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Sadie Seeks Sanity
The turquoise stripes on the walls blended in with Sadie’s teal Anthropologie t-shirt. The stack of books next to her towered over her windowsill. With shaking hands, she reached for the top one. The Catcher in the Rye, one of her favorites. Her fingers thumbed to pages, and the book fell open to Holden wondering about the ducks in Central Park. Where do they go in the winter, anyways?
Sadie knew the feeling coming on, and it was bad. She threw down the book, and one of the pages crumpled. Tripping down the stairs, Sadie ripped open the front door and hit the ground running. She ran and ran until she couldn’t breathe, and then she ran some more. She couldn’t freak out about anything when she couldn’t breathe, right? Maybe it was unhealthy, but she wasn’t going to just stay at home and burden anyone else with this. It was the best option, really; her mother didn’t care about anything, so it seemed like a good way to deal with stress. Stress, the constantly churning, boiling, frayed knot with angry metal spikes that tore apart her insides until she was just a jittery, shaking, ball of nervous energy. With slow, halting steps, Sadie walked back to her turquoise striped room.
Her eyes fell to the book on the ground. Why not? She flipped through the pages, until she found her favorite part. Holden was looking for Phoebe in Central Park, and it was funny. Holden always had reminded of Sadie of her brother, Oliver: reckless, crazy, but somehow, you always loved him. She skimmed the words in the book, and was soon lost in Holden’s struggles. With the book pressed to her chest, Sadie closed her eyes.
Wait… why was she outside? Where was her room? She looked around, and walked over to some teenage guy sitting on a bench. There was a lake beside her, and he seemed to be totally glazed over, as if he was part of the bench. A few little kids nearby were skating around on the pavement, giggling.
“Do you know where we are?” she asked the boy. His rumpled brown hair lifted just a touch in the afternoon breeze.
“Where do the ducks go, in the winter?” he said, his voice placid and calm.
“I was just, I was just wondering where we were,” mumbled Sadie. Maybe he was one of those crazy guys who lived in the park and were supposed to be ignored.
“Central Park. And hey, you haven’t seen a little girl around here, probably nine or ten, named Phoebe around here, have you? I’m Holden. Holden Caulfield, if you wanted to know.” He seemed to have snapped out of his glazed expression.
Sadie staggered back, and the realization of where she was hit her like a big yellow school bus. That boy was either had parents with great taste in books, or she was in this story. That boy was Holden. The Holden from her book. Lurching forward, Sadie walked quickly away, toward a large path near a frozen lake. She hadn’t even gotten to say thanks you. In the distance, she heard a far away voice saying, “You’re welcome, Sadie.” Had she even told him her name?
A new voice filled her head, turning her brain into a thunderstorm of panic and anxiety. She felt that old feeling again, and had to restrain herself to keep from running all this stress out. Her life was spinning out of control, and she reached out to a nearby rock to steady herself.
“It is I, Queen Melt Down, Sadie. Remember me? I was always with you, at every childhood birthday party and every terrible day of elementary school. Ah, the fun we had. But it’s time for you to grow up, dear Sadie. It’s time for you to chill out.”
“What? No, I’m fine. Perfectly fine,” Sadie said unconvincingly. It seemed more like she was trying to make herself believe it more than Queen Melt Down. “But, what would I have to do anyways, Queen?”
An icy shiver ran down Sadie’s spine, and her teeth seemed to clatter around in her skull. The cracks in the ice began to fill and expand with ice, and it formed crooked words. Find Phoebe, it read.
Wait…like Holden’s kid sister, Phoebe? Where was her turquoise striped room now? “Queen of Melt Downs? Excuse me, ma’am? If you could just explain what’s going on, that would be great.”
“Sorry, Sadie. It’s time to grow up. You’ve got a problem, and now you’ve got to fix it yourself.” And with that, she was gone; the voice in her head was replaced by the usual hum of electricity that was her mind.
To Sadie’s surprise, she felt as if she knew exactly where to find Phoebe. With confident strides, unlike her own, Sadie set out towards the frozen waterfall. The ice had frozen in midair, forming and ice- bridge to the ground. Well, if this was Queen Melt Down, shouldn’t she be looking in the exact opposite place; somewhere, well, frozen?
“Hey, Phoebe? Where are you, kid? Holden’s looking for you, he seems pretty worried!” She wasn’t exactly sure if that last part was true, but she persevered. “Listen, Phoebe. This is serious. I’ll buy you a cocoa or something if you want, just come back out to Holden, pretty please?”
“The physical appearance of your please doesn’t change my mind, but I think the cocoa might. But there better be extra whipped cream, woman,” said a snippy voice from behind a little bush. “And marshmallows. Holden never gets me marshmallows.”
“Sure, sure, Phoebe, anything you want. But it’s freezing, let’s get going. Oh, and I’m Sadie. Sadie McLaren.”
“You seem to know me well enough, I won’t bother giving you any more information about me,” Phoebe said, in a voice with far more sarcasm than a nine year old should be able to have.
Fifteen minutes later, Sadie had successfully scrounged up enough cash to but Phoebe her cocoa, and they headed towards Holden on the bench near the lake. Sadie liked how Phoebe didn’t ask questions; she seemed wise beyond her years.
“Well, I think she’s your,” Sadie said, presenting Phoebe to Holden. He didn’t say thank you, but looked up at her thoughtfully. Slightly offended, Sadie walked toward the exit of the park. Trying her best not to look like a lunatic, she motioned towards Phoebe and Holden.
“Hey, Queen. Look, I did your little task. What do I get, a cookie? A pat on the head, maybe a participation medal?”
“Sassy, much?” the Queen growled scornfully. “You seem all right, kid. You’ve finally grown up; I think you can handle your own problems now. You won’t be needing me anymore.”
Sadie’s eyes flew open, and she looked around at her turquoise striped room. She felt, what was the word…calm. In the very back of her head, a boy’s voice said, “You’re welcome, Sadie.”