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I'm Nothing but Imaginary This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It was night. The sky above was black and dotted with stars. They pulsed with light, reaching out their tiny rays as if trying to escape from the dark abyss whose grasp never loosened. It was a sad thing, though I knew it was simply nature’s way.

The thought of their lonely struggle brought me back to my own. I sighed and sat up from my grassy bed. Looking away from the sky, I gazed across the endless field. It wasn't really endless, but how I wished it so. To be able to walk forever, never reaching troubles or feelings that dragged me down. To lie and sleep when I felt tired, not when time decided. Time; it was not a kindly thing to me. It planned out every outcome. How my day was, my night would be. The actions I made decided my consequences. It was as if I was playing a game with time. I rolled the die as I moved about with my day, and as my day ended, time would roll the die and I would suffer the result.

I then realized, as I thought bitterly of time, it also controlled when I was forced to leave the field and go back home. The sky was turning a watery gray with a thin line of hazy yellow sunshine on the horizon. The field was my hiding place, so big that being in the center of it kept me hidden from eyes that wanted to burn into me with disappointment.
I began my journey back to the west side of the field into the woods that held a bypass around the town streets. As I neared the trees, I could just see the blazing street lights, slowly blinking out now as the night faded and the day brightened. The forest was sparkling with morning dew, and the damp leaves were cold against my hands as I pushed through the drooping branches of a tree. There was a narrow pathway etched into the foliage-covered earth from the many times I had wandered this way, and I began to fallow it.

When I reached the weeping willow tree that marked the location of my back yard, I checked each window to see if the house lights were still off while my parents slept. They were and I crept slowly up the stairs to the back porch. When I got inside, it was still dark and the hallway was soundless. I silently thanked the floors for keeping my steps muffled on their carpet surface as I made my way to my room on the second floor. The only noise I made now was the heavy sigh of relief when I closed my door. It was Saturday now, so I had no need to get ready for school, and collapsed onto my bed, wrapping myself tightly in the blankets. Sleep took me in its warm, thick grasp quickly.

I opened my eyes for a mere second before closing them again as the blinding morning light struck them through my window. With my eyes tightly closed, I listened instinctively for the familiar clanking of dishes and the muffled talking of my parents downstairs. All I heard now was silence. I opened my eyes, ignoring the brightness that stung them. I walked out into the hallway and listened again. Still, I heard nothing but the humming of the house appliances. Most people would assume the silence was simply because the people who lived in the house were gone. However, this seemed a lot more than that. Every Saturday here was a routine; a routine that never changed. It was like a blank white wall, but today it was splattered with colorful paint in a confusing, jumbled manner.

I made my way downstairs and expected to at least see my father sitting in the living room with his newspaper. The living room was as silent as the rest of the house. Just when I was about to assume they went on some strange errand, I saw a gleam of light reflecting off the car in the front yard. My parents had gone without the mechanical help of a motor vehicle. I was baffled and confused. They would never step foot beneath the trees that lined the road that led to town, too afraid that a leaf might fall on them, or a slimy slug might appear in their path. The dirt driveway alone was too much for them to handle, for in their opinion, dirt is far too dusty and uneven to be walked on with nice shoes.

Taking my parents’ absence in was hard to do, but I was glad I did. I was free from that blank wall, that routine that never changed. I was free from time and its control. I did not know when my parents would return but I didn't care. I smiled and ran back upstairs. I did not plan to spend my glorious freedom inside the stuffy, predictable house. I wanted to be in the field where everything was unpredictable; where every detail seemed new, and beautiful in so many different ways, and where the sounds were natural, not artificial.

I put on my shoes and made my way to the back porch door. I barely pulled on the sliding door before I realized there was a small piece of paper tucked under the flower vase sitting atop the small round table next to me. It was in the shape of a cursive letter R. There was only one word, written with small neat letters, in the middle of the cut-out that read, “This”. I just stared at the word, written with small, neat letters. Although the writing was neat, I knew it was not written by either of my parents. I assumed it was just something I wrote a long time ago and simply forgot about it. I put the paper back on the table, and left the house behind.

