.

She felt my forehead like any good mother. “You don’t feel hot. Do you have something on your mind?”

I rested my head on the cool table and breathed slowly. “I’m sure I’ll be fine tonight.”

She relaxed at my words. “You should go to bed now. Get as much sleep as possible.

I nodded. She helped me the rest of the way up to my bedroom. I collapsed on my bed and she closed the door softy, blocking out the light from the rest of the house. When she was gone I closed my eyes. They didn’t open for the rest of the night.

* * * * *

Kaman fazed into existence. The boy saw him instantly and stopped his relentless pacing. Both had anxious looks in their eyes.

The boy went to speak, but Kaman interrupted.

“Dude, you need to stop taking that Lunexor immediately. It’s supposed to be super addictive and—”

The boy cut him off. “Kaman!”

The seriousness that Kaman saw in the boy’s eyes stopped him midsentence.

“Something is seriously wrong.”

Kaman’s eyes immediately drifted to the crumbling wall.

The boy hissed. “Not that!” He seemed reluctant to continue, then forced himself forward. “It’s me. I can’t wake up.”

Kaman’s eyes clouded. “What?”

The boy gritted his teeth. “I haven’t woken up since I saw you here yesterday!”

Kaman sat in stunned silence. Then he couldn’t stop talking. “I told you to be careful! You were drinking, weren’t you! Dang it, Ashton! You know we can’t afford to lose you to.”The boy voice was quiet. “What did you call me?”

“Sorry. I meant Niewit.” He didn’t sound very apologetic. “What are we going to do? Did you tell Nayloni?”

The boy shook his head. “I couldn’t. I can’t disappoint her.”

Kaman turned away and took a deep breath, calming himself. He turned back to the boy. “Kiewit, brother, what do you want me to do?”

The boy smiled his gratitude. “Can you call my parents? They’ll take me to the hospital.”

Kaman nodded. “Should I memorize the number or skinprint it? I think we should skinprint, just in case."

The boy stepped forward to Kaman’s outstretched arm. He picked up one of the sharp rocks. He scratched the number into the soft skin.

They smiled at each other weakly. Kaman faded away.

* * * * *

When the early morning light seeped in through my blinds, my eyes cracked open. I hadn’t slept a wink.