Earworm: Part 57 — The Visitor

EarwormContinued from: Earworm: Part 56 — Right Again

William looked at himself in the bathroom mirror. “What was that, Hope?” he said to his reflection, raising one eyebrow and smiling his best James Bond smile, “Why, yes, I can give you the moon and the stars.” Yup, his plans were finally coming together. Hope had asked him out. Granted, it was only to the library, but still, she had asked him out. She wanted to discuss the dreams she’s been having. About who? Why, about moi, yours truly, of course. And should he tell her that, yes, he was the one that brought her to her castle, he was the one that brought back her father, he was the one that could save her from her nightmares? Should he tell her that he could be her knight, her hero? Or, should he keep her guessing? Just the guy of your dreams, I guess, he could say with his best martini-holding smile. And she would say, But you said that in one of my dreams. And he could answer, Did I, though?

No, that wouldn’t do. He had to keep her thinking that it was her own subconscious feelings for William that were causing the dreams. He thought about his last dream with Hope. Her looking him in the eyes and saying, It’s you causing the dreams. He had to convince her that it was her attraction toward William and disgust of Joel that were causing the dreams. What do I think dreams mean? William imagined saying to Hope. Dreams are your subconscious’s way of telling you what you really want in life. And for that, the James Bond smile just wouldn’t do. He looked into the mirror and tried some other smiles on for size.

“Hi, Hope,”—excited, beaming smile.

“Hey, Hope,”—suave, How you doin, smile.

“Hope.”—ecstatic, great to see you, how’s the family, smile.

“Hope, hey, what’s up?”—cool, casual, James Dean scowl.

“Hello, Hope,”—pensive, sensitive, caring smile. That was a good one. The one for the man of her dreams. He then went about his final adjustments, assuring that his appearance was the best he could manage, one final check, making sure there were no zits, blackheads, blemishes, crusty nostrils, dried toothpaste at the mouth’s corners, wax in ears, missed spots shaving, dandruff on shoulders or in hair, or bad odors. Check-check-check. William looked at his watch. He needed to get to the library. He couldn’t be late for his and Hope’s first date. He took a deep breath and shut off the bathroom light, walking, on a cushion of air, into the kitchen. He stopped short.

“William, you have a visitor,” Greta said.

David stood beside the kitchen table.

“Aren’t you going to invite him to sit?” Greta asked William.

“Uh… no, remember, I need to be at the library at seven.”

“Oh the library will still be there after seven o’clock. Don’t be rude, ask him to stay,” Greta said. “Would you like a drink?” she asked David.

“I w-w-w-wasn’t going to st-st-st-stay, an-an-any…”

“Yeah, see, he’s not staying,” William said, leading David toward the front door.

“William, you’re being rude,” Greta said.

“No, r-r-r-real-r-really…”

“No, really. He just needs to tell me something. Can we get going?”

Greta scowled, turning and walking off to her bedroom. “I think he’s being rude,” she said to herself, “but fine, just drive me here. Greta the cabdriver, that’s all I am…”

“What are you doing here?” William said to David. “I’ve got to get going. I’m meeting someone,” he said importantly.

“How d-d-d-d-did you d-d-d-d-do it?”

“Do what? What are you talking about?”

“Dream the sp-sp-space sh-sh-ship?”

“Look, I don’t know what you’re talking…”

“No. I know it w-w-w-w-was you.”

“Look, I gotta get going. I really need…”

“How did you g-get in my dream?” David said as Greta walked into the kitchen.

“Okay, I got my…” Greta’s words dropped dead when David spit out his question. She stared at David. Then she glanced at William. William wasn’t sure what her expression said. It was a little like discountenance, a little like fear, maybe both. As if she found a B.B. gun in William’s closet after the neighbor’s cat was shot.

“Look, David, I need to get going,” William said, opening the front door.

“B-b-b-but…”

“We can talk later,” William said, leading him out the door. “I’ll be in the car,” he called over his shoulder to Greta, hurrying David down the steps and onto the front lawn.

David stopped William and looked into his eyes, “How d-d-d…”

“Look, David, just enjoy whatever dream you’re talking about. And… I’m sorry about the other day, if I hurt your feelings.”

