Lavender Fields

Reads: 228  | Likes: 4  | Shelves: 3  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


It’s just a typical evening in New York City...or isn’t? How well do you observe the details in the every-day craze? Do you think you know the people around you as well as you think you do? No -
spoiler alert - there are no ghosts or vampires, but are you sure reality isn’t any less haunting and fazing, leaving you just as bewildered? As Aly’s friends help her catch the train home, you are
about to accompany her on her simple journey...but it’s only simple until the lavender fields.

Submitted: May 22, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 22, 2018

A A A

A A A


 

This world is made of details, ain’t it?

 

Take a glance from our planet from outer space -  only landscapes and waters in sight, yet somehow we know there are landmarks and hills, skyscrapers and tunnels, funiculars and light houses, igloos and pyramids, sea shores and lavender fields. 

 

Now, zooming in somewhere closer on this globe of wonders, like a pin mark on a map - somewhere among the crazy, ever-changing kaleidoscope the world is, there’s you, a tiny little dot on the surface of the earth. Hold on, that metaphor doesn’t sound too empowering? Ain’t that a pity. We humans, like to feel empowered, as if we were the rulers of the world, being just nanoscale speckles on the face of the planet - which we think we’ve figured out to bits or, at least, have solved enough of its multifarious riddles. We also assume that, with the progress of civilization, as advanced as they could be with the numerous modern-day developments and achievements, we automatically become equipped with enough knowledge and directions to navigate through daily life - and especially, with a telescope which grants us an open view of the whole picture. Oh, the premature humane glory.

 

All right, let’s try and not be cynical for a moment, but rather zoom in on an even closer overview: each and every one of these little dots has details of their own - the ones which, scientifically, would be your DNA. Quite an assortment of what-not; a diverse combination that completes us like a puzzle piece, just like we complete cities, countries and continents. Yet even with the tables turned, the same kind of skepticism comes back into view: we think we know ourselves and others enough to typecast people, to apply imaginary label tags upon us, as an identification of this and that. But how can you be sure that is exactly who you are? How can you know the kaleidoscope won’t turn promptly, or hasn’t already? 

 

The unraveling mystery of details isn’t exactly one’s normal thought process on a regular Saturday evening, so obviously, it was nowhere near crossing my mind - and I’d guess neither it had anything to do with Phillip’s, Gregory’s nor Jessie’s thoughts, as my friends and I promenaded through a faraway neighborhood, about to start heading home. Subconsciously, however, I kept noting real life detail exemplars which didn’t take long at all to emerge: the sketching of the dusk city reflected in pearl raindrops, the cup of honey lavender tea in my hand which, irritatingly, still couldn’t stand versus the drastic weather and save me from the cold I was catching, all the different combinations of plate numbers, ones that kids would normally scream out loud, on Toyotas and Subarus passing by, the decaying lights of snug coffee shop windows and picturesque color-changing candle flames on tables inside the stylish and tenebrious pubs of downtown New York, Jessie’s white platform sneakers, the luminescence from her phone’s flashlight she used to read from a newspaper she grabbed at the deli, along with her iced caramel macchiato - the sloppy, overly-sweetened deli version...

 

“Three people managed to catch fire today during a meeting held by the mayor of Panama City,” Jessie read out loud with pretentious dullness, intentionally jumping over sentences to only voice the lines which caught most of her attention. “The accident occurred in just a couple of split seconds, bla bla bla, he tripped over a table with lit candles, bla bla bla. Fortunately, there were no deaths or serious injuries. Everyone was able to escape the fire, and after bla-bla-bla, the meeting carried on, as according to plan. Fourty-three year old Jason bla bla bla, a refugee who used to work as a bla-bla-bla, will be held accountable for his acts of outrageous carelessness and irresponsibility, according to officer bla bla bla. He kept stating repetitiously, to his defense, that he was too preoccupied with playing Pokemon Go.” Jessie stopped reading, as her lower face stretched out, her two hazel eyes widening almost up to the size of a quarter, as she burst out laughing hysterically, throwing her head back. “Playing Pokémon Go in an assembly meeting!” she screamed out. “Oh wow. Wow! The things people would write about.”

 

“The things people would do, rather, for some stupid game.” Gregory said. “These phone-app manias are getting out of hand.”

 

“Says Gregory and his MapMyRun”, Jessie responded with irony, still laughing.

 

“That’s different,” Gregory answered, half-jokingly and with assertive vanity, flexing his bicep muscles. “That’s for a good cause.”

 

“That’s what I call productivity and not procrastination,” Phillip added with a tone of wisdom, pointing up his index finger while glancing up from his screen to advocate for Gregory.

 

“Show-offs.” Jessie rolled her eyes, pretending to be highly unimpressed.

 

“Thanks for the compliment”, Gregory laughed. “And thanks for inviting me here today”, he said, now to all of us with sudden seriousness. “We rarely get to meet these days. No lie - I’ve been, like, hella busy lately.”

 

“Oh right - the Olympics,” Jessie said. “I wonder how much have these flights to Korea been costing you - ain’t they pricey? Any gold medals yet, MapMyRunner?” she poked him.

 

“Ah, Jess,” I sighed with merriment, turning to Gregory. “You’re welcome, Greg. I wish the four of us would get the chance to hang out more often.”

 

“I wish so, too.” Phillip added, quietly. For a while now, I’ve noticed how Phillip had this interesting tendency of always drifting into his little world, not noticing anything around him as the others were present in the moment entirely, and then suddenly jumping back into the chatter, completely out of the blue. I’d say everyone does that once upon a time - but for him, it was a permanent habit. Phillip usually didn’t like to talk much. I’d guess it was because he once mentioned quietly to me that he didn’t like his accent, or the way his facial expressions looked when he’d run into words with combined vowels. In addition, he began to stutter whenever he’d get nervous. Even though he was definitely not in a group where he’d get put into an uncomfortable place for that (Jessie not included - she probably could have a few nasty things to say here and there), he usually preferred to remain the listener. Occasionally, though, when someone would kick off a topic he felt particularly passionate about, he’d have his moments of going into paragraphs with either scientific and literary references or some deep philosophical insight, but that was rare.

 

“FBI going after the investigation of the case of two lost women...claim they left the train at Lavender Avenue” Jessie kept reading, despite not getting anybody’s attention. “The two women, named Marissa and Kirsten Boschee, were found today, and strangely, they both state they don’t know where they were coming from...police tried to get their information, but at first, a couple of hours after the occurrences, they didn’t seem to remember their addresses or phone numbers at all...” she now read to herself, getting quieter and quieter, until her voice almost died down.

 

“Damn, it’s been getting chillier day by day,” Gregory said, zipping up his leather jacket. Should we all start heading our separate ways by now?” 

 

“You know what? Let’s help Aly get to her train first,” Phillip suggested, pointing to his phone. “If anything, I’ve got the map.”

 

“Yeah Aly, you’ve got a hell of a ride home”, Gregory sighed. 

 

“Aww”, I smile, flattered. “You guys don’t have to. I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

 

“Shush girl, we got you. You’re not walking alone in the dark. Not at this hour,” Jessie said, firmly. 

