SUPERHERO SPIRIT DAY - HOMECOMING WEEK
CHAPTER 6 - DAVEY
I sat in Mrs. Jin’s office post-nurse-trip, wearing my practice clothes (damn it) and 3 ice packs strapped to my stomach. At least this injury would make me look like I earned it in a gym class or by doing some awesome stunt and not spilling coffee all over myself as I escaped, screaming, from Farty Marty and Lenny in Peer Mediation.
Even if Farty Marty said the opposite, it’s not like anyone would believe her.
“Everything ok with Aaron?”
“OH MY GOD MRS. JIN. I spilled coffee on myself! That’s it! Jeez, Aaron didn’t do anything to me.”
“You can tell me if something is wrong.”
“I would. If there were. There isn’t.”
Don’t think about the sloth. Don’t think about McTavish the frog. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.
“Marty said something frightened you. That you had an...episode.”
“I fell. So did my coffee. End of story, Mrs. Jin.”
“Mmhmm,” She said, resting her chin on her folded hands. “What were you thinking when it happened?”
I was trying not to be eaten by man-sized lizards that are a hallucination, but whose tongue I could feel on the tip of my nose. It felt slick. Like if you missed your mouth trying to eat a pickle.
“I was trying to get that over with.”
“Davey, Jesus. You gotta talk about what happens to you. You keep it all inside and you’ll explode.”
I stared at her. I knew what she wanted. I knew she wanted me to spill my guts about a sad home life and no friends and striking out because I was hurting deep inside and to change my ways because she had reached me.
It wasn’t going to happen.
Mrs. Jin sighed. “Go to lunch.”
I stood and walked out, into the counseling lobby. Lenny was groping at a poster of a kitten. I laughed and he turned, trying to identify who it was. Lenny was like a Bigfoot Hunter. He could see shapes, but they were always blurry. Social interaction was his cryptid. Yeah, I know that word. Fuck your stereotypes.
I put my hand on the door to go to lunch and the scalpel cut on my hand burned.
The biggest splinter I had ever seen had embedded itself into my hand. I felt rage rise up in my chest, and looked for the culprit.
The door was broken. Badly splintered and cracked. Split in some places, jagged edges hanging out, one covered in my blood. I was getting really sick of being hurt. I’d never been sick. I’d never gotten hurt, no matter who dropped me out of a basket toss. In the last two days, I’d been injured more than I had my entire life.
“Lenny, what happened to the door.”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“The door is busted.”
Lenny shuffled over, using his feet as a guiding stick. He held out his hands against the door and ran them down over it. His hands caught every single crack on the way down. His palm bled.
“The door seems fine to me. Is everything ok with your eyesight?”
He shuffled away, his hands split and bleeding. I knew Lenny was near-blind, but did he also not feel anything? Could he not tell? I pulled the chunk of wood out of my hand and dropped it to the floor, still covered in blood.
“Ye-es?” She called from her office.
“Did something happen to the door?” I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy.
She stood and looked out. I held my palm open towards her. I, the wrecked door, and my bloody wood-chunk were well in her view.
“Is it locked?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Go to lunch Davey.”
What the fuck was going on?
I shoved open the door, most of it coming with me on the way out. I dropped it in the hallway with a loud bang. Lenny and Mrs. Jin, if they heard it, made no acknowledgement of it.
“OVER HERE, GIRL!” Bex shouted, waving frantically at me in the crowded lunch room. I stalked over, slamming down on a chair next to her. Bex, Jenna, Xi-Min, and Erin were, as usual, surrounded by salad, and all dressed as SuperGirl.
“Did it go that bad?” Xi asked, dipping her fork lightly in dressing before stabbing a chunk of lettuce.
“It didn’t go well,” I said, pointing at my stomach. “I wanted to leave so badly I knocked my coffee over and burned the hell outta my stomach.”
In unison, they sucked in air between their teeth. They sounded like a pit of vipers.
“I can’t say that I blame you. I mean, did the smell get to you?” Jenna said, sipping at her water.
“Something like that.”
They returned to the conversation they were having before my arrival, chattering about what banners we needed to paint for Friday and how bad the JV cheer squad was compared to us. I stared blankly at the table, trying to will the world back into the reality it was before these hallucinations. It felt like everything was different now. It felt like I was different now. It felt like everyone I knew was on a Ferris Wheel, but I was alone in a car and it was on fire. Everyone else was having so much fun, laughing and joking and talking and not seeing the terror I was.
I slid my hand across the table. I left a huge streak of blood, moving Jenna and Bex’s phones out of the way in the process. They grabbed their phones and moved them right back to their positions, in the blood. The conversation carried out as normal.
Xi’s fork waved at me.
Jenna’s shirt was made of living ferrets.
Erin was white.
A mime stood behind Xi. He waved at me, and began to pull an invisible rope from the ceiling. He smiled at me and acted like it was stuck on something. He pulled harder, wiped his brow, pulled again. The invisible rope didn’t give, so he jumped in the air and pulled down with all his weight.
Then he burst into flame.
At least the mime noticed he burst into flame, screaming and waving his hands, trying to put out the fire. The first thought I had was what a bad mime he was, screaming when so far he’d done his act so well. The second thought was WHY WAS HE ON FIRE. I could live with a mime hallucination--I mean there must be something in a dream journal about seeing mimes in waking dreams, right?--but the mime-on-fire trope didn’t really awaken any latent knowledge in me. He began sprinting around the room (fire lives on oxygen, I remembered), clattering into other students. The fire spread to them. Spread to the carpet. What had begun as weird suddenly turned into chaos.
I stood, shoving my chair back and preparing to run from the flames. Everyone else could still run, the lunch room was open so it wasn’t like I was leaving them to die necessarily. Bex looked up.
“Yeah, go get your salad, lady! Or did Farty Marty make you lose your appetite?” The other girls snickered.
The mime was standing on a table, waving his charred arms in an attempt to get the sprinklers to go off, trying to save himself.
“Hey gorgeous!” a deep voice said behind me. Arms wrapped around my middle, and I panicked. I shoved them down and apart and turned to see Aaron, my handsome boyfriend, my handsome dressed-as-Cyclops boyfriend, my quarterback boyfriend, my normal dark-haired blue-eyed boyfriend, totally on fire.
I fainted, staying conscious just long enough to feel my head bounce off my chair on the way down.