Full Summary: Plain and tormented, 15-year-old Reina has always wanted something more in her life. In the midst of a fight with herself to stay away from committing suicide, she is thrown face first into a foreign world where she must learn to cope with new love, a new life, and the fact that according to everyone she is leader of the strange world - the Quixotic Realm.
While still fighting for her self worth, Reina must come face to face with her biggest fears, figure out whether she trusts God, and discover who exactly she has become. Follow the angsty torments, lusty romances, and epic adventure of one girl who discovers that fate in unchangeable. Come and escape to the Quixotic Realm.
The world flies by, but, I don't really care. Let it go by. It doesn't affect me…does it? How does my life, an ordinary, pathetically average life, affect the world? I was sure it didn't, but, that was before I ever dreamed I would venture into the depths of the Quixotic Realm…
"All this time you knew! You knew that this was best! Every night on Earth I prayed to you saying, 'I don't want to be alone anymore! I want someone to love me! I want someone to care about me!' And then you send me here! I thought you hated me! But, really, you knew what was best! God, forgive me… forgive me…"
"It doesn't matter does it? I mean, one dance? He doesn't even know I have a boyfriend…" Melissa trailed, worried about things that, at the moment, happened to consume my life. My friends were my life. Well, mostly. I had some inkling in me at that point that I wasn't, well, normal. I mean, I wasn't a lesbian or anything like that. I had a gift, and somewhere deep inside me, I knew I had it, too.
I often wondered if I was psychic. I mean, I always had these uncanny feelings and premonitions that usually led to the truth. Perhaps I was just really sensitive to the things around me. Truth be told, I didn't know then.
"So…Reina, what should I do?" Melissa questioned. We were close friends, best friends, if you will. We knew almost everything about each other, and we could read each other easily. "Stick with Alex, you know he cares about you. Jon is only a passing fancy." I said, trying to sound as wise as I could. My friends often came to me for advice. It was funny, because sometimes I almost felt like a ruler of some sort telling her court what would be best for them.
"I guess you're right, but, Jon is so cute!" She said, dazing off into fantasyland. I gave her a slight push and went back to my thoughts.
"Yeah…I guess." I murmured. Melissa always seemed to be involved in some guy problem or love triangle of some sort.
Melissa was my best friend, my confidant, and the one person who knew all my secrets. Well, almost. But anyhow, there was no one who could replace her and without her I would have been lost. She seemed to draw in guys like a magnet, her adorable dimples and wavy ebon hair alluring even the shyest members of the male species to her side. Her smile radiated through the air for miles, her laugh destroyed any negative feelings in the room.
She was like an angel to me: perfect, lovely, caring, and almost unattainable. That's how most of my friends seemed – like ethereal goddesses that I could never even strive to be. Despite the fact that we were complete opposites in the guy department, and the fact that she actually enjoyed scary movies, we were alike in nearly every other way. We listened to the same music, liked the same movies, had a lot of the same friends, and got along famously.
The one part where we were different, though, was with guys. She almost always had a boyfriend or was crazy over someone. I, on the other hand, never really had my heart set on any one guy. I mean, there were a few guys I liked; an Asian guy I thought was cute, and this boy whom I had fallen in "love" with online. Not like anything would ever come of that, though.
I sighed and stared off into the distance as Melissa took a bite of her sandwich. Sometimes I almost wanted Melissa's boy problems. It seemed to me at the time that too many guys was better than having none at all. Despite my faint interest in several guys, no boy ever seemed to show any interest in me. I had even gone so far as to ask several of them out, but I got turned down each time. Well, there was one exception to that rule, but I didn't like to think about it.
"We need to get you a boyfriend." Melissa said, suddenly changing the topic of our conversation. I looked at her, incredibly tempted to roll my eyes.
I sometimes wondered why I didn't have a boyfriend. It's not like I was desperate for one. No, I was actually far from it. The interesting part was, I kept coming back to same conclusion. I just wasn't good enough.
