2018 Finalists in Flash Fiction:
Finalist 6-8 Grade:
The hot, moist air of Hunan met the cool fresh air of the morning, the day dimmed and the cicadas dulled their humming.
“Where did the sun go?” I wondered aloud as I held up a piece of smoked glass up to the sky.
“Nowhere, it’s still there behind the moon.” My grandfather said softly in his accent.
“I don’t see it.”
“You can still see some of the light coming from it.”
My grandfather laughed at my sudden childlike realization, stroking my short dark hair that was pinned down with a pink bunny clip.
Looking up, I saw his eyes bright and brimming with happiness.
My hair reached to my hips when I saw my grandfather again.
I tugged his body into a warm embrace as he weakly tried to drape his cold, bony arms around me. My parents playful banter with my relatives quieted down as my grandfather let go and hobbled away.
“You’re grandfather is gone,” my mother managed to croak as she awkwardly fumbled with her glasses.
“No he’s not, he’s still there behind the...”
And for the first time in twelve years, I looked down into his eyes.
There was no light.
My head slowly rests on my shoulder, and my eyes drift from open to closed. “Camila, how do you expect to keep the new year’s resolutions you made today if you can’t even keep the one from last year? You were supposed to stay awake until midnight today, remember?” I look up and shake my head. “There is no way that is going to happen… it’s only ten and I’m more than half asleep.” Mollie shakes her head and goes back to playing on her phone. After what seems like two seconds, I hear the TV and everybody in the room counting down. I start counting with them and everything seems normal, until the room goes white. Then black. Then white. Everything goes black again. I close my eyes, and hope this is all just a dream. When I open them again, I figure it must have been. I open my eyes and find myself in a room. It looks old-fashioned, and the sheets on top of me are heavy and fancily embroidered. I see a sewing machine in the corner, and what looks like a vintage dollhouse next to it, but at the same time the dollhouse looks brand new. Suddenly the door cracks open and a little girl steps lightly into the room, gently closing the door. She sees me looking at her, and her eyes widen. So do mine; our eyes are the exact same mix of green, blue, and hazel. The only other person I’ve known with eyes like mine are my grandmother’s, but she passed away before I was born. The girl runs up to me and bounces on to the bed, causing the springs to creak. She winces, then whispers: “Mommy told me not to come in here, but I had to. I’m sorry.” I assure her it’s fine. “I’ve never seen such an old-fashioned sewing machine,” I tell her. “I like it.” She smiles at me, but there is confusion in her eyes. “Thank you, but that sewing machine is the newest model; that’s what Mommy told me.” I slowly nod my head, thinking that it was probably a rare antique and the girl was just a little confused. Before I can say anything more, she asks me if I want to see her dollhouse. I tell her yes, because I’ve never seen a dollhouse like this one. Instead of the bright pink door and glittering closet like the one I have at home, it has shutters and a small closet filled with clothes that look like they’re from decades ago. Just as we sit down in front of the dollhouse, the door opens and a woman wearing an apron approaches us. She smiles and her friendly expression gives me a feeling of relief, like I’m not in a random person’s house with no idea where I am. “Natalie, I told you not to disturb our guest.” Natalie shifts her position and looks down. “I’m sorry, Mommy.” Her mother smiles and tells her that it’s okay. Then she turns to me. “We found you asleep on our porch, sweetheart. I’m not sure what you were doing there, but I don’t think you have any idea, either,” she says, noticing the question in my eyes. “Would you like to tell me the name of your mother? Maybe I can find out where she is.” “Um,” I say, “her name is Annalise.” At that, Natalie jumps up and says, “my doll is named Annalise, too!” I look down at her and smile, everything beginning to click inside my head. The eyes. The name. The old-fashioned room. It has to be. But then her mother tells us that she’ll see about my mom later, and that she’s making us breakfast. I thank her and tell myself that I read too many books and that the sweet little girl in front of me is not my grandmother. I decide that after breakfast I’ll ask to go outside and find just where I am exactly. I help Natalie clean up her dolls and we go to the kitchen. “Why don’t we eat out on the porch? It’s sunny for once,” her mother suggests, indicating to a small table with a delicate vase of flowers on top. I think back to where my house is, California. We’d been in a heatwave, so I doubted I was there anymore. As we eat our eggs, I almost drop my glass of milk as I see a group of students walking to school, dressed in a style I’ve only see in history books. I turn to the side and see someone drive down the street in a car that is the opposite of modern. That’s when I know it for sure: I’m in the early twentieth century. I can feel sweat beginning to form on the back of my neck, despite the cool breeze. I move my hair to the side and drink my milk, trying to collect myself; Mollie used to tease me for always overreacting, but at this point I’m so scared that I don’t notice Natalie’s mother’s concerned face looking right at me. “Sweetie, are you alright? Maybe I should find your mother now, if you’re not feeling well.” I plaster a fake smile on my face, pretending to be confused. “What do you mean? I feel… great!” Natalie gives me a sideways look and rolls her big green eyes. “I’ll tell you what’s not great: your acting skills,” she whispers to me. I stare at her, not sure if I should laugh or try to convince her I’m not acting. I decide on neither. Natalie’s smart, and I’m going to have to think of