Beams of moonlight filtered into my bedroom like snow drifting from the heavens. On the heaven-sent beams of moon dust, I saw a life-my life, and what it could be. If I had the courage to go all-in. I don’t have the required courage. I’ve risked it all before and came home empty handed.
As I stood on the brink of my dream, I considered my life. In vivid detail, much like my dream, I viewed my life from one fascinating scene to the next. The film began with my birth in the hospital. My poor mom struggled to give birth to me for an agonizing 28 hours. Above my mother’s bed was a list of potential traits I could’ve selected. Except I wasn’t born, and that nullified my choice. Instead, my traits were selected by the shaky hands of fate.
I shivered. All that I am boiled down to the selections of fate. It’s been said you can’t outrun your destiny. My parents hadn’t chosen for me to be an aggressive, anxiety-filled, rageaholic. My future was carved out by the unseen hand of what amounted to a non-playable character.
The next scene was of me when I started kindergarten. I was fascinated by the toys that littered the playground, and I couldn’t wait to try out the see-saw. After our morning exercises, my group copied our letters on sheets of paper, then we were released to play. I raced outside and sat on the see-saw. My classmates paired off and played on various items. I was alone.
Days passed, and I made few friends. One friend, Joey was his name, disliked playing on the see-saw. He claimed he had a bad experience once, and besides, he liked to zip down the slide. So, I relinquished my dream of playing on the see-saw, and I began to follow Joey on the slide.
Joey and I remained friends until elementary school. As we started the first grade, the scene changed. Mrs. Birdy Birdwatcher, BB to her colleagues, gazed at her new class, and smacked a wooden ruler in her open palm. I panicked a bit; my dad was one of her old students. BB had taught for over forty years, she wasn’t intimidated by students or her superiors. Over her horn-rimmed glasses her cold eyes bored holes into us.
“Timothy Wilson, front and center.”
I squirmed in my seat. She sounded like a drill sergeant, a rowdy soldier who was the most feared thing new soldiers faced upon entering the military. Of course, I’m six years old. I had no idea what a drill sergeant was, or how rowdy or feared they were. I had heard stories, but I had no proof to back up said stories.
“Here,” I squeaked weakly. My kiddy voice cracked loudly, and giggles were heard in the background.
“Are you stupid, Wilson? I said front and center.”
My legs trembled and almost buckled, but I rose to my feet and walked to the center of the room. She walked from behind her desk and stood in front of me.
“Give me your right hand,” she demanded. I extended my hand, and she gripped it firmly. Without hesitation she slammed the ruler against my palm. This happened numerous times. Tears came to my eyes, I couldn’t understand why she had treated me this way.
“Your father had that coming. He escaped without paying his due. Now, all is right in the world. Go sit down.”
I looked at the floor and walked to my desk. Inscribed upon the desk was the words: I hate Birdy. In my six-year-old mind, I totally agreed with the sentiment.
The scene had ended with a close-up of Birdy’s face. A veil, somewhat like a long theater curtain, dropped slowly over the scene, and Birdy disappeared into the ether of my memories.
“What is going on?”
In the dusk of the closed scene, a small light shimmered in front of the veil. With a pop, much like a gunshot, a petite woman equipped with snow white wings landed softly in front of me.
“Hey stranger. It’s been years since we visited.” I was paralyzed by what I had just witnessed. I tried to smile but it came out a grimace.
“Um, who’re you?”
“I must say how disappointed I am to hear you voice that question, Timothy.”
“I’m Anna, you know, your imaginary friend? We met on the playground in kindergarten. Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten me.”
I shook my head no, it wasn’t because I remembered Anna, but because she seemed to be the type of figment from my imagination that you didn’t want to anger.
“Of course not, Anna. You have always had a special place in my heart.” She smiled. This unreal figment of imagination smiled at me.
“I am warmed by your remembrance.”
“Why are you here, Anna?”
“What do you mean, Timothy? Why have I visited you in your dream? Or why I disappeared after your incident with Joey in fifth grade?”
My head had begun to ache. I get the worst migraine headaches; the doctor has told me that it’s a symptom of my epilepsy. I tend to believe they’re caused by stress-such as having met your non-real friend in a dream, while you and her watched scenes of your life in high definition.
“Either,” I answered. My voice rose, and she turned her head at my inflection. Her bluish-grey eyes showed a coldness I’d never seen before. “I’m sorry, Anna. My head has felt like it is being pummeled from the inside with sledgehammers.” She nodded, and her auburn colored curls bounced with the motion. She remained silent for the time being.
