The first Step to being Real
My head shot up so fast that if it wasn’t attached, it probably would have taken out the window. But it was attached, and the result was that I think I gave myself whiplash.
“GET UP HELENA!”
“I’m awake!” I lied as I fumbled to get off of my bed without falling.
I heard Mom running back and forth in the living room. For a moment I wondered what was wrong, and if Dad was okay. I admit a little tremor of fear caught me.
“We’re going to go shopping! Your father is taking us! Hurry up and shower and get into something nice!”
I looked into my wardrobe and pulled out a pair of old jeans and a button up shirt that was being worn so much it looked like the buttons had been sewed on a minimum of five times.
I swiftly ran, tripped, shuffled, and groggily walked into the bathroom, and closed the door. I quickly shed the clothes I had worn to sleep last night, and jumped into the shower.
I washed my hair as well as I could, it had become a matted nest while I slept. Maybe I could convince Mom to let me cut it. But she was in love with it, and believed I should grow it to my ankles, though she didn’t say as much.
I finished showering and toweled off, and quickly dressed. The shirt was blue, but it had been patched down the left side, where I had an unfortunate accident with a dog smaller than a rabbit.
Some people’s dogs.
I rolled up the sleeves and held them in place with safety pins that I found in the cupboard. The bathroom was small, so it wasn’t hard to find things.
I went back to my room and brutally brushed my hair so the tangles came out. It didn’t hurt. My head had gotten harder with the years of hair brushing abuse.
When the hair was untangled and beginning to have a dull shine, I grabbed a rubber band and tied it in a ponytail. Better it be out of my eyes than in them, I believe.
I pulled on some bright green socks and slid into some of the oldest tennis shoes ever to grace the floor of this apartment since we moved in. They were comfortable and broken in, which was why I liked them so much.
I walked out into the living room. Mom was wearing a plaid dress with black shoes and a plaid purse.
Dad was there too. He was in a business suit, slightly red faced and mustached. His hair was thinning in a few places.
Dad had a heart attack a year ago. Stress related. Apparently some volcano exploded and covered up some ruins, and it freaked out his employers, so they freaked him out. And it got to be too much. Now, he runs, or says he does, and cuts back the drinks at nine and the cigars for the successes. He does look a bit better, but sometimes he seemed married to his job more than my Mom.
“Good morning sweetheart. Good heavens, don’t you have better shirts?”
“Well, that’s what we’re going shopping for, Edwin.” Mom said happily as she primped her hair.
“I have better shirts, but it’s too hot.” I said. He nodded.
“Of course it is. Well, come on dear, let’s go shopping. We’ll go to Englesburg.”
Englesburg is a town two hours from Trabwick, which was where we were staying. It seemed that all the towns in a three hour radius had weird names, probably due to whatever person had discovered and settled the land. Or just settled.
We got into the car, a jeep of all cars, and started the nice long drive in ninety degree weather to Englesburg.
Mom and Dad were extraordinarily civil to one another, considering he did miss dinner last night. This shopping trip must be his way of making peace.
Not bad. Go for the weak spot Pop. She can’t stay mad if you voluntarily offer shopping.
My eyes started to get tired. My eyelids started to droop. There was no music to listen too, and Mom and Dad were talking in the front, about who knows what. I shifted into the seat a bit and tried to take a little nap.
It scrunched tightly into a little ball. It had nothing else to do. Nowhere else to go.
Nothing to do but wait.
But for what, It did not know.
Not yet anyway.
My Mom poked me awake a couple of hours later and dragged me off into the streets, decorated in brightly colored paper, with people laughing as they walked past. Everyone seemed so happy. I wondered why. Then I knew.
They didn’t have to shop with my mother. They were laughing out of sheer relief.
“Those kids at Kansas will be so jealous, they won’t be able to find stuff like this.” She was obviously very happy. Her triumph in finding the most hideous skirt in all existence overwhelmed everyone in a twenty foot radius. Which was just me.
Dad was just smiling and nodding, paying absolutely no attention to the scene in front of him. After all, he’d already saved himself from Mom’s wrath. He had no wish to jeopardize it now.
After several hours of being dragged though some good stores and some bad ones, I managed to stave off the torrent of truly evil clothing like the frilly gold skirt and the polka dotted green and purple shirt with horizontal bars. What I did have was three bags full of solid color pants and a couple plaid skirts, with several shirts with flowers on them, perfectly designed to flatter the womanly figure, as mother put it, which meant it had a tee shirt collar and went past my hips.
Really they weren’t bad. Some of them were actually nice, but some I vow to only wear around the house.
After we ate late lunch at an Italian restaurant, which served Mexican food, the reason of which will continue to boggle me, we got back into the jeep. I shoved the bags onto the floor and shifted to get comfortable for the nap back.
“We have to stop real quick at a site of mine. Do you mind, dear?”
“Of course not! Honey, won’t it be exciting to see your father’s work?” Mom said happily. I don’t think anyone could burst her happy bubble. She had two bags of new clothes and was perfectly content with life.
“Great. How far is it?”
“Half an hour. Don’t go to sleep, we’ll be there in no time.”
I resisted the urge to tell him the time would go faster if I napped. But really, I nap far too much already. It was a miracle my grades have never suffered from it.
