We now resume our regularly scheduled program…
We begin the morning Ashlynn awakens from the strangest dream in her life…
Pepper had moved in and it had now been a month or so since she had joined the family. Ashlynn didn’t notice anything different. Pepper had been always hanging around anyway. Now she just did it in her pajamas.
Pepper whispered to Ida, but she was the sort of woman with the sort of whispers that were loud enough to hear across a room.
Pepper: “I’m ovulating, we should go try again for that baby.”
Ashlynn’s face twisted in disgust.
Aiden munched his breakfast of leftover turkey dinner.
Aiden: “I agree.”
Ida promised Pepper a rain check and she stormed off to do whatever it is that she did. Help Anita in the garden or something. Pepper liked doing that. Except the bees, cause they were fuckers.
The breakfast table was quiet though and Ashlynn shoved food in her mouth. Her brain was a flurry of thoughts. Why had she dreamed about Orion? And why magic… She had read in an issue of Teen Vogue that dreams were often based on the subconscious working to prioritize what was important. (She also read that girls that matched all their clothing to their skin color were less likely to get a date to prom, but that had nothing to do with this situation.)
Ashlynn shook her head and walked around the kitchen for a minute before sitting down again. This time in a completely different chair. Though she didn’t even realize the change.
Her parents looked at her with concerned looks. Was she acting out of the ordinary? She didn’t think she had let on that anything was wrong. She knew she could give a stunning performance of normality. She was, after all, a natural born actress.
Anita and Aiden exchanged looks before looking back over at Ashlynn.
Aiden: “Are you feeling okay, Pumpkin?”
Ashlynn: “Psssh, yeah of course I am, Dad.”
Anita raised an eyebrow.
Anita: “You look awfully pale and those bags under your eyes look terrible.”
Anita leaned over and put her wrist against Ashlynn’s forehead to check her temperature.
Anita: “You do feel a little warm. You should stay home.”
Ashlynn looked panicked.
Ashlynn: “No no! I’m fine Guys! I just didn’t sleep well.”
Ashlynn bolted up from the table. She had to go to school today. She needed to see Orion to get to the bottom of that bizarre dream. Maybe her subconscious was trying to say something and all she needed was an opportunity to explore what it could be.
Life aside from a teenage girl’s over dramatic fits was normal in the Grofield household. Anita kept her usual tight reign on the cleanliness of the house and made sure everyone did their part. She had long since quit her job as a gardener. There was no need for it when the family had so much income from other sources. *cough cough* Aiden was still technically a freelancer, but he hadn’t needed to do any work in a long while so he occupied his time in other ways. (Besides taking Anita to bed. It wasn’t all just that!) Aiden worked out every morning and followed it up with a cup of coffee every morning. Ida worked in the tech industry and spent his mornings before work hanging out with Pepper and his parents. Pepper had followed in her mother-in-law’s footsteps and had become a gardener. She worked from home a lot.
Caroline came to visit way too often. Ida greeted his aunt before heading to work.
Ida enjoyed helping his father repair things. Uh, I think he may have just made this one worse though. I don’t think you’re supposed to see the motherboard when repairing a recording station, Ida.
Anita on the other hand spent her time in her garden making new friends. Like the scarecrow that turned out to actually be a sentient creature. His name was Patchy and he spoke in a series of unintelligible mumbling sounds. Sort of like Slimer from Ghostbusters.
Anita took his sentience with the same sort of way too chill about it that she took about everything else. She of course invited Patchy into the house to hang out. The garden was cold this time of the year.
Patchy agreed and mumbled his acknowledgement.
Anita taught Patchy to do one of her favorite things. Play video games. Their friendship grew.
Aiden poured himself a stiff drink. He didn’t need it because of the development of the new house guest being a scarecrow. That was too strange to bother getting drunk about. No, instead he wanted to drink to not have to think of the fact that he was old enough to have a young adult son that was starting his own family and a teenage daughter that probably had more of an interest in boys than he’d like to acknowledge. Where did time go? His young adult years seemed to have lasted forever… almost like he had been reset back to the beginning of his life stage right before becoming an adult, but now his adult days were slipping by and he wondered what the hell had happened to him.
Meanwhile, other people were not having an existential crisis…
San Myshuno High, Lunch Time.
Ashlynn knew where she’d find Orion. In the cafeteria doing his homework. He was always doing his homework. Didn’t he know that if you finished your work they would just end up giving you more work? She didn’t get it, but at least it made him easy to find.
She ignored everyone else. The twins were chatting about who knows what with their lackey eating up every word they said and taco casserole. Misael was chatting it up with Jo. Ashlynn knew nothing about Jo and she figured that Jo would probably never reappear in her story again anyway. The same went for the light blue guy that was more interested in some dorky sci-fi novel.
The cafeteria smelled like an awkward mix of body odor, tacos, burgers, spaghetti, and body spray. It was a noisy awful place. It seemed like it would have been impossible to work very hard in here anyway, so she was doing Orion a favor by sitting down next to him.
Ashlynn: “Knock knock.”
Ashlynn: “You’re supposed to say who’s there.”
Orion: “Right. So what’s the punchline?”
Ashlynn: “I dunno, I didn’t actually have a knock knock joke ready.”
Orion looked thoughtful and avoided Ashlynn’s eyes.
Orion: “So what’s up?”
Ashlynn giggled. What was up with him? Why was he acting so uncharacteristically shy?
Ashlynn sucked in her breath and pointed at the sky.
Ashlynn: “The sky! And stars, like in my dream!”
Orion smiled and shrugged.
Orion: “So a dream, huh? What was it about?”
Ashlynn let out her breath and started to grin. She had hoped he’d ask so she wouldn’t have to figure out how to start that conversation.
Ashlynn: “It was the most amazing dream I’ve ever had. I can’t remember it all, but I dreamed that you and I got transported to some sort of magical dimension. It was beautiful. The sky was this deep blue and purple with pink in it too! We had to become wizards in order to learn the way back home.”
She paused her recount because she could feel the color in her cheeks rising at the dreamed memories.
Ashlynn: “We lived in this little cottage while we were there…”
Orion had a strange look on his face that Ashlynn couldn’t understand. He tried to smile, but failed.
Ashlynn chewed her lower lip and she could feel the heat rising, tinting her cheeks.
Ashlynn: “Yeah, we um… got really close and you know, it got me thinking. Maybe we’d be pretty good together.”
Orion’s jaw went slack.
Orion: “Are you asking me out on a date?”
Ashlynn: “Well yeah. How’s tonight at the waterside? I’ll kick your ass at Don’t Wake the Llama.”
Orion choked on his spit and snapped his pencil from gripping it too tightly.
Orion: “Yeah, uh… Sure. I’ll see you there.”
Ashlynn smiled and brushed her fingertips along his arm as she got up.
Orion pretended to go back to his homework as Ashlynn walked away.
He gave it a minute and slammed the book shut. His heart raced and he stared down at the book as if it held some sort of answer. Orion rubbed his temple in thought.
What would Ashlynn have done if Orion had told her he had the exact same dream?
Misael doing his best Tommy Wiseau from the Room.
Misael: “Lisa!!!! You’re tearing me apart!!!”
Jo: “What the fuck man… what the fuck.”
If you haven’t heard of the movie, The Room… It’s a movie that’s so awful it’s become legendary. Here’s a youtube link to the best clips.