I remember the first time I changed. It wasn’t painful. It wasn’t some long drawn out process like I’d expected. It was quick, almost in the blink of an eye. One moment I was Aeryn, and the next I was flying aimlessly through the rain, headed to nowhere.
I watched as people took cover in buildings and crowded together under umbrellas. I tried over and over to scream as the harsh wind blew against my delicate wings. But I couldn’t. My lips were gone. My body was gone. I was gone.
I couldn’t even cry if I wanted to, I knew that. I had lived my entire life without shedding a single tear. My mom used to say that I was somehow waterproofed in the womb.
I saw a young couple walking carelessly through the pouring rain, the drops quickly soaking them from head to toe. I envied them. I wanted to feel the cool drops crash onto my skin. I wanted to dance as the gentle rain slowly drenched my long brown hair. But I couldn’t. I was stuck as an inferior to the beautiful rain, and it was pounding me with its unforgiving fists.
Not knowing what else to do, I continued to fly. I flew past streets and houses, not once taking the time to note which ones. My wings flew past countless people, all clueless to the fact that I was one of their kind, trapped in this foreign body. Part of me wanted to cry out to them, to see if somehow, they could help me put the pieces together.
The ruthless wind blew violently, causing my unfamiliar senses to pick up a scent that I had smelled many times before, but never this intensely.
I carefully veered to my right to discover that the wonderful smell was coming from the small coffee shop on Ruth St. I inhaled deeply, something I didn’t even know I could do. My lungs filled with the sweet, bitter air, reminding me of where I truly belonged. I had just been there the night before with my best friend, but of course, it all looked so different now.
Just then, I heard something. It was strong enough to break my gaze inside the coffee shop and send my eyes searching for the source.
It was music, beautiful music.
I followed it.
Even through the raging storm, the song rang loud and clear in my ears. It was as if the simple melody was dragging me in, pulling me closer, deeper. The enchanting sound held my heart, my mind, the only two things that were still undeniably me.
Why was I so drawn to this?
It was all I could think of.
My small iridescent wings took me down an unfamiliar street. I was driven forward with the desperation of finding some small, even faint glimmer of hope in this confused world.
Then, as I rounded the corner, I saw it.
It was a boy, sitting on a wooden porch swing. And in his arms, was a guitar.
I landed on a tree branch across the yard, which thankfully provided some shelter from the heavy rain. I tried to shake my wings dry, but when that didn't work, I accepted my cold state and just listened.
As I listened, all my worries seemed to fade away.
My mind was gone, slowly melting away into each song he played. Unconsiously, I let out a shiver, a shiver I'm not sure was from the cold.
Finally, I left my spot on the branch and flew down, landing silently on the railing directly in front of the boy. His eyes were closed, lost in the song. I could feel his emotions as he sang his heart away, the echoey sounds bouncing off the wooden porch and out into the rainy night.
I wanted him to see me, to open his eyes and simply acknowledge my presence. But I knew he wouldn’t. To him, I was only a speck in the universe, a beautiful but unimportant creature. He would not see me, because right now...
I was a butterfly.
Oh my soul,
Please stay with me, dont ever leave me,
Oh my heart,
I never thought that you'd betray me,
Oh my mind,
Slowing down the sands of time.
That was the first night I saw the butterfly. It seemed to be watching me with its tiny little eyes, as if I was some artifact being intricately studied. It looked almost surprised as I stopped strumming to look its way.
Can butterflies even fly in the rain?
I didn't think so, but then again, who was I to tell it that.
I expected the delicate mass of insect to fly away at any second, off to win somebody else's admiration. But as I sang, the creature sat there with its beautiful golden-white wings folded upright towards the sky. Traces of water were still gracefully beading off the sides.
I carefully leaned my guitar against the dry walls of the porch in order to get a closer look, hoping not to scare it away in the process.
I took a step forward.
I stepped another.
The creature remained.
