Just Another Ordinary Day

May 26, 2010
By , HappyTown, MT
Beep. Be-beep. Be-be-beep.

I roll out of bed, eyes barely open, barely seeing. I stumble to the alarm clock and whack it until it shuts up. The immediate silence is a relief, and I almost fall asleep right there, standing. But I stretch my arms above my head to shake off the last clinging fingers of sleep, and start my day.

I stagger into the tiny kitchen. The sun glares off the shining appliances and bright white walls. I pour myself a mug of coffee, and down it. The world jumps into focus, and I pour myself another. I actually enjoy this one, stepping out onto the balcony. The cool spring air wakes me up even more than the coffee, as does the stomach-churning view from the railing. I walk back into the house as I finish my coffee, setting it down in the stainless steel sink. Shuffling into the bathroom, I grab clothes from atop the washing machine, which I hope are clean.
I live five stories above the streets of Manhattan in a relatively empty, ridiculously expensive one-bedroom apartment. I work as a techie on Broadway, aiming the spotlights on the people with actual talent. It pays well though, and thank God for that, because I don’t even want to know where I’d be if it didn’t. I’ve got a degree of course, but what can you do with a Bachelors in Stage Lighting? Not get your parent’s affection, as I learned the hard way. My life these days is empty and plain, like the white walls and sheets and countertops of this little apartment. I don’t get to be a part of the color and glamour that I light up every night for the Broadway-goers. I have few friends, none close, and no “significant other” to speak of. I’m pretty boring when you really get to thinking about it.
I turn off the water, wrap my towel around my hips and wipe the steam from the bathroom mirror, leaning down so I can actually see my reflection. It’s obvious the architect behind this apartment building was not expecting one of its residents to be a 6’3 beanstalk, but I deal with it. I brush my teeth, permanently stained from the endless stream of coffee backstage, and shave my thin face. Murky gray eyes stare back at me under plain brown hair. I’m nothing to look at, that’s for sure. I throw on my clothes, walk out of the bathroom, grab my keys and flip-flops, and head out. “Jersey Boys” is doing a tech run today, and I’m already five minutes late.
Downstairs, the streets are already choked with taxis at 8:10 in the morning - all of them full, of course; freakin’ well-to-do business people. Finally, I flag one down, throw the withering, turbaned man in the driver’s seat a twenty, and tell him to get me to 245 West 52nd Street as fast as his sorry a** can. I’m dead, and I know it. The run started 20 minutes ago, and the director’s already ready about to crack under all this pressure.
I figure, seeing as how the ride will take a few minutes, to sit back and relax, using my time before my execution wisely. I stare out of the window, people-watching, which is always fun in New York City. An elderly man with an unnaturally pink poodle walks with his head held high. A young woman with enough make-up on to fill a lead actress’s vanity stops to dig through her purse. A tall, white horse with a shimmering, golden horn crosses the street. Wait…what the hell?
I blink. The horse is still there, just crossing the street with the black-clad lawyers and interns, none of them noticing a thing. I lean forward, much to the taxi man’s dismay to get a closer look.
“Hey, man, do you see that thing?” I almost whisper to him, pointing a finger to the sidewalk as the horse steps up on to it.
“Vat you talking about? Get back in your seat!” he says, not even bothering to follow my finger to this spectacle.
“No, serious, look!” I cry, but he doesn’t listen, instead flooring the engine as the light turns green. I fly back into my seat, my head scarping along the roof of the taxi. The driver looks at me suspiciously in the rearview mirror, shaking his head.
“Freak…” he mutters.
I have absolutely no idea what has just happened. Maybe that chick in 409 was serious about that potion she threatened me with after I accidentally set off the fire alarm in my apartment, and then the whole building, when I left my Ramen noodles on for too long. I shake my head, perhaps trying to lodge loose whatever dream or voodoo magic that’s stuck up there. It’s got to be just a one-time thing. I don’t want to know the alternative.

The rest of the day goes predictably. I get chewed out by the director. I mess up the lighting. I get chewed out by the director, actors, and other techies. I fix the lighting. I get ignored. I go home. And that’s it. No more unicorn sightings, no magical creatures hanging out back stage, nothing out of the ordinary. As I walk back home I replay the events of the morning and feel like an idiot. I can’t believe that I actually thought I saw a unicorn cross 49th Street. I think I need a drink.

I unlock my apartment door, kick off my shoes, and fling my coat onto the kitchen counter. I’ve still got that bottle of Jack Daniel’s from my 21st birthday, so I pull out a glass and a few ice cubes.

On the balcony, the air is warm and thick with smog. I lean on the railing, watching the congested streets. A woman leads her wailing child down the sidewalk, past a tough looking man in comically baggy clothes. A gaggle of teenage tourists laugh and rough-house, earning looks of disdain from the other pedestrians. Nothing is out of the ordinary. I look up, into the pollution-filled heavens. It’s pitch black, not a star in sight. The sky is empty, save for the scaly, glinting dragon silently flapping in front of the small, faint moon.

I blink, shake my head like a wet dog, pinch myself, and down the rest of my Jack. It’s still there, just flying in circles of New York City like your everyday pigeon. S***.

