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I became aware of a heavy blackness all around me. I couldn’t move. I heard a distant voice yelling. I tried to open my eyes. It felt like swimming through molasses.
“WAKE UP!!” the voice screamed.
It repeated this command multiple times. As I slowly managed to open my eyes, the voice got louder and louder. I woke up to find that the owner of the voice was yelling in my ear. I groaned. At this the voice stopped yelling and hopped down off my head, where it had been standing. It was only about three inches tall, and appeared to be a small girl composed of black lines. I blinked.
“You finally woke up!” she exclaimed. “My god, do you ever do anything but sleep?” I couldn’t find anything to say. A moment passed. “Well, say something,” she demanded. “I woke you up because I was bored, and now all you do is stare. How rude!”
The girl looked vaguely familiar. I thought hard. Then I realized with a snap. But that was impossible! There was no way a person I drew on a scrap of notepaper could be talking to me! I took a closer look at the girl. There was no doubt about it. The girl standing on my bed glaring at me was a drawing I made in my notebook. But why would a drawing come to life? And even assuming it came to life, why this drawing and never any other? It could be a dream, but I was still in my room, and nothing was out of place. And I felt very awake. I took a deep breath.
“What are you?” I asked. The girl looked at me and rolled her eyes.
“I’m the little mind robot from Venus,” she said sarcastically. “I can’t believe you don’t remember drawing me! Sheesh!”
So it was a drawing. I took a breath. “Okay, how did you get here?” I asked.
“I was walking along and I fell. Those little blue lines are pretty hard to walk on, even if you are two-dimensional.“ I didn’t say anything. “What! It’s true!” she protested.
I sighed. “So now all my drawings will start falling out of the pages?”
“Nah,” she said, “They might fall out, but they won’t get anywhere. It takes a superior intellect like mine to figure out how to move around off the page.” She smiled smugly. “Oh, and since you asked, my name is Andrea.”
“I didn’t ask,” I said, ignoring the resulting huff. I glanced at the clock. “WHY DID YOU WAKE ME UP AT THREE IN THE MORNING!?” I yelled. She fixed her hair.
“There’s no reason to go waking up your entire family,” she said. I glared. “Well, I thought sleeping for five hours was plenty. Honestly, don’t you have anything better to do with your time?” I felt ready to crush her. I think she noticed, because she scooted off the bed. “Fine, fine, waste hours of your precious time conked out on the bed, I’ll just read a book or something!” she said. I didn’t care. Exhaustion swept over me. I had no clue if I was dreaming or not, but I was wiped out from just five minutes of dealing with this person. I lay back in bed and tried to fall asleep. I didn’t expect to succeed either way. How could anyone sleep after a discussion with a living drawing?
* * *
I was silent until someone knocked on the door to wake Sophia up. Well, maybe not completely silent, but I don’t think humming counts. I read books, looked through her desk, and spent the entire time bored out of my mind. When Sophia climbed out of bed, I expected a thank you, or at least a good morning, but she said nothing. I waited. She didn’t notice.
“Well, you’re very welcome,” I said. I was met with a glance that clearly stated her ingratitude. If Sophia were any example, humans were extremely rude and unsociable after waking from sleep. It makes me wonder why they do it at all.
Later I was sitting on the breakfast table while Sophia ate. I was amazed to see she did it with her eyes almost completely closed.
“We’re leaving in ten minutes,” her au pair called from another room.
“Leaving to go where?” I inquired.
“School,” she said. That’s all she said, but her tone implied, a) that school was not a good thing, and b) that I would not be going. I narrowed my eyes suspiciously. Sophia took a bite of her bagel. I got mad. She had no right to sentence me to being bored all day, especially not after making me do that all night!
I took a deep breath. Maybe I had misunderstood. I said as calmly as I could, “And may I please accompany you to school?” I tried to look innocent, sweet, and hopeful. She pretended to think. I tried to look as if all my dreams would be crushed if she said no.
“Hmmmmm. No way.”
I nearly exploded. I yelled. She slapped her hand over me to muffle the noise. The frantically muttered “shut up” and “they’ll hear you” were somewhat satisfying, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the endless void of boredom I faced.
When I finally finished screaming, Sophia took a deep breath and gave me a warning look. Then she ran to pack her backpack. I ran faster. I had no intention of spending the day the way I had the night. Before she noticed, I slipped onto the paper of an open book. It felt nice to be back in the second dimension. Then I was scooped up and stuffed in a backpack. I had bought a first-class ticket to school. I hoped it would be more interesting than the dictionary.
* * *
I was sitting in history class, trying to pay attention to the test in front of me. It wasn’t easy. I just couldn’t concentrate. Having a drawing come to life will distract a person. So will waking up at three AM. Anyway, I was staring out the window and thinking about my predicament.
After fully waking up, I could ponder it much more clearly than I had been able to in the middle of the night and over breakfast. Since drawings are not usually alive, it would be fun to let her hang around for a while, but definitely not too long. From what little I knew already, she liked excitement and change of pace. Maybe she would agree to go away if I let her stay with me and come to school for a couple days first.
At this point my train of thought was interrupted by a very quiet humming. I recognized the song. Most people would after listening to it for several hours or more. But Andrea wasn’t supposed to come to school today! Yeah right. I should have known she would sneak in. Great. At least it was my second class of the day.
