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I look around. As far as my eyes can see, there is forest, dense with thick green trees, swarming with little bugs, and rustling as the wind blows through the dark green leaves. The wind is now visible as wisps of smoke swirl around my face. Normally, this is the setting of my dreams, the dreams that live inside me, coming out every night when I fall into slumber. Tonight it is different though; I know I’m not dreaming. I remember the walk out here, the chill on my naked arms, the tall grass brushing against my legs, but as I had gotten deeper into the woods the scene from my dreams for the past five months opened up in front of my eyes.
Tonight the scene from my dream is different in one way. I am not alone. In front of my eyes, is a boy so beautiful that he could only be in the magic of dreams. He has gorgeous blue eyes, the color of the ocean at noon, when the sun is shining brightly over it. He is the quintessential component for perfection. Even though I lack the confidence that would allow me to be comfortable around him, I feel safe with him.
But as I stare at this beautiful creature, he starts to fade, slowly at first, but gradually faster and faster. Almost as soon as he appeared the first time, he is gone.
As I stand in the forest, shivering as the wind blows against my skin, I decide that I must be delirious. I had made the whole thing up. Yeah, that sounds good. I look up into the starry night sky, and wonder. Does wishing upon stars really work? How about 11:11? Does that work? Even as all these questions fly through my head, I decide I need to go home. I feel the stress of a long day pushing down on my shoulders and I know that as soon as I go to bed, I’ll be out cold. I turn around and start the journey back to where my house is, the journey that I took just a mere 15 minutes ago, even though it feels like a lifetime, and the journey that will make me think about the impossible event that had just occurred. Questions were flying through my head at a million miles an hour. Was that real? Is he real? Will he come back? Will I find him? Will I see him again? The last one was the one that bothers me. It bothers me because that is the only one that I truly care about. The one that when I think about it, makes my heart skip a beat. Even with these questions cramming the space in my head, I feel the exhaustion trying to pull me under. I hurry through the rest of the path and up the steep hill we call our backyard. I race inside and rush up the stairs, all the while being quiet so I don’t wake up the ‘rents. I stretch my body, brush my teeth and hair, and pull on my pajamas. As I finally crawl into bed, I reach across my nightstand to turn the clock around; I must have hit it across the nightstand trying to make it shut up when the alarm went off this morning. 11:11 flashed with green numbers right into my eyes. Time for my nightly wish. “I wish with all my heart that I will see him again.” I repeat the wish over and over again until the number clicks over to 11:12. I put my head down and almost immediately fall asleep.
I am surrounded by one of my worst fears. Spiders. They are crawling all around me in the attic. Even though I may be petrified of them, I am relaxed. Looking out into the morning sky, I see birds soaring overhead, I hear the little children down the street playing in the already warm air. It is the middle of July, 9 o’clock in the morning. I am in the attic to get away from the troubles that await me later in the day. My name is Emma Knight, and I am not what my parents consider “normal”. They want me to be the ideal daughter. The kind of girl that wears skirts and jewelry, the kind of girl that gets A’s on ALL of her tests, the kind of girl who reads books and plays dainty sports like croquet, and most importantly, the kind of girl who does not dye her hair blue.
As they always say to their stoic visitors, “She is the anomaly of this family. We don’t know where we went wrong with her. Look at our son, Mark. He is a wonderful son, gets good grades, plays all different sports, and always remembers to use his manners.” Of course, at the perfect time, Mark walks in and asks, “Sorry for interrupting, but may I get you anything to drink?” Then I am left standing there, with nobody paying attention to me, the anomaly of the perfect Knight household, and they wonder why my hair is blue. Maybe to better describe my life I should dye it the color of barf.
As I sit in my little corner in the attic, the one place that I can truly call my home, I think about what happened last night…
“NO! This is my hair and I can dye it if I want to!” I screamed at my mother. I had just dyed my hair that morning and she wanted me to dye it back.
“Young lady, you live in my house, under my roof, and you WILL follow my directions. So go to your room, you are grounded for the rest of this week.” My mom yelled back. Nonetheless, if you accused her of yelling she would deny it, because my mother never raises her voice at anyone. Well that’s what she tells everyone.
“You know what Mom; you don’t understand me, my life, or my problems. So, whatever, in three years I will be eighteen! Then I will be out of this house and on my own. You will have the perfect family you have always wanted. It will be as if I never existed.”
I stormed outside in a huff and started walking to the forest. The forest is my favorite place in the world. I can pretend that I am the only one there, just me and the animals in the whole forest. But right now even the forest couldn’t get me in a calm mood. My mother just doesn’t understand me and she probably never will.
