Gripping the Mist

~ For the Replica Competition.


9. Driven to Dream

  "Absolutely brilliant!" My socials teacher exclaimed as he held up my poster for his old eyes to see behind his thick glasses. "I never knew you could do something like this, Esther!"

 "And the writing is on the back, sir," I said before I turned away to go take my seat. Before I did, I saw his eyes widen when he turned the large poster board and took in the paragraphs upon paragraphs of writing. It was a total of ten thousand words. A little more than what was asked for, but oops. On the front I had drawn a big pencil drawing of Neil Armstrong walking across the moons surface. By the looks of my teachers excitement and the dirty looks I got from my class mates, I had done a good job.

 It was safe to say that my Socials teacher liked me a little more than before, perhaps if I were lucky he would take me as a favourite student, that was a fat chance!

 I didn't care about that right now. As I pushed through the gate of the fence to our house, I just wanted to see Newton. It had been an abrupt ending, as usual, to our last meeting. My alarm had gone off just moments after a looked down upon the footprint. 

 I walked in to the scent of fresh baked goods and the sound of a strange tune blasting down the hallways, someone singing along. My mother was baking again. I crept down the hall to the kitchen, careful not to disturb my mother as she pulled a batch of something out of the oven while I stole a finger full of the batter in a bowl. Tasted like some kind of cookie batter.

 After, I raced away up to my bedroom unnoticed. I threw down my bag next to my night stand and laid down on my bed with a relieved sigh. Maybe I had just expected to slip away, but it didn't happen. In my bag was an empty thermos that was once filled with a strong coffee that I drank at school. Not only that, but at break I walked alone down to a coffee shop and bought myself another large coffee to keep myself awake. As I remembered this, I realized just how my mind was buzzing with caffeine. It was no use trying to ease into a sleep.

 So I reached over to the remote on my night stand and flipped through the channels on my TV for a while, only to find nothing interesting enough for me. Homework? No, I finished it all at school. My phone had also been quite inactive over the past little while. No one seemed to want to talk to me anymore, and I was quite glad at that. I didn't think I had the time or energy to talk to people that I didn't even like.

 Throwing my iPhone down on the bed next to where I lay, I reached over to my nightstand again to where I would usually keep a book, but found that none were there. I had finished the Cosmos and returned it today, leaving me with no reading material. More plainly, nothing to do... But sleep, I thought.

 I took my only solution to my awake mind and went to the washroom, digging through the medicine cabinet. I searched through all the Tylenol we had, picking the one that had the strongest side effect of drowsiness and took a couple. After many more minutes of laying face down on my bed later, I finally drifted away into my favourite world. 

 I floated around the solar system for a while. When I bumped into Jupiter, I found Newton hanging out by one of its moons.

 "Hello, Newton." I say as I join him.

 "Hello, Nimbus..." There was a quick silence after his greeting as we just stood there on the moon and admired the biggest planet of the solar system. "I must tell you," He began, "Your Social Studies teacher is most pleased with your project."
 "He is?" I ask, pretending to sound surprised even though I kind of already knew this.

"Yes, it was the first thing he marked after your class. He gave it full marks, the whole time with a huge smile upon his face." 

 "Wow! Full marks! That's gotta mean something decent in the long run. Did you stick around after class?" I ask.

 "Mhm, stood right behind his shoulder and watched him as he marked. I swore- if he gave you a bad comment I would have-" He found himself at a loss of words, "I would have..." He let his arms drop to his sides lazily and took a quick seat down in the soil of the moon, staring up at Jupiter like a movie theatre screen. I quickly joined him by his side. "...Well, I guess that I couldn't have done anything..." His final tone sounded very defeated, but to make up for it, he flashed me a warming smile. I giggled.

"You could have stocked him and told me all his secrets...?" I suggest jokingly.

 "That's true!" He laughs, but sounding a tad too serious. "That would be fun! Anyone you don't like too much?"

 "Oh, tons of people. But we aren't that low."

 "Right..." We both trail off of conversation and just sit there staring up at the big, bright planet.

 "Newton, can I ask you a question?" I speak up lightly after a few moments.

 "Of course." He smiles

 "Is this real? Or is this just a dream?"

 "I am not the one to answer that, Nimbus. It is all up to you to decide..."

The light that Jupiter reflected down on us disappeared as I woke up into my dark bedroom. Its all up to me to decide?

