by Tara Times
When she's told she's not from this world, Tara searches for answers elsewhere.
These were the kind of days that made Tara Morgan want to go home, crawl under the covers, and sleep all day. She hated sitting in science class listening to Mr. Harolds drone on and on about how the class needed to shut up and act their age. Not everyone in the class deserved to be sitting here about to fall asleep of boredom because of a few certain people’s actions.
“It’s like this everyday. Give them ISS and let us all get on with our lives, please!” Tara thought to herself.
There was a knock on the door and Mr. Harolds hesitated, looked at the door, and gave the class a look that said to shut up. He opened the door with a tired sigh and standing there was the most gorgeous boy Tara had ever seen in her sixteen years of living.
“Hello. Are you Mr. Harolds?” the boy asked with a definite shyness.
“Ah yes, and you must be Gale Primmers. Please have a seat beside Tara at table section four,” Mr. Harolds said while pointing right at me. “There isn’t much left to class today so just listen and follow along in the textbook under your desk.”
Gale walked toward the table with his eyes glued to the ground, as if there were a famous picture painted there. He sat down and didn’t move for the rest of the class period. He just stared forward like he was actually listening to what Mr. Harolds was babbling on about. The fact that he didn’t move at all made Tara just as still.
Tara noticed that Gale had very deep blue eyes. It seemed strange, but they actually looked almost purple. He had shaggy blonde hair and in some spots, as crazy as this sounds, she thought she saw gold. Real gold streaks shining, but no one else seemed to be really looking at this strange hair of his, or his meticulous purple looking eyes.
“Ok no one else seems to notice this stuff, so I must be seeing things,” Tara thought.
Tara turned slightly toward Gale to get a better look. Just as she turned, so did Gale. They were both staring at each other when suddenly the class bell rang. Neither of them made any attempt to get up and go to their next class. They were the last two people in the classroom when Gale finally spoke.
“Would you happen to know where Mrs. Saws class is? I’m new at this school and I don’t really know where anything is,” he asked in his quiet voice.
Tara nodded and when she spoke her voice sounded just as shy as Gale’s had. “Um, yeah sure. Do you know where the main office is?” He shook his head yes, so Tara went on with her instructions. “Ok then, just take a right and her class is at the very end of the hall.”
“Thanks. I guess I’ll see you around school then,” Gale said.
“No problem. See you later,” Tara mumbled.
When Tara finally got to her next class she caught up to her best friend, Gemma Springfield. “Hey! Did you see the new guy yet?” Tara asked.
“Yeah, I did, and he’s totally hot, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Sierra is already scoping him out,” replied Gemma.
Sierra Wash was the school’s most popular girl. She had long red hair. The kind of red hair that made her head look like it was on fire. It flowed down her shoulders in a waterfall of dainty curls. Sierra’s eyes were as green as the leaves on the trees. She had freckles that made her look like she was a little girl, which was probably one of the reasons no one could ever refuse her. Sierra Wash was basically perfect.
“Yeah, but I really don’t think Gale is like that,” Tara said with a thoughtful expression.
Gemma turned toward Tara with a confused look on her face and said, “ Oh my gosh! You’ve talked to him haven’t you? Wow you must really like him if you’re going to compete with Sierra for him!”
“No! I don’t like him or anything. He just asked me where his next class was. I seriously don’t think that he’s anything like Sierra. He like never moved when I was sitting next to him in science! It was like he was scared to move or something. Really, I have never seen anyone sit so still.” Tara corrected Gemma.
“Wow. Ok, well he seems a lot different than he looks. It probably won’t be long until he’s sitting with the other freaks at lunch. The only thing that’s probably keeping him from being unnoticed is the way his looks stand out from every other guy. I mean have you seen his blonde hair? It’s gorgeous!” commented Gemma.
Tara didn’t say anything. She loved Gemma to death, but lately she’d been acting a lot different. Tara had known Gemma since the first grade. They lived right next to each other and one day Tara’s cat had accidentally gotten outside. It was Gemma who knocked on Tara’s door with Tara’s cat in her arms. Gemma had found it under her father’s pick-up truck. They were best friends every since that day.
Tara really didn’t have anything else to say to Gemma for the rest of the class. She was too afraid that she might add something to her last comment about Gale being a freak. It really wasn’t her place to be making assumptions on someone she had never even met! She just kept quiet until class was over and she could get away from Gemma.