“I really am going crazy…” and then everything goes black.
I wake up on my ratty, gray sofa, with a cold rag across my forehead. Someone is humming in the kitchen, and the distinct scent of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup has permeated the entire apartment. I try to sit up to identify my savior, but my head swims and I flop back down with a sigh.
“Don’t even think about getting up just yet,” a distinctly female voice calls sharply from the kitchen.
I hear dishes rattle and light footsteps across the tile. A steaming bowl and a spoon are set down on the coffee table, and the rag is replaced. I feel her sit down on the couch by my legs.
“Um, thanks for, uh, saving me. How did you know I fainted?”
“I was walking home from work and your glass almost shattered on my head. I looked up in time to see you fall. What in the world were you doing?”
“Um…I…well.” I close my eyes, trying to think. What do I say? I don’t even know who I’m talking to, and even if I did, I sure as hell can’t tell them that I saw a dragon.
“Well?” I open my eyes, and her face looms above me. The gray-green eyes behind her wire frames are serious, and her face is surrounded by cropped blonde hair. I recognize her from somewhere – right down the hall, in fact. It’s the girl that lives in 409. I’m screwed. She’ll eat me alive.
“I was just…you know, tired from work…and I, uh, hadn’t eaten all day, and…you know…” I sound like an idiot. There’s no way this girl believes a word that’s coming out of my mouth.
“Uh-huh. Nice try.”
I look at her, and decide I had no better choice than to tell the truth.
“I saw a dragon.” I close my eyes again, not wanting to look at her face.
“Really? This early in the year? Hm…”
I jump a little bit, sending my head reeling. “What??”
She looks at me again, completely serious, and asks, “What color was it?”
I can’t believe this. I am actually talking to a girl who thinks dragons are real. Either we’re both totally insane, or I’ve just become part of a much bigger picture. I’m going with the former.
“Uh, greenish gold, I think? What the hell does that have to do with anything? It was just a hallucination or something.”
She scoffs. “You really think that? Lemme guess…you saw the unicorn today on 49th Street and just chose to ignore it. I thought I saw you in that taxi. Well, you’ve got lots to learn. Eat your soup.” She pulls me into a sitting position, placing the rag on the table. I’m handed the bowl and spoon as she walks back into the kitchen.
I don’t know what to do. Is she serious? Or is she just some master prankster, who somehow knows that I’m the most gullible person you’ll ever meet? I hear her washing dishes, and realize just how hungry I am. I slurp down the noodles and chicken, not caring that it’s scalding my mouth and throat. For a minute, I forget about the dragons and unicorns and other general weirdness, and then she comes back into the room.
“So – ready to be bewildered?” she quips, sitting on the thick, wooden coffee table.
I give her a pathetic look, my mouth full of noodles, broth dripping down my chin. I swallow and wipe my face.
“I don’t think I have a choice at this point. Could you please tell me what the hell is going on? And what’s you name? And-“
She waves her hand, cutting me off.
“For starters, my name’s not important, and you’ll see why in a second. As for what you’ve seen, that shouldn’t have happened, and I’m very sorry. There was a minor breach in security today, and you haven’t been the only person to see what you saw.”
“Breach in what security? Tell me what’s happening!” I regret raising my voice, because my head immediately begins to pound again. I set the quarter-full bowl back on the table, and place the rag against my forehead.
She sighs, twisting her mouth in concentration. “Okay…you won’t remember anything anyways. There is another world living right underneath your nose; a world of magic and fantasy and whatever else you’ve read in fairy tales. It’s all real, just expertly hidden. Only very few humans are allowed to be in on the secret, myself included, and we are in charge of security. Usually, we can manipulate the magic around us to hide everyone from humans, but sometime it fails, as in your case. Now, you need to forget, my friend.” She gets up off the coffee table, reaching for her back pocket.
“Wait, wait, wait…so you’re saying that Snow White and Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin – they’re all real?”
“Yes. Cinderella actually lives on the top floor of the neighboring apartment building. But that doesn’t matter. Can we just get on with you forgetting all of this?”
She seems to be in quite a hurry, but I haven’t even gotten close to having all my questions answered.
“Hold on. So what are you? Why can you see and I can’t?”
A look of annoyance settles on her face, and she puts a hand on her hip. “I work for security. I keep all the rest of us nosy humans from seeing my world. I don’t know why. It just is. Now shut up!” She reaches for her pocket again.
“Wait! Can’t you, like, recruit me or something? Why can’t I work in security as well?”
“Because I was born into this – my father was security, my grandfather was security, and so on. You can’t just be recruited into this. You need connections, which you don’t have. Now shut. The hell. Up.”
The girl pulls out a small leather pouch from her back pocket, and begins to untie it. Who does she think she is? I just want to know what’s happening to me, and she couldn’t care less. Somehow, it seems like everyone has that view of me.
“Just wait –“ I begin, but she doesn’t even pause to listen this time. She tips the pouch over my head, and a soft white powder falls, surrounding my head. I inhale and immediately begin to cough, rattling my already pounding head. My vision begins to go fuzzy, the edges slowly turning black, and the last thing I see is the girl from 409 walking towards the door.
Beep. Be-beep. Be-be-beep.
I grope for the alarm clock, eyes still closed. I find it, and fumble for a second until I hit the OFF button. The silence is a relief for my headache, which luckily is not as bad as it was yesterday. I sigh, rolling out of bed. I stretch my gangly arms above my head, almost touching the ceiling of my tiny, empty apartment, and walk into the kitchen. For some reason, there’s an empty can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and a few pieces of shattered glass on the counter. I shrug it off, figuring it was just the cold medicine making me forget, and pour myself a mug of coffee. Maybe I’ll actually be able to go into work – I hate being sick, especially on days when we have tech runs. The director for “Jersey Boys” is going to explode when I come in with a useless excuse as being sick. He expects you to come in when you’re on your deathbed, crazy b******.
I walk out onto the balcony with my coffee, looking out over the railing. There’s some more glass out here – what was I doing last night? I look at my watch. S***, only 20 minutes until rehearsal. I run back into the apartment – just the beginning to another ordinary day.

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