You see, I have and have had horrible issues with trust. My consensus at the time was, most definitely, that I was too obnoxious and not pretty enough. For one, I wore glasses. Sure, they weren't such a big deal to most people but I despised mine. To me, they represented a physical weakness that I could do nothing to fix. Second, I was and am incredibly plain. I don't have spectacular hair, a perfect figure, the best fashion sense or any of that other crap that's sold to girls every day throughout the civilized world. My hair was usually a stringy brunette mess, often tossed into random ponytails with flyaway bangs.
One of the features I did think highly of, however, were my eyes. They were hazel, a unique mix of brown surrounding the pupil and the rest a pure green. Unfortunately, with my lacy of perfect vision, most people just assumed my eyes were a dull brown, hardly even taking notice of the orbs behind the lopsided glasses. He, however, had noticed them when we first met, one of his first comments being about the color of my eyes. But, that's forever in the past.
I know looks don't warrant a good mate. Well, in the animal world they do, but I like to think that humans have graduated to a higher level of thinking. Of course, then I realize we haven't. We're still as stuck on ourselves as preening birds and cats that lick the entirety of their fur 27 times a day. But, still, I wanted to be something. I desired to be something special. Maybe now only with my looks, but also with my intellect and bravery. What every girl wants, right?
But, on to the topic of me being obnoxious. It's not that I liked to be a pain. No, quite the contrary, really. Unfortunately, I had a habit of having to be right. Most guys will say all girls have this problem, but supposedly I took it to extremes. Whenever there was a competition of any sort, you better believe I was there. And you better believe I was going to try and kick the guys' butts. Apparently, or so I've been told, guys saw me as a threat; not girlfriend material, just a competitive annoyance. And that fact alone drove me crazy. I tried to be more meek, mild, and demure but I always end up getting tangled up somehow, driving my potential lover over the edge. Well, such is life I suppose.
I suddenly bounced back to the present as Melissa waved a frantic hand in front of my face, waking me up from my temporary loss of consciousness.
"Earth to Reina! Earth to Reina! Hello? Did you like, escape inside your mind? Helloooooo?" She called as I snapped back with a response.
"Err, no." I said, recalling my previous boyfriend and answering her question. Brandon was his name. I doted and wasted four years of my crush life on him. All having it fail miserably in two weeks of…well…bleh. He broke my heart, twice. He jumped on it, stomped on it, crushed it and, well, he didn't even realize he was doing it.
"Why not? You tease me all the time about Alex! Time for me to get back at you!" Melissa said playfully, though I really wasn't in the mood.
"Whatever…" I said softly. I was starting to sound more like Aras. The thought of him brought a tiny smile to my lips. I really wasn't sure where I stood with him, though. I mean, part of me liked him as a friend. Part of me liked him as more than that. A part of me hated him, and I couldn't figure out why. Another part of me was afraid of him, and, again, I didn't know why. And yet another part of me wanted to kill him for half breaking my heart. He was in love with a girl he met over the Internet. But that relationship was like my Internet relationship – going nowhere fast.
"You're thinking about someone, aren't you?" Melissa said in a sing song voice. She could read me so well; it was impossible to hide anything from her. She elbowed me causing me to give into myself and roll my eyes.
"No…" I said, desperately trying to cover up the fact that I really had been thinking about someone.
"Uh-huh." She said, disbelief ringing in her voice. I sighed and looked at her angrily, a huge smile appearing on her face, reveling in her small win over me.
"Is it Derek?" She said with a smirk as a disgusted look came onto my face.
