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The Others: Chapter Two
Tessa whirled on me, wet hair flying.
“Why did you block me like that? You’ve wasted precious time, time that we may never be able to—“
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I am sorry!”
The words rushed from my mouth in a torrent, not unlike the tears running down my face.
Looking up distastefully, away from my tortured expression, Tessa grimaced.
“Why do you wish for rain? This may not be real to you, but I am most certainly soaked and I do not enjoy wet clothing.”
“Sorry,” I sniffed. “How do I stop it?”
“Did you learn nothing? You are dreaming, remember?”
I squinted my eyes shut, attempting to clear them from tears. As soon as the last tear dripped off my lashes the rain slowed to a drizzle. However, try as I might I couldn’t stop the shower completely.
“Well enough, considering how you are feeling.”
Tessa sauntered over to my side, oblivious of the mud and puddles that surrounded us. For some reason, I flashed back to some far away memory, one that I had suppressed for years. I shook my mind back into focus before I could complete the sore remembrance. There was no need for the downpour to start again.
“Are you ready to continue?” Tessa asked briskly, ignoring my wet cheeks.
“I think so…” I mumbled, sighing and looking up at the now bright sky.
There, framed between two trees and some perfectly formed clouds, rested a rainbow. And for some reason, although I knew this was a dream and this was all my imagination to some degree, it seemed like an omen. It gave me enough courage to look Tessa in the eyes, for the first time since the wall melted.
Smiling, Tessa glanced up at the rainbow as well.
“Imagination is a wonderful thing. When you have nothing left, remember that.”
That brought me back to the severity of my situation. Or what I knew of it.
I was proud of the fact that my voice didn’t shake.
“No need to sound so fearful!” Tessa said playfully, nudging my foot in an attempt to get me off the rock I was occupying.
I guess I didn’t do such a great job of covering my anxiety. But to be fair, I still had almost idea what or who Tessa was, and why she wanted to communicate with me so badly. I felt as though I was trembling on the edge of a frail tree branch, one that was shaking under my clumsy feet…
I stood up, brushed the water off my clothes and smiled timidly.
Smirking slightly, Tessa gestured toward the ever-drifting smoke in the distance.
“Saving, creating and learning. In your case mostly learning; still, you will be a help eventually.”
I meant to reply scathingly, but Tessa cut me off by looking at her watch. I knew what that meant.
“Until next time…”
I woke with the image of Tessa’s wave still in my head. I huffed, letting out my breath in a gust. With a feeling that time was running out, I dressed and left for school. On the way, I stared out of the bus window, thinking. I felt so disconnected from everything. Nothing felt substantial; I was the only thing real in a world of ghosts. Or was I the ghost?
Either way, it felt disconcerting. Looking down at my backpack beside me, I saw my hand reach for the zipper. I took out a notebook and a pencil and just let my hand flow. The ride was bumpy and I had no art experience, but somehow the portrait was breathtakingly exact. A thin face, framed by short black hair, tilted down as if the person were reading. A small smile lit his features, warm dark eyes wide with a hidden sadness in their depths.
I crumpled the page before my tears could spill. Don’t think about it don’t think about it don’t think about it… I chanted over and over, until my eyes were dry and the memory of my sudden burst of artistic talent and the subject of my portrait was covered by the soothing sound of my mantra. I had thought that those memories were covered…why were they suddenly coming back now? For some reason, I had a feeling that it had something to do with Tessa and her mysteries.
The bus stopped in front of the school. I hung back, not wanting to fight with the pack of students crowding to get off the bus. Once the bus was clear, I swung my bag onto my shoulders, throwing the ball of paper into the bin near the driver. Stepping off onto the sidewalk, I suddenly turned. Almost running back up the steps, I grabbed the wadded paper out of the wastebasket.
“Sorry!” I gasped, out of breath for no reason.
The driver smiled perplexedly at me, watching as I bounded off the steps. I suddenly felt better, as if I had been sick and miraculously recovered. As I rushed to class, almost tearing the lock off my locker in an attempt to beat the bell, I tried again to shove my memories away, the same way I had just shoved the portrait into my pocket.
Sitting through classes wasn’t as bad as it had been only a few days ago. The new sense of detachment that filled me let me drift through the day, not paying much attention to anything around me. In fact, my mind was almost completely clear -- nearly a state of meditation. I wondered a bit at that, but couldn’t summon up enough interest to consider it deeply. The strange events of the morning were almost completely gone from my memory. I was better than I used to be at erasing uncomfortable memories, probably because of practice.