I was lucky that I didn’t dream that time.
Somehow I was in my bed even though I remembered going to sleep on the floor. I remembered Luke calling me Aleira, and I remembered yelling and then laying on the floor. I stared blankly at the clock next to the bed. It sat, unmoving, taunting me with its red blinking numbers. I blinked. The numbers changed.
It was 8:00 in the morning, so that meant that I had been asleep all afternoon and all night and all through the morning. I was supposed to be at school, but I didn’t even know where I was so it looked like school was out of the question.
There were hissing noises filling my ears and I passed it off as being able to hear the rushing water out the window. I was getting sick of Ashton and Luke and everyone worrying about me. I wish that just once I would go into a dream and Aleira would be there and tell me what to do. I knew seeing Aleira whilst in a memory was addictive and I knew that I told her that I wouldn’t do it again, but she would have to understand that there would be exceptions.
I tried to think of a memory that Aleira would want to see. I remembered a spring day when we were at the beach and there was no one else around, it was just me and her, swimming and playing around. We had been learning how to surf and I could not pick it up.
I laughed sadly to myself and closed my eyes. I opened them, expecting to see a pristine beach with white glistening sand, but all I saw were the wooden logs holding the lodge together.
I closed my eyes again and held them shut for longer. I thought about the blue waters, flashing with sunlight every time a wave rolled over another. And I thought of Ali, standing on a surfboard, professionally riding a smallish wave.
I opened my eyes slowly and gasped. Ali was standing in front of me.
“They aren’t letting you go into the dream world anymore.” She said reluctantly.
I looked around, trying to see if ‘they’ were there. No one was in the room except for me and my dead sister.
“Are you a projection of my mind or are you real?” I asked her absently. She looked over me and sighed. There seemed to be light radiating off her.
“I thought we already had this conversation…” Ali said. I was the one to sigh this time.
“I’m just so freaking confused, alone and I don’t know what to do.” I mumbled. I pulled the covers of the bed off me and stood up.
“Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know who put me here, would you.” I asked her, unsure of a straight answer.
Ali gave me a withering look and pointed to her jeans which were sitting comfortably on my hips. I put a hand in the pockets and found a note there. I opened it and smiled.
I told you years ago that if you chose to run away I’d find you! I’m glad you’re ok – Carrie
Ali smiled to see me happy but then sobered when she saw me looking at her. I looked down at the cast on my arm and my chest which was taped up yet had a t-shirt over it. I wasn’t ok.
“Carrie came for me?” I whispered in awe. I didn’t think that she would even remember saying that to me, because I sure didn’t.
I was given another withering glance. Ali looked scared for a moment. I smoothed my hair back and scratched my nose.
“It’s good to see that you aren’t as depressed as you were last week.” Ali commented with praise. I must have looked puzzled because Ali sighed again and tapped her head. I was still confused. “I’m about to leave.”
I shook my head and willed her to stay.
“It doesn’t work like that, my dear sister.” She whispered to me. “If you’re depressed or down or sad or even suicidal, the doorways in the mind open up and it makes it easier for us souls to come through and help. When those doorways begin to close, our job is done and we cannot linger otherwise we go crazy…. We can’t help it, but we make life a living hell for the person who first opened the doorway. You don’t want that do you?” She raised an eyebrow.
“I thought you were a projection of my mind.” I taunted. I smiled at her and she returned the gesture as she spoke.
“I can only really say that your mind is very creative…”
I laughed a lively laugh and shook my head in glee.
“No! Ari, you aren’t depressed anymore, you’re happy, the doorways are closing and I have to go. I’m sorry, but it looks like I won’t be seeing you for a very long time…” She cast a glance out the window and looked at the life shimmering there wistfully. I laughed hollowly.
“Whatever,” I spoke in a dull tone and Ali smiled briefly again. I heard my door handle rattle and there was a knock a second later. Ali closed her eyes, blew me a kiss and I blinked.
She was gone.
“I have got to stop blinking.” I muttered as the door opened softly. The first thing I saw was Ashton and Luke standing on either side of the doorframe and then Carrie stepped between them and flew into my arms. I blinked away a tear and put my arms around her.
I looked behind Carrie and squinted. Ashton looked downhearted and Luke looked even worse. I felt remotely bad because I knew that it was my fault, but I did nothing. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply.
“Could we have a moment alone, boys?” Carrie asked. They humbly nodded and closed the door. I heard no footsteps so I knew that they would be listening to as much as they could. I let go of Carrie and tried to remember to be careful of what I was saying. “Ariel, honey, are you alright? I was filled in on the story on the way here.”
I nodded and then frowned at her.
“What did Ashton tell you?” I demanded. She rolled her eyes and sat on the end of the hard bed. I remembered that she helped put me there the night before. “Oh, and thanks for putting me in bed last night. Neither of the others helped, did they?” I was begging for her to say no.
“No, I’m strong, I did it myself. Now, let us talk about you.” She smiled and bared her teeth. Carrie reached over and grabbed a brush from the top of my suitcase. She grabbed my arm and told me to sit next to her. She pulled the brush through my knotty hair and shook her head. “You have not been taking care of your hair.” She lectured.
“Hey, I’ve been stuck in a mental institute, not much time for hair care when you’re handcuffed to a bed.” I retorted. I smiled to myself. Pretending to fight with Carrie made me think of before.
“Ok, how about you spill the beans and I brush your hair?” She suggested. I laughed and obliged.