I continued to creep my way forward until I stood about a foot away from its tiny majestic wings.
Beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I had to remind myself that this creature was actually real.
Underneath the trailing raindrops lay a sea of pure white, brushed gently with gold dust. If you looked closely you could see swirls of deep golden flecks that only added to the unexpected elegance of the butterfly's appearance.
As the water continued to slide off, it formed a shimmering waterfall, magnifying the traces of gold and pulling them along as the drops fell and hit the porch.
I could somehow feel it. Its eyes never left me. As if my presence alone was enough to keep it from flying away. As if it was here for me. Just me.
The rain was beginning to soften, even though the sky was still covered in a blanket of clouds. I dared to break my gaze from the butterfly, letting my eyes trail a little longer before looking out to observe the change in weather. A tiny drizzle was all that remained of the once raging storm, along with a slight breeze that beckoned me to close my eyes and simply absorb its brilliance.
I stole one last glance at my butterfly, who was now facing out towards the open air, before shutting my eyes with a deep, audible breath.
When my eyes finally opened, the beautiful, golden butterfly was gone.
It was a dream, and I had been expecting it. I awoke in a cold sweat, sensations of the past still fresh on my skin. I looked around, taking in my surroundings.
The clock in my room read 3:45am. I appeared to be home, curled up in a far corner of my bed with every inch of cover kicked onto the floor. A layer of sweat drenched my body, feeling like a weight upon my trembling form.
I quickly glanced at my limbs, in order to confirm my human state. Still Aeryn.
I let out a deep, thankful sigh of relief and turned to lean with my back against the wall.
This was the sixth night I had had that dream, replicating the night of my first change. Every detail was exact, probably because I had never tried to forget them. It did, however, leave behind a hole, a hole that had always seemed impossible to fill. It brought back memories from my life as a normal 11 year old girl, loving life, and thinking boys were the only troubles ahead.
It had been six years since then, and I had learned to deal with my changes. The process was pretty simple once I'd figured it out.
Every rainfall, wherever I may be, I was transformed into a tiny, helpless butterfly and sent out into the world. Then, when the rain decided to end, I was instantaneously positioned back to the place I was last human, good as new.
The hard part, I'd learned, was finding an inconspicuous place to hide before it was too late. I had had many close calls over the years, resulting in a mad dash behind a building, or a lengthy "trip to the bathroom."
One of my most recent experiences happened about a year ago.
It was a sunny, partly cloudy afternoon and I was spending the day with one of my neighbors, Hunter. I had skipped my usual "morning weather check-up" and headed straight outside, seeing no real threat of rain in the sky's appearance. No reason to worry, right?
Wrong. My weather forecast had been terribly inaccurate. At about 1:55, a meteorologist came on the t.v. across the hall, and so graciously informed us that, "We are expecting a heavy rain coming in from the north to arrive at about 2:05 this afternoon. So it's a great day to sit down and watch that scary movie you've been waiting for!" My heart had dropped a thousand feet. Hunter came up beside me.
"I say we take his advice, I could use a scary movie," he said, breaking into a huge smile, "You in?"
My eyes were wide. "Um, you know I'm not really up for it today," I started to walk towards the door, "Maybe another time?" He met my response with a raised eyebrow and half grin.
"Don't tell me you're scared, Miss Riverland," he said jokingly.
"No! No way," my right hand shot up as a pledge of honesty, "I just really need to do this reading for school," I lied.
His face fell, and his grin vanished.
"You sure it can't wait?"
"Immensely sure. I'm sorry," I made a quick dash for the door, and barely made it behind a tree as the rain took over, and I was gone.
That was why I always checked the weather reports, constantly. I had to avoid situations like those at all costs.
Thankfully, the amount of rainfall was not unbearably high in Chamberlain, South Dakota. However, when rain was imminent, my days were often spent at home, or in the woods, waiting for my transformation to take place.
