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Grade
8

I’m in a field of tall brown grass that comes up to the buttons on my jean shorts. As far as I can tell the only things here besides me and the grass are the painted clouds in the fishbowl sky and the dirt on the ground.

I continue forward, in the direction that I’m currently facing towards, feeling the rough grass brush against my naked torso. There is no wind here to cover up the noise my footsteps make, and if it were not for the overwhelming amount of rustling from the grass, the usual light-purple jingle of the zippers on my boots would be the only sound in this oddly familiar barren landscape.

I haven’t been here yet in my endless journeys, although I do assume I will be here again. I don’t exactly have a definite destination. I’m just going to continue in the direction that seems correct without a second thought.

Once, at a peculiar moment in my travels, I had found myself on a spindly and humongous bridge, most like the ones you would see over a canyon in movies. It gave off an aura that made everything around it seem to be black and white, and I didn’t doubt that it actually might have been. I was walking across it to the large house at the end of it that seemed to be matching the cartoonishly thin demeanour of the bridge when, as if it were the guard dog of the establishment, a creature, that would have sent shivers down my spine if I were in a different mindset, stepped out from its place hovering below the tracks like a bat right in front of me. Its pencil-like legs drawn beneath it and a singular arm stretched out in front of it in a inquisitive pose, like a scholar in the shape of a tall furry mushroom, it opened its small circular mouth and breathed out a room-temperature breath, not quite as full as a sigh, as if to communicate to me without having to talk.

Most of my conversations go this way, so when I received the stream of conscious thought that the large dark thing wanted me to understand, transmitted into my own brain like a ribbon, I thought of it as a normal form of speech and knew that it wanted me to leave, without contemplating why. Now as I looked up at my new companion I saw that its eyes were simply hollowed-out sections in its being of literal ink on a page. Over the years I had become weary of things without eyes, but I had unconsciously formed a liking towards this particular character within our brief meeting and felt a longing to stay in this dark setting. So, instead of lifting my foot to spin around and walk back from where I came, I took off running across the bridge towards the comfort of the creaking house. After the split second that it took my new acquaintance to realize that I had ran past it, it called out to its friends (that I could have predicted were resting under the tracks as well) with a loud alarmed sounding warble, the blue sound slicing through the inky shade of the landscape like spilled watercolors. The newcomers emerged from the shadows, the background practically creating them from its dark folds, crawling upright behind the one who called out. All of them now pulled their beings towards me, dragging parts of the only floor I had currently known past me as I ran. The bridge, like in the movies, began to crumble and fall beneath my human feet, while the fluffy creatures held on to the thin metal rods with their dark limbs crawling forward as it fell.

I could reach the house, if not for the fact that the portion of the track where my feet were struggling was falling to the right, away from its previous upright pose, and dramatically leaning as I ran to the end of it. I couldn’t jump to the other side like I had originally planned on doing, and the fast pace in which I was running wasn’t exactly going to let me stop. I planted my feet on the last solid wooden rung, all the others in front of me being broken and unable to hold my weight, my shoes stopped without the rest of me, and my entire being fell forward.

I don’t remember falling into the black abyss that was waiting for me below; I don’t think there was an actual place for me to fall into within the inky darkness. As if to show how much I had overstepped my bounds by trying to make it into the house, there was a time jump in my memory, and I simply became conscious again in a large shopping mall completely filled with water, like a tank where all the customers seemed to have a fish-like air about them, and I purchased a lovely silk top embroidered with small shells.

Of course, now, in the field, I wasn’t wearing the garment, for, the sun, even though not hot, was more harsh than I would have liked. Instead, I had opted for a more reasonable look, where comfort came over style, and I simply wore my tights, jean shorts atop them, with my boots tied tightly to my thin cotton socks and feet. I usually try to ignore my chest, and that’s harder to do when there’s nothing on it to distract me. I doesn’t seem to be a problem that I’m not wearing any shirt, because while it is around midday, the fishbowl effect of the surrounding sky is warping the sun from being allowed to burn me, and my only concern is that the particularly tall pieces of grass might scrape my skin and leave a rash if I’m in this part of the meadow for too long.