Since my parents do move quite a bit because of Dad’s work, I sometimes take a few classes home school. If I pass the tests handed to me, I pass the year. I never really had to struggle with them. But then again, Mom makes me study for several straight days before the tests, so that may be it.
The half hour passed faster than I expected. I had spent most of the time staring out the window.
We stopped in the middle of thick jungle. Sure, everything but several roads and about three miles around the cities and towns were crawling with forest, but it was still pretty impressive to see the trees just outside the car.
“Everybody out!” Mom said happily, still on her cloud.
I clambered out of the car and looked around. My eyes fell on a massive old ruin. It was covered in plant life, but it was still very impressive.
Dad was talking to Mom about the ruin, trying to get some ideas on how to get more people to come. Apparently, the last researchers had up and left, as he had informed my Mom. She was listening carefully. After all, she did use to be a real estate agent.
Though it didn’t look like anyone would buy this thing.
I walked forward through the plants and began looking at it from different angles. It looked as if someone had sealed the entrance closed with a rock. But parts of the rock had become weathered, and a big chunk had fallen off.
I felt a sharp pain as my shoe landed on something big. The soles were getting thin. I lifted the foot back up and saw an odd, perfectly round black marble.
I picked it up and let it balance on my palm. Despite being in the hot sun, it felt oddly cool. It was the size of a shooter, and it must have knocked quite a few marbles this way and that in its day.
“What did you find honey?” Dad was peering over my shoulder. I jumped a little, strangely entranced for some reason.
“It’s a marble.” I said as I held it up for him to see better.
He squinted at it, which is funny to watch, because one side of his mustache goes up when he does that.
“Must have been left here by some of the researchers.”
“Do you want it?” I asked.
“No, you keep it, Honey. Souvenir. Let’s go back to the house, alright?”
“Okay.” I pocketed the marble and followed him back to the jeep. He seemed happy with whatever idea Mom had given him, so when we got back into the jeep, it wasn’t surprising that he turned on the radio and managed to catch some music that we all understood.
I smiled and leaned my head back. My eyelids closed slowly, and I drifted back to sleep.
I woke up suddenly two minutes from home.
What a strange dream. I was sitting at a table with a test in front of me, but none of the questions made sense. All of them seemed to have one major theme.
What do I believe in?
One question asked me if I believed in magic, another in dragons, one about werewolves, another about talking pasta, for a reason I can’t begin to fathom.
And then another set of question asked me what I was willing to try to believe in.
Would I try to believe in talking horses? Amazing treasure? Flying pigs?
I didn’t remember all of the dream. I sense that if I had started the test instead of staring at it and wondering why I didn’t study, I might get an idea about why I was taking the test, and why I seemed to be stuck in the medieval times.
“Honey? Oh, you’re awake. Okay, take your stuff up to your room, and do your homework.” Mom said cheerfully as she took her bags inside. I grabbed mine and followed after almost taking a nose dive into the pavement when I tried getting out of the jeep. I really needed to wake up more before I got up to walk.
I went back to my room and put my clothes in a corner. I picked up my homework and scanned it. It was done; I had finished it a few nights ago. I always try to finish my homework as fast as possible, that way I have time for the things I want to do.
Which always seems to involve a pillow.
I plucked up the book I tried to read last night. I know why it never seems to be interesting enough to read through. I’ve read it through six times already.
It’s an old book, about a girl, who needs to learn some self confidence and get magically transported to a world where she learns things that will one day teach her about the world.
Alice in Wonderland. It’s one of my favorite books. I love to read about the characters and all the adventures she keeps having. Though, truth be told, it’s kind of hard to read, a little stuffy.
I also like other books, some psychology books, because of some morbid fascination. I’ve been trying to pin my parents to one certain disability. I like true crime with my dragons and unicorns, and I like to read the odd autobiography. I also like to read war epics, and some other books, not all of them the line by line writing. I’m talking comics, the kind with superheroes and villains where the only hope lies on the shoulders of the lone man, and even though his superhero life goes great, his social life sucks, and vice versa.
But lately, my books have been sparse. A few months ago, when I ran out of books to read, I started sleeping more and more often.
And I already slept a good amount already. I think books were the only thing that kept me awake for those hours.
I put the book down and stretched out on the bed, pulling the black marble out of my pocket as I did so, and putting it near my eyes. It’s blackness seemed to be through and through, and it seemed to be made of black glass, which struck me as odd. Most marbles that look black are actually a dark purple or green.
I closed my hand around it and curled up into a ball. Maybe I’d have that weird dream again. Then I could go look for a teacher.
Maybe it would end up being my Aunt Edna. Or worse, it could be my Mom. Now that would be embarrassing…
Such a strange new place.
And such new, wonderful ideas.
This youth’s head was full of them. And in her dreams, she believed. It was just a matter of getting her to believe when she awoke, then It could move like a true being, not a shadow of a memory.
And it was far easier to whisper to her, now that she held It in her hand. She dreamed, and It asked her to believe, hoping against hope that it would be enough to Be.
In her dream It watched. It watched as she looked over the questions It whispered, wonderingly listening.
For as long as she wondered, It could see the things she believed in her dreams. Cats that spoke, Shining Knights in armor, psychics, monsters good and bad, amazing puzzles, theories, scientific explanations, people, so many strange things. Wondrous.
As It watched, It could feel itself being shaped. To a form she would most likely understand and believe in.
Soon, if all went well, It would be alive.