A hand reached over, soft, warm, and with a few calluses, over mine. The radiance of warmth radiated from his hand towards mine, taking my mind off all the trouble I— no, we had been going through together. I may not have understood it all, and maybe he still had more to tell me, but I was okay with that. We had time now, time to rebuild our kingdom, metaphorically and physically.
What will our future be like? The question echoes in my head, bouncing off the walls, making my peaceful disposition melt away. No, who was I kidding? This was a front, this wasn’t real, things weren’t fine. And they wouldn’t be; at least for not a long time.
“Nothing is a guarantee for the future,” He said, looking straight at me. His strong gaze made me look into him, made me look deep into his eyes to see if they held the truth.
“We can’t guarantee anything,” I ripped my hand from his, feeling the peaceful moment finally dispersing and felt the negativity creep back into my mind. “This is all a lie. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We can’t go on with this.”
Despite my selfishness of ripping my hand away, he grasped it again and held it close to his chest, making me feel his heartbeat. “This is real,” He said, forcing the words onto me, drilling into my brain, trying to assure me with force. “My heart is still beating. Yours…we’re working on it. We can do this.”
“You words mean nothing,” I spat at him, standing up at the dock. Suddenly, the water wasn’t peaceful anymore, it was full of swirling eddies, turning the water into a dark and ugly seafoam green.
“Do you see this?” I said, turning around and circling, pointing to the water. “This is what I do. This is what will be in store for us for the rest of our lives!” I said, and a sudden spurt in the lake popped from the water and seemingly pierced the sky.
No, we weren’t poets. This moment wasn’t beautiful; it was a cover up. This wasn’t real; none of it was! We were fake, we were hiding from the truth, the truth that was tearing us apart at the seams. How could we last when we couldn’t salvage ourselves from the problems we created? How could we even survive?
“This isn’t you,” He said calmly, refusing to get angry. Even though he stayed calm, I could see that his fists were clenched to his sides, and the veins in his neck were popping out.
“This is me!” I turned around in a full 360 degree circle again. “This is all me! You’ve taken this, and for what? So I can destroy, so I can kill you, so I can destroy everything we’ve ever built!” I yelled, felling as though I was collapsing into myself. The water was getting stronger now, making waves even though it was only a small lake.
“You’re not making this any better!” He yelled, finally letting his temper go. “I know what I did, and I know what you do. Don’t you think I know that? Don’t you think I understand the consequences?”
“This isn’t going to work,” I said flatly. My temper calmed down, and so did the water. The dock was steady now, and we both stood there, staring at each other waiting for the words we never wanted to hear.
“We’re pushing two things together that don’t work,” I said, meaning every word. “You’re right, you shouldn’t have brought me into this. Everything is in ruins.”
“You don’t mean what you say,” He protested, even though there was an already defeated look in his eyes. “Everything has a chance. Every thing deserves a second chance.”
I already turned, my back towards him and the water. I was done, finished. “But not everything deserves a third.” And with that, I was gone, soon fading into the shadows.
I blinked, and the vision was gone just as fast as it happened. I was there, crouching on my front porch, with Dre collapsed into my arms. Hurriedly, I checked for a pulse, and I let out a cry of relief when I felt a small pulse. It was small and rapid, but at least he had one. At least he wasn’t dead. I mean, what would I do if he was dead? How would I live? How could I…
My train of thought was broken off, to my amazement, when Dre began to disengrate into what looked like onyx-colored crystals into the air. Seriously, just a minute ago, a 160 pound dude or so was lying, collapsed in my arms, and the next thing I know, his body was outlined in what looked like small crystals tinkling in the light.
What, is his soul disappearing? I thought to myself glumly, the tears steadily dropping from my eyes. How Disney. I couldn’t help but think. My best friend was gone. There was no more Dre. There was no more…hope. And, I know, people always say the first love is the hardest, but Dre was more than that. We were best friends, each others’ confidants; it was more than just me wanting to jump his bones – although I did think about it for a long time – he was a part of me. Not just some guy I thought was cute.
