Strange Eyes

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“You okay, Jane?”

Monica peered at me curiously from her desk beside me. Mrs. Vander’s voice from the front of the room sounded like the droning monotone of the teacher from Charlie Brown. My eyes lingered at the classroom window that looked out to the trees beyond. The sky was darkened. It was going to rain.

“Jane.” Monica re-iterated. I jumped. “Huh?” I couldn’t stop thinking about that dream. That heat. Those eyes.

The wolf.

The lines of reality were being blurred beyond my control. Nothing seemed real and nothing seemed fantasy. I was living in a world of the in-between, a world where there were no limits to the existence of the supernatural.

I was pretty much going insane.

Monica sort of smirked, her eyes concerned in contrast. “You were gone for a while there. You’ve been off today. Something happen with Adam?”

It was my turn to laugh as I looked hesitantly to the front of the room where the grey-haired fossil of Mrs. Vander kept talking in her painfully boring voice about the makeup of a persuasive essay. “No, nothing happened with Adam and me. I’m just tired, is all. I got hardly any sleep last night.” She didn’t look convinced. It was only when Vander bothered to look our way that Monica stopped giving me strange looks out of the corner of her eyes.

Leaning back in my chair, I felt my rib cage rise and fall with the rhythm of my own breathing. I tried to focus on things that tied me to normalcy. Like the act of breathing. Every living thing had to breathe in some way in order to survive.

Even the wolf.

The image of those topaz eyes made my chest feel tight with lingering fear. The tinny bell rang throughout the fluorescent-lit classroom that made everything a sickly green. I was grateful that it was my last class of the day. Grateful and terrified. Because going home meant subjecting myself to another night of the unknown.

I thought of my dream with the snow as I deftly followed Monica out of the classroom and into the hallway. The feel of that heat creeping up my spine, the painful realization that I wasn’t in control of my own body.

With only a hundred kids at Marion, everyone was pretty tight knit. It was also laughably easy to find anyone that you are happening to be searching for. A voice snapped me from my reverie.

“Hey Jane! Mon! Wait up!” Adam’s voice brought on a strange feeling of guilt as he bounded up behind me. Holding onto my hand, he soon fell into step beside me. “You ok, Jane? I know you didn’t feel good last night.” Understatement of the century.

I tried to appear normal. Managing a smile, the look of his boyish face, the perfect curl of hair that hung low over his forehead, and his burgundy sweater made me want to both cry and laugh. Thinking of when things felt…normal again, made me both wish to go back in time and wish to know what the future held. This future of unknowns and un-parallels. Nothing made sense.

“I just had a headache, is all.” I seemed to be saying the phrase ‘is all’ much too often that afternoon.

He, much different from Monica, looked convinced. “I’m sure a good night’s sleep did you good.” I nodded, although the kind of sleep I’d had surely hadn’t been fulfilling in any way.

“See you later.” Monica said as we made it out to the student parking lot. She walked towards her car, her hair swishing against her back and three fingers lifted in a wave. Moss filled the dampened cracks in the street. I could hear the charge in the air with the coming storm. It was definitely going to rain.

“See you.” Adam walked me to my car, and I found myself hoping and praying that he wouldn’t ask me to come to his house that night, or go anywhere for that matter. I had a strange feeling that I needed to be alone. To both comprehend what had happened the night before, and to somehow figure out the reasons behind it all. Who knew, the dreams and the hot flashes could have meant nothing. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were all amounting to something unprecedented, un-foreseen.

When we reached my Honda, Adam pulled me into the circle of his arms. He smelled like trees. The smell, usually pleasant and welcome, brought back memories of the fear from the night before. The smell of death accompanied by the staring eyes that could have been by undoing. He must have sensed something was off. The skin between his dark eyebrows crinkled as he pulled away to face me.

“You sure you’re ok?” I fought the urge to answer him honestly. More than anything, I wanted someone to confide in about all of the weirdness that had been following me.

But I knew in my heart that there was no way that I could tell anyone anything. Not until I figured some things out on my own.

“Yes.” Managing to smile once again, I gave him a peck on the lips. His hand lingered in mine before he let go, his warmth leaving me to the electrified clutch of the stormy afternoon. Looking back at him, I got the eerie sense that I was leaving something behind that I would never have back.

Driving home things went quickly. I found myself going a little faster than I normally would have on less populated roads. Thinking back to that strange rainy night with the shadow among the trees, shivers crept up my neck that reminded me closely of the heat that had plagued me. Stepping on it, I made it home much sooner than usual.

My house was empty. As it usually was. But something about the emptiness made me increasingly uncomfortable.

Walking around on the hardwood, my steps had a distinct echo. I made my way up to my bedroom and closed the door behind me. I could hear my every breath in the heavy silence. My window was still open from the night before. The torn screen flapped around in the increasing wind. Quickly I shut it, a sense of urgency in my movements. I looked outside. The trees in the backyard were darkening by the second, their sturdiness weakening in the strength of the elements. Thunder boomed from the near distance.

I got out my homework, spreading the papers along my bed. Staring at math problems and history notes seemed foreign to me. Like another language that I was unfamiliar with.

Once again I thought of the eyes. Turning to the window, I watched the trees sway as the first drops of rain pattered against the glass. With that, I closed my blinds, a feeling of quick anticipation charging every nerve ending in my body.

There it was again. The feeling that the sequence of events was all leading to some big crescendo, some end-all catastrophe. My heart drummed in my ears. A dull sound. Like the beating of a drum.

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