"Nooooo!" I exclaimed, aggravated. I'll admit, Derek was a very nice guy. But, in fact, he was so nice that I know Melissa and I both saw him as a big brother of sorts. Always there, making bets, offsetting Aras, and protecting Melissa from the outrageous antics of Bryant. Ugh, Bryant, another boy. Funny enough, it seems as though my life revolved around guys, all of whom I wasn't really interested in. Bryant was, in several words, an outrageously flirty annoyance. He liked to tickle girls. It didn't matter where or when, but he enjoyed it. A tickle of the sides, a tweak of the nose, his subtle gestures I had grown used to, but they still freaked Melissa out. No one could really stand him, except for his twin Whitney.
Whitney was the only girl who could really stand up to him. With one angry look of her emerald eyes, she sent him into a cowering submissive state. With a raise of her hand, she sent him running. Whitney and I were very close as well. We often talked about psychic stuff because she felt as though she was gifted too. She said that most of all what she wanted was the ability to fly – to be free. I told her I didn't think that was possible, but, who knows. Maybe, someday in Heaven we'd be able to fly.
I was jostled out of my thoughts by Melissa's constant guessing of which guy was on my mind.
"Trevor?" She asked with a wink. I sighed. It was impossible to deal with her at the moment, not the way I was feeling now, anyway. Over those last few days I had been depressed and somewhat sad. I used to be happy and care free, but something was creeping over me and taking hold of my heart. And, scarily enough, I had no idea what it was or how I could stop it.
"Just forget it." I said turning away with frustration from the excited teenage girl before me.
"Ahah! So it is Trevor!" She said triumphantly. Maybe it was Trevor. Maybe I wasn't even remotely thinking of the nice guy whom I had three classes with. But, I'll never know now. In that instant I fell victim to something incredible.
There are moments in your life when time freezes. You seem to be going incredibly fast compared to those around you. In times of pain you feel as if you're going to die and no one around can unfreeze themselves to save you. In those moments, you are on your own.
I clutched my head and grunted with pain as the feeling grew more intense. It began with a light throbbing but it had suddenly erupted into an explosion of hurt.
"Reina? Reina are you alright?!" Melissa said in response to my actions. I had never felt any hurt like it before; it was sudden, sharp, and thankfully didn't last more than a minute.
"Yeah…I'll be ok," I said recovering weakly, though I know Melissa could tell I wasn't fine. And, unfortunately for me, that was only the beginning.
The sound of papers rustling awakened me from my thoughts as I jumped into the ocean of reality headfirst. I leaned over to Danielle,
"What are we doing?" She looked up from her drawing and replied,
"We're opening our books to page 374." She said nonchalantly in her regular, decisive fashion. Danielle was the best artist I knew and I would have died for an once of her skill. She could draw anything and make it look realistic or wonderfully adorable. She was a strongly independent young woman and I often wondered if she scared potential boyfriends off with her skill, beauty, and intellect.
"Reina, do you have lead?" Lindsey leaned over and asked. I shook my head as she silently cursed to herself. Lindsey was the leader of our clique of misfits. I had always thought she was destined to become a military leader or something. Her unique smile, bubbly happiness, and firm leadership skills equated into the perfect leader. She was the 'mom' of the group, always protecting us, comforting us and just plain always there for any of us. If I had suspected anything was wrong with one of us, she would have been the last to gain my suspicions.
"Will you guys shut up and pay attention?" Melody snapped. She was in a bad mood again as she always seemed to be upset and depressed over something. Her parents had gotten divorced when she was young and ever since then a bad mood had taken permanent residency in her soul. Not to mention she was a junior, meaning she believed herself to be better than us sophomores. And yet, she was in Geometry.
I glanced over at Toryn who had been suspiciously quiet that period. She was usually bubbling over with gossip about the other color guard members or chatting it up with the guy who sat next to her. Toryn was the athlete of the group. Fiercely passionate about color guard or water polo, she was usually performing or training or something. She also was the first to alert the group about any gossip worthy content. But, on that day, she was quiet. I should have taken the hint.
I heard Melody sigh in annoyance, almost feeling her eyes roll behind me as Lindsey continued to ask around for lead.
"Ugh…" I moaned in pain grasping my forehead. Another surge of the mysterious pain ripped through my head as apparently only Lindsey noticed.