I sat there on my porch, on my knees, and watched as Dre’s…er, ‘soul crystals’ I guess you could call them, slowly lifted into the air majestically. I was staring at them, watching them go, when I realized they were in the middle of some kind of transformation. Before, it looked like they were in random spots, taking the image of Dre’s body with them, but now, they had formed into an arrow. They were no longer lifting up. Was it a sign?
Okay, I know that if my life was a movie, this would be the point when the people in the movie theatre would curse at me and say, “No shit, Sherlock! Yes it’s a sign, follow it, you dumbass!” Then they would throw down their bucket of popcorn, storm out of the theatre, and ask for a refund.
At least, that’s how it looked in my mind.
It was then I realized that my mom hadn’t come outside, and I had even called her. I know, I was supposed to be following the arrow, but I had to go inside and check. You know, to see WHY MY MOM HADN’T COME TO HELP ME WHEN MY BEST FRIEND WAS DYING. You know, no biggie.
I walked into the kitchen, my hands balled into fists, ready to fight, and I stood in the doorway, slack-jawed with my mouth hanging open. For a second, I just stood there, observing. But the longer I stayed, the longer they didn’t move. At all. Like they were frozen. No one at the table was moving.
Still in shock, I walked over to Mya, who was holding an Aunt Jemima syrup bottle mid-squirt. (Mental Note: Never say the phrase mid-squirt ever again. Brings up bad images.) Marshall was standing halfway up in his chair, pointing an accusing finger at Mom, who looked bored and had her eyebrow raised mid-way in sarcasm. I turned to Brite, and she was just sitting there, waiting for the syrup bottle for her pancakes.
Was it true? Were they really all frozen? And how? I’m not like some super cool wizard or something that can stop time. Because seriously, I would have used that power plenty of earlier times in my life. Like that awkward moment when I went to go hide in the shower because I was playing hide and seek with Marshall but then he came into the bathroom and started peeing, and I had to stay there and watch or else he would have seen me moving behind the shower curtains…
I shook myself mentally and tried to get the image out of my head. We had bigger, more important problems. Ha, Marshall had problems, but they were small. Haha, I was gonna have to write that down and tell Brite. Because small penis jokes are always funny. And when a dude gets kicked in his ‘boy’s playpen’ as Dad likes to say. But actually, the more I thought about, Marshall couldn’t be too small, - at least not anymore – because there had been times when Mom and Dad had left for business trips and conferences and whatnot, and Luna had been very…vocal. Well, he could have been just using his—
“Okay, what am I doing?” I yelled out loud at myself. I shook myself, a physical one, not a wimpish mental one, and hurriedly put on some clothes. My mind was really in the gutter today.
After I had put on some long shorts (or capris, or whatever you’re supposed to call them; I’m not really fashion savvy) and my one and only glorious Aftermath Entertainment shirt (yeah, Dr. Dre all the way!) I thought about last year in ninth grade when Mr. Cleveland, my history teacher, would always call Dre Dr. Dre. It was kinda funny, but no one ever called him that because it’s just so OBVIOUS. Yeah, Dre has the same name of a rapper/rap producer, we get it. Come up with something more creative, you know? Actually, thinking about it, I kinda miss Mr. Cleveland. He always quoted someone from the music world. Like when we were learning about Nazi Germany, and he said, “ ‘More money, more problems’” like the Biggie song. Good old Mr. Cleveland.
“Wow, I am really off track today,” I muttered to myself out loud, talking to myself once AGAIN. I mean, it’s one thing to just talk to yourself in your head, but it’s another when you actually say the stuff out loud.
I stopped talking, and closed my mouth. I was not going to get off track anymore. I was going to see what was going on outside, and I was going to save Dre somehow. I quickly bounded off the porch steps and looked up and down the street. There was a jogger all the way at the end of the block, and of course, she was mid-step. I looked to the other side and saw that there was a car just sitting there in the middle of the road while the driver was busy…oh gross, picking her nose mid-way. Nasty. At least now I know not to ever touch Ms. Bradley’s hands again.
“Focus,” I mumbled, reminding myself once again. I looked towards the arrow made of… ‘Dre’ dust and slowly shuffled along. It was kind of odd, just looking at my normal neighborhood completely frozen. A Yorkie was running down the street with a jogger, one little kid was crying as she fell down in the grass, and here I was, walking the silent streets being led by my dead sort-of-boyfriend’s ashes. How nice.