 

As far as that type of motherly care, coming from my friends, despite my unquestionable appreciation of their kindness, can even bug me at times, because it reminds me once again how I’m the smallest in the group (come on, who cares about the couple-year-old difference?), Jessie was right. It’s gotten particularly dusk outside by this point. The sky turned fully black, with no clouds in sight, and it might not be the safest idea to walk alone through such a foreign district.

 

“So what’d you all think about getting together next weekend?” I ask, taking a sip of my tea.

 

“How about at my new apartment?” Gregory asked. “I finally had a chance to get the furniture somewhat into place, except that I’ve gotten the most hilariously wrecked up kitchen table that I ordered online last week. Dude, I haven’t got the slightest clue of what to do with it now,” he laughed.

 

“Show us,” Jessie said. “We could at least probably have a good laugh over it.”

 

“One second.” Gregory took his phone out, as the three of us crowded around him and he swiped through a few images, until a recent photograph of an unidentified creation appeared. The creation was a horribly shaped wooden trapezoid on three legs, all of different length, therefore making it impossible to stand besides when awkwardly titled over to the side. It looked more not like a piece of interior, but like a real life recreation of a bad draft sketched by a mediocre student’s high school practices, who was forced into taking interior design by his guidance councilor under the argument of being the only extra credit choice available, despite his self-advocative argument that for him, having to attempt in drawing anything would be a form of torture.

 

“There.” said Gregory. “As you could all tell, this isn’t exactly the sight which the seller had so proudly advertised in his photo. And I had wondered why it was on sale for an extremely inviting price. Never ordering anything that’s on sale anymore.”

 

“I wouldn’t either, if I were you.” Jessie said.

 

“I haven’t got the time to place it anywhere yet, so it’s right by my door. Bumped my head on one of its legs a couple of times already. Almost poked my eye out once.”

 

“Yikes.” Phillip shrieked. 

 

“There. And the rest of my place still looks like a huge mess.”

 

“In entire honesty, Greg: how ready is your house for anyone’s visit but your own?” Jessie asked with suspiciousness. 

 

“Not too ready, I guess.” he replied.

 

“Exactly.” Jessie laughed. “Don’t worry. Not many future Olympians look after their houses that well. Lots of great deeds to get done, no time for monkey business!” she laughed, emphasizing and strongly articulating the last two words: “mon-key busi-ness”. Honestly, I think to myself, Jess is just lucky that Gregory is a chill guy, otherwise she could’ve gotten on his nerves in two split seconds. Occasionally, I wonder how we all put up with Jess, or how the other people around her do. As much of an enthusiast as she is, with her never-to-die-out kind of energy that more often than not serves as a great, deep breath of fresh air, she really does cross the line at times.

 

“I’m guessing we can sadly cross my house off the list of our get-together options,” Gregory said.

 

“We could still probably find something to do at my apartment,” I said with invigoration. “My parents work all night on the weekends. They might even be away this time. Let’s throw a movie night.”

 

“Brilliant”, said Phillip, suddenly in on the conversation again. “What are we watching?”

 

“The new season of Game of Thrones is on air. Heard it’s gonna be rad.” Gregory said. 

 

“I’m so down for that!” Jessie screamed. “You know what else. I should probably bring brownies. My mother’s school friend is coming over from Kentucky and, she’s like, totally got the best recipe. She’ll probably make some for us.”

 

“Sounds good,” Gregory said. “You and Aly bring something to drink, and 

Phillip...” he turned to Phillip who, once again, displayed no reaction at all, living in his little bubble.

 

“Get your freakin’ phone away from your face for five minutes, you phone-hog.” Jessie carefully, but spontaneously flicked Phillip’s phone to his face.

 

“Alright, Ms. Nobile”. Phillip said angrily, with a slightly obnoxious demonstration of theatrical annoyance.

 

“We’ll figure it out.” I said, to try and appease the outbreaks of casual drama.

 

“Absolutely.” Phillip said, looking relieved.

 

“So how are things with...uhm, that Swedish girl?” Gregory asked, placing his elbows on mine and Phillip’s shoulder. “I thought you kinda liked her in junior high.”

 

“Lucia? Yeah, but it’s never been serious at all. I’d guess she wouldn’t be into guys like me, anyway.” 

 

”Still talk to her though, by chance?” Gregory kept asking curiously.

 

“Not at all, my friend. I haven’t seen her since I started college. Plus, she’s been talking to Judy’s brother now, and he invited her to go out to dinner, so I figured things must be getting serious between them.”

 

“That’s unfortunate.” Gregory sighed. “For you, I mean.” he quickly corrected himself. “Have you been talking to your friend Sally?”

 

“Sally? I’ve thought of inviting her to go bowling”, he said, slightly beginning to stutter with a hinge of nervous energy. “That’s...that’s the closest thing I could think of. Al...Although,” Phillip took a deep breath, before a quick, spasmodic change uncovered in his tone of voice, “I have better things in mind. If I could, I’d invite her to a planetarium, if that’s of interest to her.”, he continued, loudly and clearly, catching his breaths with precise timing. “How does an astronomy-themed date sound to you? Which, by chance, concisely highlights the infamous theory - women are from Venus, and men are from Mars! Although that will hardly be a worry between Sally and I - we are like two peas in a pod.”

 

“She isn’t anything like you at all, Phill, if you ask me,” Gregory said, skeptically. “I mean, you probably know her better and all that.”

 

“However,” Phillip took another deep breath, clearly not having the need to ask for Gregory’s approval anywhere on the list of his plans, “I can’t yet fathom into words what it quite is that unites us. I just know there is something strong. I want to find the ultimate string of connection. Something which can unite us two, with an energy of a force to be reckoned with.” he tried to fix his glasses, tilting them even more awkwardly to the right, making Jessie giggle. “I guess that, my friends, for that reason I will have to use my magic powers, under the name of...”

 

“Nerdification?” Jessie jumped into the chat, stopping in front of Phillip with her hand on her hip and a mocking grin on her face. Gregory and I couldn’t help but laugh.

 

“Very funny,” Phillip said, grumpily, but he was laughing with the rest of us.

 

We walked for approximately twenty more minutes, before the B train station entrance appeared on the corner of the block. By this point, the clouds have covered the midnight sky like a blanket on a king-size bed, and the scent of air had a foreshadowing hinge of rain in it. None of us had umbrellas on us, so I hoped that it wasn’t going to rain in yet the nearest twenty minutes, which would give my friends the chance to get to their houses. Thankfully, none of them lived too far away from where we are, besides myself. That couldn’t be any good for my cold. Apparently, I’ve made it to the platform right in time.

 

“I’ll see y’all soon!” I said, as my friends gathered around me to embrace me, one by one. “See you at work, Jess! Careful guys, I sure hope I haven’t caught the flu,” I warn the group, slightly leaning away. 

 

“Be safe!” Phillip yelled.