As I got to the thick, dark woods I calmed down a notch. While I walked down the path that lead to an idyllic clearing, I thought about life, my life specifically. If you wanted to sum up my life in two words, it would be very easy. “It sucks!” Just like I am not the ideal daughter, I am not a depressed freak. I just don’t lie to myself. I am not going to lie to myself like all those other girls who think that their lives are perfect, when I know for a fact that my life is nowhere near perfect.
I walked deeper and deeper into the forest. With each step the perfect surroundings calmed me down. As I got farther in to the forest I could see the dull moonlight shining through the tree trunks. I shoved branches away with a force that was fueled by the anger that flows through my body. Now I have gone farther into the forest than I had ever gone before, past the clearing that was my previous destination, past the familiar trees that surround me, and past the turns in the path that I could walk with my eyes closed. When I took the last step out of the dense tree trunks, the scene from my dream opened up in front of my eyes.
It was weird. This place had been in my dreams every night for a few months. The forest was dark, the sun was gone, and the birds were no longer flying overhead. Even though all civilization was gone it was peaceful. In my dreams I usually play games, read, or sing. Sometimes I write poetry, but in every dream I am alone.
That night another person stood before me. He was gorgeous. He had blue eyes, auburn hair that was cut in the perfect way, and a face that could make hearts melt. I stared at him for an immeasurable amount of time. But almost as soon as I saw him, he was gone.
10:02 looks me in the face as I stare at my watch hoping that time will go back. If I don’t go downstairs and acknowledge my parents, then they will come up here and ruin my haven. Heading down the stairs, I hear my brother and my dad talking. They are discussing the latest obstacles Mark is facing. (I tend to call them the “non” obstacles.) I walk in and hit Mark on the back of the head.
My mother screams, “Emma Rose Knight! Do not touch your brother. You are the older sibling here and you should be setting the example!” I just wave her off and walk out the front door. Ha! I think in my head. She didn’t even realize I stole her toast. I take a big bite and then throw it into the garden that sits right next to our front porch. Skipping down the rest of the wooden stairs, I decide to go to the park, and try to find “the guy”. As I meander down the sidewalk on the way to the park I conclude that I am in a better mood today and that nothing will bring me down. Although, when I think about it, finding the fading guy would improve my already good day.
For the next few minutes, as I make my way to the park, I enjoy the peace and quiet that surrounds me when I am not trapped in the prison that I’m forced to call my home. I look across the park and see the bench that I sit on every time I come to the park. It is my throne. I feel as if I can rule the world there: where in reality I only rule the pigeons, and only because they know food awaits them. Sitting on the bench I scan the crowd of people in search of him. My heart skips a beat when I see an auburn head run by. I glance at his face as he passes me, ready to jump up and greet him, only to be disappointed when I find out it’s my neighbor who is in his mid-fifties.
How could I be that desperate? I am a mature teenager who shouldn’t be so desperate that I am ready to pounce on a person who doesn’t even come close to the one I want.
After a week of the same routine over and over again, I finally have a good feeling about today. The sun is shining brightly over my head as I walk. The birds are singing loudly, but even that won’t bother me on a day like today. For the first time in almost a month, I didn’t fight with my mom. We didn’t technically have a conversation, but at least it wasn’t fighting. I had a lapse in my abnormally good day when I slapped Mark again on the head. Nobody was there to see it, so I was off the hook. All in all, maybe I am turning to the light, becoming a better me, or this could possibly be only a one time occurrence.
I look ahead on the path and see the bench that I sit on everyday. Since that fiasco with me thinking my neighbor was him, I haven’t called the bench my throne and I don’t think I ever will again. I get to the bench and sit down with my book on my lap. Early this morning I had decided to read while I waited for him. If he is real and good enough for me, he will see me and come over to greet me. So hoping that he will do some of this searching work, I sit down and open my book to where the bookmark rests.
“They are getting closer!! Guys the car doesn’t go much faster without breaking down and we don’t have a back up plan!” The panic in her voice was enough to put someone in shock, but we all tried to calm down and decide what we would do next and before anyone came up with a suggestion, Rachel pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911. She quickly explained to the operator what had happened.
I finish the paragraph I was reading and read the cover.
“The Kidnapping of Melissa Lomey”
By Kristen Costantini
It has a beautiful design on the cover of the book that catches your eye. That is the main reason I bought the book. I am glad I bought it though, because it has a very good story. I close the book and put it down in my lap. I let my eyes close themselves as I look up at the bright sun, and soon I am completely relaxed.