a way to get her off my case. But then again, maybe she could help me. I shake my head, telling myself that a nine-year-old isn’t going to help me build a time machine and get back to where I belong… in fact, she might not even believe me. I excuse myself from breakfast and ask to go for a walk, but Natalie’s mom tells me to go change, because she doesn’t know what kind of clothes I’m wearing. I look down at my new year’s outfit, jeans and a sparkly top. I’m about to argue that it’s better than a T-shirt, when I realize I’m not in 2018 anymore. She lays out a dress for me from her closet, since I’m around her height. The dress is pale pink and it’s beautiful, but my Converse ruin the look. Natalie’s mother realizes that, because she gives me a pair of shoes. I look at the dainty shoes and then look back at my converse, but I know if I wear those I’ll get a lot of stares. Once I finally get outside, Natalie is there, waiting for me. “I’m going to come with you, and you’re going to tell me what you were so nervous about before.” The seriousness in her voice almost makes me laugh, but I hold it in. “Well, you’re not going out in your nightgown,” I tell her. Natalie, looking defeated, suddenly starts running into the house. “I’ll be right back. Please wait for me!” I can’t say no to her pleading tone, so I sit on the steps and wait for her to get dressed. When she finally emerges from the house, she reaches for my hand and begins to walk. “What are you hiding?” she asks me. I tell her that I’m just confused as to where I am, but I can tell by her face that she doesn’t believe me. “More like you’re confused as to when you are,” she says. I know she’s just a nine-year-old, but she’s so persuasive that I finally give in. “Fine. I’m not from… here. I have no idea where I am or when I am in time.” She nods. “That’s what I thought. But do you recognize anything here?” I’m about to say no when I realize there is something I recognize. “Well, there is one thing. Your eyes,” I say. Natalie looks like she’s about to question me when her eyes widen as she looks into mine. “That’s because they’re the same as yours,” she says. I nod. “The only other person I’ve known with eyes like mine is my grandmother. I have a picture of her right here, if you want to see.” I pull my silver locket from under my dress and unlatch it. I hold it to Natalie and she looks at it. But she seems more interested in the actual locket itself rather than the picture. “Why do you have Mommy’s locket?” She asks. “My mom gave me this,” I tell her. Natalie looks at me. “Oh. Well, the picture’s different, too, so I guess it couldn’t be the same.” “Well, my mom said that this locket has been in our family for a long time. My great-great grandmother had a picture of her grandmother, my grandmother had a picture of hers, my mother had one of hers, and now I have a picture of mine,” I tell her. “Wow. It’s the same with my family. In my mommy’s locket there’s a picture of my great-grandmother. Can I see the picture?” she asks. I hold out the locket again, and Natalie smiles. “She looks just like me!” I turn my eyes to the locket and immediately agree. The resemblance is certainly there. Same smile, same nose, same eyes. Natalie slowly looks up at me. “Camila, do you think… I’m your grandmother?” I know in that moment that it has to be true. “Yes,” I tell her. Natalie smiles. “That’s so cool, but … a little weird,” she says, and starts walking again. But as we walk, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever get home again. A few hours later, Natalie and I are walking back home with ice cream cones in our hands and smiles on our faces. When we walk through the door, Natalie’s mother is sitting by the window, sewing one of Natalie’s dresses. It suddenly occurs to me how this woman is my great-grandmother. I’m just thinking how cool it is, when she looks up at us. “Thank you for watching Natalie for the day, Camila.” I tell her it was no problem, and before she can ask about my mother again, I make up a story about how I was here on vacation and must have gotten lost on my way back to my hotel yesterday. Natalie’s mother seems to buy it, so she tells me to get my clothes and she can drive me to the place I was staying. I tell her that’s not necessary, and she finally agrees to let me walk there with Natalie. I gather my clothes and begin walking with Natalie, neither of us really knowing where we’re going. “So, how are we going to get you back -- or should I say forward?” she asks me. I sit down on a bench next to the walkway and look at her. I want to tell her that I have no idea and that I don’t think I’ll ever get back, but I don’t want to scare her. So instead I just shrug and keep quiet. Natalie sits down next to me and looks down at her hands. After a couple of minutes of silence, she looks up at me. “Staring contest?” she asks me. I manage a small laugh and say sure. I’m able keep my eyes open for fifteen seconds until I have to blink. “Want to try again?” Natalie asks, obviously proud of herself for winning. I accept, and this time manage to hold it for about twenty seconds. But suddenly I see white, then black, then -- I quickly close my eyes, and when I open them Natalie is staring at me. “What happened?” I ask her, and she jumps up. “You were probably going forward in time!” My eyes widen as I realize that when I was going to the past, the same black and white flashing had occurred. She quickly sits down again and we begin to stare. Within twenty seconds, I see the black and white flashing. I reach out to hug Natalie when suddenly I’m back on the couch, with Mollie on her phone and all of my family and friends hugging each other and wishing everyone a happy new year. I smile, but at the same time I feel like crying. I’ll miss Natalie a lot, but I’m still happy that I get to be back where I belong. I look into my locket and see Natalie’s face. I smile knowing that she’ll be with me wherever -- and whenever -- I go.
