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Fiction

It was mid-afternoon and Alice Bellamy was making her way downtown on her normal routine. Her dog, Scrappy, skips along beside her. And scrappy he was indeed. He was a mutt with matted fur all over the place but was a sweet dog and that was all that mattered. 

It was windy, making Scrappy’s fur stick out. Alice gulped in the needed extra air. She had a peculiar dream last night. The same dream she frequently had as a child and hadn’t had in quite some time before last night. It was her little imaginative world she'd built when she was younger. She doesn’t recall how she did it, shape and fold her dreams upon her own accord. She found controlling her dreams much harder now. You dreamt what the dream gave you, not what you conjured it to be. But this time, it was more realistic. Same people and same buildings but the people were her age now and the buildings were more modernized despite the bursts of color. Anyway, that was all. It was just that feeling of Deja Vu that hit her a little odd, but all was back to normal. She could continue about her routine as if none of that confused her at all. Next stop, the coffee shop. 

She got the same thing as always. Hazelnut coffee and a blueberry scone. One would get tired of the same thing every day, but not Alice.

She took to finding her seat, the seat that was typically reserved for her but had been taken over by two young men. Alice took a deep breath. She tried to calm herself down and focus. She could ask them to move but that would be weird and rude considering all the other empty tables around the room. 

Alice was aware of her condition. OCD-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She found that a strict routine was necessary. Now, with that broken, she found herself blinking her eyes in intervals of ten. She also repeated the phrase ‘calm before the storm’ over and over inside her head. Sometimes, this would help. Everything had to line up perfectly, or order would crash and everything would erupt into chaos. She continued this ritual until she caught the eye of someone sitting at the table next to the one she needed. He smiled at her and waved her over.

No, no, no, no. This was messing with the schedule. She bit her lip but walked over. He pointed at the seat opposite him and she sat, fidgeting and repeating her phrase in her mind. She looked down at her twitching hands. The man’s voice was oddly familiar.

“Hi, Alice. It’s been a while since you’ve let me see you.” 

Alice looked up so fast she almost got a crook in her neck. But she couldn’t even be bothered by the pain because she did know this man. But this man shouldn’t be here, he wasn’t real. He chuckled and then smiled at her. 

“You’re...older.” He looked nervous and blushed. Yes, this was Dune, her imaginary friend from her dreams. 

“As are you,” Alice whispered, aghast. Now, why on Earth would a person from her dreams appear to her in reality. The distraction was enough to allow her to forget about her table situation. She stopped all motion and stared into his green eyes that flashed violet in the light. It really was him. She bolted back in her chair, causing it to screech and catching the attention of nearby customers, including the two young men at her table. She stood and folded down her dress with shaking hands. 

“You’re not real and I’m just crazy.” She turned to leave but then looked back once more. “Good day,” and left, her dog chasing after her.

***

This can’t be happening. I’m finally losing my mind. 

She quickened her pace, Scrappy scrambling to keep up, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. 

He wasn’t real. He can’t be real. It’s impossible. And...it ruined my schedule!

She stopped abruptly, causing Scrappy to trip over his own paws and turn around to sit in front of her.

She clenched her fists and closed her eyes tight. ‘Calm before the storm’, ‘calm before the storm’, ‘there’s always a calm before the storm’. Today had been calm like it had been for months before the storm came raging in destroying her life that had finally been set in order. She hadn’t had that surge of anxiety in a long time and hated to remember that feeling once more. Her light blonde hair was pushed back by a gust of wind. She opened her eyes and looked down at her dog. He had helped too. He gave her something to focus on. She sighed.

“Shall we forget Scrappy?” When the dog only turned his head she said, “Let’s continue on our walk like we always do, alright boy? Sorry, but it's going to be a little cut short considering we have to be home soon to be on time for lunch at two.” She pulled at the strands of her hair before she straightened up and continued walking. 

When she finally felt like she could put things back together again, a little boy with astonishing bright red hair came up to her, holding a bottle of spray paint. With the same hair, skipping right behind him and holding a bucket of pure blue paint, was his twin sister. It was Junior and LeAnne Foxx. They were the ones who painted her imaginary town. IMAGINARY, and SOMEHOW they have invaded her REALITY. She slumped, confused as ever.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! It’s Alice, LeAnne, Alice!” Junior jumped up and down while LeAnne accidentally dropped her bucket in shock. She wasn’t phased as it turned her white dress a sky blue.

“To the moon, it really is!”

Alice smiled a little. She remembered them, reckless little things. But she also recalled how fun they were. 

“Ms. Bellamy, what can we paint for you today. It’s been too long,” said Junior.

“I-” Alice was at a loss for words. How was this happening?

“No, no, no. She has to see Piper first. Remember Piper, Alice? Oh, what am I saying? Of course, you do!” This was LeAnne speaking now and yes, she did remember Piper. Piper sang the most lovely music despite being deaf. She was delightful and had taught Alice how to climb trees. Piper had also taken to teaching Alice sign language. Well, in her dreams of course. She didn’t know if it was real rather than just random hand motions she’d created. Of course, it wasn’t real! She couldn’t possibly learn a language from just a dream. Could she?

LeAnne grabbed her hand and Junior grabbed her dog. They led her to a clearing where a water fountain filled with pennies stood. It was beautiful, and sitting on the edge was Piper, hair black as ever. Piper looked up and waved jubilantly. Then she preceded in hand motions that Alice could surprisingly interpret. So she had remembered after all.

Piper could speak, but it was easier for her to sing and sign. They said their greetings and Piper sang them a song. Alice was entranced by it and found that despite her routine being ruined, she was glad it had been. This was such a peculiar thought for her of all people to be having. 

Soon, however, she had to explain to them that she really had to get home for her scheduled dinner time. They nodded solemnly. She left them, but as soon as she did, she panicked. Everything was wrong, everything was messed up. She was late, and it was already near dinnertime and she wouldn’t get home when the clock struck two. She fell to her knees and began blinking again, counting to ten. She breathed in, and out. In, and out. It was all wrong.

And then, a figure appeared before her with a kind face and peculiarly kind eyes. It was Dune. 

He grabbed her hand and pulled her up on her wobbly legs. He led her to a building that was being painted in splashes by the Foxx twins. The door had been spray-painted on with the words ‘The Calm Before The Storm’. He led her inside and through the strangely familiar building before re-emerging outside. But this outside was her outside. The world she had made when she was a kid. The world she had made in her dreams.

And a routine no longer seemed important in this world of eccentricity.

July 23, 2021 21:55

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