I started writing this in 2014-2015
I’m in a yard, alone. The yard is surrounded by trees, so enormous they touched the sky. Some look like they reach into space. There are these bizarre looking flowers too, that have large petals and beautiful vibrant colors. It’s so comfortable here. I lie down on the grass and the ground is so warm, like I’m lying on a bed. I am looking up at the sky, it seems to go on forever.
Suddenly, I’m lying on a bed, in a place that feels like home. I am not alone now. I hear a woman reading a story. Her voice is warm and soft while she reads.
I am laying in a man’s arms with a little girl who looks like me and a young boy who appears to be older than me. We are all cuddled up on the bed, listening to this woman read to us. I look up and make eye contact with the boy and in the span of a second, we’re all in the backyard, the same yard where I was lying down in the beginning of this dream.
We are playing with these strange toys and having a blast. The aroma of food fills the air as I’m playing with that boy and girl and a few other kids. There are so many other people in the backyard now, it’s a party. I’m having so much fun. We’ve been playing catch. Someone throws the ball to me, I catch it and I hear this alarm so I quickly throw it at the girl who looks like me and she throws it back to me. It starts up that alarm again so I throw it at this other kid, he catches it and throws it straight at my head.I fall down on the ground with my head hurting like hell… and now I’m awake.
Stupid kid. I should go back to sleep and make sure his mom puts him on time out!
Shit, I’m late again. Now I have to get out of my warm and comfortable bed and go into the cold, cruel world where there is school. I hate school. Most of my classes are boring and the students are as dull as the teachers, but the world says you must have a degree to be successful and since I haven’t figured out exactly what I want to do as yet, I’ll stay in school.
After school I have work, which isn’t that bad. I work in at The Hole, it’s such a quaint little cozy store.
Clarice, my best friend, is like family as well. Now that my adoptive mother, Lauren has died. We weren’t really close. I always felt like she took me in because she wanted someone to give her legacy to. So she took me in when I was little and I have no idea who my real family is. Maybe if I did have family, someone would yell at me to get out of bed.
I should really start moving but… 5 minutes won’t hurt. My bag is packed and I know what I’m going to wear so it’s only a matter of putting everything on and doing my hygiene routine, which involves brushing my teeth, taking my hair out of the bantu knots, finger combing my curls to perfection, lotioning up and putting on deodorant. I shower at night and lightly lotion myself in shea butter before bed. I can’t manage the art of makeup which is just fine for me if I’m able to get more sleep. Well, 4 minutes now and I’ll get up. I really need to clean the apartment. This whole place is filled with books. I have no idea why I still haven’t gotten a bookshelf. Books litter the floor along with dirty clothes and tissues. It’s like I collect tissues from places. I always take loads and stuff them into my bag and they end up right on my floor.
One day this week, I will clean and it will be life changing. Luckily, I’m not bringing home any lucky bachelors. Mostly because I don’t want strangers coming into the home that Lauren bought for me. Even though I grew up feeling disconnected from not only my home but the world too. Just not feeling like I belong but before Lauren died, she bought me my own home. It’s a huge apartment in Brooklyn. She let me choose the apartment. I loved Brooklyn when I was a kid because it was always so calm and relaxing compared to Manhattan where our home was. Now that everyone wants to live in Brooklyn it’s becoming more like Manhattan and I absolutely hate it. I believe Brooklyn is a place to be cherished which is why Lauren bought this place for me, so that I could cherish it.
Lauren bought me a home in a place where I would be most comfortable and died 3 weeks after. She was the only family I’ve ever known and when she passed, she left me her money, her art, her homes which has never meant anything to me. I give the money away to charities or helping out the people in my neighborhood. Trying to make sure people keep their homes. I wish Lauren could see how much her money is helping other people. She would be glad.
With that thought, I‘ll get up with my two minutes to spare and start my day. I quickly get dressed and do my hygiene routine. I take a few extra minutes admiring myself. My eyes a dazzling bright green with specks of honey brown. My curly hair, a lovely mix of black, dark brown and a golden brown, which is actually cooperating with me today. It must be my lucky day. In about 15 minutes, it’s time to go to my favorite Deli and pick up my breakfast and lunch. Walking into Ahmad’s, which is what I call the Deli at the corner of my block. Ahmad is an old wrinkly man with almond brown skin. I believe he and his family, who also work in the store, are from somewhere in the middle east. Every time they tell me where I instantly forget the name. Every weekday, precisely at 7:20, Ahmad readies my food for the day. He makes me a bacon egg and cheese and an avocado BLT. I swear it is they are the best ever made anywhere. Completely made of magic and I get to start everyday off with it. Ahmad’s son, Mohammed, is the first to greet me “GOOD MORNING, BEAUTIFUL!” He said loudly with his arms outstretched.
“Good morning, handsome”, I return his greeting, arms outstretched. I walk to the counter and ask “how are you this morning? Where’s Mr. Ahmad?”.
“He and my mother are celebrating their anniversary but before he left, he made your food.”
He said with a charming wink.