“B-b-b-but…”

“Just leave it be,” William said as Greta stepped out of the house.

David stared into his eyes for a moment and then said, “Well, th-th-thanks.”

“Fine,” William said, turning his back on the boy. “Now, get lost,” he said, walking to the car. As he was about to get in the passenger door, he caught Greta’s say it ain’t so look again. “Bye, David,” William called, getting into the car.

“B-b-b-b-b…” But the boy’s voice was squelched as William shut the door.

Continued in: Earworm: Part 58 — The Meeting

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Earworm: Part 56 — Right Again

EarwormContinued from: Earworm: Part 55 — The Invite 

Things felt right again. Starling was back. It was Memorial Day weekend. The weekend of Glenn’s big fishing trip. And Starling and Emily had the entire weekend together. They spent little time together lately—awake, anyway—thanks to good ole Gordon Webster. Gordon told Glenn he saw Emily with a bunch of guys on Bridge Beach. Now Glenn barely let Emily out of his sight. She was somewhat surprised he didn’t drag her to Maine for his annual trip, probably thinking she was having an affair with Bert, or Ernie maybe… if he only knew.

He should know, he’s had enough dreams to…

In the distance, a twig snapped. Emily pushed Starling away. She sat up, her eyes flashing to William lying on the far edge of the blanket, asleep in the moonlight. Distant footsteps approached. Slow and tentative, yet heavy and trudging. Like someone trying to announce his arrival. “Hellooo,” Ernie called from the dark. Emily and Starling sat a few feet from one another, arms hugging their knees like chastity belts. Ernie’s face came into view, reflecting the pale blue tinge of the moonlight. He stepped down the rocks and onto the sand. “Hey,” he said, looking uncomfortable.

“What?” Starling snapped.

“Nothing,” Ernie said, regarding the two girls. He shifted his feet and rubbed the back of his neck. Starling glared at him. Emily pretended to attend to her sleeping son. “I just wanted to see if you girls were all right.”

“We’re fine,” Starling said. “We were just talking.”

“Uh, yeah, I know,” Ernie said, as if Starling accused him of voyeurism. “Um… it’s just that, we were up at the parking clearing, and I was talking to Danno…”

“We don’t need to hear your memoirs, Ernie,” Starling said.

“No… No, it’s just, I saw an empty truck parked up there, you know, down the road a bit, just sitting there.” Ernie turned and looked toward the direction of the road. “I mean, it’s gone now, but we were all just… nervous, you know, with you two girls down here alone and…”

“We’re fine,” Starling said. “We can handle ourselves.”

“Okay,” Ernie said, throwing up his hands and turning to go. He then seemed gripped with a sudden epiphany. He turned to face the two girls.

“What now?” Starling said.

“I was just…” Ernie said, looking unsure how to phrase his question, and for a brief moment, Emily thought he was going to inquire about her and Starling’s activities. Emily knew Danno, Bert, and Ernie suspected what was going on between the two girls, but now Emily wasn’t ready to hear the concept put into words. If it was left unspoken, it felt as if it was only… a dream. “I was just wondering,” Ernie continued, “Emily, what kind of truck is it your husband drives?”

“A maroon Ford.”

“Oh, yeah, okay,” Ernie said, as if confirming the name of a one-hit-wonder or obscure film. He turned to walk away.

“Why?” Starling groaned.

“Oh, nothing,” Ernie said. “Just holler if you need anything.”

“Ernie, stop being a dick,” Starling said. “What kind of truck was up there?”

“A maroon Ford,” Ernie said with a shrug.

Continued in: Earworm: Part 57 — The Visitor

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Earworm: Part 55 — The Invite

EarwormContinued from: Earworm: Part 54 — Best Dream Ever 

Hope glanced at the clock. Still a few minutes before the late bell. She wasn’t joking with Joel, she was going to talk to William about her dreams. It came to her last night, lying in bed—her mind racing and spinning—she knew exactly how to approach William and put this all to rest, to ease her over-thinking mind. The answer is so simple, how did I not see it before?

She stopped, recognizing the call of Irrational Hope. Maybe Joel was right. This was stupid. This was crazy. No, it wasn’t, not the way she worked it out in her thoughts. Granted, she realized she was acting a little… silly, but she needed to put that nagging, song-stuck-in-her-head feeling to rest. She turned and looked at William.