I stuffed my hands into my pants, and kept my eyes trained on the sidewalk as a couple of tears fell from my eyes. What would I do without Dre? I mean, this was my real life. This wasn’t just a Saturday Night Live opening sketch and at the end, I would yell, “It’s Saturday Night!” And everything would go back to normal. Nothing was normal without Dre, he was my rock. The one sane person I could count on when I being my usual crazy-ass self.
My black high-top clad feet made a sudden thunking sound against a metal object, making me look down. There on the ground, was a black and white vortex-looking thing, a big swirling cloud of black and gray right in the middle of the freaking sidewalk. I mean, my life is starting to sound like an episode from the Twilight Zone. Seriously, why is the universe set on making my life even crazier than it already is?
I tilted my head up to shout at the heavens when I felt an iron grip wrap around my ankle. I stumbled backwards, trying to escape from what I thought was a branch or twig, but I realized I was mistaken once I looked down.
In the vortex thing, there were three or four creatures that were completely black, no face or limbs, with yellow, slanted cat-like eyes. Their bodies looked like outlines and shadows, like they weren’t fully solid. One of them flicked their darted tongue out at me, and I realized that the creatures - whatever they were – were transparent.
I tried to yell out and scream for help, but the one of the three that was gripping my ankle gave me one hard tug, slamming my back and head against the ground. I yelled out in pain and panic, but it seemed like my screams excited the creatures. Dark tendrils started to seep from them and the vortex, cutting and contorting all around my body. They slowly curled like vines, growing thicker and thicker until they finally covered my entire body.
The creatures gave a few whisper hisses, sending a chill up my spine as I tried once again yelling for help. But my screams did me no good. The other two creatures joined in on grabbing me, taking off my shoes and throwing them in the vortex below us, which seemed to swirl angrily in the eddies as I cried out my pleas.
“Hey, those cost me $30!” I tried to yell, but the sound of my voice was still smothered. I don’t know why that angered me so much – considering the fact that the creatures were about to kill me – but it gave me the will to send a jerking motion with my leg, sending one of the creatures off and down into the vortex.
Shaking off the first creature got me excited and made me think I could shake off another one, so I gave my other leg a jerk. But to my surprise, another dark tendril sliced against my neck, and it actually drew blood. To my surprise, a black drop slithered down my neck, and I almost passed out.
My eyes rolled to the back of my head, and I felt my wrists being tied above my head. Two other tendrils sliced at my wrists, and then I felt more blood spill out. Faintly, I could see that the blood was black, instead of red. I didn’t have much time to think about it as the creatures slowly pulled me down, right into the vortex. The sensation of falling hit me like a brick, and everything faded.
The screeching sound of my completely annoying alarm clock filled my ears, sending my heart racing and thumping against my rib cage as I jolted awake. I mean, it wasn’t one of the peaceful wake-ups, either. It was the kind of jolt they talked about in Inception. Which is one of my favorite movies, along with I Love You, Man with Paul Rudd, the Iron Giant which is a classic, and Hot Fuzz, an absolutely crazy yet somehow hilarious British movie. In fact—
WHY AM I DOING THIS? Seriously, I’m always getting off track. Just yesterday, I had to remind myself like three times to get back on track to follow the arrow. I think I might have ADD or ADHD, now. I mean, who in the hell gets off track when they’re trying to save their best friend/sort of boyfriend from dying? It made it seem like I was…careless. Like I was accepting the fate of Dre, and I wasn’t going to do anything about it.
But that wasn’t the truth. If there was one person who deserved to live forever or at least a full life, it was Dre. How many talented people do you know out there that have their own serious problems that would plague anyone everyday, and they’re always there for you? How many people do you know would take a bullet for you twice, and vow to die for you, when you had only just met them? That was Dre: willing to do anything good that could produce a good effect on anyone. That was who this world was missing now. That part of my heart was gone. I don’t think I can ever accept that, no matter how much avoiding and stalling I do.
I really wanted to wallow in self-pity right there in my bed, and just let life above me pass. Because I wasn’t living in life anymore, I was living in death. I’m not going to accept Dre’s death, and I’m going to reverse it. I don’t care what I have to go through or what I have to do; I’m doing it. Dre doesn’t deserve to die, and he’s coming back to life whether he likes it or not.