When Tara got to lunch she was automatically looking for Gale. Not so much as to sit with him or anything, but more as to see where he was sitting. She really didn’t want him to be sitting with the other freaks, like Gemma had said, but she especially didn’t want him to be sitting with Sierra. She didn’t exactly know why she didn’t want him to be with Sierra, but there was nothing she could do about it even if he was. But Tara didn’t even know him! So really why should she care, right?
Tara got up to the lunch line and ordered one Pepsi. She wasn’t very hungry at all today for some odd reason. She got to her usual table and sat next to Gemma and Todd.
Todd was one of her best friends. Their parents had been best friends growing up, too. Tara had, of course, met Todd in her first year of preschool. Nothing could break their incredibly strong friendship. There was only one word to describe Todd: warm. Everything about Todd was warm. His eyes were a warm chocolate brown. The weird thing about Todd’s eyes was that they were the exact same shade of brown as his hair. His hair was in a sort of bowl cut, but not the kind that made someone’s head look bigger than their body. His rounded baby-face curved along with his hair to make him look warm and inviting. It was sort of a hypnotic thing. He had a look that said “you can trust me with your deepest secret” and Tara knew that she could. Even his personality was warm. He absolutely never had anything bad to say about anyone! Todd was just an all-around great friend and person.
When Tara sat down her friends automatically started talking to her, but she wasn’t even listening. She started casually looking around for Gale. She looked over at Sierra’s table and he wasn’t with her, so that was a total relief. Tara looked over at the table all of the freaks sat at, thinking that maybe Gemma had been right about him. He wasn’t there either. Tara must have looked at every table in the lunchroom four times before she finally gave up her frantic search. Her friends must have gotten tired of her not listening because they weren’t including her in their conversations any longer.
“Well, I guess he just didn’t want to eat today. Maybe he’s having such a bad day that he didn’t even want to show his face around his new classmates, or maybe he got lost in the school and can’t find his way to the cafeteria. Someone should go looking for him. What if he’s in some sort of trouble? No one would even think to go looking for the new guy. Maybe I’m just overreacting. But really, what if I’m not and I’m choosing between life and death at this very moment?” Tara kept thinking to herself. These were the kind of questions that kept rolling through her head all day long.
Pain was all I could feel. Everywhere there was pain. The kind of pain that takes your breath away, but doesn’t give it back. I didn’t know where I was, what time it was, or why I was there. When you’re in this kind of pain there is no way you could possibly think of anything but the pain.
I didn’t know how long I was sitting, or laying, or standing there. It could have been a minute or two, but it felt like years to me. How ever long it was, eventually the pain faded, replaced by drowsiness. I think I must have fallen asleep, because when I woke up I was fine, like nothing ever happened.
I opened my eyes to find nothing. Absolutely nothing! Everything was gray. I could not see one thing that wasn’t this dull, boring shade of gray. There were no houses, no trees, and worst of all, no people. It was like standing on a piece of pavement that stretched on into an endless world of nothingness.
When I tried to stand I could hardly keep myself from falling back down. It was like gravity was trying to pull me down through the gray abyss. I looked down at my fingers and they were sort of pruney, like I’d been in the shower for the past two hours. I examined the rest of my body and there didn’t seem to be anymore strange effects, other than the pruney fingers, shaky legs, and the fact that I was gray.
I bent down to tie my shoelaces and all of my blood rushed into my face, as if I were hanging upside down on monkey bars. All of the sudden I saw a tiny spot of red on my foot. I froze in the middle of tying my shoes and watched until my whole foot was covered in red. I tasted salt in my mouth. I realized what the red liquid was and my hands started shaking as I lifted them to my nose.
I was desperately trying to stay calm, but how was I supposed to do that when my nose was gushing blood, my legs were about to cave in, I had hands that looked like my granny’s, and everything but my blood was gray? My heart sped up, my breathing became rapid, and I was trying to stifle the thunderous scream that was about to erupt from my throat. I was able to keep the scream in, but I couldn’t stop the sobs that eventually worked their way out. Tears slid down my cheeks and I really didn’t care that I was crying, because obviously no one was here to watch.
I thought I was imagining things when I heard footsteps coming up behind me. They weren’t walking, whoever they were, but they were sprinting. I could hear their sneakers pounding against the ground very noisily.
