Categories > Original > Drama > Multiverse0 Reviews
What if you could revise your life by skipping to a new universe? After suffering a world of injustice, restraint, and longing, Cassandra finds her perfect dream of a life unraveled at her feet and...
It takes a lifetime to build something, but seconds to break it. One moment you may be in a good condition, well, and healthy. Then one slip of the hand, one misstep, one word can create a gaping wound in need of medical attention, break your body, and destroy you. That's how long it took for my world to come crashing down at my feet, even though it had already been descending a downward spiral: One second.
I stared at the darkened ceiling and wondered who put me in this position: Deathly ill, unable to rouse myself for food, all joy disintegrated. What higher power would and could partake in the production of such human misery? My illness harrowed my body enough without my shattered heart contributing. A dry, hollow husk remained; the only thing left of me after enduring such cruel circumstances. My throat screamed for relief from its excruciatingly swollen pain. No food, no drink- gathering the strength to reanimate my defunct body proved impossible. My brain frequently fogged in and out of consciousness, often holding me in an eternal sleep where my dreams quickly became my reality, my worst possible position. Sleeping while heartbroken leaves one lost in either nightmare, delusion, or both. How could I focus on recovery if the one I believed to be the love of my life ensured that I spent every moment dissecting how and why things turned sour?
What time was it? The clock read 11:11 am. I could have been fooled. The shades I put on the windows created a sense of timelessness. The darkened room sat silently as the soft rustling of red October leaves drifted outside.
I could no longer stand living in my body. Because my immune system failed me, everything about my case quickly blew itself out of proportion. My cool, 96.1-degree-body boiled with 101.6-degree fevers. Standing, walking, thinking, talking required far too much energy. A red, puffy rash bloomed across my entire body, all the way to my fingertips and soles. I closed my eyes, hating every aspect of life as the ceiling faded out of my sight. /Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out. /I no longer felt my eyelids close. This illness generated the automation of this action.
And maybe, the world disintegrated.
/ /Laying out that lush green August day engulfed in the wild grass no one bothered to mow while school let out for the long summer break, I felt as though no one could see me. A few stray golden leaves swirled as the wind lazily tossed them from side to side. A chorus of cicadas swelled up from the trees in their summer song. I couldn't help but chuckle at the irony of how peace prevailed just outside the building where at least fifty different types of chaos broke out.
The school could never create an efficient scheduling system. My schedule said nothing. How could it? No one troubled themselves to write it. They would one day when it became important. Later in the week, possibly. But for that moment, only I /took the logical action and took advantage of the day. The front lawn found itself quite unjustly deserted, the way I prefer it to be. I sleepily rose and shook stray grass out of my dark ringlets as the idea that I should /maybe go back crossed my mind. I wanted that day to be without phones and clocks because the powers that be intended days without schedule to be timeless. The midday hours seem to blend together as it is. Reluctantly, I remembered that in America, in the Capitol City /especially/, no one truly has that luxury. I opened my phone to check the time: 11:11 am. Yes. I had to go indeed.
A stray figure lazed out onto the fringe of the lawn, blind to the fact that I already occupied the space. I would have ducked out of the way under normal circumstances. I desired invisibility and I often found my wish granted. When you're invisible, no one can notice you, so they can't speak to you. There's nothing to think about and you see the way that people act when they think that no one is watching. People lie when they claim to not know themselves. But, I found no need for invisibility in that moment. The circumstances defied normalcy. This boy desired invisibility as well.