My eyes open to the dusk sky. What happened? I look around and realize that most of the people are gone from the park and all of the creepy guys dressed in all dark clothes are out and about. I get up carefully not to attract any attention from unwanted bystanders. As I stretch my aching legs, I hear bones in my neck and back crack, from being bent in such a strange position. I start down the path that will take me the long way home. As I walk down the street toward the alleys I realize that I had forgotten how creepy they were this late in the day.
After having the misfortune of falling asleep I decide that my good day had been a façade. Up ahead, I see two people crossing the street slowly. As one of them walks under the dim street light I see a glimpse of auburn hair. For some unknown reason I know for a fact that it is him. I am 100% sure of this as I start running down the rest of the alley towards him. I am ignoring everything in my path, even the cat that meows as I step on his tail.
I finally catch up to him and slow down my pace. I finally pull my eyes off of him and see the woman standing next to him. The elderly woman must have needed help crossing the street to get to the apartments on the other side. He had been helping her across the street. Awww. He is so sweet, and that’s when I realize that I know nothing about him. I don’t how he acts, or his personality. I don’t even know his name, but all of those mysteries will be solved in a very short time. As soon as we meet officially, we will hit it off and spend every waking moment with each other until we know everything about each other. Actually, even when we know everything about each other, we will still be together forever.
I walk up to him and tap him lightly on the shoulder. He turns around to look at me, and my stomach starts to go crazy in the anticipation of our blooming relationship.
“Yes?” he asks. Looking right to my hair as soon as he sees me. Not the effect the blue hair was supposed to have on people. I think I can forgive him.
“Don’t you remember me?” I ask warily.
“No, sorry. Maybe you have the wrong person,” he tries to explain unsuccessfully.
“No. No. No. You are the right person. Don’t you remember me from the forest? You were in the forest behind my house. You have to remember!”
“No. Sorry. But umm… I have to go. Uh. Bye,” he says. He starts to turn around.
“Wait! What’s your name?” I ask urgently.
“I don’t know you and I am not going to see you again! I don’t remember what you claim I did either!” he replies angrily, and starts to walk away from me.
“Bye.” I say in a pitiful and soft voice.
I continue to walk home trying to hold myself together. I make it to the house before the realization kicks in that I will never see him again. I walk in and my mom is sitting on the couch in the living room.
“Emma Rose please come in here!” she says in her strict voice.
“Mom, I really am in no mood to talk. My life is horrible. So good night. Love you.” I say and then instantly regret it. I haven’t said I love you in years.
“Uhhh… Uhmm. I lo.. Good night, Sleep good. See you in the morning.” She barely manages to get out.
I get halfway up the creaky stairs before my self-control fails and the tears start to pour out of my eyes. I run the rest of the way up, not caring if I ruin everyone’s peace and quiet, I run straight to the attic with the spiders. I cross the room kicking boxes out of the way with each step. I sit down in the corner crying pools of tears. As I lean my head against the cool window I continue to cry until I fall asleep.
I open my eyes to the sunlight coming through the window, shining brightly in my eyes. I blink and rub my eyes for a bit before they are fully awake without any gunk in the corners. The dry tears leave tracks on my face, and the red puffy look must be attractive. I look out the window more closely now and see a couple walking hand in hand down the road. No one with strange hair would have that picturesque look. Tomorrow I will dye my hair back to its original color, I decide. I look at my multi-color watch and read the hands that bore the time into my head. 12:03. My parents will be up any minute screaming at me to do my chores and clean my room. Even as I think about all of the trouble I am in I can’t get up. There is nothing I can do to bring myself to pull myself up off of the floor and go downstairs. So without thinking about anything, I shut my mind to the world and relax against the window sill.
At 1:00 exactly I hear a knock at the door.
“Sweetie, can I come in?” I hear my mother’s voice say.
“MMMMM” was all I could manage to get out.
As she opens the door slowly she sticks her head in. After she sees that I really did acknowledge her she comes in the rest of the way.
“I know you don’t talk to me at all and you probably don’t want to now but I just want you to know I’m here. I brought some soup for you to eat for lunch.” She pauses and looks down at the bowl in her hands,”Tomato. I knew it was your favorite, soooo… yeah. Just remember I’m here.” She turns around and starts toward the door.
“Thanks,” I get out just before she leaves. Even though it is barely audible I know she hears it. Since I could hardly get “thanks” out how would I ever tell her the whole story?
As the rest of the day continues I stay in the little corner keeping my mind blank. The whole day goes by with me out of it.
