The dream. The dream haunted my mind like a father does his first born. Images flashing. Sounds booming. I felt myself loosing against the haunting, but all that mattered right now was this dream. The faces. The yelps. The people I know—well, the people I thought I know… the people I knew.
The flames licked up Claire’s legs, fire shooting out of her pale hands, fire surrounding her before I could get there. Her piercing screams splitting the air in two, and for the longest moment of my life, I couldn’t get to her fast enough. I rounded the burning cafeteria tables and reached out to help her, but only finding a pile of ash in the place she last occupied.
There was no way she was gone. She just got away, right?
The sight flashed over and over in my mind, no matter where I was or what I was doing. It was still hauntingly fresh.
“Suthard! What is it?” I finally snapped out of my trance by my ticked off history teacher, Mrs. Kirkwood.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know, Mrs. Kirkwood.” I blurted, not even knowing the question.
“You don’t know why the American Civil war started?” She asked, dumbfounded as the rest of the class burst into a mass of giggles.
I didn’t want her to catch on my dozing again, so I hung my head low and mumbled, “No.”
Mrs. Kirkwood seemed to buy it, “Alright then, let’s hope your friend here can help you. Ms. Bound, what is it?”
My best friend tore her gaze from me to the teacher and told her, “because of slavery.” When Claire replied, she turned back to me and mouthed, ‘are you okay?’ with a quick nod, I turned back to our teacher and tried to focus on what she was saying, but my mind kept drifting back to this dream I had. Was it like the others?
The bell snapped my attention back into the present and I scurried all my belongings back into my backpack. I flung it onto my shoulder and looked up to find Claire waiting for me by the door. I hurried to catch up with her, the whole time avoiding eye contact with my flustered teacher, who was watching me intently. I finally reached the door and rushed Claire into the hallway. We made our way to my locker, like we always did after sixth period, with Claire shooting me worried looks all the way there.
When we made it to my locker, Claire finally demanded, “Alright, spill it.”
I tried to shake her off, still knowing it wouldn’t happen, “What do you mean?”
“Oh, please. Don’t play this with me. I saw how distant you were in class. You were practically drooling. What’s going on in that mind of yours?”
I tried not to make it sound too creepy. “I haven’t been sleeping too well lately.”
She stared blandly at me for a second before her mouth dropped open and stayed that way until I finished placing my history book in my locker. She finally spoke after what seemed like forever, but it came out as a small whisper, “Shut-up! You had another dream! Like the other mojo one? What happened?” She demanded.
I faced her full on after I shut my locker. “Nothing really. This one was really stupid and I doubt it would ever happen like my ‘mojo ones’.” I let some sarcasm seep into my voice at the end of the sentence.
“Yeah, but if it’s not a stupid one, it could mean something or tell the future like your last ones. Tell me!” She begged.
A year ago, I told her I had a dream about her current boyfriend, Brody, getting mugged in an alleyway behind the old bookstore, just trying to help. I had never told anybody besides my brother, and I was surprised when she believed that I have these kind of psychic dreams that can tell the future. We helped save Brody, calling the authorities ahead of time and getting them there before anyone managed to get hurt. When asked by them why we called it in, Claire covered for me, saying she saw these creeps watching her boyfriend recently, and she was just worried. They are no longer together, but that incident has made me put my trust her in the highest possible way. The only other person I trust as completely as her is my older brother, Liam.
“You’re probably going to think I’m losing it. Seriously, it’s stupid.”
“Yeah, right. When was the last time I laughed at you? Come on, I’ve known you for years. Just tell me what happened.”
She was right about that. She was the first person I met when I moved to this town, and we just hit it off as friends, and I had soon after that adopted her as my best friend. Her bubbly and sweet attitude always seemed to stick with her, and I was glad it did. That was one of the many things I loved about my best friend.
I took a deep breath and gave in, “Fine, but you can’t laugh at me, okay?” I waited for her nod before continuing, “You and I were in the cafeteria when fire erupted in front of us, and I tried to drag you out, but you seemed mesmerized by what you had done and…”
Claire looked confused, so I decided to tell her the truth—I mean, I can always trust her with my crazy dilemmas. I took a deep breath and continued, “You were the one that set the school on fire—and it wasn’t matches or anything. You actually shot the fire out of your hands.” I tried to ignore her confused look and continued, “But, I couldn’t get to you in time, like no matter what I did, the fire made sure you were unreachable then you—”
I shut off short, because I couldn’t tell her the two of us went in there, but only one came out. I just stopped and looked at her. She was looking at me as if I had three heads. She opened and closed her mouth three times, and I took the time to turn around and start heading for our next classes. She appeared beside me before I could go far. “Well, maybe this one is figurative, like, I start a problem or something, and there is no backing out of it?” she suggested
“Yeah, maybe…” I let the skepticism seep into my tone, but then dropped it. “But, it all felt so real. Like, I felt the heat and the smoke suffocating me, like I couldn’t breathe anymore. I don’t know. Maybe this time, I am losing it.”
