I'm not ready to accept that things are getting better just yet.
I guess sometimes
We both lose our minds
“Um, excuse me?” I gulped, feeling a lump of worry slide down my throat and lodge itself somewhere in my chest.
“You heard me, silly!” Alicia grinned. “From now on, consider me your teacher in art, math, science, and everything else that matters!”
“Is it okay to say that I’m very, very scared?” I mumbled, backing away. “I’m fine. Seriously. I can figure everything out myself.”
Alicia nodded sarcastically. “And the blind man said he could find his way across the street.”
I sighed, exasperated. “Look, it’s nice that you want to help out and all, but…”
“You’re too stubborn to change your mind.” Alicia finished.
Groaning, I spun around and intended on retreating to my room, until a hand clasped itself around my shoulder.
“Atropine.” Alicia said, this time no joking in her voice. “I don’t want to force this on you, but you have to finish school, or at least your freshman year. Just… give me a week, and then you can say no.”
She fell silent, letting her sound words linger in my ears. I knew perfectly well I was already being unreasonable, and her offer was a smart venture, and however hyper she may act normally didn’t hinder the obvious fact that she was smart. Like she said, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t abandon my education so early on.
“…Fine.” I resolved quietly. “I’ll do it.”
A ghost of a smile touched her lips, and a softer, more mature Alicia surfaced for a minute. Suddenly, a rush of images flashed before me and I felt a sharp pang where my heart was. Maybe she was more attuned to me than I had thought- it was almost as if she could read my mind. And somehow, that didn’t bother me as much as it should have.
“Uh… Alicia?” I asked, dubiously staring over the edge of the dock.
“You’re not going to make me jump in there, are you?”
Alicia suddenly turned around, bright blue eyes wide with bewilderment.
“What?!” she exclaimed. “No way! I’m not that much of a sadist, you know.”
She sat down on the dock next to me, pulling up her cargo pants and dipping her feet in the water. Her hands were placed behind her back as a support, and her face leaned back in a relaxed way, the diamond stud in her nose glinting in the sunlight.
“Nah,” she continued. “We’re just here for the ambiance. And anyway, it’s freakishly nice out, so I thought we’d take advantage of it.”
That I agreed with. I just wasn’t this warm in March- it just wasn’t possible. Sixty-four degrees already, and it was only the eighteenth. I shook my head. Maybe all those crazy theorists were right about global warming, because this was ridiculous. In a good way, I suppose.
“Well, we might as well get started.” Alicia sighed, pulling out an (unnecessary) legal pad from her sweatshirt pocket. “How ‘bout we start with history?”
I frowned. “No thank you. Let’s do literature or something.”
She laughed. “You won’t do anything but literature!”
“No,” I replied honestly. “I like science… a little.”
“Right.” Alicia snorted.
“Well, at the very least, I don’t hate it.” I mumbled, defeated.
“That’s fine, then. I actually just wanted to get the history stuff over with. It sucks, and I hate it.” Alicia admitted. “Like, want-to-burn-it-at-the-stake hate it.”
Lifting an amused eyebrow, I felt a smirk forming on my face. “That’s pretty extreme, for a school subject.”
Alicia shrugged and reopened the notebook, quickly scanning over page after page of scrawled notes. “Whatever. You know you feel the same way about it.”
“Let’s just start.”
“Alright. Uh… let’s begin with Mexican history.” She decided after a minute, thoughtfully tapping the pen against her mouth.
“Because no one else will do it. Now shut up and listen.”
I sighed and tentatively tapped the water with one foot. Finding it suitable, I let my foot dangle ankle-deep in it, shortly followed by the other. My eyes slipped shut and I let myself be immersed.
To say I could fully comprehend what Alicia was saying- well, it’s not exactly a lie. The basics came easily enough, Conquistadors, Aztec Empire, so on, so on, you know. I’d heard it all before. But there were other things she added, the things I couldn’t quite grasp. They sounded a little like things out of a nursery rhyme, fantastical in their own right. It got to the point where I became suspicious of her slipping fodder into the story, to see if I was listening.
“And the cow jumped over the moon right after that, right?” I blurted randomly, sending a rooster tail spray of water across the small pond with my flailing feet.
“Yeah, and... wait, what?” Alicia paused in her monologue to cast a confused glance in my direction.
I shrugged. “Just wanted to see if you were going somewhere else with this whole thing. It was getting pretty weird on its own.”
Alicia scanned the notebook with a critical eye, expression growing more and more disbelieving. “Um. You’re right, though. What the actual fuck? Had I been listening to MGMT backwards when I was writing this?”