“I hope the train crashes down,” Jessie laughed, giving me a presumptuous look. “Love you,” she added, patting me on the back before letting go of the last hug. As stodgy as it sounds, it’s at shuffled fragments of life such as these that you realize how much you love your friends. No doubt about them being a silly, incongruous group of weirdos; which, however, may be the very reason I wouldn’t trade the time we spend together for anything else in the world.

 

“Watch your tongue, smart one.” Phillip’s voice sounded, gradually becoming more distant. I could still hear Jessie definitely came back with a punchline that I wish I could of heard, but it was too late: the rumbling sound of the train approaching drowned out the noises from outside. Headphones on and listening to Imagine Dragons’ new record, I proceed to try and squeeze into the shapes and spaces in between the rushing crowd, and hustle to take the corner seat - just like I always do. Success! Years of train-heat practice do pay off, I must say.

 

With relief, I make myself comfortable at my seat, beginning to warm up my hands against the teacup, with some heat still absorbed in it, and take a heedless look around me. There’s an old lady, definitely over seventy, wearing an old beige coat - quite neatly groomed, besides maybe a couple of cat hairs. Right across her there’s a man in his early fifties, with a bunch of grey hairs and a tiny bald patch starting to appear; however, with eyes so juvenile you’d think he’s the type who works as a dog trainer, or a kindergarten mentor. A couple of seats away, there is a young couple in their mid-twenties - a lean brunette man in a Sherlock Holmes’ coat and a blue-eyed woman with silver ankle bracelets engaged in chatter after clearly their first or second date, still keeping the conversation practical. He’s ran his own business since eighteen, knows how to ski professionally, has moved from his parents half a year earlier and has never smoked a cigarette in his life; she works as a nurse 9 to 5, has saved two stray cats, uses her free time to volunteer for charities and dreams about a philanthropic trip to Uganda. In a week or two, hopefully, they will find a way to connect their strings of humor in a less-official manner. She might spill over her coffee for the first time and he might miss a call from his boss. At a point, he’d have to find out he hates how her pilates classes constantly get in the way of scheduling their as well as her time-wasting laundry habits. She, on the other hand, secretly isn’t fond of his mother, nor is she pleased with the amount of time he dedicates to taking her out to dinner, in comparison to applying for a better job. It suddenly turns out he isn’t a cat person, just when she has brought home the most lovely six-month-old tabby Maine Coon; and when he tries to impress her with his own recipe of breaded cutlets, an ability he is genuinely proud of, he finds out that the same day she had made the reputable decision to do planet earth a favor and goes vegan. Of course, they might never get to that point at all, and will become, to each other’s lives, a page gone with no return in the novel of their dating history, with only the most presentable details to be remembered. They’ll remain a perfect image to each other - an image of divine, immaculate beings, with all the little details and personality quirks and imperfect ways of making it through everyday life, whether appealing or ridiculous, remaining now forever unrevealed to each other...

 

The graduate deceleration of the train, which, at the back of my mind, I notice occurring at an unusual timing, snaps me back into reality. I noticed that everyone, besides a few people, stood up from their seats and began moving towards closed doors. 

 

“This is Grand Street.” a pestered and monotony voice announced. “The next stop is Lavender Avenue.”

 

There we go. Details. They popped up into my mind again, like tiny lightbulbs sparking up, as if someone’s in charge of electricity inside my head. “What’s the fuss about on Grand Street today? Why is almost everyone leaving the train? Was there an announcement I somehow managed to mishear? Do we even...have...a Lavender Avenue?”

 

My cold decides to kick in strongly, and I’m feeling even more nauseous now than back outside, so I lay my head against some culinary advert on the train and close my eyes, pushing my questions aside. Feeling too tired to be amused or stressed, curious or alert, I denote no resistance to give in to my drowsiness, and promptly afterwards, I pass out.

 

 

It still remains a mystery how much time has passed, but what made me open my eyes was a streak of light across my cheeks. Stretching, I slowly turned around to face the train window behind me to notice that the rain had stopped, possibly a long time ago, because there were no plashes on windows or any equivalent indication; however, a lazy fogginess was hanging in the atmosphere. The sun from outside was barely rising. It must be early morning, I thought. Yes - I look at my lock screen - it’s 5:37 am. Have I stayed on the train all night? Wouldn’t the janitor have kicked me out? I even fail to discern immediately that my cold seems to be gone - fortunately, there’s at least a single advantage to this tiny disarray.

 

Expecting to see my phone bombarded with notices from our group - even if they didn’t bother about my night voyage - which, quite frankly, being one of the hundred, couldn’t have been any different this time. People say New York State is dangerous, and those who keep track of daily news know what kind of city we live in. At the time and place you least expect it, everything could go wrong in an instant. Still, the probability of being on the same transportation engine with a serial killer and getting selected as his unfortunate target, or running into a mental hospital runaway wearing a clown costume and a gas mask remains only slightly above an impossibility - and even then, it could get you thinking whether you’ve ran into one of those crazy pranksters pulling a stunt for their video blog. Not instinctively, though. The instinct would be, based off one’s natural need for survival, to run for your life, leaving zero time on your hands for discovery of whether you’re running from danger - or the illusion of one.

 

Anyhow, it was rare to see no updates on my lock screen, because on a regular basis, knowing how vacantly chatty we sometimes get on the weekends, I’d positively assume Jessie’d probably have found a new article to giggle over in our group chat, or Gregory discovered yet another laugh-worthy angle of his face Jessie would start comparing to a wombat in three split seconds. We all know how Jessica Nobile is. There isn’t a thing in the universe she doesn’t make fun of, yet we all are used to it. Some people are unequivocally better at expressing their love through sarcasm.

 

Yet - nobody broke the silence this time. Which, on second thought, is easily explanatory - they could still be asleep or, you know, just living their life.

 

I try to peek into the other wagons, ahead and behind the one I am in, squinting to try and observe every seat in every wagon through the window - no one there. Complete emptiness. Besides the driver, evidentially - otherwise the engine wouldn’t be moving? Though momentally, I was not even secure about that either. In addition, somewhere along the way my phone, thirty-two percent charged, decides to shut down, out of the blue...how exasperating. Just when I’ve gotten it repaired last month - and now, next week I’ll have to go again. What a dismay.

 

In what seems like twenty-five minutes (as bad as I am with approximations of time - I’d actually think that was quite precise), I started to feel that the train was slowing down and the wheels letting go of speed, before they finally stopped. The doors have opened, handily, but without a signification. I looked up to the display board, where all the stops’d usually be aligned in order or approach; this time it was completely blank and empty. No announcement was heard either. Realizing the absurdity of remaining here, I rushed out of the wagon and walked down the first exit stairway.

 

Once outside, I stopped to look around me. It was clearly noon, and still foggy outside. Seemingly, I have never been in this part of the city before, or at least can’t recall any familiar imagery in my mind - not even a de javu or something of that nature. My first natural detail of thought is, of course, an urge to find someone and ask for directions - if this even is New York? Yet still, there isn’t one single soul in sight...how strange. You’d think somebody would be awake by this time, rushing to work or starting their car. There’s only a couple of retro-style cars parked slightly in the distance. Remaining in a state of confusion, I decide to cautiously walk a few blocks, in hopes of running into someone, and simply out of curiosity, to examine the alien district simultaneously. I’ve never been afraid of the unknown, after all, I tell myself.