I'd become quite the expert at faking illnesses on rainy school days, and leaving notes for my parents explaining why I wouldn't be there when they came home. I was usually,"At a friend's house, so don't bother waiting up." And they were perfectly okay with that, as long as I told them something.
My parents worked at the local hospital, Dad's a doctor and Mom's a nurse, so they were both usually gone during the day, making my school escape pretty easy.
I hated not telling them though. About my secret. About everything. It was like I could never fully be myself around them, for fear I would reveal a clue, a hint, to my other life. I'd thought about telling them a million times, but could never seem to conjure a way to do it, the right way, that is. It was too risky. I just didn't know how they would react, so I continued to push these thoughts away. For now, they lived in oblivion, completely unaware that their daughter was shoved into another identity whenever rain started to fall.
The worst part came when I realized that I was alone. Never had I found someone like me. Not once had I told somebody this secret. I had exactly zero answers to satisfy my billions of questions. I lived with nobody to share my unthinkable adventures with, or ask much needed advice from.
I had been left to survive in my winged world alone.
Even my friends had deserted me, becoming annoyed by my "seclusiveness" and "tendency to disappear a lot." Of course I couldn't tell them where I went. And I often took the precautions of staying home, just in case the sky decided to open up. Eventually, my constant excuses became irritating, and they left me.
I did, however, have one friend that has remained faithful to me all these years.
Annalise Bush was an aspiring photographer, and writer. Although I had never read her writing, her photographs were simply amazing, and I would expect her other interests to stand the same. We had known each other since fifth grade, when she spilled milk all over my favorite outfit during lunchtime. Yes, I threw quite a tantrum, but somehow that event (and her clumsiness) brought us together, and our friendship has grown stronger ever since. She would be the first person I could tell if I ever had to. She would understand.
I gathered my thoughts from their wandering spree and held them together long enough to glance over at my clock. By now, it was 4:05, and I knew my racing mind would not settle. I had to go somewhere, somewhere I could think in peace.
I quickly jumped out of bed and grabbed my keys, looking for something to keep me warm. It was late August, and the nights were getting colder.
Once I held all my necessities, I quietly snuck out of my bedroom door, closing it behind me with a soft "clank" from the lock. I took the stairs slowly, careful not to disturb the night with their unwarranted screeches.
I stepped outside, greeted by an uncomfortable, lifeless night. I climbed into my car with utmost urgency, shutting the door in one fluid motion. My whole body shivered as I cranked up the heat to its full strength.
Where was I going?
I hadn't the faintest idea... but I backed my car out of the driveway like I knew exactly the place.
Everything seemed frozen, acting as a foil to my chaotic thoughts. I looked around and pictured myself in a museum, still images of long ago undisturbed through time.
It was interesting. The only other view I had seen of the world at this time was from my bedroom window; as a butterfly on rainy nights.
As I kept driving, I noticed a street I had traveled on many times before. Not in a car, however, but in flight.
Manuel Park was one of my first destinations, should I be changed anywhere near it.
It was my safe haven.
A place where I could rest undisturbed.
Of course. I'd driven there instinctively.
I carefully parked my silver Corolla and headed straight for the tree.
My tree, I called it.
Countless times I had sat perched on its tall, majestic branches until the rain slowed, and eventually stopped. Here, I had observed family after family rush to their cars to avoid being soaked by the cold, wet drops. Even couples kissed gently through the downpour without a care in the world because they thought nobody was watching. All these wonders I saw, but knew I could never experience them myself.
At times, the park was empty, leaving me alone with the beautiful, torturous rain. At times like these, all I had to observe was the formation of deep puddles on the wet ground.
My mind began to lose control of itself as I sat on the cool grass with my back against the sturdy tree.
I thought again of my dream, replaying it in my mind on a never-ending film.
I saw the boy. So beautiful even years ago. He had a certain charm about him... a mysterious, yet very boyish, quality. He looked so peaceful, so content with the guitar resting naturally in his arms.
