This is a version of the entry AJ made for the last writing contest. It is and sorta isn’t cannon…
There is one question I ask myself each time I think about us, “Why can’t I remember you?” When I first met you out here in the real world I thought you were a dream come true, only to find out that was the absolute truth. You are my love, my light and you say we’ve been dreaming about each other since we were little.
So I lay across my bed thinking about you again. Delving behind the locked door that stored my childhood dreams and memories, looking for the answer to the one question that plagued my mind.
I watched the sequences play like a movie in my head…
The room was always the same with its white walls and wooden floor. But the air no longer whispered “monster”. My mother’s words no longer echoed in my head with Alex by my side. We played all night long building towers with lettered blocks. We didn’t care that the only word they ever spelled was “monster.” But we still took turns stomping on them like Godzilla. Alex even made the sounds like in the old movies. He made me laugh. Even then I loved him.
But it was time to go. Alex’s ice blue eyes sparkled as we hugged good-bye.
When I woke, I rubbed my eyes to clear the dream from my mind. It was morning and time to get to class. My roommates were still asleep as I hurried through my routine. I said my usual mantra as I walked to class. “Keep me safe and protect me from my demons.” They were just words, but I always felt safer after saying them.
And as always, I was early for class behind the orange door. I was the only student in Mr. Garrett’s class. Everyone said I was dangerous. I was a fire-starter, and he was teaching me to control the fire within. And everyday he’d send me into a dream-like state and everyday he’d come in and hurt me, scare me to with in an inch of my life – just so I could learn control.
He wasn’t there when I pushed the orange door open. I set my belongings in the corner where I always did. I took up my position by the wall under the large window that overlooked the room and stood with my feet under my hips a foot away from the wall. I pressed my long fingers into the wall in front of me, and I leaned forward. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and I waited for Mr. Garrett to join me.
This time I drifted back to sleep. I hadn’t thought I was that tired, but Alex and I must have played hard the night before. The memories were fading, but those ice blue eyes and his little voice always stayed with me. He was my best friend, my only friend.
The dream room was the same as it always was with its white walls and wooden floor. The blocks still scattered on the floor from last nights play session. I picked up the little blocks we’d stacked earlier and put them in their colored bins. Each lettered block I touched spelled out the same word. “Monster.” Block after block. Even the wind in the curtains whispered “monster.”
A familiar voice sounded behind me, “Hey, Nox, I thought you had to get up for class?”
“I did. I fell asleep waiting.” I whispered as if I were actually in class. “You should go before he comes in.”
Alex asked, “Who?”
I shook my head. “The shadow demon. You don’t want to be here.”
I tried to get Alex to leave, but I heard the orange door clang shut in the real world. Then, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I winced underneath the touch. Mr. Garrett laughed as I heard him sit down in the metal folding chair beside me. And just as Alex had appeared so did he. It was how we always had lessons, inside my head, where scars didn’t form.
Mr. Garrett never looked like he did in the real world. He was always a shadow with glowing red eyes. Those bright red eyes looked from me to Alex, and a toothy grin spread across the shadow’s face. He reached for Alex and I screamed, “No!”
The shadow wound Alex up with his long arms and splayed him like I stood in the real world. His shirt ripped from his body and tentacles of fire and ice, air and water formed above Alex. He tried to scream but couldn’t. His eyes were wide and his mouth gagged with the shadows own form.
And for the first time I formed fire willingly. I was afraid of the fire ever since my mother sent me away. But this was Alex, my friend, and Mr. Garrett would not hurt him. I wove with quickness and clarity the simplest thing I could, a ball. The massive ball of fire flew across the space and shattered into a thousand pieces. The shock of my achievement knocked me out of the dream.
I fell to my knees as Mr. Garrett sat still in his chair beside me. “No. Please don’t hurt, Alex. I’ll do anything. Everything you want,” I begged and pleaded clutching Mr. Garrett’s pant leg, but he wasn’t listening to me. My heart was racing, my blood pumping through my veins so hard it was all I could hear.
And then without any warning, Mr. Garrett patted my shoulder, “That was well done, Nox. You can go today. That was excellent control.” He spoke as if nothing had happened. LIke he hadn’t just tried to hurt my friend. He was never so nice. I blinked at my teacher, but I wasn’t about to stall with permission to leave. I scurried across the floor on my hands and knees and grabbed my things. I stood and rushed out the door.
I flung open the door to my room and I flopped on my bed. I tried to dream. I tried to fall asleep, but the whispers in the room did not come.
I didn’t have enough time before I to go about my day. I uncurled from my bed, and trudged out of my room. I wanted the day to end.
The day dragged on and on until it was finally time for lights out when I eagerly pulled my blankets over my head and blocked out all the sounds of my roommates snoring.
I needed to see him. I needed to see Alex.
After hours of lying in bed trying, I finally drifted into the darkness. Relief flooded my body when the room appeared.
But something was different this time. While there was relief, I didn’t know why I should be relieved. I looked around the room and saw white walls and wooden floor, wondering why I was here, and then the self-defacing whispers started. Each whisper echoed my self-worth. I was a monster, it echoed in my head every day, every hour, every minute, and every second of every day. I was a monster.
I dumped out the blocks and they clattered to the floor. Even that racket didn’t drown the whispers. “Monster,” called out from every corner of the room.
I tried to ignore the whispers as I stacked the blocks. “Monster.” And each block I placed in the towers added to the dismay. “Monster.” Everything was telling me I was a monster.
And then a voice from nowhere echoed in the room. “Hey.” I turned to look, and I saw a pair of familiar ice blue eyes smiling back at me. His voice, his very appearance made me smile, but I didn’t know him.
“Hey.” I replied back. I didn’t know him, but the whispers died down and I was grateful to see his ice blue eyes, though I had no idea why.
He nodded to the blocks, “Can I play with you?”
“Sure.” I handed him a block, and we started building towers with blocks that spelled out the word “monster” and neither of us cared about anything other than the fun we were about to have.
I blinked my eyes as the sequence continued over and over again. The white room with the wooden floor and colorful blocks. We played, became friends and yet I never remembered who you were. I was a blank slate, night after frustrating night. Why you didn’t hate me for this I’d love to know. Forgetting you every night. But I don’t regret it. I’d give up the world for you. I don’t know how it happened but Garrett never touched you again. He couldn’t touch what I didn’t remember.