As my head starts to clear in the morning after sleeping in the attic I feel the soft cushion of my mattress under me. I look around and find that I am in my own bedroom. Mark and Dad must have carried me down to my room when they went to bed last night. I get out of the comfort of my bed and walk over to my bathroom and take the quickest shower of my life. I race down the stairs and into the kitchen.
“Thanks, Dad and… Mark.” I had trouble getting out Mark’s name. I had never in my life thanked him before. Not that I ever had a reason to. I go over to my mom and thank her for the soup and dinner yesterday.
“No problem, honey.” She replies to my unusual thank you.
I walk outside without stealing my mother’s toast or smacking Mark on the head. I get on my bike that lays next to the shed in our side yard. As I start riding down the driveway leading out of our property, I see the birds around me and the sun shining. It cheers me up a little, even though nothing could make me completely happy except for one thing. The one thing.
I pull up in front of the local general store and walk inside the automatic front doors. I go straight to the hair section and meander my way through. As I scan the aisle for the perfect hair color I see a glimpse of auburn hair go by. Not going to be bothered by it, I keep looking. Finally I find the perfect shade of honey brown that is the closest to my natural hair color and I walk up to the front desk. While paying I swear I see the auburn hair flash by in a mirror over the checkout counter, but as I turn around to look the cashier says,”Is that all, today?”
“Uhmm. Sorry?” I ask. “Oh! Yes that is all, thanks a lot!”
“Yeah… sure.” She replies warily. I can’t wait to get rid of this blue hair and have people look at me normally again. I walk out of the store and back to the bike that awaits me at the bike rack. I put the bag with my hair color in the lime green basket and get on. I start pedaling fast toward the house. Once in the house I was going to color my hair back to the normal shade it once was.
“Come on…Come on…Come on!” I was chanting that mantra throughout my head as I waited for the dye to set in. Finally the timer goes off alerting me that my hair is finally ready. I stick my head under the already warm water coming out of the faucet in the bath tub and start rinsing out my hair. Finally it is all done and I can blow-dry my hair and see the final product of my new head. I blow dry my hair away from the mirror so I can receive the full impact when I look at myself.
I finish blowing my hair and I slowly turn to see my hair in the mirror. Wow! It looks amazing. I touch it with my fingers and find that the dryness from the blue dye is gone! Deciding not to show my parents just yet I run to my room and grab my favorite hoodie and pull the hood over my hair. I take my book and run downstairs, ready to go outside. Since my little episode my parents haven’t really asked me where I was going. I guess they figured I needed some space, which I definitely did need. I skip down the stairs and out the back door, just to make sure I didn’t meet my parents on the way. I run straight to the forest.
It’s time for some closure; I have to forget about what happened and get on with my life. I start down the familiar path until I get to the path that I had only been on one other time in my life, the one to the place I saw him. I keep going, paying attention to every detail. I look to the left and see only a tree at first, but then if you look carefully you can see the moss, birds, bees, spiders, and rabbits all around. Everywhere you look you see the general look first but then when you really think about it you notice things you would normally never see.
Walking closer to the part of the forest that is my destination my nerves start to go haywire. Trying to calm them down I close my eyes and before I know it I am standing still in the exact spot with my eyes closed. I open my eyes slowly and start to sit down on the soft grass under my feet. But as I start to sit someone walks out from between the trees.
It’s him. The person I am trying to forget. I was using all of my brain power to get rid of all of him from my mind. Yet here he stands, looking at me.
“I remember,” was all he said. At that moment I knew everything was right. I ran over and gave him the biggest hug known to man. I could have been suffocating him for all I knew, but at that moment it didn’t matter. I was so happy that my body was practically bursting with joy. He was perfect and life would be happily ever after now that I have him.
3 years later
So everything went fine after that. I and the fading boy, Rob, became the closest you could possibly be with another person. But those few years after our joyful meeting were nowhere near perfect. I had another moment with a small girl somewhere in the ages between 2 and 4. She was adorable. And once again just like Rob, she faded away. We have yet to find her, but there is hope and someday we will. We have faith that we will find her and she will become close to us.
My hair is fully grown out to its natural color, no dye whatsoever in it. I still can’t call the bench “my throne”. Now it is “our” throne, not just mine. And remember the time I saw the auburn hair in the general store? It was him. He had been following me so he could learn where I lived. So life is going great now that Rob and I have found each other. Both of my parents know the whole story now. We have grown closer over the last three years and yes, I still live with them. My mom appreciates the fact that we have made up; now we have to make up for all the lost time. We don’t know why I see all of these mysterious things, maybe I am a freak, maybe I just imagine all of these things, or maybe it’s just magic.
Oh! One more thing. The little girl has honey brown hair and blue eyes the color of ocean at noon.