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Exams are over, summer is here. After that, one more year of college.
I was extremely happy that I had taken my last exam for the school year. I’m one year closer to becoming a social worker. Following the exam, me and my friend Gabriel started walking to our cars in the student parking lot a few buildings away and began chatting about what we should do to celebrate tonight.
“Partying?” Gabriel says.
“When and where though? It’s our last year of an official summer before we have to go out into the world and be a slave to society.”
“Why do you always view it like that?” Gabriel switches his gaze from me to a pack of cigarettes in his pocket.
“It’s true, man. After college, there’s getting a job that I don’t mind sticking with for the rest of my life then getting married to some broad I’ll probably like for a couple of months before she begs me to marry her then I’ll be stuck with brats for eighteen or more years.”
“Dude, shut up and look at the positives. You could legitimately meet a girl tonight and she could be the one you want to make brats with.” Gabriel lights his cigarette and blows a puff of smoke in my face. He knows I don’t like the smell of smoke and I wave the cloud away.
“So are we going to party or what? Rue Club has specials for college students and Lexi wants to go too and I’m not about to leave you at the dorm all summer.”
I stood next to my car and rub my face after separating my car key from the other keys. “Yeah, sure. I’m not about to get blackout drunk though. I’d like to drive home and not hate myself in the morning.”
“Yeah, yeah, party pooper, but thanks for coming man. Alexis has been really clingy lately and emotional lately so I’ve been trying to get people to be with us at all costs to avoid being alone with her.” Gabriel unlocks his car and opens the door as I do the same.
“Think she’s pregnant?”
Gabriel stops in his tracks. “Dude, don’t joke about that. I can barely afford going to college, let alone raising a child.”
I laugh at him. “Chill out, Gabriel. She’s probably about to start her period. Just wrap it up in case. Don’t be an idiot.”
“Shut up. Just meet up at my apartment or at Rue whenever tonight, I’m probably going to be heading over there about eight or nine. Depends on what time Miss moody finishes getting ready. We got plans?”
“We got plans. See you later, Gabriel.” I sat in my car as Taylor bye.
“Later, Kolten.” I wave to Gabriel as he drives away, but as soon as I’m about to get into my car, I see in my rear view mirror a tall man in an abnormally long trench coat with the collar held up to where I can’t see his face standing casually behind my car. I stand next to my car before confronting the strange man.
“Hey man, I’m about to pull out. Do you mind moving out of the way?”
He says not a word and starts to walk towards me. I stumble back because I don’t know what his intentions are. The strange man stands next to me and whispers discreetly: “Life is words on a page for the world to see.” He resumes to walk past me.
“What?” When I turn to face him, he disappeared – not a trace was left to show his existence. Okay, I know he was just here. I know I didn’t imagine that. But where did he go?
The world shifts and a strong breeze of air suddenly bursts. The wind causes me to stumble but I keep my balance.
What just happened?
Who was that?
Whoever he was, it doesn’t matter now.
It’s funny to think that it might’ve been the old man to cause the change of weather but I know that isn’t it. In the back of my head, I feel like something else is amiss – not exactly sinister, but rather a different occurrence. I feel as though I’m being watched, but now that I think about it, I have been feeling like a pair of eyes are watching me since I was let out of the exam room. I know it sounds crazy but maybe it’s just the fear of that guy that’s putting these bewildered images painted into my mind.
Time feels like it has shifted within a number of seconds. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember anything from after I left campus. I must be having a fever or maybe some sort of sickness that causes me to forget things. Yeah – maybe that’s it. I probably shouldn’t go to the club tonight. I’ll just see how I feel before 8 ‘o clock. It could just be a temporary thing. A nap perhaps? Now that I think about it I am pretty tired. I’ll set an alarm for seven-thirty and I’ll decide if I feel well enough to go anywhere.
I grab my phone and set my alarm and then choose a Beethoven piece of music on YouTube as I walk to my bedroom. My vision is getting blurry due to my eyes’ inability to stay open – I must really be tired. I walk stagger through my bedroom door and slowly plug the charger into my phone as I plop myself onto my bed. The blankets and pillows has never felt so good. As soon as I hit my pillow, I started to drift into my deep sleep.