"Reina!?! Are you ok!?" She exclaimed, putting her hand on my back and trying to see what my expression was. I shook my head in pain.
"We need to get you to the nurse!" She exclaimed, but she too fell into agony, clutching her head. I glanced around in distress as Danielle, Melody, and Toryn were all grasping their heads in pain. What was going on? I still had aways to go before I would find out the frightening news of our sickness.
As my English teacher droned on about concepts I already knew my mind started to wander. On the outside, most people assumed I had a 'perfect' life. Perfectly tainted, that's what. My parents were together, I got straight A's, I had great friends, I didn't have an abusive boyfriend, nothing seemed out of place. But on the inside, everything in my life was scrambled into a million different corners of darkness that I didn't want to find.
It's hard to explain my feelings of abandonment, my feelings of being all alone in the world. I suppose I felt alienated because all my friends were so happy over trivial things. They'd laugh and play and have a wonderful time while I had to try hard to fit in with them, often faking a laugh just so they didn't ask me what was wrong. And in learning to fake laugh I had learned to laugh at everything. My friends assumed I was easily amused, an excited titter escaping my lips at the slightest joke.
But that wasn't the truth. My whole life was a lie, and, I was the only one who knew it. Sure, my parents were together, but, that didn't make any difference. My father was never home, and my mother, who was home most of the time couldn't understand me. To her I was a ray of sunshine, a beautiful, flawless young girl who always brought home straight A's. She never expected anything less, and I would be worried if she did. She didn't know me; I had to be someone else around her. All these horrible things I felt inside me I couldn't tell her. I couldn't tell anyone.
There seemed to always be two voices nagging inside my head. One kept telling me I was worthless. That no one loved me, no one cared about me, and that everything I ever believed in was a lie. The other voice was the exact opposite, telling me I was loved and that some did care about me. The sad thing was I only heard the second voice on occasion. The first voice was constantly in my head, sometimes screaming at me that I might as well die, yelling at me to give up, choking any hope that dared remain out of my heart.
And, so what if I got straight A's? That didn't mean I was 'smart' I just worked hard. I was hardly a leader and I hated speaking in public, two things that I knew would be critical to my success in school as I aged. But, I knew I would worry about that when I got there.
And, sure, my friends were wonderful. They tried to be there for me, they really did, but, no one could have given me what I wanted. At times I just wanted to give it all up, just lie down and never wake up. When I was younger I had thought suicide was a stupid thing, a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But, as I aged, I saw it more as a permanent solution to a pretty permanent problem. The things I was enduring weren't normal things that happened to everyone. I didn't know of any other teenager who woke up in the night screaming, then couldn't even remember the dream. None of my friends heard horrible voices mumbling incoherent phrases. No one felt as pathetic and hopeless as I did. No one, I'm sure, was comforted by the ghostly presence of their long since deceased grandmother. No one I knew felt suffocated at times; where just trying to breath was impossible. Okay, so maybe a few did, but that was because of asthma. I didn't have asthma, I knew that much. And I don't know of anyone who thought about suicide solely because a strange voice was telling them they were worthless.
The worst part of it all was that the one being whom I thought I could tell everything to was abandoning me. I had believed in God since I was little, my parents dragging me to church every Sunday religiously. I still wanted to trust Him, I still wanted to love Him, but everyday I grew older it was becoming harder and harder as my heart began to break down inside of me. This wasn't what He was about, was it? He was supposed to comfort me and love and care for me, right? Well, He wasn't doing a very good job at that moment.
"Reina!" my head snapped up as the teacher called out my name, her Spanish accent enveloping me in regret.
"Are you feeling alright? You look pale." She asked I nodded my head in response. "I'll be fine. I'm just tired…" I said as her eyes narrowed, peering down over her silver rimmed glasses.