He sat in the back of the room with both elbows on his desktop, head held in both hands, eyes closed. He looked like an exhausted family member in a hospital waiting room.

“Hey,” Hope called to William in a friendly tone. She didn’t quite recognize her own voice, and she remembered being a child at the supermarket with her mother, and having the compulsive urge to scream with lung-emptying fervor. Screaming for no other reason than to confront whatever impulse control held her back from doing it. But sanity, conscience, the fear of what the others, especially her mother, would think—all those little character attributes of Rational Hope—stopped her. She wished Rational Hope would stop her now.

But there was no turning back here, she was swimming into the deep end, and she might just swim right into lunacy. They could skip the sleep lab and send her straight to the funny farm. But lunacy or not, she had a bur she couldn’t shake, a deep paranoia telling her William Knight was causing her dreams. And although she realized Rational Hope tended to be right—and most definitely was this time—compulsion was more persistent, and crazy or not, one had to feed compulsion what it wanted, she needed to quell the hunger pains of her psyche. William didn’t respond to Hope’s initial greeting, and she almost took the chance to bail out. Instead, she found herself calling, “William.”

William’s head twitched and then lifted. He looked like a man stranded on a desert island hearing a voice on the wind.

Hope sang, “Will-iam,” waving her hand as if hailing a cab.

“Huh?”

“What’s up?” Hope forced a smile.

“Uh… nothing.”

“Where were you yesterday?”

“Uh… yesterday?”

“Yeah. Weren’t you absent yesterday?”

“Uh, yeah. I… uh… wasn’t feeling well.”

“I think something’s going around.”

“Uh-huh.”

“So are you feeling better?”

“A little. I’m still very tired.”

“Yeah, I’ve been feeling that way lately too. Why didn’t you stay home today?”

William shrugged. “Too many days out of school usually means a trip to the doctors,” he said. “You know mothers.”

Hope offered a knowing smirk. “Yeah, I know mothers.”

Here we go folks. Hope steps up to the diving platform…

“Hey,” she said, “can I talk to you about something?”

…and she jumps.

William shifted in his seat. “Uh… about what?”

Beads of sweat broke out on the back of Hope’s neck. “This sounds really… dumb, but…” she laughed to illustrate just how dumb it sounded, “I had this really weird dream, and you were in it.”

He shifted in his seat again. “Yeah?” he said.

“Yeah,” Hope giggled. “And this sounds so dumb, but… do you have Mrs. Thompson for psychology?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, you know the term paper we have to write?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I thought about writing a paper analyzing a dream about a random person,” Hope said. No response from William. Hope continued, “Anyway, I figured I’d interview the dream’s subject and see how accurate my perceptions were. You know, get the subject of the dream’s thoughts… about…it…” her voice trailed off. This did sound stupid when actually spoken out loud. “They aren’t like sex dreams or anything.”

D’oh! Could she embarrass herself a little more?

“Really,” William stated.

“Yeah,” Hope said, unsure if his response was to her dreaming about him or that they weren’t sexual in nature. “So how about it, think you can help me?”

“Uh… yeah.”

“When would be a good time for you? You know, to meet?”

“Meet?”

“Yeah, you know, to talk?”

“Anytime.”

“Okay,” Hope paused. The late bell rang. “How about tonight at the library?” she said in a hushed voice as Ms. Bradford entered the room.

“Yeah,” William said, “tonight’s good, uh… what time?”

“Seven all right?”

“Uh… okay,” he said, still dumbstruck.

“Great,” Hope smiled her widest smile as Ms. Bradford began taking attendance. “Then I’ll meet you tonight,” she whispered, still hiding behind her bright smile. William responded with a grin and nodded. Hope regarded him, looking him up and down, and then she turned forward in her seat, the smile dropping from her face.

At the end of the day, as the students exited Mr. Grey’s classroom, Hope ducked away from Joel. “Where are you going?” Joel asked her like a parent questioning a child about to do something wrong.

“I have to do something,” Hope said, pulling from his gravitation toward her.

