Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Seer's Story 03

Short story continues:

Tally woke from his daydream. Rather, he was jolted back to reality by a paper clip missile to the back of his neck. He didn't turn to see who it was. It was probably Darren or Derek—it didn't matter which one, they were identical. They even looked the same, slightly pudgy builds, pasty white skin, and always inflicting pain. Usually it was to themselves, but when that got tiring they found ways of torturing the rest of the class. And, because it was a quiet time, shooting quarters at each others' knuckles was not a quiet ordeal. Instead they opted to fold paper clips into deadly little arrows and shoot them from a rubber band.

Tally didn't worry much about them. The bullying hurt but he knew that everyone was a target. His neck still stung though. He looked in his pencil case. An array of rubber bands and paper clips, pen caps and springs from click pens. He had been hoarding supplies waiting for the perfect revenge idea to strike him. But it had been nearly the whole year and nothing had struck his mind except for the occasional barrage from the back of the room. His pencil case looked like a junkyard. Bits and pieces but nothing whole. He zipped up the case and flipped to his notes.

They were really just a few notes. A couple of words, important names, and dates. The rest of the notes were doodles. Some doodles bordered on art, others were merely patterns and spirals, drawn while his mind wandered away from the class.

Tally looked up at the clock. In a couple of minutes the day would stop and all of the students would shuffle off to the gym where neatly and widely spaced rows of desks had been set up for the state proficiency exams. He had stayed up late for this. He didn't know why he had studied really. He had always done fine. But it seemed like something to do; a reason to not sleep. He was getting older now, next year he would be in High School, and he was testing the limits with his parents. Going to bed a little later wasn't much of a test; they had given up on his bed time since Daniel had gotten big enough to make the entire routine stretch into an hour long ordeal. They had cut their losses with Tally and focused on Danny. Even with the extra energy there was usually some sort of physical struggle at the 45 minute mark.

The clock seemed to stop moving. The teacher's words droned on. He was almost excited to take the test because it meant a half-day and only 25 minutes with Mr. Dale. Mr. Dale had this extraordinary ability to drone on. One time he spent an entire class explaining the types of triangles. He was the rare person who was enamored enough with the basics of math and geometry that he was willing to talk about it everyday to children that fell asleep in the middle of his class. It happened so often that Tally had kept a little tab on how many people fell asleep in any given day. In the two weeks that Tally had been keeping track, over 14 people had fallen asleep.

Tally looked out the window at the fall colors. The sky was a deep blue, pushed away by the constant south wind. It would be a great afternoon; easy to walk home on a day like this. That wouldn't really be the case once winter settled in. But in Mr. Dale's class that was a far off eternity.

The bell rang and Tally packed up his things. As he headed for the door Lily flagged him down, “hey, wanna walk with me to the gym. I wanna tell you something.”

Tally had known Lily for years, they had been neighbors since third grade. “Sure. What's up?” He thought about the time they had first spent time together. The deck of the house next to Tally's had collapsed, and they had both gone to check out the loud crash. He looked at her and smelled cinnamon and apples. It was in her backpack. Her mom was an excellent baker and always put a treat in her lunch. Lily's mom was also thoughtful; she packed extra so that Lily could share some with a friend. In elementary school Tally was always the recipient, but since seventh grade they hadn't been spending as much time together. Tally figured it was part of growing up.

“I had a dream about you. It was weird,” Lily seemed to be regretting ever starting her story.

“Yeah, what was the dream about? And why was I in it?”

“Well, I'm not sure. It was a dream—y'know. So it didn't really make sense. And we were at school. Here. But it was different. It's always different, that's dumb to say,” she giggled nervously, “anyways, we were going to school. And then we were at school. And it was stormy and windy. It was so dark, but it was the middle of the day. And the storm was so big that it flooded the field and washed away everything. And the school, it wasn't here. It was on a cliff. There was a big canyon. And everyone was being washed into it. And you were there. You had a rope, and you tried to save me but the rope was too short. So you told me to fly, to remember that I could fly. Just as I washed over the cliff and started falling I flew. And then it was sunny, and the flood stopped. I saw you waving from below. I landed. And we weren't at the school anymore. We were in a field and you said that we were lost and--”

“What? Lost?” Tally felt a tingle crawl up and down his spine. His ears started ringing and he felt disconnected from the world.

“Yeah, lost. Are you ok? You look like you've seen a ghost.”

“Deja vu,” he composed himself, “was there anything else in the dream?”

Lily hesitated, “no. Nothing else.”

“Oh, ok,” they walked in silence for a few seconds. “Are you ready for the test today?”

“Yeah, remember? We talked about this on the way to school.”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry. It must have slipped my mind,” Tally felt a pulse of energy as they walked in silence. He wanted to break it, to do something magical; something that broke them out of the moment. Instead he walked through the doors that led to the courtyard. The two would have to cross the courtyard to enter the gym.

Lily pushed open the heavy industrial door. It was pouring rain. “The dream--” Lily spoke softly.

Tally looked out at the field. A rush of brown water was flowing across it. The back fence where a line of trees and homes were now looked out on a canyon. Tally watched a basketball get tossed in the riffles and drop over the cliff. Lily let out an audible gasp and looked at Tally.

“What's happening?” She asked wide-eyed.

Tally didn't know. He realized he was holding a rope. Then he heard rushing water and the gym doors exploded; water poured out and engulfed the two of them. Tally instinctively reached out his hand to grab for Lily. He found her arm, but the rushing water swept her away. He let go of all the air in his lungs.

Tally and Lily were standing in the courtyard, four yards apart. Tally could hear a slight ringing in his ears, but all else was silence. The day was the same as it had been; a bright fall day.

The bell rang; the two of them rushed to the gym to take their seats. The test went uneventfully. An endless sea of bubbles were filled out with a number two pencil. The final bell rang, and a flurry of feet rushed to leave the school grounds. The wind had calmed and it was a warm October afternoon. Tally and Lily walked home together in silence.