 I stand up from my bed, too distracted by what Newton had last said to notice the blinding head rush I got. I stumbled to my closet, yawning, and threw on the first set of cloths I could put together, which just happened to be a loose pair of track pants, tank top and a sweater. Good enough.

 It was early, just past six in the morning, but I knew that it was no use to try and get back to sleep. By the time I would fall asleep, I would have barely enough time to make it back to that certain Jupiter moon and see Newton before my alarm would go off. I step in the dark, deserted kitchen, my mother and father probably still sleeping, and dig a freezer burnt waffle out of the ice box and throw it in the toaster. While I waited, not noticing that my waffle was being scorched, I nibble away through several of my moms cookies before the toaster pops.

 I take the waffle with my bare hand, not caring how hot it is against my skin, and just begin to eat it, plain and whole. As I eat, I wander towards the door, take my pre-packed backpack off the hook, sling it over my shoulder and leave the house. It was much too early, but the school would be open by the time that I got there and I wanted to check something.

 I step out into the misty, gloomy morning and pull my hood over my head as I take the last bight of my waffle, setting my pace at a slow jog down the street. I should be there in five minutes.

 For some reason, I don't know why, but I love being absolutely alone in the hallways of the school. Its so quiet, the open classrooms I walk by are abandoned except for the teachers quietly preparing their lessons. Its peaceful being the one person walking down the centre of the long hallways. But this didn't last long. I now stood outside my Socials classroom, hearing a single person shuffling papers inside the room. That had to be him.

 "Hello, sir." I say as I pop my head through the door. He jumps, looking at me in surprise.

 "Esther! My dear girl," He checks the watch on his wrist, "A little early aren't we?"

 "I want to know about the mark on my project," I say rather bluntly, but I don't care how rude my tone may sound.

 "Oh, full marks." He smiles broadly at me, his eyes flashing expectantly when I step into the class and come to a halt on the other side of the room.

 "Did you mark it yesterday?" I ask.

 "Yes, I did." He replies, his tone becoming less polite and more serious, seeing that I had more questions.

 "Right after class?"

 "Yes, why?"

 I ignore his question. "Did you mark it with a smile upon your face?"

 He stops and looks at me, preparing to fix a smile on his face if he sees that I am kidding around, but I am not. When my expecting stare carries on, he awkwardly answers the question. "Um, yeah, I suppose so?"

 "Okay, bye," I say suddenly and prance out the door, skipping down the hall. It is now seven o clock, judged by an electrical clock set on the wall that I had just passed. Classes wouldn't start for just less than two hours. At the reminder, I stop dead where I stood in the hall, realizing that there was no need to rush, I had absolutely nothing to do. Taking on last look from side to side down the hallway that stretch for what seems like forever, I shrug and head in a different direction down a different hallway. I had the destination of the ladies washroom.

 I side step through the door smoothly and face the long row of stalls, every door hanging wide open. No, I realize now that I don't have to use the washroom, but I'm here.

 Instead, pulling a hair tie off my wrist, I realize that I should probably do something with my hair. The long locks of bright blond had been hanging in my face for the duration of the day. But I wish that I hadn't stepped in front of the mirror.

 I nearly shriek as I jump away from the person staring back at me. It takes me a moment to realize that it is me! What had happened? My hair is knotted horribly, looking that it is on the verge of turning to a nice bouquet of dreadlocks; my cheeks are pale, looking soulless and dead without the layers of makeup that I usually put on, but behind my saggy, dark eyelids, my eyes are quite the opposite. I don't want to say that they are beautiful, because that is the wrong word. They are wicked- yes, wicked.

 Surrounded by the white rings that are now bloodshot, my pupil is circled by my usual fiery coloured irises. But they are anything but usual. They are completely unusual. It is almost as if there are embers glowing behind my eyes. The orange colour swarms, consuming the soul that shines behind them like a wildfire. I wouldn't be much more surprised if sparks would spring from my eyes at any moment. Before I turn my face away from the mirror in shock, I realize that they look exactly like two tiny suns, caught in an eclipse behind the tiniest of moons which is my pupils.

 Sinking down against the wall, I let my tired, flaming eyes take a break, just a short break, I had told myself. But I let that slip much too far. Before I could stop it, the tiredness that I didn't exactly know was there consumed me.



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