“Shut up,” I hissed at my desk, the general source of the humming. The humming stopped. I breathed a relieved sigh. Then Andrea slid out of my history book.
“There you-“ she began to say. I clapped my hand over her before she could finish. I knew it would only make her start screaming soon.
So I leaned down and whispered, “I’m taking a history test. You have to be very, very quiet or we’ll get in trouble.” After a few moments, I deemed it safe to raise my hand.
“What kind of trouble?” she asked, her eyes shining.
“They’ll torture us,” I invented. “They’ll tie us in chains and whip us,” I continued.
“Will they use the rack?” she asked excitedly.
I thought fast. What was a rack? Oh yeah, it was some kind of torture device. Ed had mentioned it once when talking about a later chapter. Now I knew what she had been doing before coming out of the history book. “Yes,” I said, “now be quiet while I do my test.”
“Ooh, can I help?” she said.
“Fine. Whatever. Just don’t talk unless absolutely necessary.”
I looked at my test and tried to focus on the Renaissance. Then Andrea started dictating. She made up an entire essay answer to the first question. Then, pausing only for a quick “Got that?” she moved on to the second question. I gaped.
“How do you do that?” I asked, astonished.
“Well,” she began smugly, “I spent an hour in your textbook just now. Obviously I’d have memorized at least to the sixth chapter.” Okay, this was an unexpected side of Andrea. I supposed her ability to go into books would help her read, but this was ridiculous! I took a deep breath.
“I see why you ran out of books to read last night,” I said. “Did you memorize every one of them?”
“Of course not!” she whispered. “I only memorized the history book because I was stuck in your stupid backpack for ages. And pipe down! They might hear you and toss us in the dungeon!”
I took several deep breaths. I glanced at the clock. More than half the time for the test had passed! “Okay,” I said. “I’m pretty sure using your answer is cheating, but I need to write something. Can you repeat the first answer slowly?”
She began again and I copied it down. I would have to figure out a way to keep her from being noticed for the rest of the day, but that could wait until the next period.
* * *
School had been just as exciting as I had hoped! Sure, you had to keep quiet, but they had a dungeon! And a torture room! It was spectacular. Surprisingly, nobody seemed especially scared. When I asked Sophie about it, she said they only sent you to the dungeon for talking during tests or other equally horrible things. Talking to people that weren’t from your dimension, for example. That’s why I wasn’t allowed talk to anybody else all day. Unfortunately, this rule kept me from interviewing any of Sophie’s friends, and Sophie herself said she had never been to the dungeon.
When we got home, Sophie had grudgingly agreed to play with me. We played word games and the kind of games you play on paper. She went on the computer. I went into the screen to check it out. It was okay, but there was always a bright light, and I kept bumping into icons and having to dodge the cursor. Sophia didn’t like my going into the screen much either. She got quite annoyed when I stepped on a little red button. As if it was my fault! I assured her that I probably wouldn’t mind avoiding it in the future. She seemed skeptical, but she didn’t say anything.
After dinner I helped her with her homework. That took forever, because she insisted on doing the problems herself, and only letting me explain the concepts. She stated firmly that it was cheating to not do the problems yourself. I pointed out that one of the books her teachers had given her for the homework had the answers in it. Why would they give her a book full of answers if they wanted her to do the work without it? Her reply was quite eloquent, something along the lines of shut up and go away.
All this I pondered as she lay in bed. I had been rudely banished to the night table.
“It was a nice day, wasn’t it?” I asked.
“Yes. Lovely. But it started rather early, and is already ending later than I would like, so I would be very much obliged if you would kindly shut up,” she replied crisply. I didn’t pay much attention. I was getting used to her attitude.
I thought back to the dungeons, by far a highlight of the day. But then I realized something. “Hey, Sophia, do three-dimensional people really hate two-dimensional people enough to send you to the dungeon for talking to me?”
“No,” she replied “people are just scared of what they don’t know. They don’t like people who are different from them. There was a whole war over people being enslaved because of their different skin colors. Thousands of people died. I really have no idea what would happen with people from another dimension. I’m sure nobody would believe you even existed without meeting you. Maybe they’d put you in a zoo or a museum. ”
I thought about this. Why did people fight over such stupid things? Killing each other over such a small difference? Were people ever imprisoned for just talking to someone different? Were there people who would steal someone else’s freedom without thinking twice? It was such an awful thing to consider. I could almost hear Sophia thinking about it too.
I started humming a song. I’d known it as long as I could remember, but I had no idea where I’d learned it. After a while I heard Sophia say, “Andrea?”
“Please be quiet.”
“Sorry. Good night.”
She fell asleep after a while, but I wasn’t made to be able to do that. Maybe humans slept to avoid thinking. Night certainly gave opportunity for thought. So I lay awake listening to her even breathing and thinking the night away.
* * *
I woke up the next morning when my au pair knocked on the door, surprised to find that Andrea had let me sleep that long. As I got ready for school, I didn’t see a sign of her. She had disappeared the way she had come, unheard in the night.
I never saw her again, on or off the page. I checked the scrap of paper I had drawn her on, only to find empty lines. Sometimes I wondered if it was just a dream, but I knew she would hate me for thinking that. I guess I don’t need an explanation for everything. Still, every so often I wake up in the middle of the night and think I hear a faint humming, following a tune I’ll always remember.