A Little Taste of Heaven

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"Let the future pass."

Memorizing the lyrics and tone of Candyman and Ain’t No Other Man drained me, for I didn’t notice my weariness and succumbed to falling asleep. Yup, I am still undecided about what to sing later. Ugh. I checked the time on the wall, and six-fifteen glowed in the dimness of my room. Mum or dad must have turned off my light last night since I had been deep in slumber. I can hear dogs barking outside and an aeroplane passing by. I sit up, scratching my eyes and yawning. I search for my glasses and then realise I’m in the past. I search for my possessed journal instead. My original writings are still there, and whatever the thing that’s communicating with me might still be asleep. Shocked, again, letters begin to appear:

I am not sleeping.

I had enough of this nonsense. I know I made myself clear last night, and I am about to lose control, have fun and all, but — there’s still a part of my brain that keeps saying: “What the hell is happening!?

I reach out for my pen on my bedside table and write: “You’re freaking me out. Who are you, and how did you know who I am? AND what is it you want from me??”

I watch the letters disappear. Then, he or she or whatever the hell this thing is replies and writings resurface: “You know who I was; we went to Harrison together, and I just thought you might not be absolutely ready for life as you think you are. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I didn’t reach that stage you are in now.

I know who it was?

I ask, scribbling the words hard, “what do you mean I know who you were? And it’s not your call to decide what I want. I am ready, and you took that chance away from me.

My writings disappear again, but before I see its reply, someone knocks on my door, and dad pokes his head to check if I’m awake or still sleeping.

“Good morning, dad,” I say, closing my journal.

“Good morning, sweetie.” He says, “early day to school?”

I shake my head, “no, not really.”

He nods. “Well, I got to go and wake Dion now. Head downstairs for breakfast, alright?” and closes my door.

I open my journal to read the reply, and it all just says: “I’m sorry.

I’m becoming impatient. So I write down angrily: “Don’t you have anything more to say other than ‘sorry’?!”

My eyes rolled, and I did not wait for an answer.

Viktor drops the twins off near the stadium since they have an activity. Poor middle school students because they still have classes after that. Anyway, I climbed out of our car and grabbed my bag from the compartment. It is full of costumes and some snacks. I pack more than two outfits and extra clothes because I’m still unsure what kind of ‘rehearsal’ I will be encountering. The lucky thing is that ever since I was younger, I always prepared what I planned to wear the night before a party or event. I have the ultimate outfits assembled in a mannequin inside my closet, and I’m guessing the costume I will be wearing for the performance today was the one dressed in the faux bodice. So that’s the outfit I packed. I forgot I had one of those.

As I walk to the school map to find where the Theatre Hall is, I warm my voice up by humming my favourite tune from a game I loved. After that, I started singing one of my favourite classical songs, Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland. Whoever hears me must have no idea what this is. The lovely song was a hit in the 1910s, and my grandparents were not even born yet. Nana Charlie always used to sing it for me like a lullaby. She once told me her mum used to sing it to her too when she was still young. My lips quiver at the thought of her.

My singing echoes strikingly along the empty stone walls of the courtyard’s hallway, giving myself chills. As I reach the Theatre Hall, I’m halfway into singing the second verse. The hall is extensive, and as I remember, it still has rows of velvet-red seats in front of the stage and drapes on each side. While I wait, I push one of the seats down to place my bags and go to the platform as if performing the song live. When I reach the platform of the stage, I sing the second chorus wholeheartedly. My voice echoes, and it sounds so beautiful, it even made my eyes glisten.

After I finish singing, I walk back to my things, put my headphones on and press my iPod to shuffle. My mind starts to wonder why Nicole changed the location from the music room to here. This place is somewhat noticeable, but I shrug the idea off. I sit on one of the chairs and gaze at the stage. I smile to myself, remembering those times we performed here. Every dance competition, along with all those stage-play performances we did, I wonder, “Am I going to redo all of those again?” Refresh every memory that was once delightful but now is just painful? And it will be tiresome, I might add.

It makes me wonder if everything I worked hard for during my college years is just a waste; like being underestimated by my professors. My head is swirling with doubt about my capabilities and talents, getting my bachelor’s degree to graduate college--was all of those things just a dream? Was it all just a long torturous dream? What did I do to deserve such a travesty?

I didn’t realise tears were flowing from my eyes. I did everything I could to be happy, but still, I’m not. Maybe, Ros is right all along. I have to stop pretending I am and move on. And I must admit, whatever is writing back in my journal, it might be right too, for I am not head-on ready to face life. But still, I blame it since it was not his/her/its call to take that burden away from me. On the bright side, I won’t undergo those terrible interviews again anymore.

For now, at least.

I grab my bag as I wipe my tears away and pull out my journal. There’s a message I didn’t read earlier.

It said, “Mariana, please don’t stray from the events of your memory. It may affect the space-time continuum.

My brows meet. I’ve seen enough time-travel-themed films, and that kind of science fiction is one of my favourite genres (other than aliens and zombies). I know about Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect, but I scoff. No one actually is a time-traveller. Right?

“No shite, not Doc Brown.” I breathe as I read the note once again.

But then again, remembering the scene from the Life is Strange video game when Max was looking at the list of time travel films Warren sent her, she (or the scriptwriter) thought, if they were based on true stories because she was experiencing it as a human time machine. Like me, I am living through my own time travel sort of thing. Could it be true? Hell! Even if I tell anyone about my experience, they will never believe me.

Letters start to scribble down with words that are not my own on the surface on the pages of my journal, but the vibration of the doors closing have startled me. I close my journal and look at the entrance, pulling my earphones off.

“Hey Mariana, were you here that long?” says Andrew, yawning and walking down with Paul.

I shake my head. “No, just about this long,” showing them my music player: Disenchanted - My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade 04:26 - 4:55

They put their bags on the seat in front of me. Paul asks, “Are you ready for the last rehearsal, Mariana?” then busts awfully, wiggling his hands in every direction, which made Andrew and I laugh.

I raise my brow. “Is it just going to be us? Where’s Nicole?”

Paul shrugs as Andrew checks out his wristwatch while saying, “maybe she’s hunting down Jared and Jason?”

Paul nods. “Oh, yeah, those two can show off their skills in dancing but are surely as mischievous as ever.”

Andrew chuckles while shaking his head and mutters, “twins.”

Then the door opens again, and Kayla walks down. “Good morning, guys!” and puts her bag beside ours, then plugs in her stereo. “What’s the fuss all about?”

When Paul was about to answer her, we hear Nicole arguing with the boys as they enter the room. They walk to us, and Nicole is all red, maybe because of anger. She’s pretty uptight, sometimes. Jared and Jason smile sheepishly.

“How many times do you guys have to piss off Nikki?” Kayla teases as Nicole gets the microphones backstage. Then she puts a CD in the stereo. Nicole sets up two microphones on our right-hand side, then one on the centre stage.

“Hope you guys warmed up already,” Nicole says to all of us.

They all nod and take their positions at the back.

Nicole turns to me, “Mariana, you ready?”

Okay, I’m confused. Nicole said I wanted to rehearse in private, so why are Andrew, Paul, Kayla, Jared and Jason here? What? Are they my backup dancers and singers?

Before I answer, Kayla presses the play button.

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