Easy to Manipulate

The rain came from nowhere. One second Jenna and I had been swimming in the cold water of Lake Superior. The next, we were hustling to throw our clothes on over our swimsuits as the clouds released their downpour. We ran half a mile across the bridge and through the streets until we reached the store fronts.
I hike my shorts up as we sprint the last few yards. A dark man with a receding hairline sees us flying towards him; he holds open the door as we skid to a halt inside the store. “Wrong time to be caught outside, huh?” he says, raising an eyebrow at the two of us.

“Yeah,” I say, chuckling under my breath, as I readjust my shirt in attempt to cover myself better now that we were out of the rain.

Jenna taps my shoulder and nods to the door at the back of the store. I turn to give the man one last fleeting glance, but he has disappeared. My guess is to some other store since this one seems to sell little more than key chains, and how long can it take to shop for key chains? I shrug and follow Jen through the door and up the cement stone steps to the skywalk.

Instantly becoming insecure at the sight of so many people, I hunch my shoulders over in attempt to make myself disappear. It’s one thing to look the way Jen and I do around a few others, but it’s different when surrounded by hoards of strangers. It doesn’t help that as soon as people see us they side step away and stare the two of us down until we’re out of their line of sight. It’s like they’ve never seen two wet girls before. I grab my shorts and twist the waist band around my one finger so that they stop sliding off.

Jen quickens her pace, either feeling my discomfort or trying to escape her own; whatever it is, I gladly keep up with her. Soon we reach a T in the hall; I point to the right, because I can’t hear any voices coming from that direction.

Jen shakes her head. “Isn’t the house that way?” she says, pointing toward the left.

“Yeah, but it’s not like we’re going to go the last two miles to the house when it’s raining this hard.” I pause. “The skywalk only gets us so close to the house.”

“All right,” she says, shrugging and heading off to the right.

Sure enough, we pass no one in this hall, and so it continues. We either reach a T or a place where a separate hallway branches off of the one we’re already walking on. One of us will point the way that seems more appealing to us, and that’s the way we go. This carries on for close to an hour. Occasionally we pass something worthy of note including a copper stair case with engravings all along the sides, a pile of smelly blankets that look as though someone may be sleeping there at night, but for the most part there is little to note as we go. Still, we come across no one, this most likely should make me a little wary of our surroundings but as far as I’m concerned; the less people, the better.

Soon, the hall we’re in begins to fade from bright white washed walls to a pale yellow. The lights get dimmer the farther we venture, and soon we are squinting in the dim light to see what is ahead.

“What is this place?” I ask, although I’m certain Jen finds everything just as perplexing as I do.

“I don’t know,” she says, stopping and turning to me. “It’s getting a little sketchy though, perhaps we should turn back.”

“Yeah, probably,” I say, leaning toward the wall. “Hey!” I yelp ripping my arm back.

“What?” Jenna says forcefully, her body going ridged.

I relax my position a little, “Nothing it’s just…” I stick my hand out tentatively and brush it along the moist cool surface that gave me such a start, “It’s wet.”

“What…” Jen says, perplexed. She comes along side of me and juts her arm out to touch the wall. “Strange,” she hesitates, and then sniffs her hand. “Water?” she asks.

“What else?” I pause, listening closely. “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

I don’t bother to explain what I hear. Instead I run off down the hall, in the same direction we had been going.

“Izzy! Wait! I thought we were going to head back…” I can tell she doesn’t want to follow me, but when I hear her scrambling to keep up I slow my pace in order that she can.

“Izzy, why—are—we—running?”

“Shh…” I pause and we come to a stop. “Can’t you hear it?”

Jen rubs her side with a look of exasperation, “Right now all I’m hearing is the sound of my heart pounding inside of my head.”

I frown, cocking my head. “It’s louder now,” I say, and start off again, this time at a brisk walk.

The hall lightens up a bit; I can now see that it is more of a tunnel than a hall, with stone and dirt making up most of the structure. The stone sweats a light perspiration of water that trickles to the ground; which I now realize is no longer tile, but hard packed dirt.

The tunnel shifts, all of the sudden we are sloping down and taking a sharp turn to the left, and then we’re blinded by light.

“What the…” I hear Jen mutter behind me.

I don’t respond. Blinking my eyes, I wait for them to adjust to the light. Just ahead is an opening and I can see green grass popping up from the soil. I step forward. Less eager then before, I approach the opening slowly—realizing, perhaps this was a mistake.
The sound is very loud now and my mind finally makes the connection, just before I step out of the tunnel. A tall and majestic waterfall rumbles down the side of a cliff fifty yards to our right. The water plunges down into a deep clear pool at the base of the cliff, and then lazily flows off into a shallow river. The river moves though a meadow buzzing with bees and butterflies moving from one flower to another. Above the sound of the waterfall, the sound of birds chirping can just be made out. I fling my arms up into the air smiling, letting the sun warm my skin.
I turn to comment to Jen about the wonderfully peculiar place we are in, but she’s gone. I feel a prickle of panic run down the back of my spine. Clouds roll over and thunder begins to rumble. It will begin to rain soon. I stare at the tunnel’s entrance and watch as it disappears—and then it dawns onto me…
“I’m dreaming,” I say out loud, chucking to myself.
I do a reality check and find that sure enough, I’m only in my dreams. The thunder is still rolling in but it doesn’t matter anymore, I’m in control now.
With a brush of my hand, the clouds disappear and with them, the thunder. The sun begins to warm my skin again, and I smile as I recreate the tunnel’s entrance. Out of it walks my mind’s version of my best friend. For the next few hours, before my alarm goes off and I’m sent to school, I enjoy the glorious place my mind has created.
I wish real life was as easy to manipulate as a dream.





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