One year later
As I get ready for the New Year’s Party, I take my glittery top from my closet. As I’m about to close the door, my eyes linger on the pale pink dress given to me by my great grandmother. I put my glittery top down and pull on the dress. I smile and when I close my eyes I can see Natalie and I, holding hands and eating our ice cream. I go downstairs, and start counting down to midnight with everyone else. When we get to zero, I see a flash of black, then white, then black again…
A family of four. A family of four mouths, four tails, eight ears, and sixteen feet. Or, what it used to be.
This year, Winter and his malicious nobility murdered Autumn and her dances, drowning her in his surfs. He threw everything out of balance in Pack Massif, as if he was discarding wolves off a cliff like rocks.
I am Albert, the first born of my family and the first wolf fated to die in the pack.
My parents are Anna and Michael, and I have a sister named Alix.
Anna and Michael are two saintly wolves who had taken care of Alix and me. My mother, Anna, was beautiful. It was no doubt that her genes were passed down to Alix. My father, Michael, was such a courageous wolf, I couldn’t count the quantity of his dedications to Massif.
Father was quite peculiar, I must say. Unlike most, he is unable to feel most physical feelings a normal being would have. He could still walk and all, though. I’m assuming that this fault is genetic, for Alix had inherited this quirk.
Alix was and will remain to be very pretty. I don’t think she realizes, but with Mother and Father’s obtrusively different pelts, they formed a beautiful combination. A gray female wolf with darker grey specks along her spine. I find it funny how she lack awareness for her appearance, but I shall not question her choices. She was extremely bubbly and extroverted, but that will soon to change.
Me? I am a pathetic black wolf who had been diagnosed with a sickness so ill that I am not allowed to leave the summer camp. I grow even more pathetic every time I glance at Alix’s joyful and oblivious expression.
I watched as Alix hurled herself into the summer camp, yelping and expressing great happiness and excitement. Her unique teal eyes were glistening up until she noticed the unsettled faces of the wolves around her.
“W-what’s wrong?” She asked, her tail swung to a halt.
Father came up to her from the herbalist den where my body lies still and reluctantly looked into her eyes. “I’m sorry, Alix-”
Before he finished speaking, Alix pushed him and charged towards the den with my body that is stinking up the herbs.
I drift alongside her, unable to speak.
“Albert!” Alix yowls, barging into the den uninvited. “Albert! Where-”
Almost stepping upon my body which was covered in lavenders, Alix shrieked. No words, thus metaphorically dead. Anna was curled beside my body, crying and whimpering in lament.
“I’m sorry.” Another wolf approached, her pelt rusty brown. “Albert’s breathing was sporadic, and we tried our best.”
Alix dipped her head to the rusted wolf, Orchid, before looking away from my body and her. “I-I see.”
Anna’s whimpering continued, paining my nonexistent heart. From the left side, I could hear almost inaudible sniffling.
I mouthed, my paw passing through her body. I’m sorry.
My beautiful sister turned around, just dodging Orchid, and left the herbalist den.
I turned around and witnessed Mother crying, sniffling while her body shook.
“Ma’am, your temperature is very low. Please stay warm,” Orchid fully entered the den and curled around Mother. “We will give him blessings before he is rebirthed.”
Mother reluctantly left the cold body and was brought deeper into the den to stay warm. Two other wolves came in and dragged my body out.
Following the wolves assigned to bury, I caught my sister shaking her head and grooming her face before entering the main den. Breaking off from the two wolves, I stood next to her instead.
I’m really pathetic. Couldn’t I just wait another day or two before dying? Winter and his rulings are absolutely ruthless.
Days after the funeral, the pack was ready to migrate to the winter camp. My mother was getting sicker and sicker by the day, quavering no matter what mental instability she had. Father was busy, unable to come by much. Even I didn’t see him as much as any of the girls of the family.
