Just one second,
A beautiful moment
I’m falling fast, I can’t forget
Over and over, your story’s rewritten
Unbreakable chain, my déjà vu...
The dream always starts off with me sitting at the back of the bus. Everything’s tinted gold with soft fall light, hazy and honey-colored like an old photograph.
I’m sitting with my two best friends. Just like I was on that day. Evan is to my right, watching the sea cliffs and fir trees roll by outside the window. Mia’s on my left sharing my iPod, each of us with one earphone.
It’s fitting that we’re listening to Déjà Vu by Fable, because I feel the strongest déjà vu at this moment – like I’ve lived this over and over countless times.
As is the way with dreams, I can’t remember where we’re going or where we came from, but that’s ok.
My math teacher Ms. Blythe is at the front of the bus with the driver, wearing the same white blouse and yellow skirt she was wearing on that day. She’s standing in front of a chalkboard drawing the infinity symbol, tracing its curves and bends over and over. Some of the kids near the front are leafing through their textbooks. This is the part where I always forget it’s a dream, and I’m unsure if we’re on a bus or in math class.
I nudge Evan to ask him what’s going on. I wish I hadn’t. As he turns to face me something wet and cold brushes my cheek. The sunlight sparkles off a stripe of damp green caught up in his curls. I reach into his hair and pull it out.
A strand of dripping seaweed clings to my hand.
Evan turns to face me, lifting his finger to his lips with a smile.
“Shhh.....” he tells me.
He closes his eyes and opens his mouth. Stinking, reddish-brown salty water pours out all over the front of his t-shirt.
Row by row, the rest of the class turns in their seats towards us with water gushing from their mouths, seaweed and broken glass glinting in their hair. Even though their eyes are closed I know they’re all looking at me.
I can still hear Déjà Vu playing; Mia tugs the earphone out of my ear. A scream is building up in the back of my throat. I smell salt. Mia’s lips are icy as she presses them against my ear.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to –” she whispers.
I open my eyes just before the scream.
The faces of five beautiful boys gaze down at me.
I’m lying flat on my back in bed, sweat-drenched sheets tangled around my legs. The scream dies unreleased at the back of my throat.
I stare hard at the poster on the ceiling, blinking up at it through the tears. Images of that sunny morning on the bus flicker and fade away as I concentrate on the Fable poster on the ceiling.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but this stupid poster of a British rock band is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. The only thing that gives me the strength to face every new day.
“...unbreakable chain, my déjà vu...” The ringtone continues for a good ten seconds before I realize that my phone is ringing, and probably has been for a while. Zee. Damn.
I fumble for the phone next to my bed and almost hang up before hitting answer.
“Hey Sleeping Beauty. You coming down soon?” She sounds way too chipper for a school morning. I roll over onto my side, shutting my eyes against the line of sunlight creeping under my curtains.
“What time is it?”
I sit bolt upright in bed. It’s only a five minute drive to school, but I still need to shower and get dressed. At this rate we’ll probably arrive late.
“Oh my god. I must have slept through my alarm.” I’m already dragging myself out of bed, struggling to keep my eyes open. I don’t feel like I’ve slept a wink. “Sorry for making you wait.”
“It’s ok Ashling.” Zee’s voice softens. “Was it... the dream again?”
I hesitate, pulling the curtain away from my bedroom window. In the driveway far below, Alix’s Pontiac is parked dangerously close to the flowerbed. One more inch and he’ll flatten my mom’s beloved Iceberg roses. I make a mental note to tell Alix to park in the road instead of the driveway from now on.
“Are you ok Ashling?” Zee sounds worried.
“Yeah,” I say as I close the curtains. “I saw Evan and Mia again.”
We’re both quiet for a moment.
“I’ll be down in ten.”
“Sure,” Zee says. “Just take your time.”