|...Uniform and all, Ahsaela waltzed into the school building. Her nerves were going crazy, her palms sweaty, her brow furrowed, and she continuously cursed to herself under her breath with each step she took. Seeing all of the unfamiliar faces made her blood boil again. Moving to a new location was easier in the other places she’s lived. Coming to a country full of Asians and a place where most of the people were a foot shorter than her, made her stomach turn. Ahsaela stuck out like a sore thumb. Every student’s head turned in her direction as she passed them. Hundreds of curious eyes scanned every inch of her. She even noticed a group of giggling girls huddled together pointing at her. It also didn't help that her father was a famous baseball player when he was alive.
Ahsaela winced when she noticed them eye-balling her then stared at her feet while she walked. Each second that went by seemed like an eternity while she tried to find her classroom. She attempted to convince herself that everyone wasn’t gawking at her, but failed miserably. She actually couldn’t blame them, she thought. If she was Asian and noticed a six foot tall, dark-skinned, bright-red-haired chic, she would probably point and laugh too and say, “Ha ha! She’s different, I feel sorry for that girl!”
At last, she had found the room she was supposed to be in. The worst part was over, she hoped. Ahsaela slid open the door and poked her head in. About twelve bored students sat in their desks staring out of the windows, picking at their nails, and engrossed in conversation. She slipped off her chucks obediently remembering what her mother had yelled after her when she was on her way out the door. “When you get to the right room, make sure you take off your shoes and put on the wabaki!”
“What the hell is wabaki?” I yelled back groggily.
“The slippers--the house shoes thingies!”
There was a storage shelf for all of the shoes outside the door against the wall. White, delicate, slip-ons were sitting inside each square. The squares were labeled with each student’s name them. Ahsaela searched for hers, skimming past all of the names written in Japanese. She found hers written in English with a Japanese translation underneath. She snatched the wabaki from the square and put her chucks in their place. She stared at them in her hands and sighed. Her feet were bigger than everyone else’s too, she assumed.
A woman in a flowered dress walked past her and entered the room. Ahsaela quickly slipped on the wabaki and followed her inside, assuming she was the teacher. When she stepped in, everyone’s head popped up and their gaze settled on her. Ahsaela’s face grew hot while she stood there returning their stares. The woman with the dress turned to her and smiled, giving a slight bow. She stepped over to Ahsaela, still smiling and said, “Hajimemashite! Sato sensei desu. Doozo yoroshiku.” She bowed toward her again. She assumed the woman was introducing herself so Ahsaela just waved at her and smiled sheepishly. A few of the students giggled quietly at her response then the teacher turned to the class and spoke quickly.
She gestured in Ahsaela’s direction as she spoke to them, probably telling everyone who she is and where she’s from and such. Each student nodded in Ahsaela’s direction and said, “Hai, doozo yoroshiku” in unison. Ahsaela guessed they were all saying nice to meet you. She gave a small bow of her head and smiled back at her new classmates. Beads of sweat rested on her forehead and the rest of her body shook nervously. She hated this kind of attention. The teacher pointed to a desk at the front of the room muttering to Ahsaela in more Japanese, telling her where to sit. She nodded in return and found her seat, keeping her head down. The woman wrote something in Japanese on the chalkboard behind her and began talking loud and fast. Ahsaela didn’t know how she was going to learn anything going to school here not knowing a word of their language. She sighed sadly and tried to comprehend anyway.
When that class ended, Ahsaela sighed with relief and quickly left the room. She put her chucks back on and roamed through the hallway trying to find her next class. Looking up from her feet for a moment, she noticed one girl in the center of the hallway. She was speaking loudly in Japanese and passing out fliers to passing students. It seemed her uniform appeared a bit different from the rest of the students. The girl had added her own personal flair to it by wearing knee-high socks with symbols and designs she had most likely drawn herself. Her skirt was a tad shorter too and she had pinned decorative buttons all over the front pocket of her jacket. She also wore a broach pinned into the center of her tie that appeared to be European inspired. For some odd reason, this person piqued Ahsaela’s interest. She wasn’t sure why, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away from her. This girl, Ahsaela felt, had the most perfect complexion she had ever laid eyes on. Her smile was big and brilliant and she had a petite and small body frame. Her dark hair was braided into pigtails on the sides of her head, her hands elegant with nails perfectly manicured. Ahsaela was envious of the girl’s small stature and wished that were her instead. Asian women are so beautiful, she thought. She averted her eyes away from the girl as she walked passed her, embarrassed for staring so long.