Luckily, after wandering for a little while longer, I came across a parting in the grass. This wasn’t a natural formation and seemed to have been caused forcefully by a stray cart pushed through the grass for a while before being abandoned in the middle of the field. I wonder if this means a road is nearby and make a conscious decision to find it after looking at the wagon.

The wagon, toppled onto its side and missing one of its larger wheels, was made small enough to fit around one person, a suitcase, a reasonably stout cat, and a beach ball, in that order, no more and no less. It has a blue and red striped canopy over it, although now warn and bathed in the sun, thinning and lightening its color and appearance. Like the dark house at the end of bridge once did, it draws me in, causing me to feel a deep sudden comfort, more than when I was simply feeling content before. I would step towards it, but I learned my lesson from the bridge and now stand observing the shattered Christmas lights hanging from the wagon’s worn wood, waiting for whomever is probably guarding it to make the first move.

As I predicted, there was someone here, and they meant to meet me. This time, they were more human-like than the creatures at the bridge, although, like the fluffy mushroom creatures, most of their body was clumped up around their chest and their legs were long and spindly as well. The only strong difference I could see was that their arms are thick and drawn up like their waist. They adorn a pair of large, bug-like goggles, which sat above their mustache like a fat caterpillar on a thin leaf. I can see their large blue eyes reflecting the sky through these goggles, and, for that, a sense of relief falls on me, making my hunched shoulders drop subconsciously.

And at that exact moment, to my extreme surprise, they lift their mustache with their opening jaw, stick one hand forward to shake my hand, and instead of communicating telepathically like everyone else I encounter, real words fall out of their mouth as it snaps closed.

“Hello sir, my name is Brush Hair Number Three. You have nice fingernails. Shake my hand; you don’t want to come across as absurd now.”

I want to mention to them that the only absurd thing about this encounter would be the fact that they just talked to me out loud and said all of it in the very short frame of time between opening and closing their mouth. Instead, I reach out and shake their hand.

“You seem to be lost sir, may I direct you back to the road? I’m on my way to the post office in the train station’s pool and would like a bit of company, if you need to go in the same direction.”

Not seeing a reason to disagree with them, and wanting to see the post office they talked about, I nodded my head in response and am now following them out of the grass field to the dirt road. With their legs are almost long enough to reach my shoulders, their stride is almost twice as long as mine and I visibly fall behind them, even though I’m making an effort to walk fast and them slowly.

They suddenly stop, and I walk up to stand next to them, out of the grass and onto a narrow dirt road. Ironically, as if the road had not been traveled lately, there were hardly any wheel tracks in the dirt and the grass next to the road was a soft green, an odd contrast to the thick rough brown we were just walking through. My companion draws a harsh cough from below their mustache, and a layer of dust flies out of their mouth, drifting upwards and settling atop us in a thin grey sheet.

“Travel dust!” they bark out, still wheezing slightly from within their throat. Mentally preparing myself for the experience ahead of me, I take a sharp inhale and choke briefly. We both sneeze in turn, and as I open my eyes afterward we appear to be standing atop the landing with a substantial amount of marble steps stretching out behind us.

The train station.

The train station, as we all know, is where all things important happen. Although I never know what’s going on, everyone around me always knows what they’re doing here. It’s a very unsatisfying feeling. Brush Hair Number Three walks into the large glass doors and leaves me to follow inside.

When I enter the building I look around, and every surface is a different shade of polished glossy stone, like it was made purely out of a kitchen counter. I don’t like it here, and I’m quite lost now that I don’t have a purpose or want to be here.

I suddenly feel an extreme urgency to retreat from the train station out to the sun-soaked marble steps. I frantically run around, past frogs and people alike, past rooms and hallways, repeating in an endless maze of oddly shaped stone.

I come to a sudden halt in the middle of a large room, an entrance hall of sorts with a fountain in the corner. A thought comes across my mind, and I barely register it until I speak it aloud.

“I’m dreaming.”

As my brain catches up with my mouth and I comprehend what it means, the color of the words ends, and darkness falls upon me. I’m falling into the darkness, falling off the bridge again. My eyes snap open.

I’m here.

State
MI
Zip Code
48103