Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Part Two: A Day at School

As I step into my shower and turn on the water I can’t help but think about that dream.  The water droplets start to hit my skin one by one just before the stream begins. The sensation is soft and warm.  As they burst onto my skin they feel like bubbles of dreams, each one a lifespan from beginning to end.  That’s how real the dream was. I felt every touch of my angel on my skin.  I felt every moment pass in real time as I died in front of my mom and her heart shattered.   But it was just a dream or at least I think it was.  I finish getting dressed and am ready for school.  I just can’t seem to focus much though.  Last night seemed so real and it’s kind of freaking me out.  I have to say seeing myself die was the most disturbing part of all.  But no matter.  I need to get some food in my belly and get to school.  I grab my wristwatch and put it on.  Oh gosh, I see I’m late.

But wait a second.  My alarm clock stopped.  The alarm clock next to my bed, it . . .  stopped.  Weird.  I changed those batteries only a week ago.  It says seven o’clock.  That’s when I woke up and that’s just when the clock stopped.  Anyway, I need to get going. Gotta run.  I head downstairs.

“Hi mom… thanks mom… bye mom . . . love you mom,” I say darting through the kitchen grabbing the sandwich from her hand and sprinting out the door.

“Markus!” my mom says. “Don’t forget we’re going to the new neighbors’ party tonight . . .  the Binyamins.  So be home early.  Markus!  Did you hear me?!”

“Yes, mom, I heard you!”

My mom, she’s always making me go to these parties.  Always getting to know the neighbors and the people who live around us.  I just don’t get it.  There’s only one neighbor that matters to me – Valery Hooks, my best friend.  Val lives two doors down. We’ve been friends ever since the day I moved into this neighborhood.  We can talk for hours on end about just anything.  I just love her quirky fuzzy personality. 

“Hmmm,” I wondered, what would Val think about my dream last night.  “Boy, I get the weirdest dreams!” I said aloud.

“What             weird dreams? Markus? Are you breathing?”  It was Val.

Jeez, she just came up out of nowhere and startled me. 

“Yes, Val, I’m breathing. You scared me out of my skin! Don’t sneak up on me like that,” I said as my soul returned to my body.  Val scared me so bad that I had an out-of-body experience or something.  Huh, like I’ve got a shortage of those lately!

“I didn’t sneak up on you.  You zoned out. So what’s all this about a dream?”

I didn’t think it was the right time for me to start this conversation.  We were both late for school and we’ve got biology first period.  Mr. Cerny’s class.  He is a hard ass about being late or absent.  So I just had to shrug off Val’s curiosity for the time being.  “Val, I’ll tell you later. Come on, we’re late!” I said.

We ran most of the rest of the way to school.  I’m not usually a good runner.  I get short of breath pretty fast. But today I have so much energy in me. The whole way to school one thing was running through my head – that beautiful face, my angel. Every time that face graced my thoughts I’d get a burst of energy.  I wonder who that angel is.  I wonder how that angel knows me. I wonder why Mr. Cerny is looking at me like that!

“Mr. Baylock,” he boomed with his heavy Polish accent. “What are you doodling there?  Hand it over!”

And then he just ripped the paper right out from under me.  I always thought that Europeans were polite cultured people.  But Mr. Cerny proved that that assumption was false. “Polite” and “Cerny” are two contradictory terms. His idea of polite is to chew students up, spit them out, but always wipe his mouth with a napkin afterwards. And today, I guess it’s my time to be chewed.

“Mr. Baylock, what is this? Am I boring your creative mind?  Blah blah blah . . .” After listening to a few of his words chosen carefully to inflict maximum humiliation and the deepest sense of failure in his students, I just choose to change the channel and zone out.  I’m already well acquainted with his unending verbal bashings. He just goes on and on and on . . .

“MR. BAYLOCK!!” he bellowed.  “Are you listening?!!”

“Yeeees, Mr. Cerny, I’m listing.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?  To the principal’s office … NOW!” he barked with his thick polish finger hovering over my head and pointing to the door.

If teachers got reward points for sending students to the principal’s office then Mr. Cerny would have a fully punched card good for a free coffee and muffin every day. I’m pretty sure he’s the all-time high-scoring king!  So there’s no point in trying to change his mind.  I’ll just go and add another point to the king’s pathetic scorecard. 

Five minutes later I’m now parked on the wooden bench outside the principal’s door.  This bench and I are well familiar with one another.  Today, in addition to me, there is another guy here.  I don’t think I’ve seen him here before.  I wonder if he’s a new kid.  He is certainly well dressed for public school – a black suite with a red striped tie.  Impressive.  There’s something odd about him though.  I can’t put my finger on it, but he seems familiar.  Not a good kind of familiar, but a familiar something else.

             “Hi,” he said snapping me out of my inner focus.  “I’m Eiden. I’m new here.   And who might you be?”

“Oh, sure, hi. I’m Markus. Nice to meet you.  Eiden was it?”

“Yes, Eiden.  So, what brings you to the principal’s office?”

“Not really sure.  Mr. Cerny needs more point for a free new personality I guess. Oh, sorry, I don’t think you know him yet and his charming self.  He didn’t like something I drew in class so I guess that’s why I’m here”

“I see,” Eiden said breaking into a closed-lipped smile.  “From what I hear, he has real fangs and he likes to sharpen them on students.”