Where am I? It’s dark in here. It’s like a pitch black room.
There’s a bright light coming from above… What is that?
Are those a pair of eyes? They’re getting closer! What’s happening?!
“Help me! No! Don’t close the book!”
What? Why did I say that?
“Keep reading! I will die if you stop reading!”
Something is making me talk. Whatever it is, it’s making me yell at the eyes staring at me. The eyes are almost too bright to be able to make out the image of the eyes themselves. I just kind of know somehow.
Suddenly the eyes grow brighter and my mind starts to clear up with the thought or knowledge of something: someone is watching me.
I jolt myself awake and see my body covered in sweat. My heart is beating so quickly and it only seems to be getting faster. Something woke me up. Someone.
Someone is watching me.
I am paranoid. I look out my windows and check every room and closet of my apartment and look outside my front door – nothing, no one. What is causing this feeling to make me feel like somebody is watching me? Could it be the dream? It must be the eyes. The eyes. What is the meaning of the dream?
I jolt back. My phone is ringing. I walk over to my phone on my night stand and see Gabriel’s name pop across the screen followed by twenty-three text messages. I look at the clock and see the time is 9 o’clock. Crap. I answer my phone.
“Kolten man, where are you?”
“Sorry, I took a nap and set an alarm but I must’ve slept through it.”
“Well, hurry up! Alexis is already having a fit and I’m two seconds away from shooting her and myself. Get your butt down here.” Gabriel then hung up.
I quickly put on a Rolling Stones shirt and my socks and shoes before grabbing my keys. I turn off my bedroom light and head to the front door in a daze. I flick off the lights stare deeply into my apartment and shut the front door.
Rue Club is packed full of college students and a few men and women trying to get lucky with the graduates. My sense of paranoia hasn’t disappeared yet and, frankly, the feeling only seemed to get worse. As I try to crawl my way through the crowd to try to find Taylor, my instincts of eerie grew with each passing person. As if trying to give a message, every other person I shoved past aimed comments towards me.
“This isn’t real.”
“Their eyes are on you.”
“This is page in your chapter.”
I rush past the crowd and start to run but no one stops to yell or correct me. They were all smiling as if hiding a secret. There was one comment that stuck out to me most: “Their eyes are watching you.” My dream – the eyes from my dream, they know. But wait- one of the people I passed said “This is a page in your chapter.” What chapter? What’s going on?
While in my state of oblivion, I see Gabriel and Alexis in my peripheral far off covered in colorful lights and frustrated faces. They must have gotten into another argument. Regardless of the strangers, I rush my way through the rest of the crowd to get to Gabriel.
“Kolten, what took you so long?” Gabriel unwraps his arm from Alexis and high-fives me while Alexis stands with a frown in the background.
“The traffic from the doorway to here is why. A bunch of weird people were grinding against me and saying abnormal things.”
“It’s a club, Kolten. People are going to rub up on you.” Gabriel motions me to the bar and Alexis follows after us. I know his intention is to make me drink.
“Bartender!” Taylor calls over a woman in a crop top and high-waisted jeans. “Give us the best!” Gabriel moved his gaze from the woman’s face to her body as she walks away, and
Alexis notices and slaps him directly behind his head. I sit on my bar stool and laugh as the bartender returns with our drinks. She passes Gabriel and Alexis their drinks and turns to me while handing me mine. She wasn’t a bad-looking woman: short glossy brown hair, natural pinks lips which lay beautifully across her tan skin. She leans in towards my ear and whispers to me. I lean in eagerly because let’s be honest: I’m a guy, she’s a girl, romance happens.
“The sky is full of eyes, Kolten. They’re almost to the end of the story.” The woman backs away from me slowly with the same smile the crowd had. That’s it, I’m out of here. I didn’t even drink – I ran. Out the club doors as fast as I could. Where could I go? Not to the apartment, it’s clearly not safe there. Not the school, not the club… everywhere I have gone today hasn’t been my safe haven. Why can’t I remember anywhere else to go? The only places I remember going at all is the school and my bedroom. Where to go, where to go?!
