Miranda glanced around frantically. The key could be anywhere on the cruise ship!
“If only I had more time,” she mumbled.
She ran her fingers along the seam of the door jam in the cramped closet that she had been thrown in.
“Ah ha!” she shouted triumphantly.
She picked up the key that had fallen with a ding. Just at that moment the ship lurched, knocking her off her feet.
“Oh, I hope I’m not too late!”
Her fingers worked frantically as she inserted the key in the lock running from the closet and up to the control room undisturbed. Sitting on the desk like an ugly center piece was the bomb. It was odd that there was no one around on the ship. Pushing the thought aside, she stumbled towards it just as the countdown read ‘5…4…3…’
Monica snapped the book shut with finality.
“If only my life could be that exciting,” she said to no one in particular.
She stood up grabbing ‘Time Bomb,’ a New York best seller and walked out of the deserted library.
“Why is it that I’m the only one who ever comes here?” She thought, “But then again I suppose other people have more important things to do than fawn over fiction.”
She hopped on her bike at the same time that she glanced back at the receding building.
“Their loss,” she smirked.
Monica was a librarian in the making; in fact, when the librarians weren’t looking she would put some of the books away herself. She once made the mistake of telling her best friend Zeke this.
He had feigned surprise and muttered in fake belief, “Were you arrested?”
Since then she had kept her library life in the dark and from prying eyes.
“I guess a life is beyond boring if all I have to hide is my secret library meetings from my friends,” which for the record weren’t so secret considering they were always advertised on the bulletin board at school.
She smiled as in her mind, she dramatically portrayed her anguish.
“I’m so good, I could go big screen,” she chuckled while waiting for a stop light.
As with all people, Monica was a star in her own mind. Some would argue that spending so many years reading fiction and fairy tales would give a girl an unhealthy imagination. Monica disagreed, most days it was her daydreaming that was the only thing keeping her going. Oh but all of the adventures she had had in her mind. The thing that amused her friends the most was the fact that she was nearly sixteen and yet still had her nose stuck, in what they considered kid’s books. They were constantly trying to get her to open her eyes and see the real world.
“They just don’t understand,” Monica thought, “What I read is the real world. They’re the ones deluding themselves into believing that what they are living is the epitome of real life. I pity them.”
She glanced at her watch as she set her bike in front of the mall, 12:57, three minutes early as usual. She walked past the expensive stores, latest fashions, and hottest trends to the food court where her friends had agreed to meet.
As she approached, she spotted her friends already at a table and ran up to them, exclaiming as she sat down, “Carol, why the forlorn expression?”
“As always Monica, I have no idea what you are saying,” Carol quipped.
Monica sighed, “It’s an expression I-”
“Let me guess,” Zeke interrupted, “You read it in a book?”
He smiled triumphantly at Monica’s downcast eyes.
“So tell us, what does it mean? We’re all dying to know.”
Monica mustered enough courage to say in an airy voice, “I don’t think that you would appreciate it, so I won’t tell you.”
Zeke snickered as she changed the subject. She asked Carol how her soccer practices were going.
Carol replied cockily, “I have no doubt we’re the best in our league.”
And Monica didn’t doubt it either. They had been undefeated for two seasons now. Monica had tried soccer once in 6th grade, but has managed to break a kid’s nose and score in the wrong goal in the first fifteen minutes of practice. So she never gave it another glance. She brought her thoughts around as she noticed that Carol was still rambling on about victory. She had to admit that she loved her friends, but she couldn’t help but notice a huge chasm between her and them. Was she the only one who saw it? Was she the only one who noticed that as they grew, they drifted apart?
They had been friends since the playground days, when the over assertive Carol had waltzed up to Monica wearing a tutu with a bewildered Zeke on her arm.
“We all live on the same street,” she had announced, “So we should be friends.”
Surprisingly they had been inseparable since then, even going to the extreme of taking the same high school classes regardless of their futures. That is, until recently.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t have changed classes halfway through the year. Maybe that’s the cause of the drifting I’m feeling,” she thought.
Then she considered the opportunities she would have by taking chemistry rather than physical science again, she put aside the silly notion. She had a life to live after all, regardless of the classes her friends were taking.
Zeke shook her shoulders, “Earth to Monica! Are you still here?”
She blinked the thoughts from her eyes and turned to Zeke, “What?”
She really should stop drifting like that.
