Fresh out of class and fresh out of luck, I rush out of my fourth block class and trip up the stairs, yeah, just another normal unlucky day. I scroll the numbers through my head as I open the combination to my locker, seventeen, one, thirty-one, then grab my stuff and go. I have to speed to a short bus for my ride home everyday. Don’t look at me like that, I’m not retarded, but I am pretty close. Everyone on that bus is normal, except maybe Brenton.
I watched all of the houses stream past the bus window and my faded reflection on the glass. I sighed making a foggy little circle and drew a heart in it with my finger and watched it slowly disappear. “I know how that one feels,” I thought to myself. My ripped up Coby headphones are my pride and joy along with my mp3 player. Music soothes my soul. My battery was dying again, but it should last me until I get home. It always seems to go out near my favorite part of a really good song, but I guess that’s what I get for not using Duracell.
There’s only one more stop until mine. Of course, my batter runs out during my favorite Kittie song, “Paper Doll.” When I finally got off the bus, I tripped and fell. When I was crossing the street I tripped on the curb, then I tripped on the step in front of my door and smacked my head on the screen and almost fell backwards. Today is my unlucky day.
I got into the house, carefully enough not to fall, and went straight to the kitchen. I did my usual routine. I put down my bag, warmed up some leftover pizza, poured myself some Faygo in my favorite semi-transparent, green, wavy cup, grabbed the phone, turned on the boob tube and plopped on the couch.
I called Wambaugh, my best friend from school. Her official name is Katie, but it was changed to that when her parents adopted her. We talk about the most random subjects, such as how neat it would be to have teal pee. We would play the questions game and prank call people. I would do my retard voice and she would do the dialing. We seem to talk about boys a lot, and how cute and obnoxious they can be. We write each other notes between classes and pass them and draw hearts and stars all over them because we are just that cool. We even write the dates on them so we can remember what we talked about on what day, because I have bad short-term memory. She somehow figured out how to help me with it and I’m actually getting better at remembering things. I stay for days at her house; a sleepover is more like a vacation. We go to the mall all the time and eat chicken teriyaki and we even have a favorite place to sit. She’s one of those people you just know you will be friends with for the rest of your sorry life. She’s crazy, random, honest and fun. I couldn’t live without her.
A couple of hours later, my mom came home. The first thing she said to me was “did you clean the bathroom yet?” as she strutted into the door carrying in her purse and a bag of groceries. It made me mad. Not only did I clean the bathroom yesterday, she also never says hi. There are those rare Saturdays that she might greet me but that’s how I know when there's something wrong. That made me mad, I told her that too. She is too stubborn to believe me so she just told me to go get my sister from my grandma’s house. Its only two doors down so I don’t see why she can’t walk by herself, plus she’s almost 12 years old, but why does my mom have to be so mean? My mom hasn’t been laid in years, which must be why she’s so mean. I think she just needs to get it in so she can take out all of her frustration on something other than her children, mostly me. Sex is a logical answer.
“Bye Grandma,” my sister, Tehya yelled up the stairs then blew a kiss to our mother’s mother. We don’t call her that though, she’s already seventy-five and she doesn’t need to feel any older. I was named after my grandma, I’m Asberry the Fourth and she is the Third. I haven’t met the other two because, guess what? They're dead.
I waited for Tehya on Grandma’s front patio then she came up and pulled the door closed. A random brown moth flapped its wings in my face, so I did the only logical thing to do and karate chopped it. I walked Tehya home just liked Mami told me to. Sometimes it may same like I don’t, but I actually like the little gremlin. I actually asked my mom for a little sister for my birthday when I was three years old and I remember feeling her stomach and my sister kicking my hand. I remember feeding her grits, too. She sat on that little high chair in the corner of the dining room right by the kitchen door when we lived in Fort Campbell. I remember when she had a funny shaped head and a curly little Afro and Mami calling her a little bowl of ice cream. I think she was more of a little bowl of “I’m stealing everything that ever loved you except your dad.” We get along a lot better when my mom’s not home, since we can say whatever we want without getting smacked with a frying pan, or at least I can. She never gets hit, but she’s not as bad as me either. Neither of us said a word for the whole forty-seven seconds, because we didn’t feel like getting into a fight. There are just some of those days where you know you shouldn’t say anything to each other. I didn’t feel like getting into any arguments today anyways, I’ve been having a bad day.
