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He leaned in to kiss her as she closed her eyes and whispered how in love she was.
I plunge my hand into the bag of popcorn and grasp and handful in my tight fist. I force my elbow to bend and snap my forearm forward as I release the greasy snack. Each piece hits the screen at a different spot leaving behind a buttery residue. I begin to feel dizzy from lying upside down so I lift myself evenly onto my bed.
I stared at my ceiling making creatures out of the bumps that coated the surface. I clicked the tips of my shoes to the beat of the made up song I was humming. I didn’t pause when I heard the footsteps creep as they approached my room and enter.
Mom: “What are you doing?”
Me: “I have no idea.”
Mom: “Did you throw popcorn at you television again?”
Me: “It’s offensive that my youth is filled clichés.”
Mom: “Well, you should probably go outside. Get some sun. It’s not healthy to be inside so much.”
I turn to her, wondering how someone so weird (me) could have been birthed from someone so normal (Mom). I sigh, showing her that I’m contemplating. I leap from my bed.
Me: SIR YES SIR.
I give her a salute then march forward grabbing my glasses and black and white striped jacket.
I pound down the stairs and reach for the doorknob.
Dad: “What are you doing?”
He’s in the kitchen. I about-face to where he can see me.
Me: “Mom says I need a life.”
Dad: “Good luck with that.”
I pull an imaginary hat from my head.
Me: “I bid you adieu.”
I swing the door open with extra force and bow before fully exiting.
I tug the jacket over my arms, shove the square frames onto my face, and pull the hood onto my head. I grab the bike that’s resting against the side of our house. I pedal down the driveway and move down the street. The wind steals the hood from my head and my hair goes everywhere. I piece gets stuck in my mouth. I spit and move my tongue in attempt to get rid of it put it remains glued. I don’t think as I remove my hand from the handle bar and tug at my hair. I lose my balance temporarily and the bicycle shakes. I recover quickly as I progress to my destination. I hop off and stumble towards the door.
I knock a quick rhythm and wait for it to be answered. Charlie’s mom, a short and sweet woman, gently opens the door. She smiles at me. I’ve been here a million times.
Charlie’s Mom: “Maybe you can get him up. He’s in his room.”
She moves aside and lets me in. I glide up the stairs and move down the familiar hall until I reach his room. I quietly turn the knob and push the door open. He’s scattered across his bed and is dead asleep. I exhale just before taking a running start and landing on his bed, not caring if I hit him or not. He jolts awake, sits up and looks at me.
Charlie: “I hate you. So much. Right now.”
I sit Indian style on the bed.
Me: “We need lives.
Charlie: “You need more friends.”
I lean back and forget that there isn’t any wall to lean back on and tumble on the ground. I erupt with laughter as Charlie’s head appears looking down on me from the bed. I laugh more until he smiles.
Me: “You need to stop being so serious.”
Charlie: “I’m not serious. You’re just insane.”
Me: “You promise?”
He smiles broader. I rise to my feet
Me: “Let’s go make some shenanigans.”
Me: “Rob a bank? Drink illegally? Discover a new gateway drug?”
Charlie: “Sounds like a plan.”
I close the door as I leave the room and wait in the hallway. I tap my foot against the light brown carpet.
Charlie comes out of his room.
Charlie: “Having fun.”
Me: “Straight up.”
We step down the stairs in perfect rhythm. Charlie says a quick goodbye to his mom. He retrieves his bike from his garage. We start down the street.
Charlie: “Where are we going?”
Me: “I haven’t decided.”
We pedal in silence for a while. I hate silence. So I started to hum. Humming isn’t enough.
Me: “It’s 9 o’ clock on a Saturday, the regular crowd shuffles in. There’s an old man sittin’ next to me. Makin’ love to his tonic and gin.”
I don’t hear it but I know Charlie is laughing.
Charlie: “What are you doing?”
I ignore him.
Me: “He says ‘Son will you play me a memory? I’m not really sure how it goes but, it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man’s clothes.”
We both took a deep breath and continued together.
Charlie and Me: “Sing us a song, you're the piano man. Sing us a song tonight. Well, we’re all in the mode for a melody and, you’ve got us feelin’ alright.”
We sing the rest as we travel through town. It’s sunny but there aren’t many people outside. I steer us towards an old road. Charlie doesn’t ask any question but, I know he’s wondering where we are going. We keep riding until we reach an old tree house.
I slide off my bike and guide it next to a tree. I find the rope ladder that I know is there. Charlie copies me and one after another climb the old ladder and step onto the rotting wood. I sit on the edge and he plops down next to me.
Me: “I wish everyday could be like this.”
Charlie: “Like what?”
Charlie: “Why can’t it be?”
Me: “Because it isn’t real.”
Tears stream down my face, in dream and reality.
I pull myself from the fantasy into my real life. I’m sweating all over, I feel my hair knotted up and, I’m exhausted.
My mom rushes in and presses a cold hand to my forehead. She pushes the hair away from my face.
Mom: “Did you have another one?”
I nod. I’ve been having these dreams for months. She lets out a sympathetic sigh.
Me: “It’s my fault.”
Mom: “He fell out of a tree house, honey. How can that be your fault?”
I start to shake.
Me: “Because. I pushed him.”