“No, El. Look at me.” She grabbed my shoulder and forced me to look at her. She stared into my eyes as she spoke, “You haven’t lost it. This entire thing means something like it always does, do you hear me? Just… trust me. Okay?”
I gave in, “Alright. Thanks, Claire.”
The corners of her mouth twitched into a light smile, “Hey, what are best friends for?” The bell rang right as she asked.
I smirked, then replied, “Apparently making you late for class.”
She mirrored my smile and we both rushed up the stairs and into our classes, hers thankfully right next to mine. I walked into my advanced Calculus class, which was full of seniors. I have to say it was a little awkward being the only junior in this class, but I loved math. It was the one subject I was good at.
The assignment was easy, as always, and I finished early again. So, instead of studying or reading, like I usually did when I finished the assignment, I just sat back and let my mind wander. What if Claire was right? What if it were just figurative, then what did it mean? Or was it just a regular, stupid, pointless dream like others had? As much as I wanted to believe that, my dreams have never been normal, and there was no reason why to start now.
The bell took an excruciating long time to ring, and, glad school was out, I began walking out in the halls. I saw Claire and waved to her as I walked down the stairs and out the back door of the high school.
The weather outside was the best it had been in months, so I decided to walk home. I sent my brother a quick text and waited for his response, once again warning me to be careful. I told him I will and slid the phone back into my pocket.
The sun soaked in all my pores as the slight breeze brushed against my body. I closed my eyes and let myself soak in the moment. Somebody honked from behind and I turned to find my friend, Kayla, in her new sports car. How her family got so rich? I had no idea. Being polite, I gave her a slight wave and felt my phone buzz in my back pocket. Pulling it out, I read her text:
“Need a lift?”
I glanced up at her and pushed the call button on my ghetto flip phone. By now, she managed to zoom past me, but that didn’t stop her from answering. Her voice was innocent, no doubt imagining the lecture she was about to get.
I confronted her with a laugh etching its way into my voice, “You know, you shouldn’t text and drive. It’s very dangerous.”
I heard a light giggle on the other end as she replied, “Come on, Elana. Let yourself have a little fun.”
“Yeah, I do have fun, but not the life-threatening fun you do.”
She laughed again before responding, “So, did you want a ride? I’m stopped at the stupid light again if you want a lift. I bet you could make it before it turns.”
“Nah, my brother already asked me. It’s a beautiful day; I just want to walk home.”
She sighed, then finally spoke up, “Alright, but be careful. Who knows what the creeps out there are willing to do nowadays?”
“Yeah, I already got the lecture from my brother. Have fun, alright? I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Alright, girl. Have some fun! I’ll see you soon.” With that, the phone clicked and as she hung up. I slipped my phone back into my pocket.
The walk home was relaxing. It was a good four miles, and I enjoyed every one of them. All my stresses and worries were lost in an instant. As I neared my home, I felt eyes close again and I smiled for no apparent reason while flailing my arms around. The slight breeze picked up a little, as if in command, and a light laugh escaped my lips.
“Hey there, beautiful.”
I stopped abruptly and snapped open my eyes to find a man leaning against one of the walls of a home in my neighborhood. He sauntered out of the shadows and glided towards me. This man truly was intimidating. He was well over six feet tall, with an intimidatingly large, muscular build. His eyes were two different colors—one dark brown and the other icy blue. He had a scar under his pale eye, and another reaching from the bottom of his right nostril to the top of his lip. His smile sent shivers up my spine, and no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get myself to escape it. He was about a yard away when I finally found my feet and slowly stepped away from him.
Another man came from my street behind him and yelled, “She’s not home, boss”, but stopped as he saw me.
The evil man grinned and replied, “It’s okay. She’s right here.”
I must have looked confused, because the man spoke up, “We’re not here to hurt you. Yet. If you don’t stay away, I won’t be so nice. You have no part in this, and if I hear of you interfering again, I will not hesitate to discard of you, are we understood?” With each word, he moved forward a little until he was in my face. His breath smelled like tobacco, mixing with the scent of sweat to burn my nostrils.
I decided to take the easy way out. I thought back to some of the self-defense moves Liam had shown me. Doing the easiest one I could think of, I grabbed his shoulders and kneed him in the groin. He doubled over, obviously not expecting me to fight back, and I took the opportunity to knee him again in the nose. Without any other delays or hesitation, I snatched a lanyard from his pocket and took off, hearing the muffled noise of yelling behind me.
I turned around to see the other guy charging towards me. I quickened my pace, with the jungle of keys hanging from my hand. Why did I have to grab the lanyard? I thought to myself. Knowing I could run longer than him, I took the long way home. Surprisingly, this guy managed to make it longer than I expected, but I still beat him. Waiting until he had to stop, I sprinted home and didn’t stop until my key was in the lock and I was inside the sanctuary of my own home.