Alix, however, changed. I can’t tell if she is grieving or not. Her indifferent expression took over her, and she no longer wanted to leave for patrols.
“I don’t want to,” she would snarl, her fangs bearing, “I can hear you well. It is the touch that I lost, not my common sense.”
I believe that it is my fault, yet her ambiguous words confuses me. I do not want to see her like this anymore. It’s as if she changed character, a completely different wolf.
“Alix, we will be heading out,” a brawny white canine trudged over, prodding the brooding chicken.
She snarled aggressively and opened her eyes. Immediately, her expression changed from aggression to submission. “R-reshie, I’m sorry for that behavior. I swear to Spring that I shall not do that again.”
The alpha nodded, “For your own sake, don’t be so formal. However, please mind your behavior.”
Alix seemed irritated and sighed while stumbling onto her four paws. “Yes, Reshie.”
I looked at the two conversing wolves, observing their body language as well.
“We will be heading out in a while. Please take care of your mother, for she is quite frail,” Reshie sighed, concern flashing through. “To be frank, I don’t know if she would make it through this migration.”
Alix’s ears perked, narrowing her eyes. “I’ll be mindful. I’ll be off now, see you later,” she spoke before dashing towards the herbalist den.
I watched Reshie as he left, and a smile crept upon my face. At least she has a close friend looking after her. I followed Alix, and stopped by the doorway. This must be a quirk of being a dead spirit, but this was not at all pleasing.
My mother’s soul was beginning to itch out of her mortal body.
“Mother!” I hear my sister’s cry, “Dad please help!”
I can’t do anything except to spectate. My heart burns.
“Dad dad please do something! Orchid!” Alix continued to shriek.
Mother was scrambling on a sheet of thin ice while trying to pass the fallen tree. Her quivering body was sprawled flat, unable to move without cracking more ice.
Alix looked around before taking a deep breath. She crawled upon the ice and snatched Mother’s scruff.
A streak of lightning embedded in ice formed.
I could see Mother’s soul almost out of her body, only trapped by the tail. This is then, I realized that Mother will not be able to live another hour.
Alix and Mother were submerged in freezing ice. Mother’s body limp from the sudden drop of temperature while Alix slowly floundered her way back to shore.
A black blur passed through me as a wolf plunged in the water, helping Axis bring her mother back up shore. With Axis shivering, she quickly moved over to her mother and curled her body around hers, attempting to warm Mother before anything else.
The third wolf, Althea, was crowded by others, her expression of fury. “Alix! I understand your concern, but your option of saving a wolf is pathetic! I assume you know the faults of your body. Think twice, you immature pup!”
“Mother?” Alix spoke, ignoring Althea’s lecture.
Anna did not move.
Alix turned over and moved her ear to her jaws, listening. Her facial expression was one of lament. Immediately, Alix began wheezing and crying, her body unable to feel the growing hypothermia of her own body.
I looked at her spirit, smiling but sniffling at the same time.
I’ll see you later Albert, at rebirth.
With that, my mother left, drifting higher to reach the deities of the seasons.
“Alix, you will get hypothermia if you don’t take care of yourself!” Reshie rushed over, snarling. Michael and Orchid sprinted as well, curling around Alix to repel hypothermia.
“My mother is dead. Winter, isn’t my brother enough? Why my mother? Why hypothermia? Why make her suffer?” Alix whimpered, curling into the two warm bodies despite not being able to feel.
Albert, Albert. Yes, why did I have to die? Die with this timing? In the span of less than a half moon cycle from Anna’s death? Winter, such an abominable and despicable deity.
I looked turned around, witnessing Althea spit of irritation and Reshie’s painful gaze. Althea was still shivering.
“I’ll continue to trek, sir,” Althea spoke, barely audible to my own ears. She turned around and herded the other wolves to head towards the winter camp.
Reshie, on the other paw, stood there with pain crossing his face. Yet, he did nothing. The white wolf waited and waited until Alix’s temperature returned and Mother’s body was buried.
The rest of the migration seemed never ending. The small group of four wolves trudged through the snow in silence, moving in a much slower pace than they originally started. Alix was dragging her feet along the snow despite the physical support of her friends and father.
Upon reaching the camp, hordes of wolves surrounded Reshie while the herbalist and what was left of the small family trudged into the winter herbalist den.
“Sweetie, if you need anything, I’ll be here,” Michael spoke, his own paws trembling. The two wolves sat down, with Alix still as mad as ever.
I entered the den and sat next to Alix. Alix looked frail, despite her brawny frame from training. Her eyes were no longer glimmering even the smallest shard of glee. It was just deathly dull.
“I see,” was what came out of her mouth, as if not believing his words. “I see,” she faintly repeated.
