The dreamers are at full swing.

Three orders of business today. I shall list them in descending order of importance.

3. Muse - "Black Holes and Revelations."

Also, "Invincible" may have to be the first song I dance to at my wedding.

2. The housing lottery was tonight. Three friends and I were going for a suite in Chase, but the building was full before we even drew numbers (because we're only sophomores, so we don't get priority. In fact, I think even incoming freshmen get higher priority than us.) Instead we got the Fishbowl in Ferrin. Now, I didn't especially want to live in Ferrin again, BUT the Fishbowl is awesome because a) it's on the third floor and right in front, as if to say, "the girls who live here are the Queens of Ferrin, and you better treat 'em as such." b) it's huge - big enough for four people anyway - and will be even more spacious if we bunk the beds. c) it's got more windows than any room I've ever lived in; in fact, I think you could only beat it with a greenhouse. d) one of the walls is a chalkboard. e) it's off the lobby and on the top floor, so no one will be stampeding overhead, and we'll be separated from the noisiness of the hall while still being members of the hall community.

3! STORYTIME!!

I promised myself I wasn't going to type any more of my story for a little bit because when I write it by hand, I treat the words differently and the final result is better. But I enjoyed writing this part so much, and I'm so happy with how it turned out, that I had to type it up and share it!

A lot has happened since the earlier excerpts. Sam and Jesse met a woman from Myriad who basically told them they had to save the world from Jamus, who's going to seal Myriad against the people of our world. She gave Jesse a sketchbook and told him to fill it with drawings of water, which he would later piece together into a mural. She told Sam to harness her magic, as thus far, everything she's tried has ended disastrously. She also asked them to bring Lila when they came to Myriad, which would only be possible after Jesse finished the mural. Long story short, Lila was finally re-convinced of Myriad's existence. Sam managed to do magic without explosive results. Her Dad took them all out to see a window between our world and Myriad and taught them that learning to look at things they way they looked at the window would make magic more accessible to them. Soon after showing them the window, Sam's Dad left for Myriad for reasons he wouldn't fully explain.

Also, I think the word "Lacuna" is in this excerpt. The Lacuna is the empty space around Myriad - you see, Myriad isn't a planet, like Earth, but rather a slice of space-time with distinct endpoints. In addition to being a physical space, the Lacuna is that void between consciousness and REM sleep, the place where your mind is free to wander but alights on nothing and remembers nothing, because ultimately there's nothing there. Usually you've got to pass through the Lacuna, physically and mentally, before you can enter Myriad, and you can only enter if an Andasun finds you in the Lacuna and leads you in.

Okay, here goes! Feedbacks, please =)

Most mornings, I went down to the kitchen expecting to find Dad making omelettes or to hear him singing old Beatles songs in the shower. It always came as a shock when I found only Pheebs and Rachel at the table, staring morosely into twin bowls of soggy Cheerios and looking anything but cheery themselves.

It was early Tuesday morning and the house was already in shambles on account of Rachel packing last minute essentials before she and Pheebs left for Duke. I had to goosestep into the kitchen to avoid crushing the little fragments of her life that were strewn across the foyer. I resolved to bolt for Lila’s, where I would be staying while Pheebs helped Rachel settle in at school, as soon as I’d had something to eat.

Eating, however, proved to be a greater obstacle than I’d imagined. I couldn’t make an omelette; they reminded me of Dad, and I might cry. I rummaged through the freezer in search of waffles or some equivalent Eggo product that could be thrown in the toaster and magically transformed into a healthy, complete breakfast. But most of the freezer foods had migrated to a plastic bin that would accompany Rachel to North Carolina so she wouldn’t have to go grocery shopping, so in the end I settled for a banana with peanut butter scraped off the walls of a nearly empty jar. I plunked myself down in the chair at the head of the table – Dad’s chair – and watched the chaos unfold around me.