 

I hurry down an alley, nearly tripping over the bricks laid out in an old-fashioned manner, the ground you’d still see everywhere if you were to take a spontaneous trip Germany or Czech Republic, along with the Gothic cathedrals and ornaments - however, a rare architectural element to be seen near the east coast, which adds on to the unforsaken energy. Passing by a few blocks, dull and grey, with apartment buildings diluted with only a couple of arborvitae and some grass, a wide area begins to uncover ahead of me, separated from the driveway by a wooden fence of low stature, and extending far beyond the horizons in my sight. The area looks so foreign and so set aside from the world around, that my first guess of its aim would be that I’m approaching a cemetery. Nonetheless, even if I was correct, then it’d be a rather unusual cemetery, due to its uncountably large number of colorful wreaths, which filled up practically the whole sector and made it appear vaguely festive and graceful - although it was still hardly possible to identify, over the fading clogs of smoky fog. Furthermore, the wreaths I’ve seen haven’t looked anything such as these, where color scheme revolved mainly around two pastel tones of ascending violet and a portion of green. Approaching closer, I could finally tell what this place was: lavender fields.

 

Now I am absolutely sure I’m in a foreign area - could be somewhere near the countryside. Even so, why on earth would there be a field of flowers so close to a subway station? The other thing which consciously stunned me is how unbelievably hot it was here, in the middle of November. I even had to take off my fall coat. However, an opportunity to indulge in delightful nature for a short period of time always seems like too much of wonderful chance to allow your mind to absorb any form of stress, especially being an activity you’d rarely get to enjoy in an urban city. I keep walking forward. Far in the distance, a bleak human figure starts to come into view, standing gracefully amidst the herbage. I slow down my walking pace and decide to observe his further actions for a while. The stranger appears to be standing with his hands in his cardigan pockets. A couple of times he’d take leisured steps across the field. He clearly doesn’t intend on leaving, nor is he there for a practical reason - you know, land-mowing or freeing the land of weeds. For the first time, a negligible fear creeps in. I tell myself to place the fear aside on the shelf and keep walking, anyhow, until he’s no longer a muzzy silhouette, and I am able to recognize and single out some characteristics. 

 

So, he appears to be tall - I’d guess six feet two at least, and wearing a form of dark clothing, seemingly a black cardigan with jeans. A glimpse of his side profile now begins to come into view, and as difficult as it still is to see his facial expression, he appears perhaps not treacherous, but undoubtably dismal. I know very well a rule that never gets old, being you can’t judge a book by its cover, that being a human by his appearance, or more specifically, a man by his expression; you name it - so I, personally advocating for my initial decision, turn utterly to my gut feeling, which seems to nod back at me with approval - why, it certainly is endearing to run into someone in this deserted region. I start walking a little faster, now passing the fence. Should I walk straight up to him and ask? Would I be distracting him from possibly his meditative session? Or should I rather just silently keep existing and ultimately let myself be discovered? Ahh, the endless and intricate hindrances to being an awkward nineteen year old introvert.

 

Walking up to the gate, I was surprised to find it extremely rickety and unsteady. Without hesitating, I opened it with unexpected ease. Now feeling a bit more secure than momentarily before, I step onto one of the rocky, sandy trails between endless rows of blooming lavenders. The route is clearly paved for human feet, which automatically brings a less alienated touch to the atmosphere around. Regardless, even if the area was left entirely wild and unreserved, it would still be manageable to crawl through because thankfully, the flowers weren’t too tall, only going up to slightly above my knees. I had to step cautiously though: the last thing I would want is to step upon such elegance. An extremely pleasing herbal and floral aroma is spread all around, and I gasp with pure wonder and awe. I can’t tell whether I am more enchanted or confused by both the breathtaking sight and fragrance of a blooming lavender field in the middle of November. I keep walking slowly among the field in the stranger’s direction, who seems to make very little notice of me so far. Still feeling slightly uncomfortable and hoping not to freak him out - nor, what-not, be freaked out myself, I silently continued glaring into the clear blue skies, running my fingers through the lavender plants. He turned his head and looked at me, for the first time, which finally gave me a better chance to see him from a closer perspective.

 

The stranger had dark blue eyes with a couple of unnoticeable wrinkles around them, which gave his face an unfocused, slightly careless expression and a feeling of disguised melancholy and gloom, but other than that actually appeared quite warm and friendly. They weren’t the eyes of a thirty-year-old man for sure: most possibly, you’d think he is a couple of years into his ninth decade, and had lived a life filled with wisdom, like one of these great Chinese sages that you, if you’ve been through high school, have probably read about in world history class. Of all his facial features, it was definitely his eyes which grabbed most attention, standing out hauntingly and prominently. I was surprised to find out that from a closer point of view, he wasn’t by far all neither that slender nor ominous as he had seemed from a distance. He stood confidently in one place, leaning his bony hand against his long and pointy chin, another arm leaning against his hip. Since there was no one else anywhere around, I expected to hear a greeting, a “Beautiful sight, ain’t it?”, or, at the very least, a “Get out of my territory!”. To my amusement, however, the stranger remained silent, despite that by now, he had clearly noticed me and even glanced over to my direction a few times, not reacting in any significant kind of way. I shrugged my shoulders, unsure of what to do. He turned his head and looked at me again.

 

“The last day,” he finally said, more so to himself, but with coherent awareness of my presence.

 

I take one shaky step in his direction, remaining clueless of how to react at all. 

“Um...excuse me? Mr...Sir?” I say, shyly. 

 

He didn’t respond. I begin to feel a little dumb for trying to spark up a conversation - you know, one of these thorny moments when you are in a group and say something that receives zero reaction and you’re kind of just left there hanging, like a piñata which the kids decided to leave half-cracked for an abstract amount of time and run off to a slide on the playground.

 

“The last day of what?” I try adding in, after this short, uncomfortable pause. 

 

“It’s the last day today,” he sighed heavily. Is he expecting me to read his mysterious mind, like a tabloid? The moment after, it probably hit him that a five-foot-three, one-thirty pound, nineteen-year-old girl would allegedly be no creepy mind reader, so he tried a different, more earthily approach. “How often do you come here to watch the lavender fields?” he asked with sudden enthusiasm and friendliness, as if rapidly awakened from his strange lethargic state of being.

 

“I’ve never been here before”, I answered honestly, “and I am not even sure where I am now.”

 

“Yet you are here, for some reason. Is this where you wanted to get?” the man replied, as his dreamy eyes began to liven up. Meanwhile, I silently took notice of the details that his sweater used to be a simplistic velvet - or at least appeared to be that way from the distance - but now was covered in patterned mandalas of bright red, yellow, magenta and green. His jeans, as it strangely appears, weren’t jeans either - they now looked more like army suit pants, but a plain khaki tone without patterns.