Orchid sighed and looked down at Father, “Michael, do you feel well enough to tidy up the camp?”
He altered his focus and smiled, “Of course.”
It was conspicuous that he was pained. His fake smile was forced, for his quavering voice justifies my observation. Father picked himself up.
“I’ll see my favorite kiddo later,” he smiled once more.
“Yeah,” Alix replied.
With that, Father left the den.
While Orchid began sorting through the herbs that her apprentice, Lion, laid down for her, I stayed with my sister.
I lied over and over. I’m here for you. I’m here for you. There is no need for sorrow. I’m always here for you.
Yet I will never be there for her anymore.
Winter turned cold in the next few months, but it had no effect on Alix. My sister had to leave the herbalist den to make way for the physically ill patients despite being ill herself. Reshie increased his drop-by’s, visiting her at least once a day despite his busy schedule. Father, on the other hand, barely came by.
“Hey,” the white wolf popped his head into the den, causing Alix to stir. “It’s bright and sunny today. Want to come out?”
She looked up at him and stood up.
Reshie smiled and backed into the clearing, giving Alix space to wiggle out. He waited until she stretched in the afternoon gaze.
“This weather is quite peculiar,” Alix looked up to the sky, unable to find a cloud in sight.
Reshie nodded, “It’s as if Winter wanted to relieve us from his surfs.” He began trotting towards the entrance, followed by Alix.
“More like a preparation for another wave,” She looked away and sped up her walking. “I’ll make myself useful and go catch prey for the pack.”
He trotted next to her, surprised, “Oh? Why?”
“Eating without work is a sin,” Alix turned back and sped up to a sprint.
I drifted next to them, watching as they raced across. It was great to see Alix improving, but she still has a long way to go.
Alix’s line of sight changed drastically. She suddenly dashed to her right alternating from pouncing and sprinting. The gray wolf took a gargantuan leap and sent snow flying around her while a small squeal sounded from between her paws. Quickly snapping the writhing prey from her paws, Alix relaxed.
Reshie ran over and took less than a heartbeat to realize. “That was a smooth catch,” he spoke as his line of sight drifted to the Snowshoe hare.
“Tha-thanks,” Alix panted, exhausted. “Laying down all day proved to have a substantial result.”
“Quite obvious,” Reshie snickered. “Too bad that you are even more slower than me now.”
Alix retorted with a snort.
I couldn’t help but feel relieved. Her friendship seemed to help her improve quickly and efficiently, especially with Reshie.
“You are such a great friend,” she laughed, before picking up the white hare in her jaws. “And ith’s nat flatthery.”
Reshie chuckled before they started to walk back, or that is what I wished.
“Sir, sir!” a wolf barged through the light atmosphere. “Sir-” she looked at Alix and his face turned pale. “I’ll speak to you in private. Alix, please wait here.”
Alix nodded and sat down, guarding her catch while the two higher-ranked wolves talked out of Alix’s earshot.
My paws carried me to eavesdrop.
“Sir, Michael is poisoned and we realized it far too late.” The wolf spoke rapidly, his face as pale as ever. “He is being treated by my mentor, but she says that it may be slim.”
Immediately, Orchid charged through, startling everyone. She saw Alix sitting there, oblivious on what was happening.
Orchid walked over to Reshie gloomily and full of fright. Her body quavering, she took a deep breath before speaking.
“Reshie, Winter took him away.”
December 17th, 1999. This was the day that Matthew Rich passed away. Matthew Rich is my father. He had a heart attack. We all thought he was joking. My father was always the comedian of the house. Always trying to make someone laugh. Whether it be me, my mom, or a friend I had over, he was telling knock knock jokes. A classic “the boy who cried wolf” moment. But this isn’t about my father, how or why he passed away, this is about why I lost respect for my mother.
After my father passed away my mother just shut down. It was like she wasn’t able to function anymore. She wouldn’t clean the house, do the laundry, cook me meals, and worst of all - she didn’t even go to my father’s funeral. She told me, “It’s to much for me right now, Cali. You know that.” But the only thing I really did know was that my mother, wasn't my mother anymore.
You might be wondering, why can’t you do this on your own? Right? I was only 5 years old when my father passed, and I was never taught to do anything up to that point. I've been taking care of my mother and myself since then. I’ve been cooking us meals and doing the laundry. Putting my mother to bed and making sure she falls asleep. I lost respect for my mother when I had to bathe her because she was too “out of it” to do it herself. From that moment on, I started calling my mother by her first name, Sharon.