It quickly became clear that the chaos was not purely Rachel’s fault. Pheebs had dragged a score of dusty boxes down from the attic and was going on about a yard sale we were evidently having that weekend. This was the first I’d heard of said yard sale, and it was hardly surprising they’d kept me out of the loop, packrat that I am. I moseyed over to the foyer to make sure they weren’t getting rid of anything too good; knowing Pheebs, she’d be trashing family heirlooms without a second thought.

It was a good thing I’d checked. “We can’t get rid of Dad’s Beatles records!” I cried. “They’re his favorites!”

Rachel put on her most grown-up tone. “Sam, be reasonable,” she said from the bathroom, where she was frantically gobbing mascara onto her lashes so she’d look sexy for all the college boys she was about to meet. “We don’t even have a record player.”

This was true, not to mention I couldn’t imagine Dad having much use for the vinyls in Myriad.

“Hey!” I shouted. “How come no one asked me about selling all these stuffed animals?” Franny the yellow elephant, Mr. Rags the well-loved tiger, and a silly brown puppet I had cleverly christened “Browny” were some of my best friends. I was as likely to sell them as I was to sell Jesse or Lila.

Pheebs emerged from the basement, sweating and wearing a kerchief around her head. “Sam, we’ve got to make up for Dad being away,” she said gently. The note he’d left for her and Rachel said he was searching for work at a different college because the university had let him go, but I think they’d been suspicious even then because his disappearance had been so sudden, and they were even more so now that weeks had passed without so much as a phone call.

“I know it’s hard,” said Pheebs, pulling me into a hug. “But we’ve got bills to pay. We’ve got to eat. Dad left us in a crummy position and now we have to make some sacrifices.”

I actually felt bad for her and hugged her back. “You still should’ve asked me,” I mumbled.

Pheebs let go. “Why don’t you head over to Lila’s early?” she suggested.

I knew she only wanted me out of the way, but I was happy to oblige. I threw the essentials into a backpack along with the book of Lore and my latest story, donned a pair of headphones to motivate me on the hot bike ride there, and fled via the front door – but not without snatching Franny, Mr. Rags, and Abbey Road from their respective bins on my way.

~

Jesse, Lila and I had made a habit of biking out to the boulder where Dad first showed us the window into Myriad, so as soon as I got to Lila’s, she and I packed supplies for lunch and hit the road again.

We found Jesse lying flat on his stomach by the river behind his house, illustrating the swirls and eddies of the lazy, brackish water with a set of chalk pastels. His marker, charcoal and ink drawings were enough to make me thirsty; the way he shaded the ripples and droplets suggested the picture might splash off the page at any moment. I was glad he’d been given this task. Most people, myself included, would have gotten bored drawing the same subject again and again, but Jesse couldn’t get enough of it. He said it made him feel centered, balanced.

He said he was not to be unbalanced today, so we left him alone with his art.

Sitting at the usual spot, Lila and I silently slipped into the now-familiar state of seeing. “It still looks the same,” she grumbled, and with that, she set about making sandwiches with angry, jerking motions. Knife: peanut butter. Slap to bread. Repeat for jelly. Though the scene had moved at normal speed the day Dad brought us, ever since, it had been like seeing one page of a flipbook each day.

Out of boredom we’d taken to inventing stories about the monsters we saw. “Those two are married, and that smirking little fuzzball with the gnarly fingers is their kid.” “That one’s about to eat the wingaling perching on the branch beside him.” I think part of the reason we laughed at the creatures was to stave off our fear of one day confronting them face to face.

For an instant, I thought I saw something bright and in motion. The smallest trick of light or hint of movement would have glared like a neon sign in a scene as still and dingy as the one before us, yet still I was unsure. “Did you see that?”

“See what? I stopped looking!” Lila said indignantly. “Are you telling me something finally happened and I missed it?”

I could’ve sworn my father was just in the midst of the macabre mob with the mysterious blond man I’d seen the first day we looked. But no; they were gone as quickly as they’d appeared. Everything else was still frozen. I must have imagined it.