The next scene drifted from an unseen ceiling. On the screen Joey and I had entered the fifth grade. “Watch this scene carefully, Timothy.” Joey and I had remained friends throughout the years leading to the fifth grade. We had drifted off and found some friends outside of our friendship, but we always came back together.
We both had discovered Angie Walkman in the first grade. She was the prettiest girl in the class, and all the boys wanted to be her friend. I was no different, and neither was Joey. Angie’s family was the richest in the small town of Morriston. At our age riches didn’t mean a whole lot. We only cared that we could have fun together.
Still, Angie became a source of frustration for me, but that’s a story for later. We would go out at playtime and sit on the see-saw. She was the only person who would ride the toy with me. It made me feel good having her play with me. Joey would watch from his slide, and at lunch we all sat together.
By the time we made it to the fifth grade, Joey and I had pieced together our limited knowledge of girls from JCPenney catalogs, some nudie magazines that a boy named Claude had stolen from his dad’s truck, and our imaginations. We thought we were ready to enter the dating pool.
“Do you remember how your first kiss went, Timothy?” Anna snickered at my memory, but my first kiss still made me smile.
Angie, myself and Joey walked into the homeroom and waited for roll call. Mr. Decker stood before the blackboard and called off names. “Here,” I answered when called upon. Angie and I had English for our first class, so we walked together to Room # 6. Joey watched us until we entered the room. Angie touched my hand, and I gazed into her hazel eyes. “She’s so classy,” I whispered to myself. On a loose piece of paper, I wrote, “will you be my girlfriend?” Ms. Amber Frazier was writing out words on the blackboard, so I pushed the letter to Angie. She covered it with her hand and peeped at it when everyone’s attention was diverted by Ms. Frazier.
I looked at Angie and when her eyes met mine, she smiled. She pointed at the piece of paper and nodded yes. My heart raced at her acceptance. I was thrilled. In the middle of class, she leaned toward me and our lips touched. Anna, my uninvited dream terrorist, sighed heavily and batted her eyes.
“Isn’t that so romantic? You asked her to be yours on a piece of paper.”
“I was ten years old.”
“And that matters, why? You should’ve manned up and asked her to be yours without a freaking note.”
The scene froze on our ‘kiss.’ I remembered it fondly. My body quaked from the passion I felt that day. It was a day of days.
“Have you forgotten how Joey took the news?”
My smile disappeared. I hadn’t forgotten, I wished I could forget, but I couldn’t. Anna gazed at me and waited for my response.
“No, I haven’t forgotten his response.”
After English, Angie and I walked down the hallway holding hands. Am I the only one who thought the hallways in elementary school were massive? Joey watched as we approached.
“What’s all this then?” Angie smiled as I told my best friend that we were now together. Joey nodded and walked away. I was torn between spending time with Angie before next period and chasing after my best friend. I spent the time practicing kissing with Angie.
At the end of the day, Angie and I waited for Joey at our usual spot next to the bus stop. We sat on the bench and talked and kissed. After a particularly amazing kiss, I opened my eyes and saw Joey cross the street to avoid walking home with us.
“He’s mad at us, Angie.”
“He’ll be okay. I rejected his note.”
“He asked you to be his girlfriend?”
“Yes, he’s asked every year since the first grade.”
I stopped in my tracks, my mouth agape at the news that my best friend wanted Angie for his own. “You’re kidding,” I stuttered.
“No, I wouldn’t lie to you. Why are you so upset?”
“He’s my friend, Angie. He probably felt like I betrayed him.” She kissed me lightly on the lips and giggled.
“It’s so sweet that you’re worried about him. He was never concerned that you would be heartbroken if I accepted him.”
“Why was he rejected?”
She turned and looked at me. Angie placed one hand on her hip, and her other hand swept her brown hair out of her face.
“Why does it matter, Timothy?”
“It doesn’t, but I would like to know.”
“Joey, I’ve discovered, is very jealous. When angered he loses all control. That’s not what I wanted. I desired to be with you, but you made me wait until now to get it.”
The rest of our walk flew by. Before I knew it, we stood before her massive home. She kissed me and said goodbye. I watched until she disappeared from view.
I felt as light as a feather as I raced home. “I’ve got a girlfriend….I’ve got a girlfriend…” I blasted up the stairs and into the house. On the couch sat Joey.
His eyes were red from crying. He clenched and unclenched his fists and watched me for a long moment.
“Oh boy, I’m about to get the business.” Joey never punched me. The scene closed with the question Joey asked me that day.
“Why wouldn’t she love me?”