January 8, 2010
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”Aden, wake up.”
Someone is calling my name…
Aden opened his eyes to look up into a blue sky. He laid on the ground surrounded by a tall field of wheat. The tips of the golden stalks stared down upon him as he focused on where he was. He rubbed his eyes and eased himself from the soft ground. Aden sat up quickly enough to catch a glimpse of shadow flicker through the field. He jumped to his feet and prepared to pursue the figure. At the moment of his first step, he lost balance and fell face forward into the dirt. His body lay still on the cool, damp soil and his mind slipped back into a silent sleep.
“Aden, wake up.”
Aden awoke with his forehead pressed against his mahogany desk. He could feel the coolness of new paper underneath his hot cheeks. He blinked some life into his body and sat up slowly.
“Aden, man, are you okay?” Aden could hear his best friend’s voice coming from behind him.
“Yeah, sure, Nathan. I’m fine.”
“You got me worried when you passed out in the middle of my sentence.”
“Did I? My bad. Go on.”
Aden stared down at the blank page, swiftly took a pen from a jar on the desk, and began to sketch.
“As I was saying, man, why don’t you ever get out of here?”
“I get out…sometimes…”
“Why don’t you get out?”
“When are you going to quit asking?!”
Aden continued to scribble on the page. Nathan was curious, but kept his distance and moved towards the window. Chilly air hung around the window sill as snow fell softly outside. He touched the cold glass and drew a smiling face in the fog. Aden turned around and looked at Nathan.
“I don’t like it out there,” he said and pointed his finger in the direction of the city.
“You know, Aden, if you don’t get out of here soon I’m afraid you’ll start seeing things.”
“Oh don’t worry, I already am…” Aden whispered back.
“Excuse me? What do you mean by that?”
Aden picked up the drawing he had just finished. It showed a wide open field hanging in a mid sunset. Nathan’s expression went from worried to astonished.
“This is Emery,” Aden said in a low voice.
“Where is that? I don’t know of anywhere like that near Burkenly.”
“It’s here.”
“You mean…”
“Don’t freak! It was just a dream.”
Nathan made his way towards the door and Aden followed him.
“Well, even though, just remember what I said, man.”
Aden opened the door for Nathan and pushed him through the door frame. Nathan gave Aden one last assuring look and the door was slammed in his face. Aden pressed his head up against the door.
Okay, so I lied…
Aden turned around to find himself in the field of wheat again. The golden sea of wheat flowed as far as he could see. The sun hung in the sky just as it did in his sketch. He began to walk forward slowly, causing the subtle wind to run across his face. Ahead of him appeared a silhouette in the sunlight. He picked up his steady pace and began to run towards the figure. With every step he took, the further the shadow was from him.
“Wait!” he called out to it.
He was stopped abruptly by an invisible barrier. He shut his eyes and felt his body pressed up against the cool wall. He opened them to see a face smiling back at him in his foggy dorm window and a red drop running from his nose over his lips.
Aden sat at his favorite park bench in Burkenly Square Garden, the park that joined with the college campus where he lived. The snow fell lightly across the grounds as bundled couples shuffled quickly from place to place around the icy sidewalks. Not many students actually stayed in their dorms for winter break, but Aden refused to go home to California. Thoughts of his mother filled his head further distancing himself from his father.
Ah, mum, why did you leave me so soon?
After his mother died when he was eleven, he secluded himself from his friends, thus developing his art skills. He always knew that was why he was at Burkenly School of Fine Arts.
Aden rose from the bench and began to walk through the bare trees. His shadow led him between the tangled branches and onto a small path. Ahead of him, another shadow swiftly maneuvered through the sparse trees. He knew the shape was familiar from somewhere, so he continued to follow it off of the pathway. The trees began to clear and the landscape of snow ended abruptly as did Aden. The shadow disappeared into the water ahead of him. He now stood on a rocky ledge overlooking Lake McHenry, the on campus recreational hot spot of the summers past. The dark figure seemed to be replaced with his reflection when he looked into the calm water. Aden’s bright blue eyes stood out on the water’s deep color, especially with his central heterochromia that turned the center of his iris a deep red-burgundy. He dropped a pebble into the water causing his reflection to break into a million tiny ripples. As they slowed to almost no movement in the water, Aden turned and made his way back to his small dorm.
Aden opened the door several moments later to find Nathan sitting in a black armchair facing the wall. He slumped forward in his chair in a sulking sort of manner.
“Nathan? Nathan, are you okay?” Aden called to him.
Aden approached the chair slowly from behind and extended his hand to touch his silent friend’s shoulder. Just as he made contact with Nathan, a knock came at the front door. Aden rushed over and flung the door open to find Nathan staring at him with a grin on his face.
“Hey, man!”
Aden glanced back to find the armchair empty and faced away from the wall.
“Nathan, you were just…”
“Waiting for you to answer the door? Yeah.”
“No, you were in the chair.”
“Not as far as I know, man.”
“Stop joking around! You were there!”
Aden slammed the door and hurried back to the chair where “Nathan” once sat.
“Aden, come here,” Nathan coaxed from the doorway.
“Don’t you come in here,” Aden shot back.
“Oh, I’m coming in, man!”
Aden sat in his black armchair, pressing himself against its back as the golden field of Emery flickered in and out of his view. He stared blankly towards the doorway where the shadowy figure stood. The shadow multiplied and started to close in on him. Aden pulled himself closer together, brining his knees to his chest.
“Aden, it’s just me. I’m here to help you,” Nathan said calmly to his lost friend.
Aden heard only the voice of the shadow, the one that had awoken him in his first visit to Emery.
“Aden, it’s just me. I’m out to get you,” the shadows called to him.
Aden scrambled back further causing the chair to fall back. He tumbled to the ground, hitting his head against the wall as he fell. His eyes closed, his mind shut down, and Emery was engulfed in a silent black. The muffled sound of Nathan’s voice found its way into his ears.
“Aden, are you alright?!”
Nathan got no answer. He moved the chair out of the way and laid Aden flat on the ground. Aden laid in a coma-like sleep listening - awaiting Nathan’s next move.
“Aden! You hear me? You’re gonna be okay, man.”
“He’ll be fine in a matter of time, just let him wake up first and we can tell him the news.”
Who’s that?
“Hey, look! I think he’s waking up.”
Thank you, Captain Obvious…
Aden blinked the blurred shapes from his vision and sharpened his image to a sleek white room. Fluorescent lights lined the ceiling and shiny blue and white tiles line the floor. Aden found himself lying in a bed surrounded by rails with an IV tube feeding medications into his arm.
“Nathan, what happened?”
A doctor in a white lab coat that stood next to his friend butted in.
“Nathan told me all about what you’ve been going through.”
Aden’s memories suddenly flashed back to the shadows caving in on him. He pulled at his bed sheets and stared worriedly at the aging doctor.
“Don’t worry, Aden. You’re going to be okay.”
“What’s wrong with me?”
Nathan walked over to his bedside and put his hand on Aden’s shoulder.
“Aden… you’re schizophrenic.”
Aden shut his eyes tightly, hoping this whole ordeal to be a dream.
He reopened his eyes and observed his surroundings once more. Patches of tall wheat stalks sprouted from between the tile flooring and cracks in the walls oozed an orange sunlight.
“It’s just me, Aden. I’m always with you,” whispered a familiar voice.
The shadowy figure stood behind Nathan with its hands on his shoulders, tilting his head in the direction of Aden’s wide eyes.

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