“You’re not… this isn’t…”

“Don’t worry,” Hope said, “I’ll call you later.”

She darted through a gaggle of students and rushed down the halls, hoping she wasn’t too late. She was relieved to find William still rummaging through his locker. She walked up behind him, tapped him on his left shoulder, and then darted to his right. William flinched, turning in a panicky jerk to his left, seeing no one there, and then returning to his locker. “Hey,” Hope laughed, “I’m over here.”

William flinched again as if someone goosed him. He looked up at Hope with eyes deep and vast. But those eyes were also defensive.

“Still want to meet tonight?” Hope said, feeling somehow guilty for the defensiveness in his eyes. She was, after all, a member of the high school elite that treated him like a leper, and she suddenly realized that in a way she was messing with this kid just like the rest of them did. He didn’t know anything about her dreams. He couldn’t be responsible for what her mind was doing. They are your dreams, Mr. Grey had told her. But still, she had started this plan in motion, it was too late to bail out now.

“Uh… yeah,” William said.

“So, then, you’ll be at the library at seven?” Hope said.

“Uh… yeah, sure.”

“Great.” She regarded him, almost studying him.

God, how did her mind so accurately capture and reproduce every nuance of this kid in her dreams?

“Uh… well,” William said, “I gotta catch the bus.”

“Okay. Then, I’ll see you tonight.”

“Yeah,” William smiled.

She’d never seen him smile like that before—in reality, anyway. And her guilt relaxed. She felt almost righteous for bringing that smile to his face. She felt good about making this connection with him. She wasn’t messing with him. She was opening herself to a possible friendship. Maybe her dreams were trying to tell her something. There were deep secrets in the wells of his eyes, maybe she could tap them.

“I’ll see you tonight, My Hope,” William said, and he took off down the hall.

Hope watched, slack jawed, as William burst out the doors and trotted to the row of busses.

Did he just call me My Hope?

Dizziness washed over her as she tried to grasp William’s last words.

I’ll see you later, My Hope.

Could it be a bizarre coincidence that he called her the same term her father bestowed on her so many years ago? Had she even heard him right? It was paranoia to think William was responsible for her dreams. It was compulsion to ask him about them. But now, in the real world, was it possible that a boy in her math class was controlling her thoughts? The floor beneath her felt as though she was balancing on a playground’s seesaw, and she walked shakily down the hall.

Continued in: Earworm: Part 56 — Right Again 

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Earworm: Part 54 — Best Dream Ever

EarwormContinued from: Earworm: Part 53 — Resolution

David McGee heard the whine of jet engines, the thunder of explosions, and the sounding of a warning siren. He held a controller, like that of an airplane’s, and a panel of knobs and flickering lights stretched before him. “Whoa, man, watch out for that fighter,” someone called. David looked to his right and saw William Knight—that high school kid he sometimes ran across in the woods—sitting in the chair beside him, pointing his finger ahead of them. “Look out, man, you’re gonna crash.”

David looked up to see the landscape of a futuristic city and dog fighting space ships. “Whoa,” David said, pulling back on the controls. Two laser blasts darted past them with a flash and rocking motion. The cockpit responded to David’s control, the landscape rolling and teetering congruent to his steering. A sleek, silver ship streaked toward them, lasers flaring on their energy field like bug guts on a windshield. The cockpit shook and jostled.

“Fire,” William said.

David squeezed triggers on his controller and beams of light slammed into the enemy ship, rocking it. David kept firing, and the enemy fighter exploded into a ball of fire—pieces of it streaking by the window. As David brought his ship through the flame, he saw a tower rising out of the clouds, the tower’s gun turrets firing at them. David rolled the ship, banking around the tower, laser blasts streaking by the ship’s belly and over its dorsal wing.

“Yeeeha,” William screamed.

“Yeeeha,” David echoed.

David felt a hand on the nape of his neck. He turned to see two beautiful women behind him. The girls were dressed in sheer silver, their skin a pale blue, their long hair platinum. One girl pouted seductively, “You must save us from the Galactic Overlord.”

David looked out the windshield. “Holy crap,” he yelled, firing at a new platoon of enemy ships, “This is the best dream ever.”

Continued in: Earworm: Part 55 — The Invite

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