 

“I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to get somewhere...you see, not really knowing where. Or even if I did know where I want to get eventually, but at first, I wanted to run into someone who’d show me where I am now and how I could get where I want to get from where I am now. And then - I saw the lavender fields, and ran into you.”

 

The stranger looked over at me with a funny, but not grim expression. “You’re talking riddles.” he said, smiling. “In life, you either want to get somewhere, or you don’t. Just like you either know who you are, or you don’t.”

 

“I guess you have a point,” I said. “You see, I am a bunch of things - a decent student, a less-than-decent older sister - that would be according to my younger brother.” I said, in amusement of finding that he had a beard starting to grow out. Woah...now that’s strange. I haven’t noticed any signs of it at first. You turn away for a couple of split seconds, thinking you have a clear picture of all the details in sight, then turn back around and boom - he now looks about ten years older. To be fair, I haven’t checked up with my ophthalmologist in years, so I might really be needing contact lenses.

 

“These are all parts of who you are, indeed,” he replied. Yes! This time I couldn’t be wrong: he had a beard, and was wearing a more official suit now. The wrinkles around his eyes and cheekbones have also at least doubled in quantity, making his facial skin appear dribbled and definitely not youthful any more. 

 

“So according to you, you thought you wanted to get home, but saw the lavender fields. They’ve somehow lured you in with their aesthetic, their fragrance, I suppose.” right on these words, he took a match out of his pocket (for the record, the couple of minutes ago I could swear his cardigan-sweater didn’t have any. I struggled with all the strength I had to disguise my nickel-sized eyes, in order to pretend that nothing surprised me anymore by this point) and lit up a cigarette which, analogically to the match, appeared out of nowhere. “Happens to me too - I go for a walk and decide to wander here for a while.”

 

“I guess I’d be doing the same, if I lived anywhere close.” I quickly said, smiling to cover the remaining bits of shock. “It’s a truly beautiful place. I’m actually quite stunned with myself that I haven’t heard of, or discovered it before.”

 

“You wounded up here at the right season, too.” he smiled welcomingly. “There’s nothing quite like a lavender field of mid-July. Doesn’t even stand a chance of comparison when early August arrives - even though that’s dependent on individual preference. I’ll admit that throughout July, it sometimes becomes unbearable to leisure around here with the same contentment under the blazing sun rays. Sadly, as soon as September hits the corner, the flowers all begin to die out.”

 

My jaw had dropped to the floor, halfway while listening to his botanical-forecast lecture.

 

“Mid-July?” I asked, baffled, nearly assured that this time I’ve definitely misheard him or taken something out of context. “As far as that would explain how hot it is here...umm, as far as I am concerned, it’s still November. I can’t be mistaken about that - we have fall classes currently.” 

 

“Somewhere, perchance,” he said, “somewhere out there, November it is. But not here for sure - remember, you’re in the lavender fields. And even if you weren’t? You have still wandered into a source of your escapism, where the only rule of existence is: it could be anything you want it to be.”

 

Hm. He is correct. Just about anything in the world could possibly happen to you - for instance, running into one very strange man with perplexing eyes, who’d accuse you of “talking riddles”, and momentarily after, demonstrate an indisputable level professionalism in the same artistry.

 

“Is this still New York State?” I asked.

 

“Perchance, somewhere it is, my friend.” he replied. I decided it would be diplomatic to temporarily restrain from the urge to repeat my question, but boy, I’ll admit I have never previously been this confused.

 

We walked further more for a while. Thankfully, it wasn’t as hot any longer, which made the leisure time slightly even more enjoyable.

 

“May I pick a couple of lavenders to take home?” I asked. “These are beautiful. I love them. I’d love to put a couple of them in a pretty vase. Or maybe make a herbarium. I’m so rarely outside of the city.” on that note I turned to look at my companion. He looked unimpressed.

 

“I don’t own the fields,” he said, “so you may do what you please, I assume. And I have always loved them, too. But personally speaking, I’d rather leave them to prosper.”

 

I took that as a no, so we kept walking. I somehow felt bad about asking thoughtlessly to pick the flowers, so I added:

 

“I just thought nature is in general so miraculous. The flowers here are particularly prettiest. There are so many of them covering ground, that they almost blended in together from a distance, like a silky purple blanket. But from an up-close view, the texture of the flowers looks completely different and more detailed, and even more beautiful. I love it.”

 

“Well, the whole world is made of details.” he said. 

 

“The ones we see and the ones we don’t. You told me some aspects of who you think you are, but you say you are exactly sure of who you are? Could you say you are sure who your friends are, or the colleges, acquaintances, the momentary passengers around you? Let’s start with friends, for instance. Who are your friends?”

 

“My friends,” I paused and thought to myself. Who exactly should I talk about? What’s the best possible thing I could say? There’s Gregory Wiles, the sports guy with a dragon tattoo on his shoulder - looks exactly like the type you’d think would effortlessly win all the awards in the self-absorbed category, as well as every middle school girl’s innocent heart, but once you get to know him, he’s actually a sweet, humble guy who’s been engaged to his girlfriend Brittany for as long as I can remember. Phillip Keenan, who’s transferring to Harvard University next semester - everyone knew him as the science pro in high school. To conclude his cartoonish identity thoroughly, the poor guy also looks like the nerdiest nerd you could ever meet in a lifespan; however, that doesn’t stop us all from loving him and his quirkiness. His cousins, Bobby and Louise Bruckman, who taught us to play golf the last spring break. Marie Becker - I mean, I rarely get to talk to her now, but we got to chat a lot in graphic design class where we always worked as partners, and went to the city museum together one time - she’d still talk to me on Facebook once in a blue moon. There’s also Jessica Nobile, who is -kinda- my friend, because she’s also -kinda- everybody’s friend - the one with big hazel eyes, used to do cheerleading in junior high, always spontaneous and fun to be around, blatantly hyper at times...

 

I stood there with a puzzled look on my face, thinking of something particular to say in the best form. Somehow, any description that appeared in mind didn’t seem satisfactory enough for an answer. 

 

“I know what you are thinking,” he said. “You’re about to tell me your personal, subjective impressions of them, your relation to them, what they’d normally wear, what skills or are good at, how they make a living, and more of such to continue. Not that it’s bad to say any of that. But do you really - really think you’ve gotten to know who your friends are?”

 

“I mean...we do hang out a lot together,” I said, a little embarrassed. “I always thought that is the best process to get to know someone. Just multiply your natural state of being against the time you spend with each other, whenever you find the precious chance, among the other things that keep you busy, and as a result of the two factors you get this thing called friendship.”

 

“Oh dear, I thought so, too, in my good old days of youth,” he said thoughtfully, resting his long and richly bearded chin against his fingers again. By this point, I was definitely looking at a 60-year-old man; a man with the definite appearance of a director of a philharmonic orchestra in his tailcoat and outdated hairstyle with gray sideburns. “But you come a long way since where you started, and you suddenly see things differently, wishing you’d known them before. Sadly, life doesn’t print out your life instructions. You’re on your own with that.”

 

“I have yet to live and learn,” I said. “By the way, if you don’t mind me asking, where has your cigarette gone?”