It was a woman. She looked to be in her mid to late thirties. She had dirty blonde hair. When she got closer I could see that she really was dirty, like she had been rolling in dirt, or maybe homeless. I could tell that she wasn’t homeless though; because of the clothes and the necklace she wore.
She had on a very dull pink and brown shirt. I couldn’t be completely sure that the brown on her shirt wasn’t dirt, too. Aside from all of the dirt on this woman, she did have on a very shiny gold locket. It looked priceless, like something that would be top-notch in a jewelry store.
When she got up closer to me she almost didn’t stop. She was breathing very ragged. I barley caught what she was yelling at me.
“Run! They’re coming. There is no place they won’t find you!” she spat at me in a haggard breath.
I didn’t know what she meant, but she was the only other thing that I’d seen in this gray hole and I was not about to let her get away from me. She was about twenty feet ahead of me when I decided to run after her.
“Wait! Who are we running from?” I yelled, trying to catch up.
She turned and looked at me as if I’d lost my mind, like I should already know what she was talking about. Her eyes suddenly got wide with disbelief as she looked at me. It was like I was the first human being she’d ever seen.
I looked into this woman’s frantic eyes and suddenly my stomach dropped. I stopped dead in my tracks and let her go on without me. I don’t know how I didn’t notice the first time I looked at her; maybe it was the dirt in her blonde hair.
This woman’s hair was not just any blonde hair; in fact I’d only ever seen one other person like this. She had gold, shiny streaks underneath all of that dirt in her hair. What really made me realize the streaks in her hair were the meticulous purple looking eyes.
“Tara?” I heard someone calling to me. Something was shaking me. “Tara wake up! What on earth are you doing? You’re late for school,” the same voice was practically yelling in my ear now. I realized it was my mother and it took me a second to comprehend what she was talking about.
“School?” I mumbled incoherently. When I sat up quickly my head spun. I was extremely dizzy when suddenly my mom gasped. “What is it?” I asked, bringing my hand to my forehead, trying to steady
“Honey what happened? Your nose has been bleeding. Maybe you shouldn’t go to school today,” she said with wide eyes, her fingers over her lips.
“No, no I feel fine! I’m going to school. I’m fine, really mom,” I said, trying to reassure her. I really felt fine. I looked at my pillow and it was covered in crusty, brown blood. I didn’t know how that happened without me waking up. I looked at the clock and it was already seven twenty five.
“Great!” I thought to myself, “I’m late for geometry class. The day of the big test I just had to wake up late!”
“Are you sure you’re okay to go to school? I could make you some chicken and stars. I bet that would make you feel better,” mom said with a worried expression.
“Mom, I really have to go. I’m going to miss my geometry test,” I said while getting up to wash my face. Normally, I wouldn’t want to take this test, but Mrs. Simms told us that if we didn’t complete it we’d have to stay during lunch period to finish, and there was no way I was going to give up my free time for a math test!
Oh, who was I kidding? That really wasn’t the only reason I wanted to go to school. I wanted to know more about Gale. This dream sort of provoked me to learn more about him, even though I knew it wasn’t real or anything. It was probably one of those dreams that were caused by curiosity, or simply just because I was thinking about him.
I did think it was kind of strange how I had a nosebleed in the middle of the night. My nose hasn’t bled in seven years. When I was little I used to suffer from chronic nosebleeds, mainly at night. I had to go to the doctor over it and everything, but eventually they went away. In my opinion, they were caused by stress, but I wasn’t in a whole heap of it, was I?
When I arrived at school I asked the lady in the front office what period tenth grade was in. We were already in fourth period!
“Wow, this is just freaking dandy,” I thought while making my way up the never-ending school stairs, “I’m already in science class and I’ve nothing to ask Gale. I don’t even know how to act around him. I could barley keep myself from looking at him yesterday, so how am I going to act sane around him today?”
Before I knew it, I was standing in front of Mr. Harold’s classroom knocking on the door. I heard his familiar sigh of despair and pictured the death look he was surely giving the entire class.
The door flung open and there stood Mr. Harolds glowering down at me with the death look still glued to his face. I really don’t know why some people choose to be teachers when they know they’ll be waking up early every morning just to go be with the kids they know they hate! To me, it would seem like a no-brainer to be something like an accountant if you hated kids.
“Do you have a pass?” Mr. Harolds asked in a grumpy tone.