The sun light shown down on the forest canopy, making the leaves above me shimmer brilliantly like jade. The pathway to the field was so different today. My usual visits were in the dark, when every branch, tree, or flower was blanketed in shadow, and every step I took was by memory, not by sight. Today every object that I used to see in darkness was lit up by the sunlight.
I remembered the first night I came this way. I hated to remember it, for I was not wandering the forest out of curiosity, but out of anger. My parents and I had just moved here, and they decided that since we were accustomed to the city, it would be necessary to leave the forest unexplored. They made up stories about it. They told the stories as if they had been there before, like it was some horrible memory of theirs. I left the house one morning to try and see what was so bad about the woods, and was caught. They made an official rule stating that the forest was completely off limits. I stayed in my room, staring out the window into the darkening trees. I couldn't get the angry voices of my parents out my mind. I always thought of my life as easy, always having what I needed inside the house. But now as the forest swayed in the nighttime breeze, I wanted to step over the line that marked the border of my life, and discover something new for once. I kept hearing those voices, how they spoke of rules for the first time to me. I became so overwhelmed, and as I slammed open my window, I was nearly blinded by my own anger that I hadn't realized I was running onto the roof that was level with my window, and jumping onto the ground three feet below it. I ran into the forest, as far as I could before exhaustion took over me and I slowed down to find myself surrounded by shadowy tree trunks. It was so quiet, and yet I didn't feel lost. I found the field that night, as I brushed through a clump of ferns to find an opening into the seemingly never-ending clearing. My visits began and continued for countless nights.
My memories were interrupted when a white object caught my eye as it was blown towards me. It landed lightly in front of me, and I realized it was a note, just like the one on the table, however instead of a cursive R, it was an O. I picked it up and read the middle line with writing. This time it read “was”. I decided to hold onto the strange little note and think more about it in the field. I folded it in half and placed it in my jeans pocket.
I reached the field, and was disappointed to find another person lying in the center where I had always been. I must have startled whoever it was, because they took one look at me, ran off to the edge of the field and into the forest. I yelled to them as they ran away, trying to say it was okay, but they didn't hear me. When I got to the center of the field, there was yet another white note lying in the grass. It was different like the other two, and was shaped like a cursive S. I picked it up and searched for the lone word that I expected to be on the paper. There on the middle line was the word “your.” Confusion no longer filled my thoughts, but curiosity. I took the note and placed it with the other in my pocket and decided to go back to the house to see if the first one related at all to the others.
When I reached home, my parents were still gone and when I got inside, the first note was gone too. I spent five minutes searching the floor for it in case it slid off the table, but I had no luck. All this was making no sense. I gave up, frustrated, and went upstairs to my room. I figured my parents would be getting home soon, and getting caught out in the forest was the last thing I wanted to happen.
The sun was sinking beneath the trees in the distance, pulling with it the golden sky. The clouds turned pink, then red, and finally they were engulfed in shadow as night grew stronger. The stars poked through the dark blue blanket as the last ray of sunlight disappeared. I lay in my bed, waiting for the door downstairs to open, and to hear the voices of my parents echo off the walls. An hour passed first, and then two hours, three and then four hours. My eyes were growing heavy and I could fight it no longer as sleep pulled my eyelids shut and wrapped me in darkness.
When I opened my eyes, I expected to be blinded by sunlight again. There was no sunlight, no sound of birds, no voices, nothing to tell me it was morning. I looked around my room to find that it was still covered in nighttime shadows. I looked out the window and the outside, too, was still dark. I imagined that I had simply just woken up in the middle of the night, and really no hours had passed since I fell asleep. However my imaginings were shattered when I looked at my alarm clock sitting on my bedside table to see that it was indeed morning. The red numbers clearly said 9:00am. I rushed downstairs into the kitchen. The mysterious letter-shaped notes were still sitting on the dining table where I had placed them before. I turned on the lights and nearly yelled out loud when I saw there were not three notes there, but four now. They were all lined up next to each other. The new note was a cursive E. Lined up next to each other; the notes spelled “ROSE.” My entire body seemed to freeze as I stared at the word. It wasn't just a word, it was my name. I wanted so badly to imagine that it was all just a coincidence that the note could have been referring to a beautiful red-peddled flower rather than a person. I passed that thought quickly, for now it was not all just some joke; it was a game, or a message in which I was the target. I ran to my parents’ bedroom, hoping to find them laughing at me, telling me they got me, they fooled me. Their bed was made, their lights were off, and their room was empty. On their bed was a note, a full square piece of paper with neat cursive writing on it. For once I found a sign that seemed normal to me. I picked up the note and read it out loud.
“Dear Rose,
As daylight sunk beneath the trees,
You fought a rule you didn't like,
Ran out into the evening breeze,
And away from a place you grew to dislike.
You rolled your die with the last sunset ray,
And I gave you an extra roll,
And when the night changed to day,
Your decision stayed and you suffered the toll.
I have one last letter,
I saved it for last,
I hope you use it to become much better,
It defines everything you asked.
Here is a T,
For it is the start of my name,
It was me with the hints for you to see,
The purpose of my little game.
So here is that middle word,
The one that you should cherish,
It makes my meaning much less blurred,
The final word is “wish”.
There’s one thing you should know,
And I warn you to be wary,
Even though I always seem to show,
I’m nothing but imaginary.”




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