“Mel! Hurry up, you’re going to be late!” My mom’s voice drifted down the stairs into my basement room. It was never a friendly, “Hey Mel, time to get up, honey.” No, it was always an animosity-filled military general shout that awoke me each school morning.
Whoa, wait a minute. Mom was yelling at me to get up…but wasn’t it Sunday? In fact, wait a minute, what happened? Last thing I remember was, it was, getting dragged into that vortex by those creepy creatures. And the world was frozen. So what was I doing in my bed, getting woken up for school by my mom?
“Mel!” This time, I heard the door at the top of the staircase swing open. “Did you not hear me? Get your ass up now!” She yelled. I watched in dismay as my angry as hell mom walked over to me from the stairs.
“Why are you still lying here? You’re going to be seriously late,” She scolded, some of the anger ebbing away. She took a closer look at my face. “And where did you get those scars on your face? Why are they blue?”
I edged away from her fingers, ignoring her questions. “Mom, what day is it?”
She raised her eyebrow at me and gave me that no-nonsense look. “Mel, stop stalling. If you want to, I’ll drive you to school.”
“But I…” I trailed off. Maybe yesterday had never happened, maybe that was a vision! Yes, a vision!
“Listen, I’ll make you a few pancakes, but you have to hurry so I can drive you to school, alright? No more stalling.” And then, to my surprise, she bent down and gave me a little kiss on the forehead.
I was slack-jawed as she walked back up the stairs and into the kitchen. I could hear a few pans clanging, and I realized that she was actually serious. She was really making me breakfast. Wow.
I stumbled out of bed slowly, and almost fell back down in the bed. My head was spinning like crazy. Seriously, it was worse than the time I drank that vodka. I had a serious hangover times two. Trying to hold my head so that it wouldn’t spin off my neck, I slowly padded into the bathroom.
I flicked on the light, and stared at my reflection. Or my…halfway reflection. “Whoa,” I breathed. The person in the mirror was me, but it didn’t exactly…look like me.
My face still had all the lines and shadows as usual, but my face was translucent. The only things that were actually opaque were my eyes and the little blue scars underneath them. And instead of the usual dark gray, they were really light. Unnaturally light. Almost as if they were a metallic silver. It was creepy, but kind of cool in a way.
The color of my eyes only distracted me for a minute. The next, I was starting to hyperventilate a little. My knees buckled beneath me, and I had to grab the edge of the corner as I slowly lowered myself onto the toilet seat with the lid down. Once I sat down, I managed to scoot far back enough to huddle my knees up closer to me, and buried my head into them. I took in deep breaths, trying to calm myself.
I sat there for a while, just taking in breath after breath as I calmed myself. After a few minutes, I went to check my reflection again, but it was exactly the same. I dragged my palms against my face, and to amazement, the light brown color of my skin slowly floated back to the surface as I dragged along. I blinked, completely stunned, and frowned deeply once the color slowly drained out once again.
Mumbling and grumbling to myself the whole time, I grabbed my toothbrush and started brushing furiously. I watched as the toothbrush went back and forth horizontally, against a clear background full of facial lines and shadows. It would have been pretty cool if I wasn’t so pissed about not HAVING ANY FREAKING COLOR IN MY FACE.
It put another damper on my mood, because it was driving me crazy that I didn’t know what was reality and what wasn’t real. I mean, was all of yesterday some sort of weird vision, or did it actually happen? And if did happen, then why didn’t I remember anything after that whole ordeal with the vortex and the creatures? And why didn’t anyone seem to notice any difference in me, besides the fact that I had these weird little light blue scabs under my eyes? Which, I’m going to admit, looked pretty damn baller.
I rinsed my mouth and gargled with some mouthwash, deep in though as I swish and swashed, looking at the sink under me. To be honest, even though I was worried about Dre, I really missed kissing him. I missed the way how I could feel how his body always either seemed really cold or really hot. I missed the way he always stared into my eyes, like he was thinking about something really important. I missed the way he used to let me rest my head on his shoulder during boring school assemblies. I think perhaps I have too much testosterone, that’s why I think about sex the same amount as a sixteen year old boy.