I noticed a piece of his lightly browned hair had fallen into his eyes due to a gust of wind. He did not care because they were tightly shut.
Then, in my dream, a bolt of lightning struck, dividing the sky and touching some far off place with its golden branches. The lightning was soon followed by a clap of thunder so loud that it shook the very earth and caused it to cover its ears.
Fallen leaves swirled in violent tornados all around the white porch, their rustling sound barely audible over the scream of the storm. Then, with one wave of its mighty hand, the wind sent a multitude of foliage onto the deck, brushing the boy's legs with their needle-like points.
Not once did the boy's eyes open.
Not once did his powerful strumming and mellifluous voice end their sound. Even through the pounding rain and harsh wind, he continued on.
It wasn't until a small, silent creature came into his view that his eyes opened wide and the guitar stopped its playing.
It was a butterfly.
He had stopped for me.
I got home from the park just as the suns rays were gracing the sky. My room looked just as I left it: sheets on the floor, pillow pressed in between the wall and the side of the bed, and laundry strewn from my closet to the bathroom. My room wasn’t usually this messy, I just hadn’t been paying attention to a lot of things lately. My mind was lost on other topics. I was trying not to think about him, really I was. But it was like his image was shoved and drilled inside my brain just when I was trying desperately to forget it. My mom wouldn’t be up for at least another 2 hours, so I decided to try and salvage some sleep; normal, dreamless sleep was what I was hoping for. I fixed my sheets on the bed and placed the pillow in its normal position. Only seconds after, I was asleep.
I awoke four hours later to the satisfying smell of sizzling bacon and sweet pancakes. Mom was up, and I’m guessing that was an elaborately cooked breakfast I was smelling. I slowly turned over and half rolled out of bed, sweeping my feet underneath me at the last second to land sturdily on the floor. The hard wood didn’t feel very comforting to my still-asleep feet as I walked over to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror. My deep brown hair had developed flowing, sporadic waves throughout the night, attempting to return to its natural waviness. Every now and then, I would see a golden, glittery sheen appear if the lighting was just perfect. My skin was smooth and angelic, interrupted by deep chocolate eyes that held flecks of pure gold in their crevices. These subtle traces of gold were left behind from the overwhelming goldenness of my butterfly state; it was one thing I actually liked about the other me, not necessarily a benefit, but more of a consolation prize. I knew it wasn’t all a dream when I saw the tinges of gold.
I splashed a handful of cold water on my face and let out a yawn of satisfaction. I had finally done it; a dreamless sleep. I gave a smirkish smile and patted myself on the back for a job well done. I’d accomplished the first step in forgetting about a boy; quit dreaming about him.
I decided to make my way down to the kitchen, I bet Mom was just dying to feed me her masterpiece. I took the stairs one at a time, trying to appear sleepier than I actually was. When I finally reached the bottom, I saw the magnificent feast. Bowls of colorful fruits were outlaid with accompanying plates of pancakes, sausage, and dark, meaty bacon. She had even pored me a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice to wash it all down. Mother was standing over at the counter washing something in the sink when she saw me. “Oh! Honey, there you are.” She quickly put down whatever she was washing and did a little skip over to where I was standing, granting me with a warm hug. “Surprise!” she squealed with bright eyes. I hugged her back and let out a pleasantly surprised laugh. “Mom, this looks amazing. What’s the occasion?” She walked back over to the table of lavish food.
“I just thought we should have a last-week-of-summer celebration. Make the most of it, you know?” I joined her at the table.
“Well sounds great to me. Thanks mom, seriously it’s amazing.”
I flopped a fluffy pancake onto my plate. “Where’s dad?”
“He’s up at the hospital, he had to go in early this morning to get some paper work done.” I stuffed a bite dripping with syrup into my mouth.
“Oh, well I’m sure there’ll be plenty left for him when he gets back.”