My best friend Jeffry was there for me though, through it all. He has the prettiest eyes you will ever see, green with a little hint of blue. He wore all black all the time, said that it made him look better, although I think he looks great either way. I would spend the night at their house every so often when I couldn’t get enough money to buy me and my mother meals. They had a big brown house. Those ones you see in the movies with the perfect families inside. Yea, that was their home. The big red door, the blue shutters on the windows. Whenever I went to their house we would have the same thing, pasta with a side of mashed potatoes. It smelled wonderful everytime I walked through the door. They didn’t even mind me just walking in. I didn’t have to knock or anything. But my favorite part of going there was of course Jeffry.
“Sharon, what do you want for dinner tonight?” I get no response. “Sharon, what do you want for dinner?” No response again. I started walking to her room, “Sharon?” She wasn't there. For the first time in 14 years my mother wasn't in her room. I checked the bathroom. The mirror had fog all over it and there was water everywhere. No, I thought, she didn't…. I open the shower curtain. The water faucet was running, and the tub was full. Sorry for the climax, nope, Sharon was not in the tub. But then where is she?
I called the police station and asked for their help.
“Please help me, my mother is missing!”
“Honey, how old are you? Are you the only one in the house?” the police officer said, as if I were like, 4.
“My name is Cali, my father died when I was 5 and my mother has been in her room since then. I'm 19 now and she's not in her room.” I told him this information with some attitude, so he knew I meant business.
“I'm sorry mam, about your father. What is your mother's name? What does she look like?”
“My mother's name is Sharon, she's short, about 5’4.” I shiver thinking about what could be happening to her right now. “She should be wearing her pajamas. A long blue nightgown with moons and stars on it.” And what came next surprised me.
“Mam, does your mother have black hair? Some red streaks within it?” He said this in the deepest tone. “Mam, your mother is here, at the station. She was caught trying to dig up a grave last night, can't remember who she is, or why she was digging.”I then knew exactly what was going on.
“Was the grave of Matthew Rich?”
“I'll be there in a minute, can you hold her there until then?”
“Alright mam, we will hold her in a cell until you get here.”
We got into the car to go home and it was very quiet… I knew I had to be the one to start the conversation, whether it was a nice conversation or not.
“Oh my god, Sharon, what were you thinking?”
“Cali, your father, he was the love of my life.” She wouldn't look at me once. Just staring out the window the whole time. “He also was the holder of one of the most important secrets ever.”
“Sharon, what are you trying to get at here?”
“The portal, through the mirror.”
“You've got to be kidding me. Sharon, have you gone completely mad?” My mother spun around with the most annoyed face ever. Her eyes were wide open and an eyebrow raised. She obviously was about to scream and I was not ready for it. I was only wondering why I was driving her home when she was the one who walked out of it.
“DO I LOOK MAD TO YOU? All mirrors hold the most amazing thing in the world, another dimension. A perfect dimension.”
“Yes Sharon, there is another dimension on the other side of my mirror where life would be perfect…” She just stared at me. Not saying a word, just staring. “You're serious aren't you?” Again just staring. “MOM!”
“Oh, now I'm mom huh?” Now I'm staring at her. “Yes, the perfect dimension is on the other side of any mirror, it just depends on who is looking through it.” The rest of the car ride was quite. I just kept driving, not even thinking about where I was going. The sky was grey now, pouring rain. My mother and I just looking out each of our windows, wondering, picturing, thinking about whatever came to our minds at that moment.
I pulled up to the house, helping my mother out of the car and into her bed. “Good night, Sharon.” I said to her while tucking her into bed. I kissed her on the forehead, turned the lights off and walked out.
I layed in bed, not sleeping but thinking. What did my mother mean by “another dimension”? A perfect world where nothing goes wrong? Can that really exist or was my mom just coming to that point in life, where nothing makes sense?
The next morning I went to Jeffrey's house and told him what my mother told me.
“So that's why I'm here. I really think she is telling me the truth.”
“How do you know? Don't you think it may just be that time?”
“Sharon hasn't talked to me in about 14 years other than telling me what she wanted for dinner. Why would she lie to me?” I asked him concerned he would say old age.
“Maybe she isn't…..” He told me, he got up and walked out of the room.
“Jeffry, where are you going?”
He got into my car and told me to hop in. We drove for about five minutes after stopping at a library. Jeffry got out and started running.
“What are we doing at the library? And how do you have a key to my car.” I asked him. He turned around and said,
“Would you stop asking questions and follow me?” Then he started running back towards the front entrance. I hate libraries, they always smell like old people and there's always a bunch of people ready to shush me around. Can't they use some febreeze every once and awhile? I finally caught up to Jeffry while he was searching through the books.
“It's here somewhere I know it!” He explained when one of the shooshers came around the corner to shoosh.
“Here it is!”
“Sorry,” I told the woman “what is it?” Jeffrey grabbed a book with a all black coverslip on it that reads, “The untold truth of the mirror” He then slammed the book on the table and flipped through pages while he kept whispering the same thing 79, 79, 79.
