It was cold and dark. All that I could see was a thick, wet, misty fog that enveloped me. Where was I? Why was I here? Something wasn’t right. My heart was thumping hard in my throat. It was difficult to breathe. My lungs were on fire and felt like they were being crushed. Fear was overcoming my entire body. Something was out there. I could feel every hair on my body standing on end.
Why was I sweating if it was cold?
My legs started shaking uncontrollably. I was losing it.
This was crazy. What was I afraid of? What was going on here? Was there really something out there?
I couldn’t keep up with all of the questions that were running through my mind so fast. It was confusing. Nothing made any sense, except that I was going to die!
Why? What had I done? Why couldn’t I see through the chasm of darkness that surrounded me? What was out there?
I tasted death on my lips. All of my senses were focused forward. I don’t know why I was facing forward, but whatever it was seemed to be ahead of me.
I tried to swallow, but my tongue was swollen. My throat was raw. I could feel a deep rumble more than I could hear it. It was close. It was coming for me.
Enough of this! I was tired of being afraid of everything. I wasn’t going to take it anymore! I knew that I should start running, but it was too late for that now. Where was I going to run, if I didn’t know where I was. I’m not running away anymore. If this was it, then I was going to face it head on! I was ready.
Suddenly, there was a huge clap of thunder and then a bright flash of light!
I couldn’t see, but I heard birds chirping. I was wet and warm all over. Was I bleeding? Was I dead? Did I get struck by lightning? What happened? Where was I?
I didn’t feel anything. Nothing was hurting.
I heard a light knocking. My eyes opened.
“Stephen, are you alright? Did you have a bad dream honey?”
Is that what it was, just a dream? It couldn’t be, everything seemed so real. I was there. I knew that it was real. It had to be! How could I have been dreaming if that something felt so real? I’ve always heard that you only dream in black and white, but I remember seeing very vivid colors. I tasted sulfur. All of my senses were alive, but now I was just numb.
I was alive! I almost died! Something was there. I felt it. What was it? I was disappointed. Not that I was alive, but because I felt brave in my dream. I didn’t run away. I wanted to know what it was that I didn’t run away from. “I’m okay Mom. I’m sorry if I woke you again.”
“It’s okay honey. I just worry about you. Would you like me to make you some breakfast before you go to work?”
“No ma’am. I think that I will just shower and shave and go into work early.”
“Okay. Kiss me goodbye before you go.”
I stood in the shower with my eyes closed trying to return to my dream as the water ran down my back.
I couldn’t see what I had felt was so real just minutes ago. Where had everything gone? I didn’t want to see my real life, it was boring. All that I did was go to school and then to work at the grocery store. I didn’t have any real friends. Everything that I did was safe and planned out.
What was it about this dream that got my heart racing? Even my pores felt alive. Did I die in my dream? I don’t think it would be very exciting to die. I don’t think I ever knew anyone who died. I’m sure that dying would be a lot different than it was in the movies. Maybe I should go to the movies tonight? Why was I thinking about movies when I almost died?
Was it true? Did I almost die? I wish that I could go back to bed and fall asleep to find out. Was it true that if you died in your dream you would really die? Was there something to that? Maybe it was something about falling off of a cliff, or a tall building, and if you didn’t wake up before you hit the ground, you would die in real life. Was that true? Maybe that’s why I woke up, so that I wouldn’t die?
Oh well. I don’t know what happened, and probably never will. I should probably just go to work and face my reality. Another exciting day awaited me at the grocery store. This was frustrating. Was this all there was going to be to my life?
I am a good student. I’m a good employee. I go to church every Sunday. I don’t swear, or drink, or do drugs. I don’t even think I have any bad habits. I don’t burp, or fart in front of others. I’m responsible, and well-dressed. I have a good job, and have worked my way up to assistant manager. Yeah, and I have never had a girlfriend either. Now that I thought about it, what did I really have?
If I did die, the only one who would notice would be my mom, and that would break her heart.
I don’t remember getting out of the shower, but I was almost finished shaving. I wish that I didn’t have to shave everyday. My skin is so sensitive. I don’t know how they used to shave in the old days. I like to shave against the grain, because it makes my skin smoother, but it always gives me razor burn. It doesn’t matter. It’s not like anyone is going to be touching my face. I should just go.
I kissed my mom goodbye and drove to the Safeway to clock in for the day. My life was pretty easy. Was this how it was always going to be? I guess that I didn’t have anything to really complain about.
It’s not like I was ashamed of who I was, or even disappointed. I just wanted to do something different for a change.
“Good morning Sheila!” I said, as I walked past the prettiest cashier that worked here. She never said hi back, or even acknowledged me. I didn’t care. I was going to keep saying hi to her anyway. Maybe, one day, she would say hi, and then I would ask her out on a date.
I have never had a real girlfriend, at least not one that had ever kissed me before. That’s okay. I wanted my first kiss to be with someone special. I mean, anyone could get a kiss from someone they didn’t like, right? Only, that had never happened to me either.
I think that I was probably the closest to getting my first kiss from Jenny Johnson, at the ninth grade mixer. She moved away two weeks later, and I never saw her again. I hope that it wasn’t because of me.
Why was I always blaming myself for what other people did? Maybe she got mad at me because she tried to kiss me and I pulled away. It’s not that I didn’t want to kiss her, only that I didn’t expect it, and I didn’t know what to do. She ran out crying.
I was shook up by the whole event, and tried to apologize to her a few days later, but I never saw her again. It was a few weeks later when I found out that she moved to Killeen, because her dad was in the Army, or something like that.
I hope that I kiss a girl before I die. What if I would have died last night? What am I talking about? It was a dream, wasn’t it? It had to be, because I woke up.
I made my rounds checking the dry goods and produce deliveries. “Hey Scotty, how are you today?”
“Awesome! What’s up Steph!? Hey, I got invited to a party in Welborn, tonight. You should come.”
“Yeah, Scotty, it sounds like fun. I really need to check my schedule though, I’ll let you know if I can make it.”
“Check your schedule? Ha! You have worked the same schedule for four years. What’s there to check? You never go out with us. You never do anything. How can you have a schedule? What you have is a routine!”
He was right! I had never been to even one party in four years, and they had at least one each week. If I’m going to change my routine life, I need to do this!
“You know what Scotty? You’re right! Give me directions and I’ll go. I feel like doing something different with my life, and I’m going to start today!”
“Really? Wow, man, that’s alright. I know that you don’t have a sense of humor, so you can’t be joking. I made copies of the flier that my buddy gave me for the party. I buy my weed from him, and told me to bring as many people as I could find. I gave a flier to everyone except you. But you can have mine. I already know how to get there.”
“Okay, great. I’ll be there. Do you think Sheila will go?”
“Uh, yeah! She goes to all the parties man!”
“She does?” I walked away confused. I had blown it all of this time? I could have gone to all of the parties that Scotty invited me too. I never really gave any of them much thought because he was a pothead. I thought all they ever did was hang out and smoke marijuana.
I hope Sheila didn’t smoke marijuana. At least she went to the parties. That was more than I could say about myself.
I opened up the wrinkled flier and read:
Eze Going Away Party
Bring your own tent and plenty to drink…Park where you can.
Bring who you want, and Do what you will…
This could go on forever!
Head out to Welborn,
Turn right over the tracks, then Left
Go 1 mile and look for a Bonfire on the left.