“I should hope so, I made enough to feed an army!” We laughed and then kept eating in silence for a few minutes. Then she broke the silence.
“You slept in pretty late today, Have you been sleeping okay?”
I suddenly got nervous, but remained calm. I hadn’t done anything wrong.
“11:00 really isn’t that late…”
“For you it is, your usually up at seven or eight. Is something bothering you?” Whenever anything started to hint at my secret I got outrageously uncomfortable. But of course it had happened before, and I was good at hiding things. Its not like I enjoy hiding them, its just that I happened to be good at it. Like when a kid is unfortunately really great at some sport that they hate to play, but are forced to anyway.
“Yeah, I guess I kind of had a rough night last night.” I was hoping to keep it vague, yet mostly truthful.
“Don’t you mean last couple of nights?” I set down a slice of apple that had just almost made it into my mouth, but had stopped short at her question.
“What..?” In an effort to remain calm, I picked up the uneaten slice of apple and shoved it into my mouth. Maybe I wouldn’t have to talk if I was chewing.
“Mothers know everything, honey. Eyes in the back of our head, and ears like a blood hound.” Well, not everything… but I decided to leave that part out. She gave me an inquisitive look, waiting for me to say something.
“Yeah, I’ve been having this really weird dream over and over for like a week.” That was about all I could give her.
“Oh what about?” Crud. I struggled to form a sentence as close to the truth as possible.
But wait. This was a dream that I was telling her about, right? Anything is possible in dreams. She wouldn’t even think twice about it. I could tell her the truth and she wouldn’t even know it.
“It’s kinda crazy. I dreamt that I turned into a butterfly.” Her eyes brightened and she shot me one of those “well that’s… interesting” looks.
“Oh did you now?”
“Yeah, it was pretty cool. Never felt anything like it.” I swallowed my food as casually as I could. “It was even in the rain.” This felt like a test, as if I was reassuring myself of how oblivious she really was.
“Well that sounds like a fun night to me, being a butterfly can’t be that awful.” She smiled to herself as she took a mouthful of melon. I let out a chuckle, responding to my own inside joke. “It would seem that way,” I murmured under my breath.
The last week of summer passed rather quickly, filled with much sleeping and eating, a last minute photo shoot by the lake with Analise, and zero percent rainfall. Only once was my sleep interrupted by the recurring dream that thirsted for my attention.
After breakfast, I was ready for school- well, physically anyway. Mentally, not so much.
“Mom?” I called, not knowing where she was in the house. “I’m leaving.” She emerged from the hallway with bright eyes and a wholehearted smile.
“Oh, honey. Have a great first day.” She gave me warm hug. Mom hugs are always the best, because they are always sincere, and their meaning could never falter. I hugged her back.
“I’ll see you afterschool. Tell dad I said bye, okay?.” She pulled back, still holding my shoulders.
“I will honey, drive safe.” I stepped outside and was greeted by the cool August air. I got in my Corolla and cranked the engine. I backed out of the driveway and began my journey to school. Laid out in front of me was my junior year of high school, supposedly the hardest year at Chamberlain High.
After a five minute commute, I was there. I carefully scanned the parking lot for an easy space close to homeroom, and landed my eyes on a perfect spot two rows away. Cars and students were everywhere, scrambling to find their first class, or meeting up with old friends they hadn’t seen for weeks. A car jutted out in front of me, nearly scraping my headlight. I slammed on the breaks, pressing my whole body suddenly back into the seat. Jeez. Pay attention people. After taking a few calming breaths, I proceeded to my destination with much stopping and starting, and a few more near misses with both students and cars.
