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The Mural

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I took a deep breath and opened my eyes. The cracked whitewashed ceiling was exactly what I had hoped to see. I was back! My mind whirled; in what I was sure must be a colorful swirl of delightful memories of previous nighttime visits. And that’s just what they were. For some illogical reason, every night this past month or so I had fallen asleep in my bed at home and woken up in what I guessed was an Indian village in the early 1900’s. I couldn’t explain it and neither could any of my new villager friends. Not that I wanted to, this was probably the best thing that had ever happened to me, but really, I mean why me? I wasn’t special! Plus, I didn’t like live near any toxic waste or anything...
A new thought propelled me into alertness from the middle of my pointless questioning. Mikaila, Robin, Nikki, I would see them all again! Every night I lived in terror that I wouldn’t wake to see that whitewashed ceiling again. I pushed back the itchy, tan colored woolen blanket on top of me and sat up to get a better view of the one room house, expecting to see one of them tending the fire or sewing a new beaded twist necklace. My eyes raked across the only window in the far northern corner, it delicately lit up a small blackened circle harboring an even blacker pan. I tried not to squeal (Or drool) with delight when I remembered all the amazing foods Robin had cooked there. I could almost taste Mikaila’s famous roasted corn cobs, or smell the fear in the air when Nikki told a scary story. The bunk under mine, or I guess you should really say hammock, was empty. I glanced at the sitting mats lying in one corner, but they were silent, still and empty as well.
Suddenly, Robin ran into the room giggling with delight. A tall, brown skinned boy, only a little older than her, streaked in after her. When she caught sight of my confused expression, she slowed to a stop. “Hey Nat! This is Till. We were just out getting some air.” I smiled at Till, and winked at Robin the second he turned his eyes away from me. She blushed a little, but didn’t say anything. As soon as he left we hugged and started talking. Robin’s radiant, dark brown eyes and huge, full lipped smile gave me hope that the other’s missed me as much as I missed them during the day.
“So,” I began, “that was Till, the one you like?”
“Yes,” she whispered quietly, a slow smile appearing on her face, “Do you think he likes me too?”
“Of course!,” I replied, “He couldn’t take his eyes off you!”
Her mouth opened in one of those I’m-about-to-gush-a-hundred-words-a-minute-I’m-so-totally-happy ways, but was interrupted by Mikaila waltzing in with a basket of corn. Once again, I was amazed by how pretty Mikaila was. Her velvety black hair was neatly folded into a shining square plate at the back of her neck. Her lively blue eyes missed nothing as she scanned the room, looking for a place to rest her basket. She was even wearing a lighter colored deer hide than usual; Nikki had told me that it was what everyone was doing lately. I had tried not to laugh, and, thankfully, I was successful. Sometimes I didn’t feel at all like I was in a different time period.
When Mikaila saw me her eyes grew round with joy and she dropped her basket and ran to give me a bear hug. “I’m so glad your here!” she squealed, “Every morning I’m scared stiff that you won’t come back!”
I really think that this was what everyone was afraid of. I didn’t know what I would do without my new sisters, and I’m pretty sure that they felt the same. Soundlessly, Nikki entered with a basket of green beans slung under one of her slender arms. Her purple eyes widened a little bit when she saw me and I smiled hugely in response. She wasn’t much of a gushy-gushy hugger, but a moment later I received a white-toothed smile which was equivalent to three hundred hugs in Nikki language. “Now where have you been all day?” she chipped in. I could barely hear her flowing, whispery voice over Mikaila’s speedy description of her new black and white shell comb. She’d spent at least a week working on it; she said that she’d made it out of a few alabaster shells which she’d found in the creek last winter. “What do you mean where have I been?” I exclaimed.
“She’s probably been eating ALL of my corn cobs,” Mikaila almost sang in her chim-chime voice.
“Or almost wetting herself after my scary stories!” Nikki added loudly, which was quite strange, since she normally voiced herself with a quiet and rather mysterious twist.
“Or trying to make us believe in pictures that move,” Robin supplied, already coughing to cover up her giggles.
The whole room got quiet. We were all trying to control the wild, consuming need to laugh. Suddenly, Robin hiccupped. Well, that’s all it took. In a few minutes we were all absolutely howling with laughter, holding our sides so that we wouldn’t burst into thousands of small chortling blobs.
As the shaking slowly subsided, we began preparing dinner. Nikki and Mikaila shelled the beans, weaving their delicate fingers into the cracked shells, pulling out the small ovals, and dropping the brownish circles lightly into a basket with a small “thud”. Robin skillfully cooked the fish, cutting off the scaly head (And more importantly the eyes) for my sake. In my own corner I dutifully shucked cobs of corn, pulling off layer after layer of seemingly thin, never ending green film. After everything was finally cleaned, and cooked, we began to eat. We talked randomly, about any topic that came up really, until the sun was almost completely set. Time to leave. I thought hopelessly. I wish so much that I could stay forever.
“Goodbye you guys.” I said sullenly. I always hated reminding them of my time schedule. In a fleeting moment, the bright, cheerful mood vanished. For some reason, I had the mental picture of a magician pulling a cloud of depression out from under his sleeve, and blowing it into the hut. These images were always brief, but I never failed to think about how silly they were later.
“We’ll see you tomorrow,” Robin agreed.
If I come back at all, I couldn’t help but think to myself.
And just like I had for the past month; I woke up.
When I fully opened my eyes, I saw familiar bright blue wallpaper neatly lining my small bedroom walls. I rolled over and tried to fall back asleep. Just when I got comfortable, I remembered that our school was going on a field trip that day. We would be leaving an hour early, and, glancing at my clock, I realized that I had to book it if I was going to go. I jumped out of my blue twin sized bed, ran to my bathroom, and took what could only be described as the fastest shower in history. The second I got out I threw on the first clean clothes I saw, and ripped the angry rats out of my hair with a comb. I brushed my teeth quickly and was out the door hurrying my mother with all I had in me. And why was I in such a hurry? I mean, after all, it was just a field trip, right? Wrong. This field trip counted as two test grades, and I was already horribly failing American History.
When we finally reached the small, ugly, cement paved school parking lot I jumped out of our car and started walking towards the bus where a group of my friends were piling on looking very secretive, which meant that Kenny had asked Carol to the dance! I would congratulate her later. Finally, I reached the bus, hopped up the filthy green stairs, and took a seat beside my best friend, Lauren. We talked a little, but for the most part we were silent, both not caring much for chatter.
When we unloaded our teacher separated us into two groups and, of course, all my friends went into group two and I got stuck in group one. I ended up spending all of my time (until lunch anyway) talking to Katie, the smartest person in our school.
But it was later, at the end of the day, when it happened. Mrs. Flagons was rounding up all of our students to leave, and I happened to glance at a mural hanging on what was labeled to be “The Eastern Wall”. I looked closer and what I saw took my breath away. The faces on the mural were an exact match to those of Robin, Nikki, and Mikaila.




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