Even though my vision frequently failed me, I made an effort to look at his face since I didn't recognize his figure at all. I gasped and my heart ached. /What a gorgeous boy. /Unlike the rest of the boys at school, he seemed to defy gravity. He stood at a staggering height like a divine archangel. His skin glowed softly in the shadows. A faint pink highlighted his otherwise pale cheekbones and reinstated itself in the form of his perfectly kissable lips. His nose would have hooked if it weren't for the sweet way it tapered off into a soft curve. His jaw curved sensuously into his neck, but managed to maintain its male integrity. His brown bangs swept into his face at the perfect spot just above his jawline as the rest of his hair fell in cascading layers that brushed the edges of his neck and shoulders to just above his collarbone. He sported a stylish velvet blazer despite the summer temperature. His black jeans fit closely to his long legs, ending in black leather combat boots. I wondered what year he must have been. He couldn't have been a freshman. His height and slight facial hair suggested ages 16 or 17, so I placed him as a junior or a senior even though I knew that the school doesn't accept older students unless they're foreign exchange.
Entranced, I studied the way he leaned against a wall and lowered himself onto the ground, choosing a slab of cold, shaded concrete over the soft, warm grass. He reached for his military green messenger bag and I couldn't help but notice two small instrument cases. As I mused at the possibilities of his instrument, he pulled out a bound leather book and commenced reading after pushing thin, square-shaped glasses over his eyes, losing himself in the pages. I believed that he mustn't have taken any notice to me. After all, I sensed a kindred spirit in him. He and I both demonstrated escapist actions. Even though he lost himself in a state of what he believed to be solitude, only I was the only one truly alone. Never again would he be invisible to me.
I debated for ages whether I should approach him. What does one say without sounding awkward or forced? Once I made up my mind that I would at least say hello, I heard someone calling my name. "Dammit," I thought. A group of sophomore girls who idolized me from last year approached me. They obviously wasted their entire summer trying to become my clones.
"Omigod! /HI!!" /they squealed as they all threw their arms around me and promptly bombarded me with millions of questions: How are you? How was your summer? Where did you get your dress? Am I still your favorite? Will you teach me how to draw this year? On and on and on.
I forced my face into an expression of surprise. "Wow! Hi, ladies!" I greeted. "Don't you all look /fabulous/! You all look so much more grown up." As self-absorbed creatures, the girls couldn't notice that I found it physically impossible to take my eyes off the boy. All the girls swooned with responses of "You really think so?"
I found myself aching for alone time with this boy. Or just aching to be alone in general. I suckered myself into the same position every year. When I first entered the school as a first-year sophomore, the seniors intimidated me with their foul behavior. They treated new students like the scum of the earth. It reminded me of older cousins and friends who ditched me once they got a car and significant others, so I vowed to never treat anyone as though I'm too cool for them just because I'm older. My kindness transformed into my downfall. I didn't know when to stop. Ever. As a result, I quickly became bogged down with my little fans. It couldn't have been all bad, I finally decided. At least they idolized /me/, a well-mannered, well-dressed young lady rather than a sleazy tramp on TV.
I glanced over at the boy again. He hadn't even looked up from his book. I felt a pang of guilt for admiring him. I had been in a long distance relationship for four years already. Although, as I thought about this boy, I couldn't help but feel like I had only settled. No one could change that I wanted him more than anything. I pacified the girls and excused myself, slipping away into the school so I could escape out the other end, even though it pained me to willingly physically separate myself from him.
As I sank into the doors, the dagger eyes of the other seniors bore into my flesh, making subtle empty threats to cut out my eyes if I tried to look to them as equals. As much as I desired to actively avoid their glances, I quickly realized that none of them could muster the courage to look me in the eye in the first place. Why would I have to live in fear when they already did? I ambled past their re-animated corpses, but this time with purpose and dignity. They would not forget the true royalty of the school. /That boy, though/.
He bore heavily on my mind, resonated in my thoughts. His very presence sent a wave of vibration through my soul like no other. An ache blossomed in my heart, an ache that I didn't know existed, wounded so badly, I couldn't feel it until I noticed the blood. I must have carried this void all my life, but never knew. Home became anywhere this boy existed. "But no," I reminded myself, "no." Too frequently, I kidded myself. Too frequently, my "love" could be described as "lust" or "curiosity." This, too, shall pass.
Unless it doesn't.