And then it hit me. From the side I was shoved by an enormous bulk of steel. I let out a shriek and then stared blankly at my steering wheel with my mouth gaping wide open. You have got to be kidding me. After a few brief moments of shock, I heard a taping on the window. There was a boy standing there with a face full of remorse. I opened my door and stepped out, still not looking him in the eye. He spoke first. “I am so, so incredibly sorry. I didn’t even see you there. I promise I’ll help pay for the-“
“No, no It’s okay. I wasn’t really,” I glanced up at his face for the first time. “…paying attention.” I continued to stare, eyes wide and mouth agape, studying his features. It was if I had seen them many times before. Or was it only once? The same piercing eyes, the same soft skin and darkened hair, the same everything; only older and more mature perhaps. They reminded me exactly of… My longing gaze was broken by the sound of his voice.
“Gosh I am so, so sorry, I’m kind of new around here, and I didn’t really know where I was going.” He signaled to the side of my car. There was a significant dent in its right back door.
“Oh my,” I gasped as I saw the damage for the first time. “Well maybe we can-“ The first bell rang. We both turned towards the school building, “meet afterschool about it?” Good solution. We both had to get to class.
“Sounds good. I’ll see you later then.” He smiled a crooked smile and then turned back to his car. I stared at him all the way. I tried to be discreet, but I don’t think that was very possible. I couldn’t help recognize those identical eyes... But it couldn’t be, that was impossible. Its been six years, I would have seen him by now if he was still here.
It wasn’t until the second bell rang that I began to think straight again. I was already late to first period- U.S. History. I absolutely hated walking in front of the entire class to find a seat, especially on the first day. I hated standing up in front of people in general. My stomach turned a full summersault inside of me. My pace slowed as I thought about my grand entrance that was only a few steps away. I took a deep breath and laid my hand gently on the doorknob. Come on Aeryn, it will be over in a couple seconds, no big deal. I turned the knob and opened the door rather slowly, as If that would help ease my entrance.
“Well good morning Miss Rivers, nice of you to join us.”
“Morning Mr. Garcia.” I found a seat on the far wall and sat down as nonchalantly as I could. Mr. Garcia was a pleasurable person, he always kept an apple on his desk and a pair of glasses in his shirt pocket- though I had never actually seen him use them. My eyes scanned the classroom for people I knew. Though I tried to ignore it, there was that hope looming in the back of my head that the boy would be in this class too. But as my eyes made a full circle around the room, I discovered no trace of him. One person I did recognize, however, was my neighbor Hunter. Sitting three rows away from me, he sat doodling on a folder, paying no attention to Mr. Garcia’s first-day-of-school talk. We had been neighbors nearly our entire lives, and our parents were old friends. We’d taken baths together, and we used to spend the night at each other’s houses all the time. That is until we turned six and he started realizing that I had cooties. He was basically my brother, and I was his little sister. We loved each other, and I felt safe with him.
After History, I walked to Spanish; which was quite a trek across the building. On the way, I kept my eyes peeled for him, hoping that somehow our paths would cross. After a while I started to think that the incident in the parking lot was just a dream, and that I would walk outside to find my car perfectly undamaged. My thoughts were proven wrong though when I walked into Spanish class.
There he was, sitting in all his brilliance. I stopped in the doorway, not knowing what I should do. Should I take the seat by him? Or would that be too obvious. The only other option was in the back corner, or in the very front and center. Awful choices, but I settled for the one next to him. After a few beckoning words from the teacher, everyone fell silent. Annalise was in this class. She flashed me a smile and mouthed “Meet me in the hall after this,” pointing towards the door. I gave her a thumbs up as my sign of agreement. I couldn’t help but admire her for her quirky glasses that only she could wear and still look impeccably adorable. Her long, soft ringlets of strawberry blonde hair were excessively curly today, spiraling to a point at the ends where they swept over her desk. She carried her camera- her most prized possession- over her shoulder with a bohemian looking strap, complete with a sporadic arrangement of buttons. This was my best friend: unique and astoundingly beautiful, without even trying- which made her even lovelier. At this point I had completely tuned out the teacher, who was explaining something about bathroom rules before I zoned out. My focus was back on the living dream sitting diagonally across from me. Every time I looked his way, my heartbeat quickened. It was inevitable. I tried desperately not to stare for an enormously massive amount of time, but it was utterly impossible for my eyes to leave. I was in shock that this was reality, and not another dream. My mind couldn’t accept that I wouldn’t wake up, drenched in sweat, in a matter of minutes. I thought about pinching myself, but I knew I was being ridiculous. This wasn’t a dream.
