I'd like to just take a moment to write out what a nice day in the dreams of myself looks like. Never a dull moment with all the nice thoughts floating around in there. It's nice and warm in my head. Step on a plant, it might just die. Or it could invert into a ten-foot barbed spike through you, releasing its nice digestive fluids as it splits through you. Killed by a flower...Hmm, lightweight. A snail with curved barbs for plucking at plants to eat without risking harm, or discouraging predators by digging out their flesh. The ground isn't safe, the herds of herbivores that constantly move in stampedes would soon trample you to death. Let's climb a tree. The six-armed things move too quickly through the trees, much faster than you could ever dream to. The limbs of the trees seem to shudder with the lightest movement. They're gripping you toward the spiked seeds attached to their thicker bark. After squeezing its prey, this tree will drop the body to the ground, where the seeds will find a nice home. You'd move tree to tree in the hope that you'll find one that won't kill you (probably not). If you do, then good on you. The herds tend to settle down at night, leaving the ground open for the reaping. Carcasses skewered by the strange spiked plants are easy pickings after the herd set most of their traps off. Unable to find any wood that wasn't smashed by the beasts that mostly resemble cows, only with thin bodies and with wide, flat feet. Well, not really feet, more like armored ends to what look like hooves. Well, there's no wood to burn, so you settle for a pile of woodchips that you manage to light. Unable to tell when the alien meat is safe to eat, you almost burn it. If you haven't already met her, you'd probably see Vander, a mental image of Kaytii that I can't remove from my thoughts. She usually wakes me up by killing me. No stopping it. You see her, then you die. Or at least I think you do. And I wake up.
It's kind of fun to write down my weird dreams sometimes. Every once in a while, I turn a dream I had into a story and put it in my journal. I tossed the notebook back onto my desk and rolled over in bed. I knew I had school, but I was just too comfortable. Maybe I'll just play hooky today.
Just when I was about to drift back to sleep, I felt something pounce on me.
"Get up, fag bag! Time for school!" It's Trevor.
I groaned. "Fuck off, man. I don't wanna go."
"Too bad, Riley Coyote. Mom wants me to drive you today. So get up and get ready."
I kicked off the blankets and grudgingly got up out of bed, still feeling half asleep. Half dead. I hate mornings. "Still pissed you couldn't give me a ride yesterday. 'Late shift' my ass."
"Aw, come on, Riles," Trevor said. "Have a little more faith in me. You're starting to sound just like mom. Now hurry up and get ready."
Trevor started to head out of my room, but something made him stop dead in his tracks. "Wait a minute. What do we have here?"
He held up a plastic bag in front of him. Uh oh. Busted. I must've forgotten to hide it.
I cleared my throat. "That's um, not mine. Sam must've left it here."
"Really, now?" he said, amusement evident in his voice. "It smells like a fuckin' skunk died in here, and you're telling me it's not yours? So you've been Snoop Doggin' it up in here while mom and step-dick are downstairs? You got some brass balls, Riley."
After a bit of a pause, he said "What do you have to say for yourself?"
I hesitated, then said, "Weed's great here."
This sent Trevor into a fit of laughter. After he recovered, he said "Just get ready for school. I won't tell mom or Dick-Asshole."
"Thanks, Trev," I said, feeling my face heat up.
"As long as you share!" he added.
"Yeah, whatever! Just get the fuck out!" I yelled.
He laughed again. "Alright, alright." He walked out of my room and shut the door. I could still hear him giggling down the hall. Jerk.
I looked at the clock and briskly went through my morning routine. Shower, decent clothes, coffee, cereal (when I feel like it), brush my teeth, brush and dry my hair (if I have time), and out the door. The car ride with Trevor was both awkward and irritating. He was still cracking his stupid jokes. I put in my headphones to drown him out.
Once we got to the school, I immediately got out of the car and slammed the door shut before he could say anything else. I didn't even bother looking for Larry or Sam. I just went straight to my first period classroom.
When lunch rolled around, I seeked out my friends and slid into my usual seat at our table.
"There you are!" Sam exclaimed in her usual playful manner. "Where were you this morning, bitch? You ditched us!"
"Sorry," I said. "I kinda wanted to be alone after what happened this morning."
Sam dropped her fork. "Aw, don't tell me…"
I nodded. "Yep. Trevor."
Sam burst out laughing. "I knew that would happen! Girl, I told you it would if weren't careful."
"I know, I know!" I said, feeling the heat rush through my cheeks again. "I got enough shit from Trevor this morning. Leave me alone."
"Okay, I'm sorry," Sam said. "But cheer up, buttercup! At least Trevor's cool. Right, Larry?"
Larry set down his sandwich and picked up his milk carton. "I'm staying out of this one."
"Aw, you suck!" Sam said.
"You know I don't approve of that sort of behavior," Larry said.
Sam stuck her tongue out at him, to which he responded by kissing her.
"Ugh, gross," I said. "Do you guys have to do that in public?"
Sam pulled away from Larry. "Yes," she purred.
"So you coming over tomorrow? Remember, you're spending the weekend with MOI," Sam said.
"Yeah, totally," I said.
Larry turned to Sam. "Hey now, why wasn't I informed of this?"
"Piss off Gandhi! I just like to have a girl's weekend every once in a while," she said, smiling.
Larry made an exaggerated sad face.
"Oh, you know I love you!" Sam said.
"Before you guys start macking on each other again, I have something to tell you guys," I said.
"What is it?" Larry asked.
