I love to read. When I was growing up, I absolutely hated it but then came Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I fell in love and haven’t been able to stop since. My vocabulary has been extended and each book that I read opens up endless opportunities for escape from my dreary life. In interviews with J. K. Rowling, she says that Hogwarts and all of her characters had been alive in her imagination long before she ever wrote anything down and that the characters are as much apart of who she is as they are individual, three-dimensional fictional characters. I’ve previously written that I would love to one day write a book or series of books that are as loved by readers as the Harry Potter series and while I’m nowhere even close to being able to do that, I’ve been bored at work lately and as a consequence, I’ve been tapping away at the below story. It’s by no means an amazing piece of writing but it did help to cure my boredom for a little while.
The pre-dawn air was cool and there was dew covering the hard ground beneath my feet. I curled my toes and caught the grass and red earth between them. It was peaceful here. There were no interruptions and no unwelcome noises, only blissful silence and calm. I looked out towards the familiar farmhouse from my childhood, looming in the distance and noticed a tired looking tree that seemed to just appear out of nowhere. I had grown up here and yet, had never noticed the tree before. I began moving towards it but it seemed like no matter how many steps I took, the tree remained where it was and I got no closer. I started to run and then panic started to creep its way through my feet, into my legs and up my body surrounding and clutching at my heart. I have to get to that tree. I’m not entirely sure why but I’m pretty sure that my life depends on it. In my panic, I didn’t see the tree root before it was too late. I crashed into the ground and then all I could hear was the pounding of my frantically pumping heart in my ears. After a moment, I felt something start to pull at my right arm. The pulling became increasingly more desperate and it felt like my arm was going to be ripped from my body. There was one last fraught pull and then all of a sudden, my eyes snapped open and I was in my bed, in my apartment with my arm still safely attached.
“It was just a dream.” I sighed and reached over to check the time on my phone and quickly retracted my arm as a sharp pain shot up from my wrist to shoulder. I got out of bed to look in the mirror to see if maybe I hit my arm against something in my sleep but it looked fine. Strange. I gingerly tested my arm and it felt fine. I shrugged it off and went over to my bedside table to check the time. It was 5:16am and my alarm wasn’t due to go off until 6am. “Great.” I said to myself. I debated about whether or not to just get up but an extra forty-five minutes of sleep was too tempting. I crawled back into bed and slipped back into a fitful sleep. All too soon, my alarm was blaring and I had to drag myself out of bed. I should have just gotten up forty-five minutes ago. Now I feel even more tired than I did before. I was so preoccupied with being cranky at the morning that all memory of the dream and my sore arm were gone.
The rest of my day passed without any major incidents. I made myself presentable in all black, went to work and slaved over a hot espresso machine in forty degree heat for eight hours. By the time 4pm rolled around, I was more than ready to head home. I walked through my apartment door to find my pig of a boyfriend asleep on the couch, covered in pizza flavoured Shape crumbs with the TV blaring. Fucking useless man. I decided that the best approach to waking Noah up was to unceremoniously kick the couch until he stirred from what I can only imagine was a dream involving V8 Supercars and bikini-clad women. I told you, he’s a pig. I don’t even know why I’m still bothering with him. Maybe it has something to do with being comfortable or maybe I’m just afraid to be alone. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in a relationship. I don’t think I’ve ever had more than a two week period of singledom. Maybe I should just dump Noah and be done with it, with him. Maybe it’ll good for me but then again, I would be alone and despite everything, Noah has his charms. When he wants to be, he can be the kind of man that sweeps me off my feet with his romanticism but it seems like, these days, those moments are few and far between. It’s been months since anything even remotely resembling romance entered my life. I don’t even think I like, let alone love Noah any more. I really do need to do something about that. Didn’t someone once say that a life without love is no life at all? Maybe it’s time I draw a proverbial line in sand but for now, Noah needs to get off my couch.
“Noah, get up. I’m pretty sure you have to be at work in 5 minutes.”
He groaned as he rolled off the couch, brushed the crumbs off his shirt and proceeded to laboriously stuff all of his belongings into the backpack next to him. God he’s a slob.
“You could’ve woken me up earlier Cara. A little common decency wouldn’t kill you.” Noah grunted.
I looked at him in disbelief. “Ok so you being late to work because you fell asleep in front of the TV at 5pm is my fault? I literally just walked through the door after having spent the last eight hours making the money that pays for this pleasure dome of an apartment you’re currently frequenting. Sorry that I wasn’t more considerate of your precious feelings but you know, you do have your own place.”
“Jesus. There’s no need to get all PMS’ey on me Cara.”
“Seriously Noah? You’re going to pull that misogynistic crap with me?” he looked at me like I’d fatally wounded him. “You know what, don’t even bother. I’m going to go and have a shower and when I get out; I expect you’ll be gone.” And with that, I walked out of the room. I really need to stop letting him get to me. I really need to stop wasting my time on him. I’ll deal with it tomorrow. Promise.
I drop my bag on my bedroom floor and head for the serenity that only a hot shower can provide. There’s nothing better than having the scolding water wash away the day’s grime and to emerge a refreshed and calm person. Right now, I need calm. I need to forget what just happened and all of the fights that have come before that one. I need to escape. I turn on the shower and undress while the bathroom turns into a makeshift steam room. I climb into the shower and let the water rush over me and momentarily, I don’t care about anything else other than how nice the water pressure and heat feels against my skin. I close my eyes and put my head under the stream of water. The world begins fades away. I’m finally beginning to relax and my body feels too heavy to be able to hold up any more. I sit down and utter relaxation washes over my entire body. The hot water against my skin together with the slap of water against my blue shower tiles soon consumed me.
I’m back in that familiar paddock behind my old house. I see the house and the horizon but there was something not quite right with the picture. It was like I was trying to see the picture while under water. The outlines are blurred and fuzzy but still recognisable. Slowly, my vision improves and I see Noah standing there. It’s strange because I didn’t know him when I lived here. I never even told him about this place so how can he possibly be here? He reaches out towards me and says something but I can’t hear him. I begin to take a step towards him but as I do, he doubles over, in what I can only assume is pain, and drops to the ground. I run over to him to find him lying on the ground, motionless. I touched his face and immediately pulled it away. His face felt ice and was hard as stone. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. There’s something very wrong going on here. I looked up from Noah’s lifeless body and saw the same gnarled and tired looking tree beside my old house that was so unfamiliar and yet, maybe it isn’t so unfamiliar. I get up off the ground and walk the hundred meters over to the tree. It had to be at least thirty-feet from trunk to treetop. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so tall in all of my twenty-six years. How could I never have noticed it before? I reached out and touched the gnarled trunk. It looked so rough and weather-beaten but it felt as smooth as silk. I looked towards the emerald leaf-covered canopy and thought; this tree must be hundreds of years old. Suddenly an electric shock when through my hand that was touching the tree. I jerked my hand away immediately and checked to see if there were any marks where I felt the shock enter but I saw nothing. A cool breeze stirred the leaves in the undergrowth beneath my feet and caused my summer dress to gently brush against my legs. Someone behind me called my name. It wasn’t a whisper but rather like someone had called my name from afar and travelled on the breeze towards me. I quickly turned towards the sound and for the briefest of moment, saw Noah standing there, beckoning to me. Then I woke up.
I was up against the wall in my shower where the water was now lukewarm. How long have I been asleep? I got up, turned off the water and got out of the shower.
To be continued….