The rest of the class I spent in an endless agony. I said nothing to him, and he said nothing to me. Not a word was passed between us. After class I watched him hurry out the doors without so much as a glance behind to go on with his day. And not a word would be said until we met afterschool over the issue of our cars.
“Aeryn, wait up!” I heard Annalise call from a ways down the hall. I stopped and turned at the sound of my name. She laughed, “I thought you were gonna wait. Didn’t you understand my message?” Oops. I’d forgotten all about that.
“Oh, gosh, sorry.” I shot her an apologetic look. But I knew she really didn’t mind my forgetfulness. She had a new look on her face. “What?” I asked, playing innocent. An inquisitive smile was spread across her lips. I knew what was coming.
“I saw you staring at that new guy in class.” Was it that obvious? I panicked for half a second. Annalise was possibly the most observant person I knew, maybe nobody else had noticed.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She tilted her head to the side, squinting her eyes; seeing right through me.
“Have you talked to him yet?” There was no point in arguing with her.
“Kind of… he hit my car this morning.” Her eyes widened.
“He hit your car?”
“Yeah. Don’t worry about it. Were meeting afterschool to figure it all out.” She was raising her eyebrows in shock. The bell rang for class to start. “Crud, were late.” She quickly shot me a ‘this conversation isn’t over’ look and headed to her class.
The rest of the day passed as a blur. I saw him twice more: once briefly during lunch, and then in chemistry class where I sat again in awful, silent torment for an hour. Then eighth period came, the last period of the day. My skin was crawling with anxiety as I waited for the final bell to ring and signal my freedom. I stared at the clock, as if I could somehow speed up the movement of its slender hands. I couldn’t decide whether I even should talk to him yet. After all, what was I supposed to say? I know he didn’t recognize me the way I thought I recognized him. Even if he did remember that day, he wouldn’t remember me. Because that day, I wasn’t me. I was--- My thoughts were cut short by the sound of the school bell. Class was dismissed, school was over, and he was waiting.
I arrived beside our cars after a grueling walk of both anxiety and longing. We had been forced to park at the far side of the lot due to the incident this morning. I made a personal note to get there an extra fifteen minutes early to prevent this parking situation from ever occurring again. I looked around; he wasn’t here yet. I checked the weather forecast on my phone, simply out of nervous habit. No rain. It hadn’t rained here in weeks, so I was a little jittery. The sky did have to open up sooner or later. I looked around again to see if he was in sight, scanning the rows of parked cars and the remaining clumps of students still standing around to chat. What if he didn’t come? I probably freaked him out with my staring act. Good job Aeryn. I mentally slapped myself. But he had to come, right? How else was he going to get home? I continued debating with myself until I felt a presence behind me.
“Hey,” I could feel him fighting a smile. I whipped around, trying to act as casual as possible.
“Oh hey,” I gave him a quick smile, “I was beginning to wonder if you would show.”
He chuckled, and I was staring again. Stop it! I quickly snapped myself out of the daze.
“Lets have a look,” he said as he walked past me to the backside of my car. “ Ooh man, that’s a pretty big dent.” He traced his hands over the indentation made by his car. I didn’t know what I should do. All of my being wanted nothing more than to stand right there with him all day, but then again this one tiny, almost nonexistent part of me was gravitating towards my car so it could speed away as fast as possible. I stood confused.
“Hello..?” I was snapped back into reality by the waving of his hand in front of my face. He chuckled slightly.