I disliked him so much that I just gave him the note in my hand, and didn’t say a word to him. He moved out of the doorway and told me to ask someone who sits near me to copy their notes. I nodded and walked quickly to my table, not enjoying the feeling of people looking at me.
I would have asked Gale if I could copy his notes, but I was just way too shy. Where was this girl that woke up determined to talk to the mysterious Gale? It was so stupid for me to feel like this. I was almost disgusted with myself.
“Don’t look at him. Don’t look at him. Whatever you do, DO NOT look at him!” I screamed in my head, staring at my ragged flip-flops.
“Hey Selena?” I asked when I sat down, “Can I barrow your notes for just a sec?”
“Sure,” she whispered, bending down to open her binder. She handed me her notes and I started copying, without listening to whatever Mr. Harolds was droning on about.
Papers started rustling around me, so I figured it was okay to take a peek at Gale. I looked over and he was writing, his purple eyes on his notebook paper. His hair was still extremely shiny and gold. I still don’t know how this hair of his didn’t boggle other people.
“Tara? Hey Tara? What are you looking at? Hello?” I finally realized someone was trying to get my attention.
“Oh, um nothing. What did you need?” I asked, kind of embarrassed that someone noticed my obnoxious staring.
“Are you finished with my notes yet?” Selena asked. I could definitely tell that she was holding back a giggle. I could also definitely feel the bright pink blush blooming on my cheeks.
“Yeah I am, thanks,” I muttered while handing her the piece of paper she needed. I really wasn’t done copying her notes, but it would have been humiliating to say no.
When the bell finally rang I got up quickly, trying to get out of class before Selena. I knew she would try and say something to me about my “day dreaming”, but luckily I was the first person out of the classroom. I saw Mrs. Simms walking by me in the hall and she pointed to me with narrow eyes.
“You need to come to my room to take that test during lunch Tara,” she said while passing me.
“Yes ma’am,” I said in a serious tone, making fun of her just the slightest bit. My next class –ceramics- was really exciting. We were working on our “faces”. We had to make a sculpture of our own faces and mine was a total mess! That was the fun of it though, right? Normally that class was a bore, but we were all making the weirdest faces, so we were pretty much laughing at each other the whole time.
“So Tara,” Gemma said in a casual voice, “Did you talk to Gale at all today?”
“No I didn’t,” I replied curtly, “In fact, I got here late, so I didn’t really have a chance to.”
“Ok sure,” Gemma said sarcastically. I was really getting tired of her attitude. This made me kind of glad that I had to take that math test at lunch. I pretty much ignored Gemma for the rest of class. I could tell she was getting frustrated with me because she kept trying to strike up a conversation. When I kept replying to her stupid questions with one-word answers like sure, yeah, ok, cool, and uh-huh she stormed right out of the classroom in an angry hush.
“Oh well,” I thought to myself, “She should have stopped acting like she knew everything if she wanted me to talk to her.”
The bell rang for lunch and I packed my books up very slowly, as if that would make me not have to take this test. I walked down the hall at a snail pace and I managed to make it to Mrs. Simms’s class five minutes late.
When I walked in the door I stopped very abruptly. Gale was sitting at one of the desks taking the same test I was about to take. I stood there for a second, because no one realized I was there, and listened in on his quiet conversation with Mrs. Simms.
“Do I need to do section E Mrs. Simms?” Gale asked, looking up from his test.
“If you want full credit for this work, then yes, you do,” she replied in her harsh voice. Why did she have to be so rude to Gale? He’s seemed pretty nice and he didn’t have an attitude or anything. Maybe she wasn’t being mean and maybe I just really hated all teachers. My pencils suddenly fell from my pencil pouch, which must have been opened this whole time, and they both looked up at me standing in the doorway. I noticed Gale looked quickly away, back at his test, as soon as our eyes met.
“Well there you are Tara,” Mrs. Simms said in a surprised voice, “I thought that maybe you’d forgotten to come! You can sit next to Gale and I’ll bring you a test.”
“Okay. Thank you Mrs. Simms,” I murmured while scrambling to pick up my pencils. I really would have rather sat across the room from Gale, but what could I say to Mrs. Simms?
It’s not like I can stand there and say, “Mrs. Simms, I really don’t want to be near Gale because I think he’s very distracting.” That would be horribly embarrassing and I don’t think that I could bare it.