My non-schedule days quickly passed once they finally hunted me down and handed me that slip of paper that mapped out my life for the rest of the school year. If everything turned out well. I found myself cramped into a little desk in the basement of the school with at least 20 of my peers. AP Calculus. Even though I possess the trait of giving people benefit of the doubt, I also can't help if I get gut feelings that say that something wasn't supposed to happen, like that class. But as always, I told my gut to shut up as I tried to settle it by reading a series of random quotes on a side chalkboard: "/Every day, I prayed to God for a new bike, but then I realized that God doesn't work that way, so I stole a bike and prayed for forgiveness./" That one stood out in my mind apart from the others, but I could never place why. Maybe because it reminded me of my hatred for organized religion, how blatant sinners could do whatever they wanted but still make it to heaven's gates by confessing and attending church even though they don't regret their sins one bit. The truly good people in the world are lumped together in hell because they missed a sermon. Nevertheless, the quote held merit. Miracles no longer happen. Forgiveness must be all God can muster these days.
Our teacher shuffled into the room and the mood completely changed. He brought a severe aura with him that could only be the product of misery and spite, much like the aura Clementine exuded. Even though he must have been tall, his posture suffered, causing him to appear crumpled over. But even when he stood up straight, one could easily tell that something about him seemed off, maybe even missing. He surveyed us from behind his thick, square, 1973 glasses. "Good morning class," he attempted to say with a smile, but it failed because he never lifted the corners of his mouth to the right position for that expression to convey "smiling." He only went halfway, revealing his dingy yellowing teeth. The class remained silent, probably because we all noticed the same thing. "Okay," he responded to the strange silence that filled the room. "My name is Professor Reed. And the reason why you must address me as 'Professor Reed' instead of 'Mister Reed' is because I just came from teaching classes at Georgetown University and I was told that this is a college prep school. In college, you must address your professors this way or else they will not acknowledge you, just as I won't if you address me improperly." We glanced at each other nervously as he paused, sharing our looks of sheer terror. "Now, this is an Advanced Placement course. I am expecting you all to be intelligent students. If you are too slow to keep up, I advise you to drop this course rather than fail. In this course, we will have two important tests: a midterm and a final as well as weekly pop quizzes. Should you fail any of these, your grade will suffer and I will advise you to drop the course, since you will be deemed 'too slow.' Now, let's begin. As I pass out the syllabus, I will introduce to you new concepts." Something told me that my college professors would not be this way. A stifled cry for help welled up in my chest. I couldn't help but wonder if Georgetown University fired him since something about him seemed too bitter.
Infinity symbols, fractions, and complex equations spilled out of his marker onto the whiteboard accompanied by his cold, cutting explanations that no one could follow.
"Excuse me, professor?" one of my classmates piped up.
"Yes?" he responded through his disgusting teeth.
"Would it be possible to go through a quick review? Most of us did not practice math over the summer."
A twisted expression of irritation quickly spread upon his face. "Like I said," he repeated slowly, "if you are too slow to follow, I suggest you drop this class. This is Advanced Placement. If your brain is too small to keep up, you are not an Advanced Placement Student now, are you?" Without another word, he resumed the lecture that fell upon deaf ears. The entire room seethed with anger. No one ever tells us that we can't do anything. None of us reached art school by rejection. Five students rose from their desks and walked out. As always, I decided to stay until the bell rang. Just like a good girl.
Later, at lunch, I desperately scoped the school for "friends," even though I felt the occasional pulse of mutiny. "Honey!" I heard a familiar voice call. I wheeled myself around and found myself face-to-face with my greatest friend, my twin Prince, Owen. "You look /so fabulous/!" he raved.
"Thanks!" I responded as he drew closer, "you look great, too."
"Aww!" He hugged me close. "We have so much to catch up on!"