"Well, get some more sleep tonight, chica." She said as I nodded wearily, bring my right hand up slowly to cup my chin for support. Thank God this was the last period.
The sound of my feet sloshing through puddles on the way home comforted me, the light rain soothing my troubled heart.
"Reina? You okay?" Whitney asked. I looked up and weakly smiled. Truth be told, I wasn't okay. Ever since the smoldering pain hit my head for the first time, I had felt strange; I felt as if suddenly I didn't belong, well, more than usual to be certain. Something wasn't right; something was misplaced or missing. It was as if everything around me was in black and white and I was in the only thing color, as if I belonged in the future, not in my present time.
"You haven't said much either, Elenia!" Whitney said, glancing over at the raven-haired girl walking behind us. Elenia was a soft-spoken girl who had recently joined our group. She told Whitney and I that she wished she were a vampire. She apparently longed to drink blood, to kill. Her beautiful eyes had first intrigued me because they were genuinely golden, their delicate radiance emitting a pain much like what I felt on the inside but was unable to express on the outside. She looked up slowly, her ebony tinted hair falling in front of her face softly.
"I'm not…feeling well." She said, meekly clutching her head, my eyes widening in an amazing pain.
"N-neither am I…" I managed to stutter as suddenly I felt light-headed. The world started spinning, the ground began to shake.
"Reina!" Whitney called out. The last thing I remember was falling….falling…falling…
I awoke in my bed. My regular, comfortable, simple bed. I yawned, and stretched lazily, forgetting, for a moment, all the pain I had ever known. How long had I been asleep? I rubbed my eyes and stood up, trying to maintain my balance.
"You're awake!" Melissa cried springing up from her chair to my side. I struggled to stay grounded, but managed.
"So, my queen finally awakens." My eyes turned to the quick wit known as Aras. He smirked as he left the room, eyes lingering, hand caressing the doorframe.
"What was Aras doing here?" I asked Melissa in a daze, my vision befuddled from my lack of glasses.
"Aras? Huh?" She asked, confused, looking around for the young man.
"He was just here…he just left." I said as if it were obvious that he had been standing right by the door moments earlier.
"Aras? Reina…he was hit by a car this morning. He's in a coma. He hasn't woken up yet." Melissa's words seemed to bounce off my head.
"But I just…I just saw him!" I exclaimed as she helped back to bed.
"You're probably still tired. Maybe you saw him a dream? Come on, get some sleep Rei." She said, tucking me in sweetly. I yawned again, drifting in and out of consciousness. "I am pretty tired… night-night Meli…" I said softly as my eyelids closed, shutting out the foggy world around me. I prayed to God I wouldn't wake up. I didn't want to wake up now. But, knowing Him, he wouldn't grant my prayer. He never did. Well, almost never.
The sound of footsteps on cold metal awakened me. Where was I? I wasn't in a bed. No, I was… standing?
"Here." Food was shoved in my face roughly, the impact nearly knocking me over.
"…the hell?" I questioned. I spun around, lost in this prison of sterile metal I had woken up into. It all somehow looked familiar, however, the cold floors feeling eerily similar to something I had felt somewhere before.
"Reina!" Ah, a familiar voice called my name! I turned towards the direction of the noise and found a familiar face to match. It was…Aras? Again? Where was I?
He ran up to me and grabbed my arms firmly.
"If they hurt you, I swear to God I'll..." Anger was burning in his throat. A girl ran up behind him.
"Angel…slow down!" I sighed in despair. Angel. That was his name on the Internet - it was Kati, his love in Louisiana. I put on a fake smile and raised my voice an octive.
"Hi Kati!" I said, hoping I didn't sound too fake. I actually didn't care what I sounded like in her presence. She didn't matter in the scheme of things anyway.
"Oh, hi!" she exclaimed, all giggly. I had chatted with her in a chat room once, she was a complete airhead, I didn't know what Aras saw in her. We had always had deep conversations about ethics and darkness, not about bubble gum flavored sugar and sparkling stars. It was all so wrong. So very, very wrong.
