The autumn breeze blew a maple leaf though to the concrete slab in front of the doorstep. It lay fluttering for a moment, and then began withering away, pieces of its crinkled skin flicking off into tiny specs and disintegrating into the toxic air.
“Off to school, then. Have a pleasant day, Nicolas.” She stood in her traditional red apron, waving at him from the doorstep as he began to walk. His footsteps were soft and weak compared to that of his friend, Lucifer, she noted.
“Yeah, you too!” He grinned back at her, and almost seemed to have forgotten about last night. What had happened again? Nicolas flashed back to the image of his mother shaking on the cold kitchen floor, and he shuddered for a moment. “That’ll never happen again.” He muttered, under his breath.
“Did you say something?” His friend Lucifer was a tall, lean, and well-balanced child. He had been one of the first to experience the emotions, and had gushed about the Pill to Nicolas first, making him feel embarrassed and young.
“Oh, no…just singing a song. Did you get your assignment yet?” Nicolas quickly changed the subject.
“Yeah, I guess it’s not too bad. I’m to be the ‘assistant captain co-ordinator’. How cool is that?” He added, sarcastically.
“Hey, that’s good!” He grinned slowly and slapped his friend lightly on the back. “All the girls will be over you!”
“What are you?” Lucifer suddenly seemed to realize that Nicolas was not talking as much as usual.
“Oh, I’m a….” He paused for a moment and faltered. “The…historian’s assistant.”
“Oh…” Lucifer was the one that was silent this time. The two boys did not talk until they got to class.
“You’re amazing, you know that?” Nicolas looked up, shocked at the figure looking over his paper; he quickly covered the drawing with his arms.
“What, this drawing? I can’t be all that amazing…I’m historian.” He grumbled and looked away from her, but she turned to him with wide, unblinking doe eyes.
“You think you’re so dumb, Nicolas Blackwood. You’re just as smart, if not smarter, than the rest of us.” She pinched his cheek. “You try to hide it, but I know how clever you are.” She smiled at him, and Nicolas found himself smiling back with a strange feeling in his stomach. It made him feel warm and oozy and it felt like a million different butterflies were fluttering around in there.
He had forgotten to take his pills.
“Class, now what will we be learning about in our history? Nicolas?” The teacher, a balding man with grey spectacles and withered hands turned towards him with twinkling eyes.
“Um…I’m rather nervous and jittery to be asking this, but is there a realm above ours?” He looked down, embarrassed at his question. Everyone around him was silent, and not even the mouse at the end of the hallway, licking its whiskers, could be heard.
“It’s an illogical question, never mind sir.”
The bell rang and everyone packed their bags and left. After the shuffle of footsteps down the hallway stopped, Nicolas stared into the old man’s wise looking eyes.
“You know, Nicolas.” He sat down upon his stool and rolled in closer towards Nicolas. “I believe there is. Don’t tell anyone, but I truly think so. How arrogant are we to think that we are the only ones? Are we a utopian society? Or are we really, really a dystopia, or mass chaos? I don’t think we are in a perfect world, Nicolas, and as an old man slowly dying, I want to live a little.”
“Good bye, Sir.”Nicolas pushed in his chair abruptly, the hinges squeaky as they rubbed against the floor.
He repeated the old man’s words back to himself and smiled. It was his little secret, and the man’s, of course. Grinning, he plucked a petal and put it inside his white, crisp shirt pocket and felt it. He knew the truth: that they were not alone, and that there was a town above their own.