“Just wishful thinking,” I sighed. “Can I get a PB and J?”

Lila slapped a slice of bread on top and passed me the sandwich, never lowering her skeptical gaze. I pretended not to notice her staring and took a big bite. “Fanks,” I said through the peanuty paste.

“Yeah.”

But after that, neither of us could tear our eyes from the window. We ate in silence, and when we’d had our fill we continued to stare at the motionless frame. “I’m bored,” Lila complained after what could have been minutes or hours.

“Try changing the color of that tree over our heads,” I told her. Although she had a better Eye than me or Jesse, neither of them had actually accomplished any magical feat. I worried we’d get eaten alive in Myriad if they didn’t figure it out soon.

“You’ve had way better luck with magic than I have,” she said. “Talk me through it, like your Dad did the first time we looked at the window.”

I lay back on the rock and Lila followed suit. “Look at the tree,” I instructed. “The same way you Look at the window. No, you know what, pick just one leaf to Look at.” Already I could see the heart of the tree, its inner workings, its sheer joy at the act of living. A hairline aura of glimmering gold outlined every detail with perfect clarity. Individual cells mirthfully went about the business of life. “Do you see it?”

“Mhm.”

“Okay. Now you need emotion to fuel your intent,” I said, referencing Dad’s old adage. “You need to shut out everything else in the world. Try to get to the Lacuna. Then commit to changing that leaf like your heart will break if it’s still green when you’re done with it.”

I sensed the tree looking at her, debating whether she was worth heeding. Then, with a rush of glittering gold, every leaf on the tree turned traffic cone orange.

“Oh,” said Lila, at once pleased and bewildered. “That was easy. I guess all I needed was a little guidance, huh?”

Too easy, I couldn’t help thinking. How could something that had taken me weeks to master come so quickly to her?

But what I said was, “I guess so! That was great, La.”

We reveled in the odd, fluorescent shade for a little bit, still checking the window periodically. “Well, I guess I’ll work on changing it back now,” Lila said at length. We both lay down again. “Let me try it myself this time.”

“Okay.” I opened my eyes to Look. It was immediately clear that something had changed, and it had nothing to do with the tree; the same thing was happening to all the trees, and to the water, and to the sunlight. It was happening to us. Something was pulling us like a magnet or a colossal drain. I felt it more than I saw it, though the shimmering auras around everything were wobbling infinitesimally, flickering as if fighting the tide, and bits of glitter were being sucked away to the far shore.

I sat up. “We have to go to Jesse’s,” I said firmly. I haphazardly repacked our luncheon materials and thrust the bag at Lila, who was still reclining on her elbows.

“What? Why?” she asked.

“You didn’t feel that?” I was already at the trail, impatiently waiting for her to get up and go.

“Feel what? I was focused on the tree. Which, by the way is still neon orange!” she called after me as I took off. It couldn’t be helped. The pull was more urgent than anything I’d felt in my life, and we couldn’t delay for a second.

“I’m out of breath!” Lila panted after half a mile or so.

“Can’t slow down,” I gasped back. There was only one thing for it. I Looked at the air and begged it to recognize our need for it to flow easily through our lungs and sustain our tired bodies.

It obeyed instantly. The burning in my chest subsided and the thick, humid air ran over my skin like cool satin. I ran harder.

Lila caught up to me. “Uhm… what just happened?” she asked. I noticed she was breathing normally, as I was.

“Magic!” I exclaimed.

We found Jesse in his studio, a.k.a. the pantry, which he had refurbished (or rather, unfurbished) to suit his artistic needs. He was tearing pages from his sketchbook and, hands trembling, sticky tacking them side by side on the wall. Then I understood.

The mural was finished.

It was time to go.

“When with a magic eye perceived, the water leads the way to dreams,” Jesse said. “I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. It doesn’t mean we have to walk across the reservoir or anything like that. It means we have to walk through this water.”

“Of course!” I said.