“Well I guess I’ll just have to deal with getting one bad grade,” I thought wearily.
I sighed and made my way over to the desk next to Gale. Mrs. Simms gave me my test and went back to doing something at her computer in the back of the room. I looked at the first problem and realized that I hadn’t studied at all.
I was really slow during my test because I couldn’t think straight with Gale right next to me. It took all of my concentration to not look over at his hair. It was like the sun dropped pieces of light into it. How did other people keep from not going completely crazy around him?
I had two math problems left when Gale got up from his seat. I don’t know why it took him so long to finish when he was already on section E when I walked into the classroom. He should have been done ten minutes ago.
“It’ll only take me a second to grade this, Gale. You can stay and see your score if you’d like,” said Mrs. Simms. I finished my test while she was still grading Gale’s paper. I could feel Gale’s eyes on my face as I walked up to give my paper to Mrs. Simms. “I’ll have yours graded too Tara,” Mrs. Simms said without looking up from Gale’s test. She was very quick at grading our work and I was extremely embarrassed when she gave them back. I ended up failing it with a score of sixty-four.
“Gale had to do way worse than me on this if it was only his second day at our school. He hasn’t even really had time to study, has he?” I asked myself while trying to sneak a peak at Gale’s test score.
Oh my gosh! He had a one hundred percent written at the top of his paper. Mrs. Simms looked at him and smiled.
“I’m very impressed Gale,” she said with much enthusiasm. “Were you in advanced math classes at your old school?”
It took him a minute to decide what to say, like he was choosing his words very carefully. He finally looked at her and said, “Yes, I guess you could say that.”
“Well it definitely shows! Great job,” she said and turned to me. “ Tara, you have not been getting very good grades in my class. I’ve seen your report card and you have all A’s, except in my class. I’m determined to get you up to a B by next report card, but it will take some hard work. Are you up for it?”
I was infinitely embarrassed for life. Well, now he knew that my grade was at least a C. My actual grade happens to be a D in math, but no one needed to know about that. My voice was out of order for the moment, so I just nodded my head.
“Good then. I think the one thing that would help you the most is a tutor,” she said, looking from me back to Gale. “Gale I really think you would be the perfect tutor, if you have time, that is. Would you like to help Tara?”
“It’s fine with me,” he said, a smile in his voice.
“Is that okay with you Tara?” Mrs. Simms asked me.
I’m sure I had the deer-in-the-headlights look and I knew my voice was still out of order. I ended up squeaking out, “Sure.”
“Okay well you two can get together before school, after school, weekends, or whenever. It really doesn’t matter to me. That’s just something you’ll have to talk about,” she said while getting up and walking out of the room.
It was kind of awkward until Gale said, “Well I’m free for Friday afternoon. We could go to Cascada College. I think they’re out for spring break. There wouldn’t be anyone there to disturb us.”
“Ok that’s fine. Are we just going to walk there after school?” I asked, trying to avoid his eyes by looking busy gathering my books.
“Yeah, it’s not really that far,” he replied.
“Okay. I’ll just have to ask my mom, ya know, just to be sure,” I said.
“Wow what a dorky thing to say! Ask my mom? What am I, a sixth grader?” I chastised myself.
“Okay that’s cool,” he said and grinned. He must have noticed how embarrassed I was for saying that.
We were standing there kind of looking at each other when the bell rang and students started walking down the halls and filling into classrooms.
“Bye,” we both said at the same time when we came out of the classroom. I turned to walk away and so did he. I watched him go until I was certain I would be late for my next class. This one day really led me to get to know Gale Primmers.
“That one’s a smiley,” I said while pointing up at a cloud that probably looked nothing of the sort.
“No no no! It’s definitely a bird,” Gale argued, but not in an argumentative voice. This was our second month of math tutoring and we were lying outside of Cascada College looking up at the white, puffy clouds. It was a private college and when I say private, I mean private. There were hills and hills of green, lush grass surrounding the sides and back of the towering building. It kind of looked like one of those golf courses on a video game that has a thick forest of trees surrounding the edges of the neatly cut grass. There was nothing behind the school, just miles and miles of trees. It’s as if our while city ended right here at Cascada.
“Well we better get back to the study lesson,” Gale sighed while sitting up on one elbow. “Isn’t it a good thing that the professors here went on strike? I mean it’s so peaceful here. You couldn’t ask for a better place to study.”
