Dare I Imagine?

December 27, 2007
By Ruchelle Ann Santos, Beach Park, IL

There is always this scene that passes in my head every time I serve in church. The church that I go to is simple and plain. The entire building is built with dusty bricks that make the place a dull and cold, it’s not my fault that I begin to daydream so early in the morning. My imagination comes to life by itself. Even though I know I am supposed to worship the lord, my mind tends to drive my attention to the crowd. I see different people with their own amount of belief of how the Lord makes his ways into their hearts. Yet I wonder what goes on in their heads. I dress in a white robe that disguises my ripped jeans and a raggedy shirt that I picked out of nowhere. I ask myself, ‘Why don’t I wear something appropriate for mass?’ I look down to see the white robe and I answer myself, ‘Because no one would see what you wear anyway.’
It’s true no one really sees what I wear under that white robe. I would call it 'a disguise that my other self uses'. As I carry that heavy cross pass the crowds of people, I’m continuing my ritual that usually starts my daydream. I wonder what other altar servers think of when they are serving. Do they really open their hearts and open them up to whatever the priest is saying? I realize that I’m not alone in this ritual; my two sisters are also wearing robes and holding white candles. What’s sad is that I’m the oldest yet we are all the same height. I curse my DNA.
The priest begins his sermon and the choir sits quietly until he is done saying the words of God. I go up to bring the holy book and his gaze goes straight to my hands, not to the holy book but to my dark purple nail polish. I mentally slapped myself because I had forgotten to remove the dark paint on my nails. I don’t think it’s what people call ‘appropriate’ for church. The priest gave me a look and dismissed the color of nails. As I sit in the seats meant for us I look at the stained glass window that causes multiple colors to swirl around the church. That’s when the daydream begins.
Black smog starts to drift from the doors, slowly but surely creeping from one pew to the next. The floor was no longer a solid form. When I look at it, all the black smog turns into a reflection of a cold starry night. I can see myself stand up and walking towards the glossy full moon in the middle of the altar. It’s odd because nobody moves. Everyone is a frozen glass statue and their mixed whisper of pleading is the only music I can hear. Can my daydream get any odder? Yes it can.
All the smog had bulged into my perfect nightmare. Better than any figure you see in horror movies stood a reflection of my imaginary self. I don’t know what to call her but I have made a few nick names for the past few seconds. I call her Sin, harlot, fate, death, hate, and any other name you label as bad in the human race. She is the shadow that everyone has; she is the dark side that all humans wish to eradicate. Her shape shifts to some creature that is indescribable because she’s different in everyone’s eyes. My back begins to ache as if a thousand needles were protruding from my own bones. My vision turns red and I ask myself, ‘what have I become?’
Looking down I’m not myself any longer. My reflection is not my normal eleven year old self. My short black locks had grown long and wavy and I look much older and paler, my eyes are no longer chocolate brown, its blood red. I believe this is what my mom says ‘being a teen’ is. I grow into something I don’t recognize anymore. Though the thing surprised me the most was what grew out of my back. Now I know how childish it seems, growing huge, white wings sounds more like a kinder gardeners wish than my daydream but that’s what happened. Pain began to pulse on my back muscles. The black smog gave a growl letting the smell of a muddy graveyard fill the entire church. I realize that’s the smell of death, and one touch and I would become one with it. I know in those fairy tales that I read when I was younger that the knight and shining armor would always win the fight. I only wish that were true at this moment. As I begin to float up the ceiling I get up to eye level with the huge glob of black goo. Even though it was hard to distinguish what was the mouth and what were the eyes, especially with all that black goo.
As I’ve read in books the brave knight usually has some sort of awesome weapon that chops down the monster or dragon into tiny shreds. I have no such weapon in my hands. However I still feel determined to get rid of that freakish thing so I made the next thing that came into a head, a sword.
In the middle of my palm came pulsing veins that split my flesh. Of course the pain is included with my desperate sacrifice to get a weapon. Gosh, who knew being a hero was such hard work?
In real life I’m not such a violent person but since it is my daydream I can make anything happen. Finally the wait is over as silver tip of a blade comes forward out of my palm. The rest of the blade shines as a beam of hope in me. I made a fighting stance ready to strike the demon of my dreams when reality hit me . . . literally.
“Ava get up!” My sister whines as she realized that I had been knocked out for the past five minutes. My arm still stung at the harsh punch that my sister gave me; she considered it a ‘wakeup call’. I call it ‘an annoying way to get up from a daydream’. I wonder who invented violent little sisters. Whoever did would get curse from me, I would make sure of that.
As mass had ended I began to get rid of my white robe and my sister, Claire, gazed at me. “Your eyes are red.”
I nearly choked at her statement. I made a quick excuse, “I didn’t get enough sleep Claire.” She accepted and got dressed. My other sister, Julia ran up to me with a white feather, “This fell off your back, I don’t know how it got there.”
She left it in my hands and ran off to the car. I followed with the white feather in my hands. I denied whatever illogical solution that came through my head. My Dad gave me a look on the way home, as I got out of the car my dad began to scold me, “Ava how many times did I tell you to not step in mud? Now I have to clean the inside of the car again!” I looked down on the dry sidewalk with shock.
I had left black gooey shoe prints when I know for a fact I had not stepped in any kind of mud whatsoever.
I know now how Alice felt when she went down the rabbit hole and ventured into Wonderland. She too must of realized that imagination can be a very very dangerous weapon.

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