"I met some weird guy while I was walking home yesterday. He was just sitting outside in front of his house in the snow, in summer clothes. No jacket or anything. Just shorts and a t-shirt. AND he had a pitcher of iced tea."
"Well, that certainly is odd," Larry said. "But you have to remember we're living in a weird part of North Dakota."
"He said he's from Canada."
Larry nodded. "Well, that makes sense."
"But he was giving me some sort of weird life advice. Like he read my mind and knew what's going on in my life. It was kind of creepy," I continued. "His name is Logan. He goes here and he's in my English class."
"Anything else we need to know about this guy?" Sam asked and waggled her eyebrows at me and made an obscene gesture with her hands.
I laughed. "Shut the hell up, Sam. That's nasty. I don't really even know him."
"From what I've gathered about this situation," Larry said. "It sounds like you have yourself a guardian angel."
"Yeah, okay," I scoffed. "Come on now, you know I'm not religious."
"Or a stalker," Sam said.
"Yeah, that seems much more likely," Larry said. "Whatever's with this guy, you need to be careful."
"We've got your back!" Sam said. "I'm always willing to protect my girl from creepers."
"Thanks, guys," I said. It's always nice to know my friends are here for me.
My English teacher, Mr. Smith, has decided that he's going to devote the rest of the school year to creative writing. How the school is letting him get away with it, I don't know. Maybe they don't know about it. I like this guy. Isn't poetry month in April? That's not for another six months. Oh well. I'm not complaining.
The other kids in the class, however, threw one gigantic bastard fit. He goes into this winded lecture about how it's important to learn how to write to express ourselves, school has beaten the creativity out of us, yadda yadda.
"You all could learn a thing or two from Ms. Olds here," Mr. Smith said, motioning to me. Uh oh. "She's a wonderful writer! She shows me her stories all the time and I enjoy them immensely. I'm sure you all will, too." He looked my way and smiled. "Would you like to share one of your stories with the class, Riley?"
I leaned back in my seat and sighed, doing my best to swallow the block of ice that's been in my throat all day. "I would, but I don't think most of the simpletons in here would understand the complexity of my latest work. It's my purest poem." I cleared my throat. Why is it so dry? "It basically wrote itself. I'm simply its messenger. Its core is a complete mystery to me. All of my saddest stories have at least some glimmer of resolve. But this one? Nope. It's the dark tunnel with no light at the end. I detach my emotional radar from most of my stories while I write them. If I were to present them in front of a bunch of people, I'd crack. You're braver than I am to let my brain matter on paper penetrate you, Mr. Smith. That, or you really don't realize what you're reading. That's why I never let anyone else read my journal. They're so oblivious to the real meaning of what I write. Like when you're going to have your dog put down and it's wagging its tail on the way to the vet. I honestly find it pretty sad that people are so blind to what others are going through. Until they do something drastic. Do you know what I mean?"
After my spiel, I sat there in what felt like hours of complete silence, feeling everyone's laser beam vision burn into my skin.
Until some stand-up comic cracks, "Someone sounds a wee bit insane." He mentioned a need for professional help. Everyone laughed. I could my face heat up to a thousand degrees. I pull the hood of my jacket over my head and burrow into the safety of my own little turtle shell. That's what I get for speaking up. For saying what's on my mind.
"Alright, that's enough. All of you!" Mr. Smith shouted. Everyone stopped laughing and stood at attention as to not get in trouble. "Now if Riley chooses not to share with the class, we should not ridicule her for it. She actually made a very valid point and you all owe her an apology."
Everyone who laughed, including the kid who called me crazy, all turned my direction and muttered a non-genuine "Sorry." Gee, thanks, Mr. Smith. Could you embarrass me any more before school ends? English is my last class of the day. Things were going okay until now.
Mr. Smith nodded. "Alright, now get out your notebooks and work on your stories. I don't want to hear another peep from anyone until class ends."
The next thing I hear are groans and the rustling of paper. I felt someone behind me tap my shoulder. I turned around. It's Logan. I didn't even know he sat behind me.
"I thought that was brilliant, Riley," he whispered. "Way to stick it to the man! If you don't mind, I'd like to read your journal one of these days. Of course, if that's okay with you."
Mr. Smith called me up to his desk. I saw some kids look at me and giggle as I walked over. I tried to ignore them.
"What you said was very powerful, Riley," Mr. Smith whispered. "But I know you've been through a lot in the past couple years from what you've told me, and I'm not going to ask you for the details. But if you ever need someone to talk to, I'm always right here. You're not alone, Riley. Speak up. Share what you've written to more people. People like you need to be heard. Okay?"
I nodded. He smiled and patted my shoulder.
Yeah, sure. If I told anyone what's going on in my head, what would they do? Send me to the nuthouse? Do I want them to? Would they take me seriously? Fat chance.
The bell rang and I left before Mr. Smith or Logan could say anything else to me. I avoided Larry and Sam, not even bothering to ask anyone for a ride home. I trudged home in the cold again, taking a different route so I didn't have to pass by Logan's house again. I hate Larimore and its stupid weather. Why does anyone stay here?
I walked into the door and looked around to see if mom or Sergeant Dickhead was around. Once I saw that the coast was clear, I strode into the kitchen and grabbed a soda and some leftover food from the fridge, and headed upstairs to my room before anyone could come out and remind me of how much of a piece of shit I am.
Is it Saturday yet? Nope. Only Thursday. I'm losing track of the days more often now.