Hurriedly, I dressed into my one and only Shady Records t-shirt (Yeah, Dr. Dre and Eminem all the way) and into some shorts – that weren’t short shorts, because according to a few jocks, namely Ryan Sopera, I have a “nice ass”, and I don’t let it hang out in my clothes – and headed up the stairs with my backpack slung across one shoulder.
Once I closed my door behind me, I walked into the kitchen to find Mom and Dad eating breakfast and drinking coffee. Bojangles was waiting on the counter for her breakfast, her tail swishing back and forth against the tile wall. I scratched her head as I walked by and took out her food from underneath the counter.
“How are you today, Mel?” Dad asked me in his gruff voice. Since he wasn’t giving me the look and he hadn’t grown his beard (two signs that he was stressed about his job) I knew that he was in a good mood.
I turned around to answer after filling Bojangles’s bowl, and stopped mid-sentence. I know it had been a few days since I saw Dad, but he looked completely different. Instead of his usually low cut hair style, it was all grown out and shaggy. I mean, it wasn’t down his shoulders or anything, but it was grown out and all flippy/curly at the ends. And Mom was completely different, too. Instead of her long, brown and auburn curls – she and Mya got the interesting colors instead of just plain midnight black like mine – she had a pixie cut, and multiple piercings in her ears. She had on bright red lipstick, and tons of chains and necklaces around her neck.
Ever seen your parents in their 20’s? Well, now I had. And it was a frightening experience.
My eyes bugged out of my head as I stared at them in shock. “M-mom?” I asked completely confused as I stared at her (was that a stud in her nose?!).
“What’s wrong, honey?” She said innocently, like she hadn’t just stepped off from the cover of a magazine for hipsters or something. “Is there something on my face?” She moved her hand to touch her face, and then the weirdest thing happened: she split into two.
One minute, she was the 20 version of herself, and then another moment, the present day version of her was separating out into it’s own body. She mimicked the same hand gesture, and it was totally creepy. Like, The Outer Limits creepy.
“Mel, stop freaking out your mother,” Dad said, and then he started to do the same thing. I saw the present day version of him stretch out of the 20’s version of him, and both of them turn around to stare at me.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes for a second. I opened them, and my parents were still doubled. Trying to avoid their gazes, I edged towards the door. “Actually, I’m not that hungry. I’ll just walk to school.”
20 year old Mom and 40 year old Mom furrowed their eyebrows at me. “Are you sure, Mel? I don’t want you starving at school.”
I tried to give her a reassuring smile, but it came out into a broken smile like I had just eaten some glass candy or something. “Don’t worry Mom, I’ll be fine. I’ll make sure to eat lunch.” With that, I went out the door.
As I turned back to say “love you” just as 40-year old Mom and Dad said goodbye while 20-year old Dad gave me an army salute and Mom flashed me deuces. I was stunned as I looked back at Bojangles, who was doubling into a kitten and a full grown cat, too.
By the time I got to school, first period was already halfway over. I got my pass from Miss Kedley in the office (she was pretty young, so I guess that’s why I didn’t see a double of her) and trudged to my locker. About ten lockers down, I knew there was Dre’s locker, and he had told me the combination a long time ago. Hesitantly, I edged over to his locker and put in the numbers hurriedly. The locker opened right up, and I found that most of his stuff was gone, like he had taken some of his school stuff to do homework. And since it wasn’t here now, that meant he hadn’t come back. Which had to mean that yesterday wasn’t a vision and was actually real.
My chest heaved with a groan as I started to lose my breath and panic. No, that couldn’t be right. Dre wasn’t dead. I mean, sixteen year olds just don’t drop dead on their sort-of-boy/girlfriend’s porch. Not without a reason.
Those gashes on his back were a definite reason. The back of my mind seemed to remind myself, sending me into another panic-y tizzy. I put one hand on the locker to brace myself and my other hand on my racing heart. No, he had just called in sick today. After school, I would check Best Buy and 7 Eleven, and I’m sure that his supervisors would tell me he called off sick. Yeah, everything would be fine.
I’m in denial. The thought suddenly appeared into my head. Was I? I mean, there’s such a thing as optimism.