“We wanted to know if you wanted to come to a movie,” Carol asked.
“Oh I can’t, being poor and all.”
Zeke shrugged, “That’s a shame,” he didn’t sound too sincere, “Let’s go Carol so that we’re not late.”
They left without a backwards glance.
“Bye,” Monica called half heartedly, but they were already too far away to hear.
“Typical, now all I have to do is read, because my real life has deserted me. Although, it deserted me because I read,” Monica shuddered, “Think on that.”
She glanced around the decidedly empty food court and made to get up, when she noticed a small flash of light outside the double doors. She focused and saw two guys stealing her bike! She barreled past a janitor, yelling, even though the guys were outside. She burst through the doors just in time to see the guys riding away on her bike and another one they had probably stolen as well. Tears welled in her eyes as she set off for home.
“Now would be a good time to own a cell phone,” she choked out between silent sobs.
She stumbled on until she tripped on a crack, essentially ripping her jeans, while at the same time skinning her knees and hands.
“How could this day get any worse,” she mumbled as she stood up examining her hands.
She realized her mistake too late. She probably shouldn’t have said that, lest something worse did happen. But it was already too late to take it back, for as she turned to pick up her shoulder bag, a truck drove by, splashing muddy water up on her.
“What the!” she exclaimed, “It hasn’t even rained in weeks!”
This was just beyond belief. She needed to get home fast. She glanced around and made a mad sprint for her house, which was just a few blocks away. Over the sounds of her ragged breathing, she heard a dog bark, or was it three? She glanced back to realize in horror that there were at least six pit bulls bearing down on her.
“Maybe they’re not chasing me,” she thought, and then, “Probably not, what with my luck.”
She nearly laughed at the absurdity of the whole thing, but she couldn’t spare any breaths as she caught sight of her house and dashed up the lawn. She reached for her bag to grab the key and remembered that she had forgotten it on the sidewalk in her haste. She pulled on the door frantically, but it wouldn’t budge. Nothing left to do but jump the fence; she nearly cried at the prospect. The dogs were nearly to her porch as she struggled over the fence. She barely made it before a dog tried biting off her leg.
“Success!” she yelled.
That was when she looked down and noticed she was standing in fresh manure. Another one of her mom’s garden pet projects attempts.
Then she thought, almost desperately, “I just bought these shoes!”
She stumbled to the porch, muttering not so nice things under her breath. She paused at the door to remove her soiled sandals.
“The one time I buy designer shoes.”
Then the floodgates opened and she sank to her knees, tears pouring down her face as she laughed hysterically. She felt ridiculous, but she couldn’t stop. Her mom meandered through the kitchen in yoga garb and noticed Monica in surprise. Bedraggled, alone, and sitting outside with an almost crazy glint in her eyes. She rushed over to the door yanking it open with concern showing on her face.
“Monica, do I want to know what happened here?”
Monica stood up, sure now that she was dreaming and that is when she noticed her mom’s new blonde hair.
“What happened to your hair?” Monica asked once her jaw snapped back up.
Yes, definitely dreaming.
Her mom grinned slightly, “I decided to try a blonde look, I thought the brown was a bit old.”
“This is surreal,” Monica thought, “If I look down are my hands going to be blue?”
She sneaked a quick glance down just to assuage her doubts.
“Ah, thank goodness,” she exasperatedly whispered.
She glanced at her mom, realizing that she was still looking at her like she had just climbed from the sewers, which she had for the most part done.
She cautiously took a step inside and said, “You would not believe the day I’ve had.”
Her mom smiled, “No, I’m sure I won’t.”
Jessica paused, “What’d I tell you? This girl is just like me.”
“I wonder who writes those stories for the paper?” Mikey wondered.
“I’m not sure, but it is going to be a weekly thing, so the next installment comes out next Sunday.”
Five miles away, Ms. Anderson turned to her 4th grade class, “So what do you think Monica has learned?”
One of her students raised his hand, “That when dogs chase you, you should grab your house keys.”
Ms. Anderson chuckled, “Definitely.”
Halfway across town a girl stared at her laptop as she read the comments on her story.
“Who would have thought that my English assignment would be so popular?”
And then she started on next week’s adventure, “Maybe I’ll add a vampire this time.”
She paused, with barely a smile on her face, “No, definitely a werewolf.”
What is reality?
Life isn’t always clear.