I felt a peculiar warmth around Owen, which probably had everything to do with the fact that no one else would ever truly have me around. My first year at that school, I would elicit alarmed looks from people because of my cheer. In my efforts to befriend others, they found excuses to avoid me, insinuate that I was ugly, and tell me straight to my face that they don't understand how anyone can stand me for five seconds, so they don't understand how I managed to have a boyfriend. But of course, they never saw this boyfriend of mine because he lived in California, so they also suggested I made him up. I concluded that I must be antisocial by design. "We do have a lot to catch up on," I agreed.
"Aww, you beautiful person! You need to tell me all about your summer. You always have the best stories," he gushed.
He took me by surprise. "Oh! This one wasn't nearly as eventful as the last, so don't expect anything too amazing," I warned. The previous summer, I traveled to France. The girls in the traveling program treated me worse than the ones at school.
His eyes sparkled. 'I'm sure it was still amazing," he insisted. "Well, I gotta go, there are still people I have to see."
I chuckled. "Places to be, things to see, people to do?" I joked.
"Always," he responded with a mock-serious face. "See ya!"
"Bye." I always expected to spend entire days with Owen, but he always ended up leaving with someone else, even if he tried to leave me under the impression that he was my best friend. Emptiness found its way into my heart daily. I resumed prowling the hallways, searching for more people that I hadn't seen, studying new freshmen I wouldn't ever know, and avoiding other people like the plague. Until I sensed a disturbance.
My heart thumped wildly. Looking up, I realized I had that Gorgeous Boy locked into sight. Now could be my chance. I could welcome him to the school or-
"Cassieeeee," I heard a familiar whine that I surmised translated into some form of an attempt to convey "excitement," much like how Professor Reed tried to smile. That soul-killing whine could only come from one person. Clementine approached me from behind, similar to Owen. "Hiya, darlin'" she greeted me sappily.
"Hey, Clementine," I replied warmly.
"There's someone you have to meet," she droned as she approached the Boy. My heart performed backflips. Would she introduce us? I gingerly followed her. "This is Ryan," she informed me, grabbing the scrawny little kid talking to the Boy. My mood instantly fell.
"Nice to meet you, Ryan," I said in the sweetest voice I could muster.
"Nice to meet you, too," he replied.
But all was not lost. The Boy stepped lightly into the rough triangle our bodies all made to form a rectangle. "Hello," he greeted me smoothly as his body folded into a crisp bow.
"Hello," I replied with a precise curtsy.
"Shit," Clementine interjected sharply. "I have to go. Owen needs something. You kids should get to know each other." She ran off as briskly as she could for such a squat girl.
"So Cassie," Ryan began, "what department are you in again?" He leaned into my space.
"I'm a visual artist," I replied.
"Me too!" he beamed. I didn't really care that much.
"And you're an instrumentalist?" I inquired awkwardly to the Boy so that I could find an excuse to speak to him.
He glanced at the small cases draped across his shoulder. "Yes," he confirmed. "I play the flute."
Ryan glanced devilishly at his instrument cases. "Yeah," he snidely remarked, "he has to blow a woodwind. And he has to tongue it, too."
"Oh my," I replied with mock-seduction. The Boy seemed somewhat amused.
"Right?" Ryan sneered, "The things he does with his flute sound like a porno."
"Porn is so boring," the Boy yawned. "It's the same thing over and over. It brings me no pleasure."
I gazed at him in wonder. Never before had I heard any member of the male gender admit to this. My awful boyfriend constantly insisted that all men love porn. Of course, he also joked that the men who don't love porn must be gay. And I could have slapped him for it every time he said it. "Really?"
His gaze suddenly glistened with hunger. He bent over, looking me straight in the eyes before lowering his voice and placing his lips next to my left ear. "Not like knives do," he whispered.
His hot breath tickled my ear. Something about that seraphic face slightly twisting with a macabre je-ne-sais-quoi sent shivers down my spine. So innocent and immaculate one moment and so nebulous and provocative the next; both a Golden Saint and a Dark Seducer. He made my mind up for me: I needed to have some sort of relationship with this boy. And, failing that, I prayed that I could at least sleep with him.