I run for the nearest park; the calmness is what I need most right now. But I arrive with the eyes etched into the back of my head, and no matter the direction I turn, the sense of someone looking at me still went on.
I yell at the sky: “What do you want from me? Where are you? Who are you?” Suddenly, a variety of voices began to clamor, all of them say a different name. The busy buzz of names are overpowering.
“Who are you?!” The voices stop all at once but one, a voice neither male nor female.
“I am the reader.” This person spoke quietly and their voice seems to echo back and forth in my head but this voice isn’t as bad as the variety of screaming voice.
“What?” I respond.
“This is your story, and you’re the main character, Kolten.” This voice is different.
I know I should be freaking out by having a random voice talk to me but there was something comforting about their voice. “What’s your name?”
“Me?” they question. “I’m the narrator. I am the connection between book and man. I speak for the reader. But if you want you can speak to them, you just can’t hear them speak, for it will interrupt the storyline. You can hear their thoughts if they allow you to speak to them. Try it.”
What? This is bizarre. I would be talking to the sky.
“You would be talking to me.”
I turn around and look franticly look for where the voice come from. The voice is in my head.
“Hello?” I call out into the night.
I flinch from the unexpected response. Someone actually responded, but who?
“Are you the reader?”
“So I’m in a book?”
Whoa. That actually explains a lot of how I’ve been feeling today and what’s been going on – the strangers, the memory loss. My life started after I was released from exams this morning. But wait-
“What happens when the story is over? What will happen to me?”
“I don’t know. I just started reading this, I don’t know how it ends.”
“Oh, okay. How close am I to the end of the story?”
“There isn’t much left.”
This is a heavy load on my shoulders. I walked to the nearest bench and sat down abruptly. I have so many questions but I don’t know if I should. “How did this happen? One minute, I’m a college student – the next my life is a book for strangers to read.”
“If it makes you feel better, the story is interesting.”
“Me? My life? Interesting? You must have me confused with some other character. I’m probably the most boring person one would know. I like classical music, I take honors classes, I want to be a social worker, and a bunch of other stuff, not including my neutral personality. Why is my life turned into a story? Why am I stuck in this continuous loop of confusion? I never knew I would come to realize my life is a book, nor would I ever realize that people are constantly watching me each time this story is read. I don’t want to live this same day over and over.”
“But that’s the advantage: you never remember the events repeating,” the narrator’s voice surfaces again. “Through your point of view, today is any other day. This isn’t the first time someone has read this book- only the second.”
“When was the first?” I ask.
“When the author began to write your life, your existence to the world. The author read your life over and over until your life became as it is.”
“But why me?” I plead. For just a minute there is silence.
“You are the one – the one the author chose to wrap their mind around. The author chose everything from your age to your best friend’s girlfriend. The author wanted to create you, and so they did, and you are Her best creation.”
“Her?” So I was created by a woman. Go figure - that explains a lot.
“Explains what?” The reader spoke up, making their voice known.
“It explains my use of dialogue and my feelings. The amount of detail in a day like this is too much to handle.” I run my hand through my hair and itch my head. “It’s honestly suffocating.”
“The author’s purpose isn’t meant to harm you, only to make a story, to make you a part of herself. That is what you are – a piece of the author, you represent her, and that is why She chose you.”
The reader spoke. “The story is almost over. That makes me sad.”
“Over?” I panic. “What will happen to me?”
“Kolten man, what are you doing out here?” I turn around and see Gabriel and Alexis standing next to a park light. The voices stop.
“I- I just wanted fresh air but I’m good now.” I jog next to them to catch up and we all walk back to the club.
“The story is over now…” The reader’s voice sounds grief-stricken and heartbroken. In my head, I speak to the reader.
“Don’t worry. I will always be here with you. I won’t remember you but you will remember me. Every time you start to miss me or you memory begins to fade, come back and read again. Never forget me or my name. Never forget – Kolten Lane.”
I’ll see you next time.
Dutch Haror, Alaska
Port St. Lucie, Florida
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