“Oh, gosh I'm sorry.” Mental slap number fifty. “Uh, I actually think I’m just going to go home. Don’t worry about this, really.”
“No, I really think I should-“
“Don’t worry.” I cut him off. “Still works like a charm. See?” I put the key in the ignition and turned hard. To my relief, the engine sputtered to life.
His expression was unconvinced. But nevertheless, he humored me.
“Well, alright. If you say so.” He began to back away, allowing me to close my door, but then leaned in close. “My name’s Mason, by the way, Mason Miller.” he murmured through my open window. I looked straight into his eyes where the pools of blue-green and silver were swimming as he spoke.
"Aeryn.” I muttered, still studying his gaze.
"Glad to meet you, Aeryn."
And with a nod, I drove off, my heart beating out of my chest and my hands gripping the steering wheel instead of my hair.
By the time I filled my parents in on everything, ate dinner, and survived a lecture of responsibility from my dad that was honestly unnecessary, it was nearly ten. I was exhausted, mentally and physically. I slumped upstairs to my room and hit the sheets without a second to spare. The sheets were warm around my legs, and the fabric smelled of pure comfort. I guess that scent is different for everybody. I lay still, thinking over the events of the day and the improbability of them all being actual reality. I thought about how my mind was probably just seeing things in a desperate attempt to be sentimental. I had always been an overly sentimental person, trying to make connections with the past and never wanting to let them go. I stared up at my white ceiling full of colorful pictures. Pictures of family. A few of me and Annalise sprinkled here and there, and even some of a particular creature that Annalise loved capturing through her lens- that is, if they would let her. Butterflies. I never knew why I kept these pictures here. Sometimes they were painful, but then other times, they were a comfort. They were part of my family too, in a way. Now, the glistening eyes of all these subjects stared down at me with a purpose. As though searching me. I met each one of them with nothing to reveal. It was in this moment that I realized what I must do. There was only one way I could tell if my musings were, in fact, truth. I had to dream the same dream again. And pay close attention this time. I had to notice every detail, absorb every crevice of the boy’s features. I had to know if my musings were in fact, truth. For the first time, I was welcoming this dream instead of dreading it. Fiery with my new resolution, I swiftly nestled under my sheets and reached over to switch off my light. After a few blurred seconds, the world around me went black.
In my dream, I was flying. I was flying desperately, as I had the many nights before. The scenery was the same. The rain was the same, beating me like a drum. I passed the same streets. I smelled the same smells. Even the same people passed my confused flutters along the street. And the faithful music pulled me closer and closer to the porch I had become so familiar with. It was all a repeat, just as I had expected.
One thing, however, I noticed was different. As I came upon the porch, I saw a form. The same form. Yet different somehow. The strumming arms were stronger, and the voice deep as the sea. An occasional roughness was present in the sound, reminding me of rolling waves that disrupt the calm waters, yet add dimension and depth to it’s surface. As I flew in closer to land on the railing, I squinted my tiny eyes in order to better see the sheltered form. My legs hit the wood, and my heart fell into my stomach as I saw the final identity of the figure in front of me. It was him. It was the young boy all grown up.
I observed him intricately as he walked closer to my spot on the rail, taking in every detail as though I would never see him again. I wanted to remember everything when I woke up. My mind flashed back to today. It was as if the two memories were playing back side by side in my mind. The crash. The voice. The beautiful face knocking on my window in apology. The music. The eyes. It was him. I had to be. I was sure of it.
I woke up suddenly after the dream hit it’s close. The usual cold sweat drenched my trembling form and my irregular breathing disrupted the otherwise peaceful night. I knew what I saw. This boy was real. And he was here. And for some reason I was supposed to recognize that fact.
Release Date: 07-31-2010
All Rights Reserved
To Jordan. And Mrs. Williams for always letting us write in her class.. even if she didnt know it(; Copyright 2011 by Juliet Rose All rights reserved