 

“My cigarette? I don’t smoke.” he replied, carelessly brushing the dust off his black tailcoat. “Speak of the devil - smoking is one habit I’ve quit years ago. Even now, looking back, I still wish I could’ve done it sooner.”

 

“Years ago?” I asked. “But sir, you just had a...cigarette right now...I mean, at least I thought I saw you smoke minutes ago, and then it disappeared, and I...” I stopped, mouth half-open, and gasped, realizing I had made the worst possible mistake: he looked right into my eyes, with an inhumane glare I have never seen anyone, grotesquely powerful and enraged. I don’t get frightened, like - not casually worried or nervous about something, like we all do occasionally, but legit frightened, goosebumps and everything - but boy, was I now. His eyes weren’t blue any longer; they darkened like the thunderstorm skies, with a fire flame in them which I thought had the capacity of a laser light, capable of destroying me with one strike. I flinched with surprise, biting my tongue. However, the gruesome look on his face faded soon, with the flaming siennas and ambers fading back to the usual, melancholic and peaceful Carolina blue. Phew! Hopefully i’ve simply imagined it all.

 

He cleared his throat. “To simplify everything, the moral is: get to know your friends well. I’d say as soon as possible. It will be worth it. In addition, you will be surprised to find out you’re getting to know yourself too, better than you ever have.”

 

I shyly nodded, as a silent way of agreement. We kept on strolling. It got colder in the fields again, so I had to put my fall coat back on. Even with the coat, the cold kept getting more intense and started giving me goosebumps. I shrugged my shoulders back and forth to try and keep myself warm, until my eyes slid accidentally to my feet, and a drastic picture came into view: the flowers were beginning to die and lose color. Some have already died out entirely, with the leaves turning black and beginning to rot.

 

“They’re dying!” I screamed, puzzled. “Why even?”

 

“I told you it’s the last day.” he smiled, as his eyes quietly displayed complete opposing emotions. I don’t know where it came from, but at that moment, I felt the sadness that the stranger felt. Or maybe it was the freezing air crawling underneath my skin. I figured that for all the possible reasons, it would be best not to remain here.

 

“Should we leave?” I asked.

 

“We might as well. I will help get you onto the train home.” he said.

 

How generous. I was even about to decline the offer, but then remembered that I’m still in this weird neighborhood and have run into enough adventures for today, so I’d rather be guided for the sake of my own safety.

 

“Thank you for being so kind,” I said. “I’m gonna need to get on the B train.”

 

He stopped to think. “The B train,” he repeated thoughtfully. “I wonder if we even have those around.”

 

“It should definitely run from here.” I added, now getting worried. “I’m pretty sure that’s how I got here.”

 

There was a pause which hang in the air for at least good half a minute; in this moment, though, seeming like an infinity.

 

“Hm.” he said. “I think I’ve figured it out. Follow me.”

 

We turned right and walked until we approached another gate entrance, exactly like the one I’ve come across before, but located in a different place. He pushed the gate door, with by far not as much ease as it took me to enter through the other gate. We walked silently further 

where he stopped again.

 

“It’s three blocks right, up to when you see a red fire hydrant, and after that, one block left,” he finally said. “Alas, I will have to leave you here. I can’t walk any further than this.”

 

He took a few steps back, cleared his throat again, and had more to say:

 

“Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Even in the present moment. You are about to get on this train. If you know for sure where you’re heading, you will get there eventually. Even if you feel pain, it will be worth it. Apply that rather to everything in your life, and let the train just be an inception. Farewell, Alexandria!”

 

What? How on earth did he know my name? That was unexpected and creepy. Alright, not like everything else today wasn’t, but this was the last straw in destroying my logic of attempting to interpret the riddles which surrounded me today all at once. Either way, he was still so incredibly nice and generous towards me that I even felt bad for not showing enough care, wondering if me forgetting to ask, amidst all the other unusual things, what his name was, would be interpreted as egoistical and impolite. I turned around to see if I could at least get a chance to wave goodbye, but to my shock, he was nowhere to be seen. 

 

Neither were the lavender fields. The ground had gone black, and it started to snow. Very freaked out, I decided to not give it any more thought and to follow his directions to the train accurately.

 

Three blocks right, he said. I rushed forward swiftly. I have to count, because they all look identical to me... Here it is! The third block with the red hydrant! Following the anonymous man’s directions, I turned right and began walking faster, with more confidence. Yay! There it was - the B train station! I ran upstairs, slipping on the wet ground and hitting my head against the metal handrail - agh! I felt a strong and sharp pain, after which I possibly passed out, or fell into a trance, and couldn’t recall a thing.

 

 

I felt a pat on the shoulder. “Excuse me”, I hear a voice. Lazily, I open my eyes, repressed by some headache and dizziness, and observe the sight around me, still blurry: a cup of tea, happening to be mine, had apparently been kicked over by the heel of my shoe in my sleep, spilled over on the train floor, making a mess, which clearly didn’t impress a ginger-haired lady in a business suit, sitting peacefully beside me.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said shyly, in a hurry to find an old Starbucks napkin in my bag, previously tucked there messily, and reaching down to wipe the floor.

I looked further around, now fully awake, finding myself in the same seat of the same B train which I got on after saying goodbye to my little group. The display board informed me that I was still quite faraway from my stop - twelve more to go. Nothing was strange or unusual around me at all, neither had anything drastically changed in the air around, only now the train had significantly less passengers than before. 

 

I sit back fully into my seat. So, I was out with my friends, got on the train, and then I think it was...the lavender fields...a stranger who’d age in seconds...about to get on the train home...and then I woke up on the same train. Where did all of this come from? What has just happened? 

 

I stretch, throwing my head back and laughing silently, reflecting on the recent. Wow. What a dream. Too vivid to even be considered one for sure. I rarely fall asleep in public places anymore - the last time being in chemistry class - but I can’t recall having any form of vivid or substantial dreams during naps like that. I wish there were details I could remember more clearly. Still, it was already clear enough, to the point where I could even think I was watching a creepy movie. Wow. The world of sleep can actually be amusing. Either way, back to reality we are. 

 

I unbutton my bag and take my phone out - on hypothetical thought, gosh, could I ever live three seconds in a row without it? - to find that my lock screen had entirely come back to normal, with fifty-two percent of battery charged. I sigh with unmasked relief. Ah, the little intricate stresses of the twenty-first century. The social media life is alive and wide awake as well, just like it normally is. In fact, it only takes around three minutes to receive a call from my mom. 

 

“Aly!“ she said. “I’ve called you four times already. I know in advance what you’re gonna say - you’re nineteen and not nine years old, you don’t need to be nursed anymore, you have your own life and make your own decisions, to all of which I agree, but is it really that difficult to pick up the phone for once?”

 

“Oh, no,” I said quickly. “I’m sorry, but I somehow haven’t received them. I don’t have any missed calls, somehow.”

 

“Yeah, right,” she said, in a frowningly sarcastic tone. Ugh. As much as I have, without any possible doubt, the best mother in the world and love her to death, there she does again with her “Yeah, right”, the one phrase which, as I’ve learned, is always a premonition of conversations not going well, one that’s rarely failed me before.