“Yeah it is,” I agreed, “but I like having people around me sometimes. It’s kind of strange not seeing people on campus, almost like a ghost town.”
“Huh, I never thought of that. I wonder what it looks like inside, without people in the halls.”
“You want to find out?” I asked, raising my eyebrows mischievously.
“Are any of the doors unlocked?” Gale asked while turning and looking back at the building.
“Well normally the doors to the gym are open to anyone who wants to use them.”
Just then Gale got up, ran over to the gym door, and yanked on the handle. Sure enough, they were unlocked. He turned to me and grinned, then sprinted inside.
“Gale wait!” I called as I got up quickly to follow. I don’t think I’ve ever told you this, but I’m deathly afraid of the dark! When I looked into that huge gym it was pitch black and I definitely couldn’t see Gale. I poked my head through the dark entrance and yelled, “Gale where are you?”
“Over here Tara! Come on, I wont let anything bite you!” I heard Gale say, but I still couldn’t see him. “Mmkay…” I muttered and slowly walked inside. I heard footsteps to my left and tried to follow them. “Gale? Is that you?” I was about to have a panic attack. “Okay Gale this is really funny, but knock it off.”
“I’m right here,” he breathed in my ear. I didn’t even hear him walk up behind me.
“Where are the lights?” I asked, almost shaking from being this close to Gale.
“Does it really matter Tara? Do you really need lights?” Gale asked. He was talking in a whisper. I could feel him standing right behind me, hear his steady breathing as he waited for me to answer.
“How am I supposed to see without them?” I murmured sarcastically.
“Really open your eyes Tara.”
“They are opened Gale.”
“Is it still dark?”
“Well duh, there are no lights. Everything is supposed to be dark!”
“Okay close your eyes.”
“Alright, I’ll play along,” I said closing my eyelids. Right then Gales hands were sliding up and down my arms, scaling the length from my shoulders back down to my wrists. His fingertips were barely touching my skin, but that was enough to give me chill bumps. All of my muscles were tensed up and I was as stiff as a board.
“Relax Tara. Deep breath in and let it out. Deep breath in and let it out,” he whispered closely to my ear. I took a few deep breaths and relaxed to the best of my efforts. “Darkness is nothing to be scared of. You’ll have to learn that.” I didn’t know what he meant by that and I was getting to where I was so relaxed I could have fallen asleep. “You have to trust it, not run from it. Don’t think of it as your enemy. Think of it as your new home- your new world.” I tried to think about what he was saying. I kind of understood him. I guess some people wouldn’t get it. Maybe you’d have to be deathly afraid of the dark, or have the hottest, out-of-this-world guy standing behind you, telling you not to be afraid, to get exactly what Gale was saying. Either way, I totally knew what he meant. “Okay. Now I’m going to count to three and I want you to think of darkness as the light to your new world. When I say three open your eyes. Got it?”
“Okay. One… two… three.”
“Urg!” I moaned as I rolled over on my bed.
“Some dream,” I thought, “What the heck? I’ve had those weird dreams for over a month now! It’s really getting on my nerves!” The weird thing about these dreams was that they were totally the right time and date as real life and they seem absolutely possible. Gale and I were in our second month of tutoring and I’ve noticed other very strange, but similar, things relating to these dreams and real life.
You know how I had goose bumps right before that dream ended? Well I had them when I woke up too. And you know the grass that Gale and I were lying on? Well I had a grass stain on my right knee from when I got up too quickly to chase after him into that godforsaken gym!
I rolled over to look at my alarm clock, which obviously did not work because the sun was shining brightly through my windowsill. My clock said it was one o’clock in the afternoon!
“I guess it’s a good thing it’s Sunday,” I said to myself, “Wait -Sunday?! Oh no!”
Gale was going to be here any minute to pick me up for our study session. I really couldn’t call and cancel this one because I had a huge test on Monday and I honestly didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
I hopped up out of bed and blinked a few times, trying to shake the sleepiness out of my head. Then I threw on the first thing that I saw on my bedroom floor, which was a pair of jeans and an ugly yellow t-shirt. I brushed my teeth and washed my face, hoping to get some of the sleep to wash from my eyes. I was in the middle of putting my hair up into a sloppy bun when the doorbell buzzed.