“Hey, you tall girl!” A voice called behind her. Ahsaela whipped around, searching from where the voice was coming from. She noticed the girl she had been staring at gawking at her from across the hallway.
“Umm…yeah?” Ahsaela replied, timidly. The girl stepped closer to her and held out a flier.
“Do you sing? You look like a singer. The band I’m in, Pink Spades, is looking for a new one. If you’re interested, the dates for the audition are on this flier along with the location. You should check it out!” The girl beamed up at Ahsaela and placed the sheet of paper in her hands. Ahsaela glanced over the flier for a moment, taking in the Japanese symbols with English translations underneath each sentence. She looked up at the girl, unsure of what to say. She was quite surprised that she was finally having a conversation with someone here.
The tiny girl laughed and said, “Cat got your tongue?”
“Erm… no, I just…umm…thanks.” Ahsaela stammered and quickly turned away to go to class.
“Hey, mom.” Ahsaela muttered as soon as she came home from school. She dropped her canvas bag on the floor with her textbooks in it then found her way onto the couch next to Debra. Debra ruffled a single hand through Ahsaela’s unkempt hair and smiled at her.
“Glad you’re home, sweetie, I missed you.” Debra confessed.
“Missed you too.” Ahsaela relpied softly, leaning her tired head on her mother’s inviting shoulder.
“Soooo, how were your classes?”
“Alright,” Ahsaela shrugged. “I didn’t have a clue what was going on, but it was interesting. And a girl gave me a flier talking about an audition for some band that she’s in. They’re looking for a singer.” Debra’s eyes bulged as she clapped her hands together.
“Oh, honey! You should go for it, you can sing!” She gushed.
“I just might actually.” She replied calmly. Debra stood from the couch and grabbed her purse from the floor then slicked her hand over her bangs to straighten them over the crown of her head.
“I have a meeting to get to in an hour. We’re having a fashion show next month and the board needs me to help them choose the models for it. So,” Debra sighed. “I need to get going honey, gotta catch the train.”
“Kay, mom, I’m gonna lay down for a nap, I’m beat. Not so used to the time zone here, it’s evening in the states right now,” Ahsaela chuckled. “I wonder how long it will take me to get my sleep schedule on track.” Debra returned the laugh and nodded while ruffling Ahsaela’s already tousled hair again. After Debra left, Ahsaela made her way to her room. She sighed loudly when her body hit the bed, feeling the comfy mattress mold to her curves. She didn’t even bother changing out of her uniform, she was too tired.
She let her eyes close to block out the images of her room and relaxed. Scenes of her day at school flashed through her mind until her breathing began to slow. Her long body tingled pleasantly as it became more relaxed before it finally drifted into sleep. Her dream this time was nothing like the one she had about being a tree. She actually would rather be dreaming about that than this one. Ahsaela found herself alone at night, walking barefoot on the center of a road. The dirt stretched for miles and that’s all there was. No buildings, no trees, no signs of life, just absolute nothingness.
A pitch black scenery surrounded this road and the only light source came from the full moon in the sky above her. She noticed the ground was cold and damp under her feet. It was raining softly and quietly. She wore a white, cotton nightgown that dangled down to her ankles. Her hair wet against her skin. She felt sad for some reason, and alone. She kept walking along this road in the same slow, zombie-like steps, for a very long time until she noticed a shadow far ahead. Her heart stopped at the sight of it and all sadness went away and was replaced with fear, yet she still dragged forward.
Her eyes widened and her heart raced wildly as she came closer to the figure. The shadow never moved. It just stood there, waiting for her it seemed. Ahsaela wanted to run away from the shadow, but she felt no control over her footsteps. The dream was controlling her actions. The rain began to fall harder, making her gown soaking wet. It clung against every inch of her body, making her uncomfortably cold. What is lurking in that shadow? She wondered. Fear and adrenaline rushed through her when she finally faced the shadow. Her heart pumped frantically, as the shadow was no more, and the silvery moonlight revealed its true form. The beautiful light outlined the figure, making it clear that there was a person standing directly in front of her.
Ahsaela breathed outward, letting her see the coldness of her breath float between her and this mystery individual. Her careful eyes scanned the one standing in front of her. She couldn’t see the face, it was too dark, but she made out the contour of a man’s body frame. He wore all black clothing. Ahsaela guessed he was wearing a collared, long sleeved shirt and black pants, along with shiny black shoes. While, she studied his shoes, and the rain pouring all over them, she watched each drop of rain collide with the toe. The drops made quite a sound against his nice shoes. They would either bounce off and onto the ground or splatter harshly all over the rest of the shoe, making it sparkle even more under the moonlight. Okay, why am I just staring at his shoes? Ahsaela asked herself, snapping out of her daze. Surely admiring his shoes isn’t the reason I walked all this way…they are nice though, she added.
