A Window to Your Heart Chapter 5: "Place In This World"

I woke up early and nearly freaked out as I jumped up, grabbed the book from off of the floor by the spine, and placed it in my backpack.
“I’ll read it on the bus. Might have to skip a few chapters.”

I could tell that it was going to be a very good day. It didn’t matter if it started raining or if a hurricane struck, which would be quite the feat since Prattville was about three hundred and three miles from the ocean. Still, if that happened, that would say something about my resolve toward the situation at hand.
I met up with Keith at the bus stop.
“I see you finally asked Erin out.”
“Yeah, good one, I’m the one who’s supposed to be surprised. So you didn’t ask her out yesterday after all?”
“You saw me ask Tiffany yesterday.”
“You mean Erin.”
“No, who are you talking about?”
“Yeah, Erin…is Tiffany her middle name?”

The bus arrived, and we stepped on.
“Yeah, Erin Woodall. You really can’t stop talking about her, can you?”
“Wait. No, who are you talking about? I’m trying to get with Tiffany.”
“Who? Her name has been, is, and will be—well, maybe not one day—Tiffany Creighton.”
“I have no idea who you’re talking about. Is she new?”
“New? I only talk about her every day. You have even made it a part of your day to comment on how I can’t say anything to her.”
“What does she look like?”

When the bus arrived at the school, I was once again running across the front lawn to the band room. I stood near the front doors of the room and looked around a bit. I didn’t see her there, so obviously, she would be in the room, right?

The class was setting up their chairs and stands. I walked across the room to the instrument storage room. She wasn’t there either.

Perhaps she was sick? I grabbed my chair and a stand and placed them in my row. If she was sick, then her space would sit empty. But I could talk to her on the weekend, perhaps go on a walk or something. It could still work. I could try to look up her number if I had to.
At that moment, I turned around to see her space occupied by someone I didn’t know. The face, hair, body…I could not place her…she was someone I. Did. Not. Know. She looked up at me with an expression of “who are you looking at?” and for the first time since the first day of school, I couldn’t answer that question.

“I’m sorry, I don’t see her name.”
I stood in the front office, leaning against a rather large desk, as the school secretary thumbed through a card catalog.
“There’s no one here by that name. Is she new?” 

An hour later, I sat at my usual table in the lunchroom with my eyes closed. If the real world was a dream world, then in a dream world, everything would be the way it was supposed to be…or so I wished.
“Why are you moping?”
“Keith, I think the world has fallen apart.”
I looked around the cafeteria—still couldn’t find her.
“Why, because your dream girl doesn’t appear before your eyes?”
It was like she dropped off the face of the earth.
“She’s not a dream…there is no possible way that the past six months have been a dream, because I see her every day, so that would mean this is a dream too.”
“Only in your head.”
“She plays clarinet in band.”
“Almost everyone in band plays the clarinet.”
“She says ‘hello’ to me every day.”
“Anything else about her you’d like to say that would actually make sense? Just don’t ask me to pinch you, okay?”
“You tell me, when did I meet Erin? Because I don’t remember ever talking to her.”
“I think you said you met her at some ice cream shop in town, and you talked for a while, and you found her here at school yesterday, and well, you asked her out yesterday.”
“That’s it?”
“That’s what you told me.”
“Why can’t I remember? What’s she look like?”
“It’s kind of bad if I have to point your girlfriend out to you.”
“If you want to point out my girlfriend to me, then find me the girl who has red hair—”
“Erin has brown hair.”
“I’m not talking about Erin. Where is she anyway?”
“Right behind you.”

I turned around to see Erin for the first, and what would most likely be the last, time. Perhaps in another time and place, I would have gladly and without any hesitation pursued her. However, at that moment, I didn’t know who she was, and she apparently had heard the entire conversation, so she responded by slapping me across the face. Then, without a word, she walked away.
“All that effort to talk with her and its over like that? I’m going to wait until high school before I work that hard.”
“Okay, so, back to what I was saying-”
“-Wow! That was a fast recovery.”
“She was in my first and fifth period classes.”
“But now she’s not?”
“I’ll find out next period, I guess.”
“Are you sure you’re not just recalling a movie you saw?”
“Have you ever talked with her, in real life?”
“Yes…I’ve talked with her...briefly. Maybe not as much as I would have like to before she vanished off the face of the earth.”
“I’m thinking it’s either a dream or it’s someone else that you think you know.”
“This isn’t a dream, it’s a nightmare.”
“Pretty good nightmare then. Mine are usually about falling off a cliff or having some demon run me down and try to rip me to shreds.”
“Do what?”
“I didn’t tell you about it? Dude, this red-faced demon with black hair and two daggers started going all ninja on me. I could literally see myself tear in half.”
“This is worse, Keith.”
“What’s worse than getting your head served to you like a shish kabob?”
“Having your heart shattered.”
“I know I said I wouldn’t pinch you, but if you’d like me to punch you to wake you up, just say the word.”