My voice returned to normal, my sickeningly sweet expression returned to its actual one of disbelief and confusion.
"Aras…where are we?" I asked, hoping he knew where we were trapped.
"A purgatory. Actually, a purgatory, as envisioned by you as a small child." He said as Kati clung desperately to his arm.
I paused, searching my memory banks for some recollection. Ah, I remembered now! I had had a dream when I was seven or so, a terrible, frightening nightmare at that. I had dreamt of a cold, sterile, metal room; of me, being forced to eat food, lots of food, then being forced to vomit it all back up. Over and over the process was repeated, until I woke up. I never knew the significance of the dream. Now I must be reliving it, with Aras and Kati thrown in of course.
"How did you know?" I asked, forgetting he was a part of my dream. He chuckled with amusement.
"So naïve…" he murmured softly, pushing Kati off his arm.
"Reina and I need to talk for a moment. Be a good girl, alright?" He treated Kati like a dog. She had the IQ of one.
"Okie dokie artichokie!" she said with a smile, putting her hand against her forehead in some sort of childish salute as Aras pulled me aside.
"Kati and I have been here for days... We're trapped living your disgusting dream. Get us out." He demanded, using more intellect with me than as he had moments earlier with his beloved Kati. He had me pressed against a wall, his lips inches form mine, his eyes hot with anger and frustration.
"Alright, alright! You could say it nicer though…" I said as he backed off, realizing our awkward positioning. He grabbed Kati's hand firmly and pulled her in the direction I was heading. In that instant I felt as if I lost my breath. He had been so close to me. I could have easily closed the gap between our mouths. And yet I didn't. I wanted to, but I didn't. I thought of the task at hand and remembered a key element.
"There's a staircase…" I reminisced, trying to remember exactly how I escaped. Then I remembered, I had been unable to escape in my dream. I had found the staircase, what I believed was the exit. I believed my parents were coming for me, they had to be. But I was trapped; guards protected the exit, trapping me in until I woke up, releasing me from the chains of dreaming.
"And?" Aras questioned impatiently. "That's it." I said as his eyes narrowed. "That's it?" He said, anger ringing through his voice. Kati appeared by his side, grasping his arm in fear.
"I'm scared…" Kati murmured softly. He stroked her head tenderly. "Don't worry, I'm here to protect you." He said in a calming tone. I rolled my eyes. This was pathetic. This strong, dark, young man was reduced to a whimpering puppy by a preppy girl. It was a sin.
"Come on. I think it's over here…" I said, heading in a direction that seemed familiar.
"Angel!" Kati gasped, suddenly terrified. Aras gently brushed his lips against hers to calm her. I couldn't watch. The part of me that liked him, possibly even loved him, wanted to kill Kati. Hell, I wanted to kill her when we first met on the chat room. No one like her should deserve to live. They waste breathing space that should belong to people who will actually do something to improve the world other than model bras for a living.
What was this emotion I was feeling? Jealousy? Anger? Hatred? They were unfamiliar feelings, but I suppressed them. I looked at Aras, a look of hate brooding in my eyes. He looked back at me, returning my gaze with a taunting look as if to say, "Come get me. Hah. I'm unreachable." But I wasn't about to play his games.
I sighed and continued my trek. Lover boy and airhead could catch up later if they wanted a chance at survival. It was then that I started to wonder what this was. Another dream? A fantasy? A game? Did our lives truly depend on the outcome of whatever this was? I closed my eyes and the world began to swirl around me.
Melissa. Derek. Bryant. Danielle. Lindsey. Toryn. Melody. Whitney. Trevor. Elenia. Aras. Would they care if I died? They were the people I considered closest. Would they mourn my death? I felt hot tears pour down my cheek. Was someone kissing me? I didn't dare open my eyes. Yes, I was sure of it now. Someone was kissing me. I reached out; and no one was there.