A deep chuckle escaped from his throat, as if he had heard her thoughts about his shoes. Fear replaced her curiosity at that moment, causing her heart to race again. She glanced up at him, trying to see his face. He was much taller than she, about 6’5” she guessed. His hands were shoved in his pockets, while he stood still as stone. He didn’t even look like he was breathing, she observed. All of the sudden he moved, ripping a black cloak out of nowhere and placing it around him. He lifted the hood over his head and slowly crept closer to Ahsaela.
The rain roared around them as she stood frozen still, waiting for him to come nearer, even though she didn’t want him to. She panted loudly, staring at the dark man while her heart felt as if it were going to leap out of her chest. He stopped his walk, placing himself only inches away from her. She could feel his cold breath on her face now. Ahsaela was as tall as his chin and could only see the bottom half of his face. The black hood covered his nose and eyes, concealing his identity. Is this even a dream anymore? She asked herself. This felt all too real to her. He tilted his head downward to look at her silently.
She gaped up at him, open mouthed, expecting him to pull out a knife and stab her to death or something. She crossed her wet arms around her chest, attempting to warm her body. The rain was freezing and her teeth chattered quietly while she shivered. Finally, she couldn’t take the anticipation any longer. Feelings of annoyance replaced her fear and she raised an eyebrow.
“Umm…are you here to kill me or something?” She spat out. “Cuz if you are, would you please get it over with, I’m frickin’ cold! This silence is killing me. And you creeping up to me all slow like that, what’s that for? This is turning in to a long ass dream; just get on with it already!” The hooded man threw back his head and laughed loudly, his sounds echoing into the night. His laugh sounded young and lively.
“Is this how you greet everyone you know?” He answered while a crooked smile spread across his white lips.
“First of all, I don’t know you, and second of all…yeah, no I don’t greet people I know like this. Well, if they were trying to act all mysterious and crap like you are I might behave this way. And third of all—“He cut her off by holding a pale finger up and placing it against her full wet lips.
“Shhh,” he started. “You know more than you remember, Ahsaela. You have no idea how long it’s been since I’ve had the pleasure of your company.” His creamy voice soothed her irritable mood immediately. When he spoke, it made her think of honey. Sweet warm honey poured out with his words, making her feel emotionally defenseless. Ahsaela gave in, and took his word for it.
“It’s so wonderful to see you again. You’re even prettier in this life than you were in the last.” He continued, pouring more sweet honey out of his mouth. He caressed her face with the back of his creamy hand, moving the wet strands of hair from her cheeks.
“Huh?” she answered. “Last-life-a-whata?” With that, her eyes popped open and found herself staring at the ceiling of her bedroom. A perplexed look upon her face, she stared around the room. “Jeez, what a weird dream.” She said to herself. Ahsaela wiped the crusties from her eyes and glanced at the clock on her desk. It was 10p.m. She sighed in relief for the fact that she wasn’t dreaming anymore. Could that even be considered a dream? She wondered. It was so vivid. She could hear, feel, see, and taste everything. All senses were active. The strangest part is, even though the man in the dream was a stranger, she felt oddly familiar with him. Now that she thought about it, his voice was so sweet, like candy. It was a voice that seemed to come from a very distant memory. Who was this man? She asked herself quietly.
Even more strange was the fact that the man had been referring to a past life Ahsaela apparently had. “I don’t even believe in past lives.” She muttered under her breath. Ahsaela and her family are devout Catholics and believe there’s only one life to live and you go to either heaven or hell, based on your deeds. This dream she had is going against everything she believes in, she realized. “Ah,” she began. “the very proof that that was really just a silly old dream.”
Debra poked her face into Ahsaela’s doorway and smiled sweetly, wearing a white bath towel. “Hey babe, you’re finally awake!” She exclaimed.
“Yeah.” Ahsaela replied, not sounding very enthused. Debra trotted away into the bathroom down the hall, while Ahsaela scrambled out of her bed. Scenes from the dream she just had kept popping into her mind. She quickly slipped on her sneakers that were lying next to the bed and grabbed her jacket off of the closet door. She needed some fresh air. She heard the faint sound of the shower going from the bathroom, as she swept down the hall. She loved the sound of water falling, it calmed her nerves. She stopped in her footsteps and lingered in the hall, listening to the shower for a moment. She smiled when she began to hear her mother singing an old Patsy Cline song. It was song about walking after midnight searching for someone.