With a dismissive wave, she offhandedly threw the notebook over her shoulder. “Whatever. That shit was putting me half to sleep, anyway.”
“Knew you couldn’t stick with it for long.”
“Well, I never said I had the strongest willpower in the world.”
I brought my knees up to my chest, welcoming the semi-chilly feel of the water on my feet reacting with the cool air. “...Now can we read?”
“Well...” Alicia blew out an exhausted sigh. “There’s no reason to delay it anymore, I suppose.”
With that, a pocket-sized version of Stephen King’s Danse Macabre appeared from her sweatshirt pocket and I grabbed at it greedily, devouring the book within seconds of flipping to the first page. I soon assumed the required reading position- cross-legged and hunched almost desperately into the book’s pages, nose nearly touching the paper. This left Alicia with her eyebrows tilting up towards her hairline, her point of my obsession with literature sufficiently proven.
Soon, Alicia grew bored with trying to read over my shoulder and lay back, soaking up the sun and soon dozing off, soft snoring the only noise coming from her. It felt like I was back in the library five years ago, with only the sound of the elderly, snoozing librarian to accompany me and my books. In fact, I believe I had been reading this very book on the last day I was allowed to visit the library- a serious case of déjà vu.
Hadn’t the sun been shining on that day, too? Casting a healthy glow onto the blue carpeting via a large skylight, just like it was now?
I paused in my reading, my brow furrowed. Strange. It was like déjà vu. The nearly exact definition, in fact. Oh well- this happened to everyone, right? I continued reading, heedless of the buzzing crickets that had conformed around the pond in the late afternoon. I was already halfway through the book before an involuntary yawn wormed its way out of my mouth, signaling the end of the lesson (actually, it wasn’t much different from how I normally spent my day). I placed my hand on Alicia’s shoulder and shook her lightly, gradually rousing her from her sleep.
“Wha’?” Alicia mumbled, rubbing her eyes. “How long was I asleep?”
I shrugged. “Not sure. Couple of hours, at least.”
“Mm.” she grunted, stretching and letting out an ungodly yawn.
She leaned drowsily on my shoulder as we trekked through the brief wall of trees that separated the empty lot from Gerard’s house. On the back porch, Mikey sat calmly on a blanket, MP3 player plugged into a pair of headphones. He acknowledged us with an apathetic grunt as we passed, quickly returning to The Smashing Pumpkins without a second thought. I half-smiled. I guess Alicia wasn’t the only one feeling drowsy. Speaking of which, my shoulder was beginning to ache with the weight of her head- and God, she had a heavy head. I pushed her off and she groaned in protest, promptly smashing her face into the wall.
“Uhhhhmph.” she mumbled. “You’re mean, Atropine.”
“I try.” I brushed off her groggy insult and continued on up the stairs to my own room, mentally crossing my fingers that Gerard was elsewhere.
Well, I could dream that he wasn’t sitting nonchalantly in my room, legs crossed in a scarily sexy way, but in the waking world, I was unfortunate enough not to possess magical powers to wish him away. I tried to ignore him- really, I tried- but soon the temptation was too great.
“What the hell are you doing in my room?” I asked calmly.
“Waiting for you.” he responded, lazily uncrossing his legs and pushing himself out of the chair.
“And you need... what, exactly?” I backed away from the raven-haired man, wary of the shadow that had engulfed me.
His hot breath fanned over me, making panicked tears gather at the corners of my eyes. I took another step back, only to be met with a solid wall. My breathing quickened, growing shallower and shallower as he stepped closer. Finally, he reached me, his face mere centimeters from my own.
Within moments, I was pushed harshly down on the bed, wrists locked above my head by one of Gerard’s arms. The other was busy running itself down my side, stopping to hook a finger around the belt loop of my pants and pull down. I gasped, wriggling one arm free and pressed it firmly on his hand.
“Gerard,” I whispered, feeling the tears begin to spill over. “P-please, don’t do this.”
I looked into his eyes, only to see slitted yellow ones, instead of the hazel that I had grown to like. An evil grin stretched unnaturally across his face like a scarecrow’s, a long, reptilian tongue darting across his lips.
“Oh Atropine,” he sneered. “You know you want this.”
My eyes flew open and a scream made it halfway out of my throat before it died. My arms wind milled as I tried to keep my balance on the dock, finally cracking the back of my head against the wood as I sort-of regained it.
“Ow,” I mumbled, feeling along my skull for the knot that was sure to form.
The shifting, slowly rousing pile beside me that was Alicia slowly rose to reveal her drowsy face, turquoise eyes half-closed and half-asleep.
“Wha’?” Alicia mumbled, her hands reaching up to her tired eyes. “How long was I asleep?”
