If anyone had foretold of the future Gaz was to
encounter why, they must be mad. As mad as a hatter…
And so it was that she marched on with the inevitable flow of Life. Much crossed her path, but she rarely gave it a second thought and put it on its way, right out of her overall existence. That was the way Gaz had always been. Since she was young, she learned to decipher life. Sorting through the fact and fiction, she set herself up not for a fairy tale that was birthed by dreams, but a world with as little disappointments as possible.
Yet even the "truth","reality", and "science" of this world was too crazy for her. There were ideas and theories she could not wrap her mind around. Not because she was unintelligent. She simply could not comprehend how foolish humans could be. So she avoided that part of the world, too.
Though she could not avoid it all. Her father was a scientist, the very root of science and progress. And Dib, well, he managed to bring fact and fiction together by studying various legends and stories such as Big Foot, Loch Ness, and the Haunted Toaster--he refused to eat toast for a year when he heard that story.
Gaz steered clear of that way of life and remained in her own realm of solitude and rested her stern focus on what really mattered.
Who declared what was important in this world? What was important? Some may say money, riches beyond the wildest dreams. Others stated that family and happiness was all that one needed. So if all of that were true, why did she feel so unfulfilled? She had family. Even though they were not a picture-perfect family, an image of the American dream, she still had a brother and a father. Though they seldom communicated with one another, their presence was still known.
Most of the time.
And due to the success of her famous father, they had money to spare. Never before had she worried that they would go hungry, that one day they would lose the house, lose it all. So why wasn’t she happy? What was it that little Gaz craved the most?
“A different world.”
The shower drizzled down a storm of steaming water that covered her bare shoulders and back. As she breathed in the humid moisture, she laid her back against the almond, creamy walls surrounding her. She listened to the water cleansing her body. It tickled every root of hair, sunk into each pore, and doused every freckle.
Skool was going to begin soon. The teachers would continue to bring up the graduation projects and college requirements and SAT tests and...
Being in high school was a cruel reminder of the fact that soon, she would become a part of this world. A part of the scientific theories. The heart-crushing fairy tales. A conflicting existence.
Alone in the shower, she could think. It was not often that she could relax and leave the insanity of her writhing life to search out a moment of serenity. Usually whenever she finally managed to unearth the well hidden tranquility, someone would find a way to disturb her and interrupt the scarce feeling. For once it seemed that she was able to rest.
A thud on the door caused her eyes to slowly open. With an irritable sigh, she listened to her brother holler through the locked door, “Gaz! How long are you going to be in there? It’s almost time for school and I still have to take a shower!”
She banged her fist against the wall, switched off the rain of water, and slid the glass shower doors open. Stepping into her robe, she wrapped it securely around her body before peering into the mirror. Dark circles beneath her eyes, frowning eyebrows, and a weeping grimace to rot the world; it was not the sight she had wished to see, especially if that image was of herself.
When the door swung open, her brother unloaded a long lecture about the great deal of time she had spent inside the bathroom. His voice was muffled only when the door to her bedroom slammed shut in his face. Inside the safety of her room, she swished the towel across her violet hair and produced a tangled mass of weaving tresses. Her robe slid to the floor and with icy feet, she stepped into her closet to retrieve the usual outfit: a black dress that hung over magenta, black-striped leggings, complete with a skull necklace.
Dib waited impatiently outside her room as he listened to the hair dryer roaring. When all was calm, he banged on the door. “We’ve got to go to school now, Gaz. Or we’ll be late!”
Shooing him off before reaching for her backpack, she glanced around the house one more time before closing the front door.
It was only the middle of the day and already she was bored. The same routine occurred over and over. Dib would argue with Zim and point out that he was a being not of this world, failing each time to gain the support of his fellow students. She slipped in and out of each class without speaking so much as a single word to neither her peers nor her teacher. At lunch, she would drown herself in video games and continue to ignore her brother’s rants. "Why don't you help me, Gaz?" he'd say. "Zim is an alien and he has to be stopped! If you try and expose him, we can work together and show everyone what he is really is."
"And then?" She looked away from her video game for a second to study her brother. Her brow raised questioningly.
"And then?" he repeated. "We'll land him on an autopsy table and save the world!"
With a scoff, she left and headed for English class.
At the head of the room, Miss Bitters sat perched at her desk with a scowling glare. The woman was like a gargoyle, unmoving and eerie. How that woman, the former, odd elementary Skool teacher, managed to become her teacher in high school, Gaz did not know. But what she did know was that this was the class she dreaded most for she had come to expect the one peer that sat right behind her: Zim.
“Of all the people…” she muttered as she took her seat. Zim hardly noticed her presence and remained messing with the odd device cradled in his hands.
“Class, we have something very important to talk about,” Miss Bitters began. As she continued, Gaz mouthed out the words as the teacher spoke. She said the same thing every day. “We are going to discuss your pitiful existence and see if you have any hope of making it in this dark world.”
Gaz zoned out for the remainder of class, ignoring the familiar reminder that each student in the room was doomed to a life of working for Bloaty’s Pizza Hog and scrounging for quarters in broken payphones.
She was so unfocused that she nearly missed the tidbit of information that the teacher said at the end of class. “Wait,” she said, sitting up, “what?”
Miss Bitters frowned but repeated herself. “I said that due to the principle hoping to reduce the misery of this school, each grade level has been assigned a novel to read. So for homework, I want each of you to read the first eighty pages of this.” In her hands was a copy of Alice in Wonderland.
“Are you kidding me?” Gaz groaned as she passed the stalk of books back to Zim.
“The Gaz-human does not wish to partake in this human ritual?” Zim asked.
“It’s not a ritual,” she spat. “It’s just some stupid story.”
Zim glanced at the cover. “I believe I have read this before…”
“It was when I first arrived on this pathetic planet,” he continued. “I happened to read several of your “Earthly novels” in hopes of gaining information about your people. But I must say that I have never seen a Mad Hatter or a rabbit in a waist coat. And who is this Alice that they refer to over and over again?”
“They aren’t real.” She stood to leave when the bell rang. “It’s just some fictional story. It doesn’t matter.”
He followed her into the hallway, much to her detest. She entered the combination into her locker and shoved the books within. Zim leaned against the wall of metal doors and crossed his arm.
“Gaz-human does not care for fiction?”
“Why would I?”
“Why shouldn’t you?”
She shrugged. “It only reminds me that this world is the exact opposite of a fairy tale.”
“You surprise me, little Gaz. Every other female worm I have met is constantly daydreaming of fantasies and Prince Dashing. Why not you?”
“First, it’s Prince Charming.” She sighed. “And forgive me for not waiting up for a knight in shining armor, but I don’t believe in happily ever after.”
He rubbed his fingers together and stared at her questionably. “Is that so?”
“I’m not going to get my hopes up like everyone else and become disappointed when Charming doesn’t arrive. I don’t need anyone to save me. I can handle myself.”
“Yeah, well,” she closed her locker and walked down the hall, “if you think the stuff in the books can really happen, then let me know how that works out for you.”
Zim drummed his fingers together, squinting at the girl as he hummed, “Yes, interesting. Very interesting indeed…”