“I’ve got it!” Mom yelled up to me from downstairs. I really would have rather answered the door because my mother hasn’t met Gale yet and she’d probably think he was a date or something that came to pick me up. I could just imagine her asking him all kinds of questions and telling him embarrassing facts about me.
Running quickly to my dresser, I grabbed my wallet and some sunglasses, then I quietly made my way down the stairs and into the living room to see if my mother was talking about me. Mom and Gale were standing closely together and whispering violently, as if they were old friends catching up after years of separation. They both noticed me watching silently and looked up at me, like they were children caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
I was very confused. My mother has never met Gale through me, I was certain. Feeling very excluded I asked, “Mom have you met Gale?”
“Honey I think you should sit down. There’s something I need to tell you,” she said slowly and with effort.
I looked back and forth from Gale to mom several times before the phone rang. I automatically ran to get it, happy to get away from that “serious” conversation. I mean really, what could they possibly need to tell me? And since when did my mom know Gale?
Several more questions ran through my mind as I picked up the phone and said, “Hello?”
“Hey Tara!” a voice I instantly recognized as Gemma Springfield boomed on the other end of the line.
“Hey Gemma. What are you up to?”
“Not much, but I was just thinking and I realized that Todd’s birthday is on Wednesday. He told me he wasn’t going to have a party this year and you know me –I never let a chance like this go by. I was just thinking the maybe we could throw him a surprise party at that new club downtown. I think it’s called ‘Seventeen’?” Gemma babbled on.
“Yeah that sounds great! When are you planning on throwing it?”
“Wednesday night around six.”
“Oh okay. I guess you’ve called and made reservations right?”
“Yeah, but I’m going to be really busy planning the party for the next few days and I was wondering if you could make the guest list?” she pleaded into the phone.
“Um sure. Around how many people were you planning to invite to this thing?”
“Between seventy and eighty.”
Geez. “Alright I’ll have it for you on Monday morning.”
“Perfect! Thanks Tara!”
“No problem. Bye Gemma.”
I hung the phone up and slowly walked back to the living room where my sudden presence interrupted my mother in the middle of saying, “No I just don’t think she should know yet.”
“Know what mom?” I asked curiously while I sat next to Gale on the couch.
My mother rubbed her eyes wearily and sighed. She finally looked up at me and said, “Honey I never really wanted you to know this, but we’re not really from here.”
“What? We’ve always lived in this house –for as long as I can remember,” I said, completely astonished.
“That’s just it, you don’t remember. It doesn’t change who you really are though. I knew I’d have to tell you sometime. When I said that we weren’t from here I mean we’re not from this world,” she replied quickly.
I laughed out loud. “Wow mom, you really had me there for a minute with that me not remembering thing!” I sputtered between laughs, “Ok Gale, I think we can go now.” I got up from the couch and started heading for the door.
“No Tara. She’s telling you the truth. Where do you think I came from?” Gale asked me with every serious bone in his body. They really meant it.
“I’m not an alien, if that’s what you’re trying to tell me. I know who I am and you can’t just barge in my life and try to tell me otherwise!” I glared at Gale, suddenly furious. “My life is perfect how it is, Gale!”
“I never said you were and alien! You are from my world, though. I can tell just by looking at you. Your hair is gold, really gold. The first day I came to this world and I had to sit next to you in science I couldn’t even look you in the eyes because they were such a deep purple,” he said while pulling me back down to sit on the couch.
“Have you gone completely insane? I have brown hair and blue eyes. I would know, I look in the mirror every morning!” I practically yelled at him.
Gale turned to my mother and asked, “Have you not told her anything about what she is?”
“I was letting her live a normal and safe life for as long as possible,” she answered calmly.
I really hate being left out of conversations and not knowing something, especially when it’s about me. I couldn’t take it anymore so I screamed, “Tell me!”
My mom turned to me and said, “Tara, where we are from you and Gale are the most important people in the world –literally. That world is nothing like Earth. It’s just the opposite. Here, we are always awake during the day and asleep at night, but the people there sleep all day so they can be alert in the darkness.
“Why do they have to be awake at night? What do Gale and I have to do with that world?” I asked anxiously.
This time Gale turned to me and answered, “There is a certain amount of light The Seam –that world –can have. It’s not like Earth. Light is very important to the society. There isn’t a sun there, so light is scarce. We have to keep the light safe and obviously no one can watch it twenty-four hours a day, so the leaders of The Seam pick a few people to store the light in. Normally there are two generations of one set of people, if that makes any sense. There is a younger generation and an older generation.”
