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Hair flying in the wind behind her, she ascended the grassy hill. The soft green grass yielded under every footstep, as her shoes sank a little into the moist, freshly hydrated earth. She reached the top, leaned against a tree, looked out at the vast gray expanse, felt the brisk wind play on her face. In the valley below, a flock of sheep grazed, the white wool of their underbellies matted with mud. Beyond them lay hundreds of acres of verdant hills, the green broken with the occasional cottage or miniature speck of white that must be a sheep. The low-hanging fog that drifted through the hills like white fingers lent the landscape an air of mystic beauty. She closed her eyes and felt the fresh, free air enter her nostrils, the breeze press her eyelids. How wonderful it felt to be home.
Drrrrring! The alarm clock rang. Delia woke with a jolt, and scrambled to hit the top of the clock with the palm of her hand. She looked at the glow-in-the-dark hands: 6:05. It was pitch black outside. She switched on her lamp and winced at the sudden artificial light filling her bedroom, illuminating the notebooks, calculator, and reminder notes that sleep had blissfully carried away. Turning over and pressing a pillow to her face, she tried to summon the dream again, but the images were now blurred mirages flitting across her closed eyelids. Reluctantly, she rolled over and hoisted herself out of bed. Stumbling across to the window, she lifted the blinds and looked out at the dark street, the spluttering streetlamp, the windows of the few early risers glowing yellow. She yawned and rubbed her eyes, then went to her closet and pulled out her clothes.

Kicking up gravel and crushing fallen leaves with her converse, she walked up the block to the bus stop, backpack slung over her shoulders, hands stuffed in the pockets of her faded skinny jeans. She checked the time on her cell phone and saw that she was early—the bus didn’t leave until seven—so she slowed down and looked around at the street. A few more people were awake now. In the green house in the middle of the block, which an old retired man occupied, she could see through the window on the top floor a big flat screen television, showing a woman in a gray business suit with flawless skin and a plastic smile standing in front of a moving map of the US, pointing with feigned interest to the places where thunderstorms were likely to occur in the next week. Her vapid, inaudible commentary depressed Delia, and she looked away, wishing she hadn't seen her.
She got to the corner where the bus stopped, set her backpack down, and sat down on the cold sidewalk under a gnarled apple tree, devoid of apples this season. She leaned back against the moss-covered cement wall that enclosed her neighbor’s garden and drew her knees in. She felt the cold, mossy ground under her jeans, but that did not bother her—she rather liked the coolness. It made her feel a little less detached. Detached from what exactly, she didn’t know. She rested her head in her hands. The steady ache of sleep pressed behind her eyes, and for a moment she closed her eyes and allowed herself to give in to the sweet temptation, slipping back into the verdurous, resplendent scenery of her dream. And there she was, on the knoll again, the skirts of her long white dress flapping in the wind. Someone was calling her from down the hill—she could just make out his figure in the misty air and couldn’t quite hear what he was saying… “Hey, did you pick up the car? No, not the Subaru, you dumba**, the Honda!” Delia was roused from her state of half-sleep with a start by a stocky man in jeans, flip-flops, and an Abercrombie t-shirt who walked past, talking loudly into his Bluetooth. She looked after the man, whose conversation she could still catch every word of though he was almost a block away, and quietly despised him and all he represented, though she knew she herself represented many of the same things.
From the tree above her came the startling sound of birdsong—a solitary finch had taken it upon himself to pour out his heart to the dawn. Delia listened to it intently. She had heard the call before, but had never been so close to it. It was a cheerful sound and completely out of place; she felt grateful that the finch had decided to sing, yet pitied it for revealing its alien beauty in this unreceptive place. She wanted it to go somewhere where it would be appreciated, loved even. She couldn’t help but feel that that bird belonged in the world of her dream, a world that could be described by words like “verdurous” and “resplendent,” not here among the flat-screen TVs and Bluetooths and asphalt. The bird stopped singing. In the distance, Delia heard the low rumble of an engine and the unmistakable screeching of tires around the corner. A few seconds later, the flashing yellow behemoth appeared. Delia sighed, stood up, and shook the bits of moss from her clothes. The bus lurched to a stop in front of her, and she walked on, addressing the driver with her trite “Good morning,” and found a seat halfway back, a few rows in front of the chattering freshmen. She sat down and looked out the window, back at the tree she had just been sitting under. She saw the finch now—it was small and brown, except for a streak of red across its chest. It opened its beak, and though the bus was loud, Delia swore she could hear a few high notes above the roar of the engine. As the bus began to roll forward, she continued to stare at the finch, as it spread its wings, rose up out the tree, and flew away into the lightening sky. She smiled.





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VintageFlapper This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 26, 2010 at 11:58 pm
This is a great story! Your descriptions are very vivid, especially in the beginning when you are describing the dream. 
 
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