I walked at the fastest pace that I could. The street was quiet, and the day was dark, so naturally I didn't feel safe. Living in a city as big as Chicago, it really wasn't. I passed the endless alleyways, my thoughts of what would happen if someone were waiting in one became horrible that it quickened my heart rate, so I quickened my speed. I would usually get a ride home, but when I did walk, I took the most populated street which was usually flowing with other students when school was let out. But today, I for some reason decided to take a different route. A quiet one. The buildings were shabby and looked as if they had been abandoned long ago. Was anyone around?
There was. As I quickly passed each alley, I could pick up snippets of conversation from the shadows to my right. The voices were grim, rough and low. I had gotten myself tangled in the worst neighborhood. My heart would momentarily stop when I passed each shadowy gab between the buildings. It was only a matter of time before I encountered one of these people standing right around its corner. And it would be a matter of time before one would grab me. The thought passed my mind of all the cases I had heard on the news of girls that were stupid enough like me to have that happen. It was always said that we could prevent it, that it was our faults. Maybe it was, I maybe shouldn't have taken this street. Maybe I shouldn't have walked so close to the buildings, but I couldn't help it. The sidewalk was narrow, the streets lined with crappy old cars. I felt trapped in the line of the sidewalk, only hoping to god that no one would notice me in one of the alleys. I pulled down my shirt a little and tied back my hair in the most sloppy fashion possible. Hiding my phone in the waist band of my sweats, I was thankful that I had covered myself up like this today. At least if something happened, it was one less reason to put the blame on me.
I had quickly learned from a young age that alleys were my worst fear. Peering down their shadows as a young girl, I would see the strange people, lurking in the shade like ghosts. It scared me. I felt a tight feeling grip my gut every time I passed by one. And when I felt the presence of someone standing right at the corner, my heart nearly stopped. A few times, I felt the presence, but no one would be there. It was probably the mystery that scared me the most.
I passed by a particularly wide alley when I heard a grunt as if someone was jolted awake.
"Eh! G," Spoke a ragged male voice from right next to me. My heart stopped. I quickly looked to the side to see two huge men leaning on the walls of either side of the alley, their shadowy faces peering down at me. I saw a white grin peel across one of their faces while the other continued, "Look at this one!"
I didn't stick around. Before the other man could reply, I sprinted away down the street. I could hear a little bit of shuffling behind me.
"Come on, women!" I heard one of their voices boom down the street. I didn't look back, didn't want to see if they were chasing me. Because if they were, I didn't think that I could take the stress, I would probably collapse in terror, hoping that my thundering heart would explode and kill me before they could catch me. But they hadn't chased me. I tore down several blocks until I rounded a corner and my eyes, that were adjusted to the gloomy day, were blinded by the headlights of a car. I skidded to a stop, nearly falling and was about to run away from the car until I realized that it was my mother. I spotted her bright blond hair, identical to mine, behind the windshield.
"What in heavens name are you doing, Esther?" My mom called as she opened her window. I didn't answer, just wiped the sweat from my forehead. "Get in the car. You shouldn't be here," She said as she drew the car to a stop.
"Sorry," I say quietly as I buckle up my seat belt.
"Why were you here?" She asked immediately. I shrugged.
"Why did you leave school?" She asked. I suddenly felt angry. I had nearly forgotten about what had happened at school. As my day quickly flashed through my mind, I heard all the words again in my head. They sucked all of the soul out of me, making me feel horrible. They made me feel less like a human being and more like an object.
"I don't want to talk about it," I said firmly.
"Why not?" She said in her high pitched voice. I glared at her, by lip nearly curling back into a growl.
"I said I don't want to talk about it," I nearly snarled. She widened her eyes at me as if there was something wrong with me.
"Sorry," She spoke to suit her expression as she put the car in gear and took a U turn to head into the direction that we lived.
I pushed open the gate and stormed up the steps to our apartment. I didn't wait for my mother, instead I unlocked the door with my own key, pushed through into the apartment, heading straight for the stairs ahead of me. I hoped that my father, who I knew was in the living room off to the right, wouldn't notice me. But to my luck, I heard his voice.
"What is up with you, young lady. A little early aren't we?" His deep voice spoke. I glanced over at him sitting on the couch. His black eyes peered over a news paper at me. I just shook my head and continued my way up the stairs to my bedroom.
"I can't talk right now," I said in the most sweet and convincing voice I could while I thundered up the stairs. I heard my mom enter the house below me.
"You'll never guess where I found our daughter!" I heard her speaking to my dad, but before I could hear the rest of her speech, I shut my bedroom door. Kicking my shoes off, I did not bother to turn on the lights. I just fell onto my bed. My eyes drooped and I was tired enough to go to sleep, but my heart was still racing. After today's events, I thought that it never would.