“What does 79 mean?” He stopped. He pointed at the title of that page that said “The Unspoken Truth”. “This here says,” He read to me while following with his finger, “that anyone can pass through a mirror to THEIR perfect dimension, once they fulfill their life in their original dimension.”
“You can't be serious to???”
“It's worth a shot. If you really want your perfect life with your family, you need to try.” Now I knew he was seriously considering this. Could it really be though? A perfect world where I could be with my father? Jeffrey was right, if I really wanted it, I needed to go for it.
The next morning I told my mother I was leaving, leaving for the perfect dimension.
“You have not fulfilled your life here yet though, how do you think you'll get through?”
“What else could I do to fulfill my life? I've taken care of you most of it, I think that's fulfilment enough.”
“No, you need to fulfill your life. You can't just assume that by taking care of me you fulfilled your life.” She had a point, I haven't even thought about that.
“Well you never know unless you try.” Now I knew it was time, time to go see my father again. I hadn't seen him since his funeral. He was so handsome, a beautiful smile. But I was one hundred percent ready to see him. I went into my room and stood in front of my body mirror.
Am I crazy? I thought, am I crazy to think I can go and see my father again through a mirror to a perfect dimension? No, I can't trunk back now. I reached my hand out and it hit the mirror just as it would have any other day. I'm so stupid for thinking this cold have worked.
I turned around to walk out and ask my mom what she wanted for dinner, when I noticed a little red danger alert signal pop up on my mirror. It read “life not fulfilled, life not fulfilled” Wow, I thought, it actually worked. Now I was full on crazy because I was screaming at my mirror.
“How do I fulfill my life? How do I do it!”
“I wish it were that simple,” My mom entered my room and started talking “ I did the same thing when I wanted to jump through, but this you see is my perfect life apparently. And you have to fulfill your life on your own.”
“Sure, if this is your perfect life why is dad not here?”
“You're father is svum. I loved him till death do we part, but he was a horrible person, man, husband and worst of all, father.”
“Sharon, why don't you go back to bed. I know you're a little tired right now so what you just said I'll pretend like it never happened.” I said leading her towards her room.
“No Cali, I know I should have told you this sooner and I'm sorry to have to tell you this now, but your father in the future if he hadn't have passed away,” She stopped. She fell to the floor and started crying.
“Mom just tell me it's okay.”
“ your father, was an abusive alcoholic who didn't know his wrongs from his rights. I really wish he could have been a great father for you which is why I came here to this dimension, but when I came your father had passed away and for good reason because if he hadn't.” She stopped again crying even more.
“Mom, please don't cry, just tell me.”
“Cali, if your father wouldn't have passed away on December 17th 1999, your father would have killed you and me both from all his abusing.” Now I was crying, not because I was sad, but because I knew she was telling the truth.
Falling, falling out of the sky. Landing, landing on a bed of soft goose feathers. A beam of light streaming down on you. Warmth, flooding your cold, cold blood. Waking up from a dream, finding yourself in a hospital bed, voices murky. Doctors, their faint outlines frantically moving around you. Tired, a wave of drowsiness sweeps over you. You find yourself back on that goose-feather bed basking in the sunlight. Taking in the fresh air, you get up and walk around. Everything around you is quiet, peaceful. As the gentle breeze tickles your face you arouse. The smell of the sterile room instantly hits you. You panic, yanking the IV out of your arm. Doctors and nurses instantly at your side. Your parents sob, compelling you to barricade yourself in your harmonious, quaint, little world, prepared to stay there for eternity.
Drowning in favors
Once upon a time, there was a bird named Todd.
Todd fell out of the sky one day,
And he landed on a knight.
The knight grabbed him,
And tried to hurt him.
He was mad,
That the bird had interrupted his nap,
But only narrowly.
One day, a knight fell into the river,
And Todd saw him.
He flew closer,
And realized that it was the same knight,
Who had hurt him when he fell from the sky.
Should he risk his friends lives,
Trying to help someone who had hurt him?
But, he decided to help him,
Because he was only human.
He called to his friends,
Asked for their help,
And they flew lower,
And they grabbed the knight,
And tried to help him
But the current was too strong,
The knight was too heavy,
And the birds were dragged down,
Into the river.
The knight climbed out of the river,
Unscathed, and unbothered,
By the birds who had drowned,
Trying to help him
Todd was so caught up
On helping someone who had hurt him
That he only hurt himself,
And all of his friends.
I stand backstage, waiting for my cue. My hands are balled into fists at my sides and my shoulders are tense. I try to slow my breathing and calm down, but it is pointless. A feeling of dread settles in my stomach as I anticipate the torture that’s sure to come. I’ve been on that stage a thousand times before, but never in front of a thousand people.
