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
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
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 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
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?!
I spun at Jason’s voice, my face
burning bright red. I was extremely grateful for the dim lighting.
Hi.” I felt my face burn brighter.
He didn’t appear to notice my
mortification. It was so cliché 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
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
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.
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
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
“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
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.
Monday, May 7, 2012
This is another installment of my series of short stories who's ideas I love, but who's development I'm not ready to undertake.
The harsh lights flared overhead. Cam threw his arm over his eyes to block them out. He wanted to enjoy the peace and solitude of the quiet darkness. He might not have too many more chances. He might not have any.
The pounding of drums echoed loudly in his ears as the guards heavy footfalls fell. Where would they stop this happy morning? He was dying with anticipation.
That last thought made his lip curl up in a snicker. The sameness of the morning routine was used to inspire fear, bored Cam. At least, that’s what Cam told himself every morning.
The guards approached.
Cam’s arm slipped shakily away from his eyes. It was some time before he was strong enough to rise. He would live to wake to the blazing lights of tomorrow. He rebuilt his wall of nonchalance as he listened to the commotion begin down the hall, as he knew it would.
“No!” the young voice screamed as the shriek of iron bars sliding open filled every corner of the room. Cam closed his eyes. They were taking Kaleb.
He rolled off his cot in a smooth motion, the momentum bringing him to his feet. He took the single remain step to the bars. “No!” he screamed, echoing the little boy. He pounded his fists against the cold metal. Cam took back every thought of relief he’d had. He would give anything to have had the guards stop at his cell instead of continuing down the row to his little brother.
As the party passed Cam, he launched the small attack he could from the inside. His arms reached out between the bars and started tearing at the guards. The unexpected attack caused the guards to lose their hold on Kaleb.
The young boy scrambled to his feet and squeezed through the bars into Cam’s cell. The bars weren’t as close together for the older kids as they were for the younger kids. Kaleb’s arms were wrapped securely around his brother’s neck. Cam felt the hot tears on his skin. He held Kaleb tightly in the circle of his arms. The brothers hunkered down in the far corner of the cell, whispering fiercely but incomprehensibly to each other, as the guards were figuring out what had happened. The cell door shrieked open and Cam placed himself protectively in front of his brother. Rough hands grabbed at them.
“No! Stop! You can’t!” Cam yelled. And finally, “Take me!”
As a unit, the guards turned to look at the head guard who stood motionless outside the cell. He shrugged, indicating that it didn’t matter either way.
The guards held Cam tightly as pair split off to return Kaleb to his cell. Cam gave his little brother a weak smile. Kaleb didn’t smile back. Tears were nearly blinding the boy’s vision. Cam noticed that the world was starting to blur around the edges.
“Be strong, Kaleb!” he yelled.
One of the guards drove a fist into his gut. “Quiet!”
Cam went with the guards, not fighting. As they passed the cells, none of the other boys would meet his eyes. Cam didn’t resent them for it. He had been the same way for all the others in their final walk. Such was life on Death Row.
He was to be executed before the firing squad in the courtyard of the prison. It was the same place the prisoners were allowed to have their recreation once a week. The guards shackled Cam to the far wall. Four gunmen stood twenty feet away from him. As one, they raised their guns and aimed.
Shouts arose from the top of the left wall next to the main compound. Whatever it was, it didn’t matter to Cam. He’d purchased a few more days for Kaleb with his life. That is what mattered. His head dropped to his chest. He closed his eyes and waited to die.