 

“Mom, I swear I didn’t,” I said convincingly, to my honest defense. “Plus, I fell asleep on the train.”

 

“Ah, okay. That is alright,” she responded in a more calm tone, after which suddenly deciding to go right back in into her motherly duties: “Have you bothered to look at the time at all? Where were you for so long and where are you now?”

 

“I was with Greg, Phillip and Jessie at first”, I said. “They walked me over to the train and then left. And I also got to see the lavender fields. I’m on my way home now.” 

 

Whew! Bad idea, Aly. I don’t know why on earth have I mentioned the lavender fields to my mother. I just thought it’d sound slightly more appealing to her since she was once a florist, but right after spitting the words out of my mouth, I was not so sure any longer. Plus, it’s gonna lead to more detective questions from her within seconds. 

 

“You...you were with Greg, Phillip and Jessie, and then got to see what?” she repeated, just like I thought, with genuine disbelief.

 

“The...lavender fields,” I said softly, now skeptical myself. “It’s...it’s an anticafe.”

 

“Like a new pub somewhere downtown? Hopefully you aren’t talking about anything worse than some hookah bar where tattooed and pierced guys all crowd up with their girls, and god knows what else”, she asked with suspicion.

 

“No, Mom, no,” I interrupted, sighing. 

 

“You sure it all began with a field of lavenders and not some other plant, are you?” I could overhear my dad scream jokingly into mom’s phone from the other side. Knowing my parents quite well, I could swear mom probably snapped his fingers at him or something to send him away, while he’d be making artistically precise Jim Carrey faces.

 

“Not that either.” I said. “It isn’t anything too complex - I’ll tell you later. Do you need me to get you anything to eat on my way home?”

 

“I think we have plenty of food in the fridge,” my mom responded. “Actually, if anything besides the delis around you on your way is still open at this hour, it would be nice if you grabbed tacos and some wheat bread for tomorrow. Oh, and if you can find a small pack of orange tic-tacs for me to grab to work tomorrow, sweetie, that would be perfect.”

 

“And a big bag of Doritos for me!” Dad yelled.

 

“Shut up, Louis,” mom said to him cheerfully, her voice distancing from the phone gingerly. “Don’t forget to call Jessica about your working schedule for next week! Also,” - she whispered loudly and clearly enough for my dad to hear - “don’t you dare get Doritos.” 

 

It’s good that mom reminded me to phone Jess. I had almost forgotten myself. I took my phone back out of the bag. Forty-eight percent charged. Are you kidding me? The last time I checked, the number were fifty two. Why is the left side of my head aching? Ugh. I wish I was home already. With neither further hesitation, nor a significant eagerness to act, I dialed Jess. She picked up the phone right that second.

 

“Hey there,” I said. “Are you sleeping?”

 

“Clearly not any longer,” Jessie rumbled, with extreme pretentious irritation. “It’s all good. I wasn’t. What’s up?”

 

“I’m still on the way to my house,” I said. “Almost there, thankfully. What are you doing?”

 

“Freakin’ playing golf on Mars with the royal family,” Jessie over-pronounced every word grumpily, a habit she only goes into when she’s become moderately annoyed - which, in most cases, doesn’t take a long time. “What kind of question is that? What in the world would I be doing at this hour? Do you seriously expect an answer of exiguous entertainment? Gosh, Alexandria, I seriously can’t deal with you sometimes.”

 

Fighting, with all the will it took me, the sudden temptation of using this chance and proudly declaring that I can’t deal with Jessica probably a lot more that she can’t deal with me, I decided to jump straight to a whole divergent topic, simultaneously while hopping off the train at - finally - my very stop. Jessie is clearly not in the best mood, I thought to myself. I’d ask why, but I knew it was better to just leave her alone at moments like that.

 

While getting off the train, something I had entirely forgotten about slipped into my mind. Jessica’s mother passed away exactly two years-minus-one-day ago. The tragic picture of the many people, including Jessie and myself, all gathered at her funeral appeared in my mind. I never knew anything about how close Jessica was with her mother, but I did remember being a little surprised by how she didn’t shed a tear. I shook it off then, thinking that’s just her way. We all have different ways of how we deal with something that breaks us down inside. Sometimes these ways are loud cries of despair for the whole world to hear, volcanic eruptions, meteorites hitting ground, and sometimes it’s a tiny squeak of a mouse, a grass-level whisper 

that nobody would hear unless intentionally listening, on the lookout for that exact sound, knowing just where you’re gonna discover it - while no one else would. I held the phone to my ear, silently diving into these thoughts, as I rushed off the platform.

 

“I’m sorry your precious little feelings are hurt,” Jessie said, breaking the silence. “Didn’t know you were such a wimp.”

 

 “Jess,” I said with a strict tone of voice, “on a more serious note, what’s happening with work tomorrow? Do I have to come or are you going to be there, my shift remaining Monday?” 

 

“Yeah, I guess it’s my day shift tomorrow,” she replied, “and then Lillian takes over for the night shift.

 

“You guess or do you know for sure?” I said, a little unclear. “Can you find out? I’m talking work here, not pilates class.”

 

“Oh my gosh,” Jessie said, stretching out her words in a pouty-lips kind of tone, “what is wrong with you today? What the hell was in the tea you were drinking? On second thought, even if you told me what it was, I wouldn’t ask you to share, because apparently, it has the effect of turning decent people into obnoxious and annoying pricks.”

 

“Your jokes are worse than my dad’s,” I said. “And I ordered honey-lavender tea, if that was actually of any interest to you.”

 

“I hate honey-lavender.” Jessie said capriciously. “I’d way rather get chamomile-citrus tea, if I were you. Or bergamot. Or rose-hip, at the very least.”

 

“It’s too bad they didn’t have chamomile-citrus,” I said. “I’d choose it, too. By any chance, was it you who brought fries to work? I saw some in the fridge this Friday and I wasn’t sure if they were yours.”

 

“I’m on a diet,” Jessie said. “I left them for you guys. So you’d all get fat and ugly. Just for that reason. Besides me, of course. I’m out of the eatery squad, fortunately. Wasn’t gonna let anything ruin that purr-fect thigh gap of mine. I mean, the one I will have shortly, and it’ll be the kind that could make all these Victoria’s Secret bimbos jealous.”

 

I rolled my eyes. “Well, thanks for the food, I guess”, I said. (Can we have a round of applause and roll the curtains at this “Thank you, but no thank you” moment?) “Hold up. So you stayed at work all day long right after I left at 7 am. Did you get a chance to eat anything at all yesterday?”

 

“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away...” Jessie hummed into the phone. Only Jessica could go from talking models to singing The Beatles out of tune. “It’s fine. I had a single cup of coffee. Just kidding!” she screamed. “I actually had three.”

 

“Geez, I am just making sure you aren’t starving yourself,” I said quickly. “I also hope that the Victoria’s Secret thigh-gap thing was an unserious joke, and not actually...”

