I was flying. Below me, a snow covered landscape passed by too quickly to make out the details. There was something I was supposed to be doing, but the thrill of the flight whisked away any other thoughts I could have. The ache of my shoulders reminded me how long it had been since I had been able to stretch my wings like this, push them out to their full length and just…soar. The wind at my front picked up and I used the momentum to launch myself higher and then dip down into a tailspin, pulling up at the last second so that the tips of the fir trees brushed against my shins.
But, there was still that “something” nagging at the back of my mind, the kind of itch that comes when entering a room and forgetting why you went in the first place. What was I doing before right now? I tried to trace back my actions and found that I couldn’t picture anything before the moment of being in the air. Where had I taken off from? Why was I flying now after being dormant for so long?
The itch grew and I felt a presence behind me, looming, like a physical pressure. When it got too much to bear, I turned around and found that the forest was engulfed in flames. In an instant, as if coming out of a long trance, I remembered what I was supposed to be doing. I was supposed to be running.
The heat grew, and I felt beads of sweat drip to the fire below. The air grew hazy, and the wind died out. Like a fog, a wave of dreariness enveloped me and I began to lose altitude. I was so full of energy a moment ago, what had happened? As I drifted down, a tiny bird flew up to me, circling around. It looked at me, then looked at the raging fire, then back at me.
“You’re going to get a sunburn if you stay like that,” it said with a haughty expression.
I blinked. Since when do birds have expressions, let alone haughty ones?
“Also, you’re leaning on the pie,” it said, right before popping in a poof of plumage.
I opened my eyes.
I was in the backseat of a car, sprawled out, with the light from the sun shining directly into my face. Rather, it would have been shining into my face, if it wasn’t blocked by the large feathered blob that had opened the car door, aka, my mom.
For the record, my mom is not feathered. She just happens to have a needlessly large sunhat that is, in a word, extravagant. Does she wear it for the sole reason of embarrassing me? I have my own opinion, buts she would claim otherwise.
“The pie,” she repeated and held out her hand.
It took me a few sleep-addled seconds to realize there was something poking into my back where I had laid down. I reached under me and found a saran-wrapped apple pie, slightly crumpled, but no less edible.
“It’s completely flat!” my mom said, wrenching it away from me with a bit too much force.
I rolled my eyes. “That’s how pies are, mom. And it’s not like it’s going to taste any worse. ”
Her eyes shrunk as she analyzed whether I was being sarcastic. (For future reference, if you ever need to ask if a 17 year old girl is being sarcastic…she is). Eventually, she wisely decided it wasn’t worth her time to argue about a pie. Instead, she cut back to her true reason for coming to the car. “You really should come and say hi to everyone,” she said. “It’s not like you can spend the whole month barricaded away in here being such a sad sack.”
If only you knew. I flipped away from her onto my stomach, something that, in the cramped backseat, didn’t come off as the smoothly defiant act of rebellion I imagined it would be.
She humphed. “Well, when you want to act like a normal, happy person, which I know you have the capacity to be, you’re more than welcome to come join us outside. I’m sure the Hopes and the Braunwalds want to meet you. Their kids are your age, you know. If you give it a chance you might even enjoy making friends. Shocking, I know.”
To be fair, my mom’s not bad at the sarcasm thing herself.
Of course, I couldn’t just leave the car now. I decided to give it enough time that she wouldn’t think I was getting out just because she wanted me to. I spent it thinking about what I had begun to refer to as the “Situation”.
The Situation was this: In an effort to “bond” with his new coworkers, my Dad had accepted an invitation to spend the month at a coworker’s country summer home along with one other family. Besides the fact this seemed ridiculous to me (why would you want to spend a month with the people you have to see every day?), it also meant that my summer plan of going on a camping trip with friends had been cruelly dashed against the rocks (And yes, I have friends, in case my mom’s previous rant had made you think I’m some sort of asocial pariah).
And now I would be spending the next month trapped in Bumblefuck, Nowhereville with my parents, two families I had never met, and a complete lack of anything resembling modern civilization in a thirty-mile radius.
Needless to say, the Situation sucked.
Well, I’ve always thought of myself as an optimist.
I stepped out of the car.