We got into the house. The rule was that whoever went through the door last had to close and lock it. I came in first and my mom, or as I like to refer to as “master” yelled at me. I got mad and reminded her that Tehya was the last one in the door, not me then went upstairs and imprisoned myself in my room.
I stepped over all of the clothing on my floor and almost tripped over my mirror. This random chair was in the way, but its whatever. I looked over at my good old reliable Windows 95 and shook my head wondering why I still had the old piece of shit, but then I remembered I have had that computer since I was two years old and I love the games on it. Too bad I can’t turn it on. I pounced from the middle of my room onto my bed, my rooms not all that big. I peeped through my blinds and saw some cars go by. I could hear them too, since all of the cars here in Northbrook are loud. I picked up my guitar from the side of my bed and started playing a song that I wrote myself. Different things and people started winding in my head. They were the people I couldn’t live without.
They are my best friends. If they weren’t here for me I would’ve moved to Texas with my dad and my step mom or as my family likes to call “the woman.” I started to think about all of the old memories. The epic, 8th grade paper ball wars, getting Icees after school with Hannah, Kathy and Alix, walking home from school, and skipping lunch everyday because we weren’t wanted at our own lunch table. Good times, good times. It was only good because we were together. If we weren’t, life would’ve been pretty freaking difficult. I miss those days.
I tuned in the radio to WEBN and listened to that for a while. It’s pretty cool to listen to a radio station and actually be able to sing along to every song. I changed into my shorts and my tank top and sat on my bed and hugged my knees singing along to “Starless” by Crossfade. I sighed and fell backwards landing my head dead center of my pillow and picked up my lighter off of my chest of drawers. I turned of the lights and struck the lighter and watched the flame flicker, lighting up my entire room. I ran my finger through it back and forth then let it go. The room was pitch black. There weren’t even cars driving by lighting up my window shades. Nothing. I was listening to Jimi Hendrix and staring at the ceiling. The last thing I remember was “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” then I dozed off.
I had the weirdest dream that night. Hannah and I had gone to spend the night in this castle with about 4 other people but I didn’t know whom they were. We went into the two heavy wooden doors in height order from shortest to tallest, so I was first then Hannah. We all looked around and we met the other people. A really tall, young looking man walked down the stairs with a green top hat and tuxedo with purple eyebrows, mustache and beard that were curled at the tips. He stabbed his cane into the cherry wooden floor and smirked. “Welcome to The Conundrum,” he looked each one of us in the eyes “I hope you like your stay.” He took me by the hand with his soft, white gloves and led me to a wall to the side of the doors. The man pulled a handle from the bottom of my shoe and showed it to me. I looked at him in astonishment. He placed the handle onto the ground then showed me again. I was confused. He pulled up the handle and it became a door into the wall. He opened it and led me in. He sat me on a gorgeous, crimson canopy bed, kneeled, and kissed me on the hand. “This room is yours,” he told me. I began to blush as he looked at me with his mysterious, black eyes. He stood back up and looked at me again and smiled. “Just remember,” his leaned towards me and was less than an inch from my face and looked me in the eyes “Don’t get lost!” then he snapped right in front of my nose and he disappeared into two purple and green puffs of dust and left a bouquet of deep red roses on my lap. I sat them on the drawers next to me and looked in the mirror and brushed my hair out of my face. There was a note near the top of the mirror. I took it down.
I looked at the note. All it said was “Sweet dreams are made of these…” I didn’t get it so I just ignored it. I found a purple and green telephone dead center of the dresser; it just appeared there. I looked down at it and saw the names on lined up down the phone. I saw Hannah and pressed the button with her name on it and it started to ring.
“We should explore this place.”
“Yeah we should.”
“Its kind of creepy here”
“I know, dude. It’s like crazy. There's shit popping out of nowhere and that guy…who was he? He never told us his name.”