I lay on my bed for a long while until sleep finally took over me. I didn't even realize that I had fallen asleep, it all happened so suddenly. What made my dream even more terrifying was the fact that I thought it was real. My dreaming mind didn't notice when I slipped into the setting.
I stand on the sidewalk to a street that seems most familiar. Within a few seconds, I recognize it as one of the busiest streets in my area. I would usually hang out here with people because of the countless shops and things to do. It was one of my favourite places to be.
But just as quickly as I noticed how familiar it was, I realized how different it was too. For starters, my favourite smoothie shop that should have been on the block I stood on wasn't there. The store was empty. How strange, I didn't remember it being closed down.
But that was when I saw that every shop up and down the street was different. Nothing was the same. The clothing shops were different, filled with clothes that were way out of fashion; the only restaurants that were in sight were little corner diners; and not only was it the surroundings that were different, but the people. Every single one of them that passed by me seemed happy and healthy, walking with a friend, family or a partner. And then I noticed their clothes. The boys wore magnificent suits, all looking rather handsome while the girls wore beautiful patterned dresses. I must had looked very strange to all of them. But that was just the thing, it seemed that they couldn't see me at all.
I wandered aimlessly through the people, trying to find my bearings, my purpose in this strange world. I wanted to ask someone where I was and what was happening, but could they have heard me? If they did, would they just think I was crazy?
"Hey!" Someone screamed. It was a girl. I turned just in time to have someone sweep past me in a fast run, a disgruntled looking women left standing behind. She screamed further frantically, pointing after the man that had just ran by. "Thief!" She screeched,"He stole me bag!"
Everyone stood still, watching the man escape in shock. But for some reason, I chose not to stand idly by. I took off down the street in his direction, keeping up with his pace as I laced through the many shocked looking people. I could here the women's voice still behind me as she screamed for someones help as I neared the end of the block. But just as I got to the corner-
"Hey!" Roared a deep male voice. A man jumped out from around the corner, looking after the thief. I skidded to a halt, nearly ramming into him. Underneath his classy looking hat, I spied the face of a young man, no older than eighteen, his eyes livid.
His tie whipped in the air as he strode after the thief, taking my place in the pursuit. I decided to let this man take it from here, him seeming much more fit for a chase. But I wish that I hadn't. I wish that I had ran in to him, or maybe some how created some kind of delay. Because just as he sprinted across the cross walk, a car skidded right into him.
A horrified scream left my lips before I could cover my mouth with my hands. I watched the car slam into his hip, sending him flying several feet through the air. And when he landed on his back, I watched his head whip lash hard against the pavement, his hat falling off his head to show his lifeless gray eyes, wide and staring up at nothing.
Standing glued to the corner of the sidewalk in shock, I let the people pass me in a form of urgency to check to see if he was alright. But I knew he wasn't. I knew that just behind the wall of people crowding around the intersection was a dead man. Killed only trying to do good... A tear rolled down my cheek when I glanced down and saw his hat blow across the ground and land at me feet.
I sat straight up with a gasp, my body drenched in sweat. It was only a dream. Or was I so sure? I recognized the faces, the eyes. But at the same time I didn't. As I got to my feet, I felt the memory of the dream deteriorating in my mind until I was left with small strands of the happenings.
Besides the faint wisps of the pale light shining through my curtains, the red glow of the clock in the corner was the only light. It was quarter to nine. Jeez, thankfully it was Friday. If not then I would be up all night, only to regret it in the morning hours when I would have to consider going back to school. But it was Saturday tomorrow. It was an excuse to push aside all my troubles and do whatever. First on my list: Take a shower.
Rinsing the sweat off my body was like washing away all the problems that had clung to me over the week. I stayed under the stream of hot water until it ran cold. The hot water tank was probably done for. Accepting the fact that the cold water wasn't enjoyable enough, I got out. Upon the closed toilet lid was an outfit of my most comfy clothes that I had left for myself. I never realized how excited I could get at the anticipation of doing nothing.
So that is exactly what I did. Plopping myself down on the couch with a tub of my favourite ice cream, I switched on the television to watch Netflix. While I was waiting for it to load, I pulled out my phone to glance at the screen. It was littered with texts, most of them from people I barely knew asking if I was alright. I laughed to myself as I tossed my phone down on the cushion next to me. Now I am! I thought as I popped open the lid to the tub of ice cream and searched for an episode out of my favourite shows.
I sat in the darkness, the pale light of the sun through the thick storm clouds setting, leaving me in the light of the television screen. Though I was enjoying myself at the moment, I knew that it couldn't last this way. On Monday I would have to go back, to face all the attention. And not only that, but another problem lingered in my mind. Subconsciously, I knew it was about my dreams. But why? It was only a dream. I chose not to worry about my scattered brain. I was just beginning to pick up the sounds of rain hitting the roof above my head, signalling a thunder shower soon to come. I snuggled myself deep in the blankets I had hoarded around me and let out a happy sigh. What a perfect night.