I’m just about to turn and bolt out the door when I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn and see my drama partner, giving me a thumbs up. I smile weakly and return the thumbs up, grateful that we aren’t allowed to speak. I don’t think I can form a full sentence without letting on how nervous I am.
All of a sudden the lights are dimming and the audience is quieting and it’s time for me to go. My partner pulls me into a hug and whispers quietly in my ear.
“Good luck. Remember, fear is temporary and useless. Go out there and try your best.”
So I step out into the spotlight and I do.
I remember as a child, summers were the best of days. I could sit for hours at a time just doing... nothing. I can still feel my back in the grass, looking up at the sky and finding shapes in the clouds, feeling the sun beam down on my face. I can still feel the cool water splash as I jumped into the pool, listening to the radio on my small red stereo, having to adjust the antennae to avoid static. I had a bicycle gang with my neighborhood friends, the excitement we had the first time all of our parents let us go to the ice cream shop by ourselves. I remember every bike ride, every rainy day I’d run through, every adventure, and every care free day pass. “Three months of absolute freedom!” Was my motto. But now... summer is for jobs. So I can earn my own money to stay “trendy”. Summer is now about getting a car to get everywhere. Summer is about getting over priced coffee. Summer is now about posting old photos of exotic vacations with the caption stating; Take me back. Please... take me back, to when no one cared about how you dressed or how much your clothes were worth. When you had no responsibilities. When you were you and it was embraced. When you could be a kid and no one would judge you. Be a kid... enjoy the summer days.
You may not break the rules.
That’s the first thing they teach you when you enter this world in a stream of blood, guts, and bright overhead lights. Don’t throw your rattle. Don’t throw your food. Don’t cry. Put on your socks. (No, darling, like this.) Don’t color outside the lines—then put your crayons back into the box where they belong, just like how you belong in line where everyone else has been placed, pushed into a crooked, confused formation that They hate but do not fix. And who pushed you there? They did. We all listen to the omnipotent They. They told us to stand us line. They told us to color inside the lines. They told us to cut nice squares and glue them to our uniform sheets of construction paper in straight lines, left-right top-bottom no overlaps no gaps, and we listen because that is what he have been taught ever since we entered this world in a stream of blood, guts, and blinding overhead lights.
And the lights don’t stop. Welcome to a new world, this innocent heaven, with all eyes on you. Listen to the cotton candy compliments, grab those sugar canes, but only until you reach that cherry tart age where your baby fat becomes just fat and your small limbs become scrawny; your crooked teeth stop being cute and get caged in by braces, your questions start to sound like a shelling. And that’s when the sugar cane becomes just a normal cane for bad comedy gags, a cane that loops around your neck and yanks you from Candyland and onto a different stage. The spotlight becomes ultraviolet—you’re no longer visible to the world.
We all talk about the final Judgment, that moment when God puts us on the weighing scale and tell us the heaviness of our sins, as if this is all that matters, but we are judged for our entire lives, every moment, every suffocating second where the angel on your right shoulder says people are a-changin’ but the devil on your left says you’re ugly, that people are not changing, that they’ll always have an opinion that you say you can not care about but care about regardless of whether or not you care...
Welcome to the world swathed in ultraviolet. Free admission, refreshments provided. All you need to provide is proof of a tainted spirit.
Now this is the real, all-American experience. The lights are on you; don’t freeze. Smile at the cameras, the audience, the lights. Make sure They are happy. Put on a show, make Truman Burbank proud. Exercise your rights, but don’t cross the line. Don’t use verbs. (Don’t use verbs unless they’re “will do,” “will succeed,” “will obey.”) Stay in line, but make sure you toe it to give the audience a dash of suspense. They like that sort of stuff. Toeing the line is freedom, dignity, and all-American, but don’t cross it unless you want to be on the cross for others like you; then you’ll really be burned by the ultraviolet. Conformity is your sunscreen; don’t let it run out.
Wave your flag. Go around and call people ‘darling.’ Let honey run from your words. Listen, listen, listen, and never say no. Say “yes,” “all right,” “lovely.” Don’t forget the ‘darling’; it makes you look happy. Devour poetry, sip 24-Hour Energy, eat gluten free, live a zero waste lifestyle. Be a contributing member of society. Get up at 6, come home at midnight because your boss told you to stay overtime in the form of a question.
And in all of this, stay in line. Toe it to give a show, but never cross it. Because you came into this world in a stream of blood, guts, and deafening overhead lights just to be bombarded by the blinding sounds of disappointment. Don’t cross, because what lies beyond is the Midway Judgment with many more to follow before finality.
So stay in ultraviolet; just do not forget your sunscreen.