“What does this have to do with me though?” I asked.
“You Tara,” mom exclaimed, “are one of the people that contain the light in the younger generation. Gale is the other.”
“Why would the leaders pick me to guard something they consider so important?”
“There are two royal families in The Seam –our family and Gale’s. Your father and I were very good friends with Gale’s parents. When Clarity –Gale’s mother –and I found out we were pregnant at the same time we automatically decided to store the light in our children,” mother explained quickly.
This was way too much for me in one morning. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure this was all real, you know? Think about it for a second… What if you’ve lived your whole life like every other kid for sixteen whole years and a guy from another world comes in and changes everything? Would you honestly think that you yourself aren’t even from the planet that you’ve always called home?
Yeah, I didn’t think so!
“Wait! What did you say? You told me dad died in a car accident when I was still a baby. So that’s not true?” I asked. We never talked about my father. Maybe this was why.
“To answer that I guess I would have to answer your first question about why they would have to be awake at night,” Mom began, “When you and Gale were just born there was a terrible danger lurking in the shadows of The Seam. These things –we call them Striders –tried to steal the light from one of the older Keepers –those few people who contain the light.
“It was just too dangerous for all of the Keepers to stay in The Seam. Your father suggested that we come to Earth and live for a while because it’s the only world that somewhat resembles The Seam. We not only did this for our child’s safety, but also because we couldn’t risk the Striders stealing all of our light. If they did we would all die. Unfortunately your father had to stay home and help rule The Seam. I haven’t seen him since the day we left.”
“Whatever,” I said tiredly to no one in particular, “This is probably just one of those stupid, realistic dreams again. I can’t freaking get rid of these things! Wake up already Tara!”
Just then Gale erupted with laughter. “What’s so funny?” I asked. He was about to get on my last nerves.
“Sorry Tara,” Gale answered, “That was partly my fault. You see, all of the Keepers can send each other a dream, but the key is that they both have to be asleep at the same time. It’s not really a dream though. Actually it’s real, but we all explain them as dreams because they only happen when you are asleep. It’s like our own secret chat room in person. You can set the room up any way that you like, sort of like a movie set. You can even change the time and date without saying anything to the other Keeper; they will have already comprehended the necessary information when entering the dream. The only thing is that when you wake up you’re still in the same place you were when you went to sleep. We’ve gained this privilege so that we can all still communicate even when we are worlds apart. I could see how you’d think it was a dream, but the truth is that we were really talking to each other.”
I thought about all of the times Gale and I had talked to each other in our sleep for the past two months. Most of them were the same dreams, like the dark gym, but there was one that Gale was not the star of.
“You weren’t there the first night,” I said to him very confused.
“What are you talking about?” he asked just as confused as I was.
“Well you weren’t in the dream,” I explained, “There was a girl there. She looked like she was in her mid to late thirties. Maybe she was your mom. She had really gold hair and purple eyes, like you.”
“You saw Freia! She’s been missing for three months now. It’s very strange that she would try and contact you. Freia is one of the older generation Keepers. She isn’t my mother Tara,” Gale said matter-of-factly.
“But she looked like you!” I argued.
“Ooh,” Gale sighed, “There are so many things to teach and to explain! Tara, the Keepers are the only people that have the golden hair and purple eyes. It’s the only way for other people to recognize us.”
“But I don’t have that hair or those eyes! Mom, maybe you got the wrong baby when I was born,” I turned to her.
“No you are my truthful daughter Tara. Only other Keepers and people from The Seam can see your special features,” she answered.
“Well this is stupid,” I yelled, “I’m not changing my life after sixteen years of living like this!”
I got up from the couch and stormed outside to the car. Gale rushed after me, but I was still fumbling in my pockets for the car keys. He grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the car.
“Tara stop it! Come back inside and we’ll talk about everything. I’m sorry that I’ve had to rush in and change everything! Please don’t go,” he pleaded.
I saw my mother standing in the doorway with tears in her eyes. I really could care less though. Who is she to just decide to ruin my life? Did she even ask me if I wanted to be a part of that other world? No, she didn’t! She can’t just make my decisions for me anymore.
“Let go,” I snarled at Gale and jerked my hand away. I jumped into the car and roared the engine before I backed out of the driveway