“You’re someone who does his homework Eiden.  Already educating yourself about the fiends of Conackamack High, huh?”

“I always prepare before heading into battle, and Conackamack appears to have a whiff of gunpowder in the air.”

“Yeah . . . I guess,” I replied.  This guy is weird.  He talks like a British lord or something, so upper crust. 

“So, Markus, if you’d be so kind as to help me familiarize myself with this establishment seeing as you’ve been here for so long.  Tell me, what kinds of people attend this school? ”

“Well, it’s a typical high school I guess.  You’ve got your generic cliques like the jocks and the cheerleaders, the nerds and geeks.  There’s a Goth crowd and some Emos.  We’re just a rainbow of different colors I guess,” I said with an uncomfortable giggle.

“Interesting. And tell me, Markus, to which clique do you belong?”

“Well, I would fall under the ‘other’ category. I don’t really fit the criteria of any clique.”

“Even more interesting.  Say, Markus, do you play RPGs – role playing games?”

“Do I ever!”  Finally, something normal about this guy.  “I play all the time with my best friend. Why?”

“You seem like the type who would enjoy them. Markus, I’m feeling a bit bored.  Would you like to play a short scenario with me?  Sort of like a little RPG but without the computer.”

“Well, I guess it’ll be a while before I have to go in.  Sure. Why not? Go ahead!”

“Delightful.  Now then, the scenario is this:  I’m a powerful mystic being whose only interest is in getting you to make a deal with me.”

“Ok, cool. What kind of deal?”

“Well, Markus, I grant you absolute happiness, renowned success, enormous wealth and fame. In addition, all of this would pass onto your loved ones as well.   In return for all of this, you cede to me two things. One: your true love. You shall never meet or be with your true love ever.  And two: your life on your twenty-fifth birthday.”

“What kind of deal is that? My love and my life?  Why would I take a deal like that?”

“But why wouldn’t you Markus? Life is not forever you know. You’ll die eventually anyway.  So why not take a deal that would not only make you happy for the time that you have, but also benefit your loved ones?  Would you be selfish and deny them that?  What’s the purpose of our existence in this short life if not to help those whom we love?  I’m just taking care of all that for you Markus.”

Something at this moment just doesn’t feel right. Eiden is being way too series with this game. His voice is intense and his eyes are burning with conviction.  And for a second it really does feel like I am talking to some mystic being whose powers reach across existence itself!  I’m feeling intimidated by him. 

What am I talking about?!  He’s just a high school kid like me. All right, he’s a weirdo, but he’s still just another guy.  I guess he just takes his RPGing way seriously. I’ll humor him to make him go away. 

“Well, when you put it that way, Eiden, it does sound convincing.  Ok, sure.  I’ll take it.”

Eiden then took my hand and shook it as if we were closing a business deal.   Suddenly a feeling of weakness came over me. For a brief second I felt so alone, so empty. I felt like the world didn’t want me anymore. Then a flash. My angel’s face, eyes filled with tears. What did my angel look like?  I can’t remember now. Then the principal’s voice calling me into his office brought me back to the moment.

“Until we meet again Markus. Enjoy your paradise!” Eiden said with a satisfied grin on his face. He gave a slow wave goodbye while I stood up to go see the principal. 

This Eiden guy is sure strange. I’m feeling so weird after talking to him. I’m sure it’s nothing though.  At any rate, I’ve got more important things to worry about like making sure my mom doesn’t get a call about this the third visit to the principal’s office this week. 
When I eventually got out of the office, I’m totally shocked.  There was no call to my mother.  He just shrugged off the Mr. Cerny incident and sent me back on my way. That’s sure a first.  I wonder . . . is this Eiden guy some sort of magical being for real? Did he make this happen?  If so, I should have struck this deal years ago! It would have gotten me out of many a sticky situation. But that Eiden is definitely a strange character. Anyway, it’s lunch time. I need to catch up with Val at the cafeteria.

I found Val sitting at our usual table. I plopped down next to her and told her all about my dream.  She was fascinated by it, but said she needed more time to mull it over.  I’m pretty sure that’s code for, “I’ll look it up in my dream book.”  I also told her about Eiden.  She didn’t seem to know him.  The rest of the day went on with nothing out of the ordinary happening.   Just the usual classes with me and Val goofing off and making the most of it.

After school Val and I start off for home together.  “Markus,” she said, “Do you think that angel really was your true love? The person you’re meant to be with?”

“I’m not sure Val.  No.  It was just a dream. Vivid, definitely, but still just a dream.  That angel, though, is going to stay with me for a while,” I said.

“I think it would be nice to have that feeling Markus.  To feel so right with somebody, like you were made for each other.  Anyway, here we are.  So, see you later at the Binyamin’s?”

The party at the newest neighbor’s tonight. I forgot.  “Well,” I said, “Do I have a choice? My mom will see to it that I’m there.”

Val ran inside her house. And it’s my turn to do the same. I hear mom shouting from the porch.  I was late getting home, and I have a feeling she has a lecture ready for me. Oh god, give me strength to get through another boring neighbor’s party.  No use delaying my sentence though.  Let me get ready and get it over with.

I run into the house dodging my mom’s verbal grenades and run up the stairs past the clock that still said 7:00 a.m.


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