“So, Sam, this is your big moment,” he said. “Avelía said to ‘awaken the water with the words you find within.’ Give it a try.”

“No pressure or anything,” Lila added.

I stared at the mural. No words in particular came to mind. I softened my gaze and Looked more closely.

Of course: being merely a facsimile of water, its aura was merely a facsimile of an aura, more Jesse-colored than anything else. The mural had to become real water with a real aura before we could pass.

Eyes shut, I pressed my body against the wall, straining to feel its lines as fluid to my whole length. I listened for the rush of rivers. My throat recalled a quenching stream in the straits of thirst. My skin tingled with the sensation of tides. I felt the peculiar polarity of water dimpling around my prodding fingertips….

Lila and Jesse gasped behind me, and without opening my eyes, I knew I’d done it. The sensations of water were not just in my head. The wall was water; and I was the wall, and now my purpose was to become a door. And now the words that had evaded me tumbled from my lips. They were strangers to my ears but kin to my heart:

Tæna éna aru fie;
Lacudi æ’d’arum, aru kai.

I opened my eyes and stepped back. The pantry was still small and dark when I looked at it normally, but Jesse’s mural, magically welded together at the seams, rippled like an upright puddle even to the unmagical eye.

“Wow,” said Jesse.

“What did you say to it?” Lila wanted to know.

I couldn’t repeat the foreign words, but I knew what they meant. “‘From space to space we stride; void the separation, we beg.’”

“So now we can just walk through?” she asked, as if it had been altogether too simple.

“Look at it,” I told her.

We all went silent and shifted into the proper state of mind. The ripples swirled with a liquid gleam as filled with glittering life as the auras around the trees. Slowly an image imposed itself, exactly the way a magic eye picture would, only the longer we looked the more defined the details became. Woods became trees became trunks, branches and leaves. Clouds bubbled into existence in the deepening canvas of the sky. Mountains spiked up from the flat horizon and donned snowcaps. Green distinguished itself from brown distinguished itself from blue and purple and white. The scent of rain and pine wafted into the pantry.

I stepped eagerly forth into the landscape and it sprang to life. Birds twittered gleefully as they swooped from limb to limb. Squirrels bickered somewhere in the foliage. Raindrops clinging to blades of grass kissed my bare ankles and trickled down my skin to meet the earth. The breeze lifted a strand of hair from my face, and my lungs expanded with their first breath of the air of another world. It tasted like afternoons beneath the cherry tree outside of Jesse’s house when springtime swept New England off its feet and the warm, rosy petals unfolded overhead. The whole world seemed to be embracing me, and I embraced her back.

“I wonder where we are,” said Jesse. I looked back at the pantry. I felt that as long as it was in sight, I would know where I was. Home would be at hand. This would be the adventure to crown all past adventures, and when it was over, Pheebs would call us for dinner and we would eat and go to bed, sleepy, scratched and scraped, but safe.

But the scene around us had already knit itself together over the gap in the worlds, and there we stood, foreigners misplaced in a world beyond our wildest dreams.

2 comments:

Nathan Day said...

I dig your story, but as a non-English major my words may not be the most helpful.

The only thing that catches me off-guard is the sudden shift of feeling. One minute it's a poverty story of strife, and the next minute it's a story about the power of magic? Or is it the power of imagination? I'd assume the message here is that imagination is a way to stave off the bad times, but that may be just me trying to find meaning in a story that is not yet completed.

Nontheless, it's a good story that actually kept my attention, which I can say most stories I usually can't do in one sitting :P

...and my word verification's the best word ever: Antenuns!

saraphimiscool said...

i haven't posted yet on this...not that i didn't read it or that i didn't like it. i did. as always. i just don't think i'm much for advice since the only things i read any more are your stories, opera synopses, and books about teaching music to chillens.

but i do love it. and YOU BETTER STOP POSTING IT before i (along with everyone else) know the whole book before it's published.

but i need to go. HUGGLES!
Sarah

 
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