 

“Don’t worry about it!” Jessie screamed out, temperamentally. “I swear, today you are acting just like Aunt Paula when she comes to visit. She gets on my nerves practically for everything: what I eat, where I go, who I’ve dated... It never ends. I hate her because she’s so annoying. She’s like a freakin’ leech. Actually,” she paused, “it was a bad idea to bring her up in a comparison. That’s an overestimation. I take that back. Nobody comes close to Aunt Paula. She is a hundred times worse than literally anyone else - combined. You’re not even in the same league.”

 

I smiled to myself. So, it turns out Jessie did leave some food in the fridge for us. She can actually be such a sweetheart, when you look further than the impression she makes. My mother has always told me there is something wonderful about everyone, and as for Jessie, there was undoubtedly a lot to say about her, with, despite that some may argue, the bright side of the coin as well...

 

“I wanted to say a couple more things,” I added, with a bit of uncertainty, “but it might sound to you really strange.”

 

“I’m guessing it probably will,” Jessie interrupted me. “Yet, what in the world is it?”

 

“It’s just that...” I began and stopped, realizing I have never really planned out how I was going to say what I wanted to say, but I knew, without the slightest doubt, what it was going to be. “Jess, I don’t know about others, but

really appreciate how you’re always hyper and full of life and energy. I personally think it’s a quality people rare possess. Sometimes I’m having a slow day, but then there’s you, always so active that I suddenly feel a rush of energy and the desire to keep going with my day.”

 

“Hyper, you say? Three cups of coffee a day, I repeat myself,” Jessie said. “That’s the secret, otherwise I’d probably be passing out every five seconds. Alright, and maybe a Red Bull once in a while.”

 

“Still though,” I continued, “and I also like how you smile all the time. No matter when I see you, there is always a wide smile on your face. Even when you’re angry.”

 

“I know I do,” Jessie said. “People have been unpleasantly informing me with that since elementary. They also mostly thought it was weird. Especially the boys.”

 

Oh well. The personality compliments were clearly not working. There is still a plan-B option I’m gonna have to switch to. Not that Jess was the most shallow human being on planet earth, or that I was entirely secure with the need for what I was going to say next, but...

 

“And you’re beautiful, too,” I added in quickly. “I mean, I’m sure people have told you that, countless times, but I will say it too. I actually think you look great without makeup - I mean, I love the makeup that you do - but you look just as pretty without it. And it’s needless to cover up your freckles in the summertime.”

 

“I never said I’m ugly,” Jessie said, “I just really need to get these two darn bottom teeth fixed. Speaking of makeup, my entire full-face renewal arrives next week and then I’ll be alright.”

 

“Nice,” I said, feeling kind of indifferent.

 

“Not that I’m cautious now. Don’t you dare think that. But I’ll really be more on point with that Maybeline bronzer. Anyway, I am indeed working tomorrow, yes. And I definitely will give you back your clutch the next time I see you. Hopefully my stupid brother hasn’t drawn anything on it. But you’re getting it back either way. So there, you can stop kissing up to me now, Alexandria.”

 

“It is not that,” I said. “I am not kissing up. I just wanted to say these things, and I said them sincerely.”

 

“Oh well then,” she laughed. “You are still getting your clutch back. Kissing up or not, whatever it was that you were doing - it worked. Anyway, I’m gonna have to sleep now.” Jessie yawned.

 

“Okay, night,” I said.

 

“Night.” she replied, serenely, before hanging up. “Thanks for everything, Aly.” -on that note, she hang up.

 

For everything. Wow. I didn’t even do that much. Although the phone call didn’t go exactly according to plan - let’s be honest though, how many phone calls, if they aren’t for some official cause, happen to follow the exact wording scheme planned in your mind? - I noted to myself that Jess’s closing line was “Thanks for everything,” instead of cracking up some fleetingly made-up joke, or brushing me off sarcastically, and to me, that seemed like quite a rare occasion. We were all used to her ways of expression, so we don’t even take it as offensive anymore, prior to the people who meet her for the first time and aren’t familiar with a vibe like hers. So it was unusual, coming from her, to hear a simple “Thank you.” Before, I have always thought that people tend to express their deepest and strongest feelings in ways other than words, and have always been a dedicated admirer of rare phrasing - by that I mean the words of those who don’t talk much, but everything they say hits the jackpot in two split seconds. It’s almost like their mind is a literary generator, capable of producing the exact, best-suited phrase at the right time. It’s an in-born gift that some people are undoubtably blessed with, and some others - me very likely included into the latter category - shamelessly lack.

 

But right now I suddenly saw Jessica Nobile from a whole new light. Jessie, who always, and I mean -always- had something to say - whether appropriate or not. She’d let the words tumble out without a single care, and if you’d spend a lot of time around her, you could actually find out she was quite predictable. You were starting to figure out what she 

This time, even the vibrations in her voice sounded quite not like herself at all. They sounded somewhat like the strange man in the lavender fields. A hint of the train’s wheels moving. A bit like every other detail around...

 

I fall back into my train seat, resting my head in my hands, and think back to Jess. What if there’s more details to her, which none of her friends from cheerleading, or from last year’s beauty pageant seemed to notice. What if right now she actually felt cared for, on that opposite side of the call, for the first time in a long while. Felt nurtured with friendly protection which she, in all her leadership cheer, never felt like she needed, or at least, would never recompense herself with the weakness to need. Becoming, at the very least, satisfactorily familiarized with Jess’ complex persona, over the eight or nine times I’ve seen her, chances are - I may possibly never know for sure, and may forever be left struck by an outbreak of details, so many indications of her being someone who I never thought she could be. To be truthful, if I had to previously give it any rational thought, she’s the last person I’d normally consider to possess any valuable layers of emotional depth. I mean, that’s judging just by the outer picture: she was never my closest friend, and I could argue that most likely, I wasn’t hers, either. But now, all it took was one little act of kindness to have the same old details forming an entirely different puzzle piece of brand new dimension. 

 

Or was it all me and not her? Was it all just the perceptive formation of these details in my mind? It all probably means nothing, I tell myself.

 

Walking through the dark, yet well familiar street that led home, I tossed out my empty teacup into the closest trash bin. I then looked over to my bag just in case, and to my amusement, in the midst of the usual, well familiar mess, I noticed something that clearly was not a part of my possessions, that I somehow haven’t seen there before. Feeling obviously a little wary, I was right about to walk a few steps back to the garbage can to throw it out immediately; instead, however, an infantile curiosity took over me. I carefully took the object out of the bag. It turned out to be tiny plastic substance that looks like a free sample for a perfume. Instead, it had a circle-shaped opening on one side, just like a plastic or a glass bottle, with a paper neatly tucked inside. I started scratching it out with my nail, trying not to rip it apart into tinier pieces. The paper started to give in slowly, revealing some inked letters I could not yet identify, until the paper fell out of the bottle, entirely loose, slipping from my fingers to the ground. I fell to my knees swiftly to pick it back up, unwrapping and straightening it out to read its mysterious content, as I stoped and gasped in disbelief...

“Don’t forget the lavender fields,” it said.

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2018 Alexandra Marlens. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

More Fantasy Short Stories