“He called himself ‘Anonymous.’ I guess the name fits him.”
“Ha, yeah. So where is your room at? We should meet in the main lobby where we first were.”
“I’ll meet you there then I’ll show you.”
“Okay, bye.” I hung up the phone and walked out the door. I shut it tight. I saw Hannah walk out of her door right across from mine. “Hey, what’s up?”
“That ‘Anonymous’ dude is freaking me out to like no end!”
“Ha, you too? He was being all nice and stuff and kissed my hand…it was really weird.”
“Yeah, I know. He did the exact same thing to me.”
“So, let’s go on an adventure! Hmm…where should we start?”
“How about the upstairs? We’ve only been on the bottom floor so far.”
“Sure, lets go.”
We started walking up the stairway through the middle of the house and found a room at the top of the stairs. We looked at each other then around at the scene around us. It was dark. The wide row of stairs split into two rows and then a hallway through the middle; two, large, cherry wood doors, one next to the other cascaded with drapery of deep purple and green. I could see the handles on the floor where all of the people could pull up their rooms. There was a large never-ending hole in the wall. I wondered what was in there. It looked like something had crashed through it. I heard a noise, like a deep groan. “Did you hear that?” Hannah shook her head “no,” so I thought it was nothing. I probably was nothing, so we walked away.
Hannah and I went up to the doors at the top of the stairs. My eyes glided upwards and around the perimeter of the doors then onto the floor. I caught a gaze at the handles. They were detailed, brass, fluid, and in the shape of question marks. I ran my finger from the top to the bottom then grasped it, then the other. I jerked the door and it slowly slid open. A ravishing dining room appeared right before our eyes. A table rose from the floor and chairs floated down from the ceiling. Women in white dresses placed plates, spoons and forks while the young girls in gray put glasses on coasters. Friendly spiders dropped down silver platters onto the tables and men in green suits opened them up. Hannah and I were swept into the room by little boys in purple shirts that sat us in our chairs and pushed us in. Anonymous crept in from the shadows of the back of the room. “Are you girls enjoying yourselves?” He tipped down his hat and pulled out 2 bottles of wine. He popped of the corks with his thumbs and poured some in our glasses as he exchanged looks back and forth between the two of us. I looked up at him; he tilted up my chin with his hand and had his face so close to mine I could feel his warm breath; it smelled of sweet cinnamon. “Your eyes,” he spoke softly and brushed my hair from my face, “they are of chocolate cascade, smooth as glass but glimmers as gold. Deep as the sea, and warm in a world so cold.” I blushed. He turned to Hannah and circled her chair, “And you,” she looked at him as he got closer to her and whispered “eyes like ice; Color so light, shape so sharp, but shines so bright.” He stood at the end of the table. We couldn’t take our eyes off him. He put out his cane centered in front of him and positioned his hands one on top of the other; two stainless white gloves. Two four-leaf clovers appeared on our laps. I picked mine up and cradled them in my hands then looked over at him wondering why they were there. “Good luck; drink up. You’re going to need it.” He snapped and disappeared. We drank our wine. It was like vineyard heaven in a glass. So smooth; just sweet enough not to make me cringe. I was a deep auburn shade, with little red-violet bubbles in the side of the glass. It rode smoothly down my tongue and tingled down the sides of my throat. I let the feeling overtake me, but soon after subliminal images crossed my mind. Scary things flashed before me, spirits, riddles, memories, colors, lightning…I became overwhelmed. I shut my eyes then opened them five seconds later and everything was fine again. I stared out the window then it all began to fade. Everything was a blur and shifting. My eyes drifted shut and all I heard was “Sweet dreams are made of these, who am I to disagree?” and it echoed away with a scornful laugh then I woke up from my dream afraid and broke in a sweat and running my hands through my hair making sure I wasn’t dead. My eyes shifted back and forth hastily, then I calmed down and looked at the clock.
Its 4 a.m. on what still feels like a Friday,
I have an idea.
I need some time away,
My family and I,
Aren’t getting along.
Sure I could go to a friend’s house,
But that’s all the same.
I want to take Hannah with me,
I want to go on an adventure.