It still did not make any sense. I sat at my desk for social studies and looked across the room at what would be an empty seat if she was just absent. However, someone else was there. Perhaps everything was a dream; it was time to just deal with it: Tiffany was gone, assuming that she was even real to begin with or simply my imagination running wild…like really wild…like wild enough to leave road rash burns on my legs. I stood up right in the middle of the classroom and rolled my jeans up to hopefully reveal massive scabs on my legs, but there was nothing. Not a burn, blister, or sign of crashing my bike just the other day. I sat down as other students and the teacher, Mrs. Bowling, filed into the room. If I needed someone to appear before me and help me out, I wanted it to be right then.

Which begged the question: who were Gabe and Lydia? Why did I listen to them? How did I see them and no one else ever did? Was I living a dream within a dream, and if I pinched myself, would I wake up from one of them; or would I find myself locked in a nice padded cell, staring up at the ceiling with a blank-faced expression while drooling all over a fitted straightjacket?

I moved to take my binder out of my backpack, and my social studies book took a fall from the desktop. It fell haphazardly to the floor with the spine and pages bending. At that moment, something clicked in my brain.

I pulled the book Lydia gave me from out of my backpack and turned to the first page. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, for a book, that is. I flipped through several chapters until I reached it: a large rip in a page. The reason she no longer existed…was me.

A sickening feeling of dread came over me. Judging by the appearance of the book, I couldn’t just photocopy the page and put it back in with scotch tape or staples. I had no idea how to restore it. I had literally killed who I wanted to be my best friend in the world!

At home, I stood in front of my desk and stared at the torn page. If only I could will it to be repaired. I closed my eyes and then opened them…the rip was still there.
Tighter, maybe? Would blood have to come spurting from my eyeballs before the page would return?
“Rough day?”
I turned to see Lydia standing in the corner of the room.
“Lydia, thank God you’re here.”
“I wouldn’t thank or much less think that way. What happened?”
“I ripped a page. Please say there’s a way to fix it!”
“I see.” She reached over and touched the page. “Hmmm. This is very bad.”
“Can you fix it?”
It felt as if several bullets, fired at close range, with the force of a bazooka, blasted their way through my heart.
“No. No, you have to tell me that it can be fixed. No one knows her except for me. It’s like she doesn’t exist or—”
“That’s because she doesn’t. The page has been damaged, which wipes her off the face of the earth.”
“How do I bring her back?”
“It will be hard…but it can be done.”
“We’re going to need another book.”

She then drew two daggers form her belt and cut, well, I can only describe it as a hole in space…I can’t really give it a lot of hyperbole because I still don’t get it myself, but standing in front of me was a, fine, I’ll say it: a portal to somewhere else. Lydia grabbed my hand and pulled me through the opening.

We stepped into a dimly lit hall filled with books. The shelves reached into the sky, and the room seemed to go on forever.
“What are all of these?”
“The lives of everyone are recorded here.”
“Yep. We need to look for one in particular, yours.”

She jumped onto a table and vaulted over a shelf as a series small books appeared beneath her. “Just hang on for a moment, Jason.”
I nodded and continued to look around. “Where do all of these books come from?”
“You mean, who wrote them?”
“You do; I mean that everything you do gets recorded page by page.”
“You mean even…?”
“Yes, even those times.”
“I found yours. Be right back.”

I heard scraping and creaking noises, and then Lydia stood on top of the shelf with a large open book. She then jumped off the shelf and landed on her feet, a few feet in front of me.
“This is your book. If you want to bring her back, you have to place both books together, cover to cover. It will then repair the damage. It will be that easy.” 
I placed the damaged book on the shelf and then took the other from Lydia.
“And everything will go back to the way it was?” I asked as I placed the book on top of the other.
“Yes, and then some.”
“And then some?”
I watched as the bindings of the books merged together. The newly formed “superbook,” I suppose, then opened to the first page and then the next, and the next—the text was all scrambled.
“What did I do?”
“What you’ve dreamt about.”
“What does that even mean? I dream about a lot of things!”
“When the pages have been rewritten, the life you wanted with her begins.”
“With her?” I asked as I looked at my hands as they faded from sight.
“What happens now?”
“Time to change your world. I hope it’s all you ever wanted.”

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