Before I could fully lose it, I slammed his locker door shut and walked back to my own. I stuffed all my stupid school shit in and grabbed my book for Trig. I walked hurriedly so that Mr. Anderson wouldn’t go all teacher ape-shit on me. He seriously did go off on people who were late to school sometimes. He was extra cranky lately because his wife was pregnant, and since she couldn’t have caffeine, neither could he.
I reached the Trig room and it was one of those awkward moments where everyone is completely bored by the teacher so they turn to look at anyone who comes through the door so they can help them escape out of the hellhole of a classroom.
“Melita,” Mr. Anderson greeted me, taking my trash and right away throwing it into the recycling bin. I was surprised that he didn’t bite my head off, then I realized he was probably a little more happy today once I saw the Cherry Coke sitting on his desk.
I took a seat in the back, and opened my notes to make it seem like I was actually taking them. I wasn’t, really. As soon as I opened the notebook, it was like my hands had an irresistible need to just draw. My hand was literally itching until I finally whipped out my blue mechanical pencil and started immediately drawing. I was so drawn into my drawing that when a note hit the edge of my desk, I did a little jump. It made the dude next to me, Aaron (who listens to Korn all day and mumbles their lyrics similar to “I’m gonna slit your fucking throat) give me a weird look.
I ignored him and reluctantly opened the note. The last time I opened one, that stupid monster bitch Lynne had almost broke my heart that day. Then again, it was kind of stupid of me to ever believe that Dre would go out with a plastic bimbo like Lynne Davis. I finally unraveled the note, and (for the third time that day, it seemed) went slack-jawed.
Didn’t know that you and Dre were so into PDA. I like shacking up too, but try to keep it on the DL. Not everyone wants to see Dre fondle your monster-sized boobs.
I looked up in saw that Lynne, Christine, and their other pal Angela were giving me a disapproving stare. I narrowed my eyes at them angrily and then picked up my pencil to write a response.
WTF are you talking about, Lynne? What I do with Dre is none of your business. I didn’t send you a note when you had that pregnancy scare with Ryan last year. Oh wait, I forgot, you and I were the only ones in the bathroom that day. Hope the secret doesn’t get out.
And then I did something realy mean: I showed the note to Aaron, and he started laughing so hard that it took Mr. Anderson out of his good mood and he sent Aaron to the detention. I thought Aaron would be seriously pissed at me, but he flashed me a thumbs up, making me smile back at him. Of course, this earned me another dirty look from Lynne and her lame crew. But I had information over her now. I could win now.
I had the girl in front of me take the note and pass it up to Lynne, who’s eyebrows shot up so high I thought they were going to fly off her face. Her little pals were shocked too; their eyes went wide and they covered their mouths with their hands.
It had me cracking up really bad, so bad that I accidentally fell out of my seat. And so Mr. Anderson sent me to the Library until the end of first period. I didn’t really care though, just the look on Lynne’s face was good enough to make my day.
My smile finally disappeared, though, when Lynne flicked the note back at me while I was walking out the door. Mr. Anderson’s back was turned to us though, so he didn’t see. Once I finally reached the Library, I was able to look at the note. It read:
You can tell my dirt to everyone, but you know I’ll rise to the top again. At least there isn’t video recording of what happened to me.
And then there was a link that read: http://www.funnyhighschool9-12vids.com/Williem_Ocean_High/Make-Out-Video
No one else was really around besides the librarian (no one in our school thought reading was “cool” besides me and Dre), so I decided to look it up on the internet. The page loaded quickly, and to my horror, it was the video of Dre and I kissing. Outside the lunchroom. Where he ran away and I stormed out of the school and skipped seventh and eighth period.
“Shit!” I cursed. I could feel a deep, boiling anger underneath me and my hands gripped at the computer mouse. Before I could comprehend what was happening, the water pipers in the walls started to creak and groan open, until water from last night’s rain dropped in buckets from the ceiling and from the walls.
The librarian started to screaming, and yelling for everyone in the halls to evacuate. But I just stood there, facing away from the computer. And finally, everything Dre had said about wishing he didn’t love me made sense. Everything from the past week finally started to fitting together.
I finally knew what I was becoming.