“Um…” I bit my tongue, resisting the urge to repeat exactly what I had said in the dream. “I don’t really know. I fell asleep too. And had a… a weird dream.”
I shivered, pulling my shirtsleeves closer to my shoulders.
“Care to share?” Alicia inquired, adjusting her hood.
I shook my head. Yeah, Alicia. I just had dream-sex with your boyfriend’s older brother, I’m totally going to tell you about that.
“Eh, okay.” She said. “Well, mine was fucking messed up. It was like- you and me and Mikey like, broke into this guy’s house and we stole a whole bunch of stuff, right? And then uh, this mob came after us and we started running away, and then I looked up and there was like this dog on a unicycle floating across the sky. And then I woke up.”
“Uh-huh.” I tried to conceal the befuddled smile that had begun to carve its way across my face with my sleeve, accidentally letting a small giggle escape. “What goes on in that head of yours?”
Alicia laughed, giving the top of her head an affectionate pat. “You know, I have no idea myself. It’s a confusing place.”
“Well, that’s reassuring, you being my teacher, and all.”
“Oh, loosen up. At least I don’t kill your brain with boring fuckwad lessons.” She laughed, giving my backhanded insult a dismissive shrug.
“Yeah? I beg to differ. In case you haven’t heard, my intelligence has suffered quite a blow since you took over.” I retorted.
“Well, ain’t I a bitch?” Alicia smirked, sarcasm dripping from her words. “Whatever. Let’s go back.”
We jovially linked arms and stood up, leaving a trail of water droplets behind us on the gray wood of the dock.
“So, uh...” Alicia cleared her throat. “You still want to keep doing these lessons, right? Even though they haven’t really been... doing much.”
She heaved a sigh, her shoulders slumping dejectedly.
“I’m a shitty teacher.” she mumbled.
“And I’m a shitty student.” I answered, putting an arm around her shoulder. “Hey- don’t worry about it. You’ve been doing fine.”
“No, really!” I protested. “I’ve probably learned more now than I have in a whole month at school- you know, since my old teacher took about a week to read one section.”
Alicia giggled, wiping away the snot that had accumulated around her nose.
“Well, I did hate it when they treated you like you couldn’t learn more than a hundred words a day.”
“As do I.” I exclaimed, happy that my encouragement was successfully lifting her spirits. “That’s why I like your teaching. I want to keep doing it, okay?”
We reached the porch where, unsurprisingly, Mikey sat, headphones, apathetic expression, and all. Just like in the dream (I think I should now refer to it as more of a nightmare), he barely noticed us, simply uttering an unintelligible greeting before returning to his music. I tried to shake the apprehensive feeling that had begun to creep up on me- there were many similarities to the nightmare, but the differences outweighed everything else. It was just a dream. Nothing else.
Taking slow, measured steps, I gradually ascended the staircase, stopping to take in a nervous breath. I didn’t know why I was so riled, though- it was agonizing, being completely freaked out with no obvious reason to blame. Soon, I reached my room, and as I reached for the doorknob, I felt the same sensation I had when I found the baby’s room wash over me, sending a chill skittering down my spine. Ever so slowly, the door opened, and there was Gerard in the white armchair, legs crossed, arms placed commandingly on the armrests, a lazily plotting expression written on his face.
I took a deep breath and prayed to whoever was in charge to suddenly bestow upon me the power to teleport him to another dimension, carefully avoiding his deep, searching eyes.
“What the hell are you doing in my room?” I asked calmly, the killer instinct that had saved my life (and whatever was left of my innocence) in the graveyard now in full throttle.
“Waiting for you.” He answered, uncrossing his legs, but this time not standing. “I needed to ask you something.”
I edged away, thrown off by this turn of events. “And that would be…?” I asked.
“Would you like to go out?”
My shoulders loosened suddenly. What? Go out? As in…
“I meant just going downtown or something.” He added quickly, sensing my confusion. “Buy you some new clothes. Get some food. Mikey and Alicia will be going, too.”
“Oh.” I pursed my lips, pretending to mull over my options, though I already knew my decision. “Okay.”
“Tomorrow, then.” He said, leaning in.
I dubiously backed up, worried about the dream, but he left only a quick peck on the cheek- chaste and quick, and that was it. As he left, I traced the tips of my fingers along my cheekbone.
I didn’t just enjoy that, did I?
I was listening to DoYaThing (you know, the 3 artists 1 song thing the Gorillaz did with Converse?) as I was getting the lat minute edits together on this. Let me tell you, there's nothing quite like running the spellcheck while listening to Andre 3000 scream "I'm the SHIT!" for nine minutes straight.