Mohammed is a little older than me. I’d say maybe early twenties. If I’m honest, he really is rather handsome. He has beautiful big brown eyes, high high cheekbones and a jawline strong enough to take on the hulk. He is nice and cute and engaged to a very beautiful woman who looks like Priyanka Chopra. Good looking people always get together!
Internally sighing, I say “May Allah bless that man and your parent’s marriage. Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” He says
“Here is your food, tea, water and all your fruits. Ready for you. You’re late, you better get going, young lady. You can’t be late for class. I’m so happy to have already graduated. Sucks for you. That will be $10.”
Handing him the money. “Here you go, thank you. And not all of us can be as fortunate to be as old as you”, I say chuckling at my own stupid joke.
“Well, at least you’re catching up. You’ll get that degree really soon, kid”
Laughing, I grab the food and thank him and head for the train.
I have the longest train ride. It’s about two hours until I get to school. Which is enough time to have breakfast. I enjoy catching up my reading on my morning train to school. I am a huge bookworm. I enjoy reading sci/fi fantasy books. With those crazy dystopian worlds where things are completely fucked up but people still have hope. I enjoy the escape of reading. Trains are so relaxing as long as there’s n-
GREAT a morning preacher. Exactly what I need while I’m trying to enjoy my train ride. Time to put on my headphones.
Class, as always is mind numbingly boring. I’m in math right now and I have the worst teacher. He enjoys yelling at students when they don’t understand a question and getting overly excited while doing a math problem. I sit in class doodling and counting down the minutes until I’m free from here until next week. After class, my best friend Clarice should be waiting for me outside. We’ve been friends since freshman year in high school. It was love at first sight, we instantly knew we were going to be the best of friends. We had almost everything in common. One thing is that she is a huge gamer and the only game I’ve ever played is sims, I love all that control of people. Creating a family of my own is great too. Clarice is more into mario kart and zelda and a bunch of other games I can’t remember the names of. Plus, she isn’t as obsessed with books as I am but she does read all the books I recommend to her and I do try to play video games even though she always wins. We are a dynamic duo.
Finally class is over. I spot Clarice in the hallway and we both instantly do a dramatic bow which briefly stops the crowded hallway. We walk towards each other and both say in our most regal voices “Hello, your Majesty.” with a slight nod.
“Might I walk you to your next class, ma’am?” She asks, continuing the regal voice.
“You may, my lady” I say, taking her arm in mine and start heading towards my next class.
“Might I say that your hair looks beautiful this fine day” I say, continuing the act, but she drops it when she says
“Thank you. I got it cut. My head of flame was starting to look crazy.”
Clarice has magnificent flaming red hair, pale skin and freckles. Her hair was long and reaching the small of her back and now it’s just touching her shoulders. It looks amazing on her. We’re the same height, an elegant 5’4. We have different body shapes though we share the same size in everything. My shape is more athletic. I’ve taken self-defense classes all my life and hers is more ‘I play video games most days and wrestle my brothers for exercise’. She has 6 older brothers, as you can imagine, my favorite nickname for her is Ginny.
“Well, you’re beautiful as always. Wanna pick me up after my next class? I could go for a chipotle date with beautiful woman” I said, regularly now because I knew I’d fuck up that sentence.
“How can I ever decline a chipotle date? but don’t you have your lunch or will that be moved to dinner today?”
“Dinner, can we go to Hailey’s later? I need to pick up some socks and underwear and a T-shirt. I kinda don’t want to do laundry”
“Ni! You have a washing machine and a dyer at home. Clean your damn clothes!”
“My room is a mess too.” I mumble
“You better get your shit together this weekend. Your beautiful boss Timothy will be going on vacation so no work, no school. So clean up!” I start laughing. Clarice always looks out for me. I appreciate how much she cares.
“Fine”, I say, I’ll clean up and you come over Saturday night for the Day of Binge and you really need to get over your crush with nerdy Tim”
The Day of Binge is the day we lay around, watch TV shows and eat loads of foods. Every binge night has a different theme. Last time was Sushi saturday and we watched Mean Girls and this time Slay Saturday so Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Clarice will be doing the cooking.
“I’m not sure if I’ll make it David and Marcy are coming with the kids. I haven’t seen my nephews in so long”
“Really? They never come down. They must have news. What if Marcy is pregnant! What if she has a girl and you finally have another girl in the family.”
“Please, don’t get me too excited”
David is Clarice’s oldest brother. He married Marcy and they have two boys. Two year old Peter and five year old David Jr.. So far, There have only been boys in their family. Leaving Their mother, Clarice and the in laws. They’ve all been hoping for a girl but are still insanely excited just to have a new baby.
The rest of the way to class, we think of baby names for the possible new baby girl. Reaching the door, I’m overjoyed to see that the teacher is absent today. “Yes! I get to leave early! Time for the weekend. Er. Kind of. After work, I guess.”
Clarice and I head to Hailey’s, which is the closest clothing store to our campus. I quickly grabbed new socks and underwear while Clarice scolded me the whole time, telling me that I need to do my laundry. Then tells me that I should eat my lunch that I bought this morning instead of buying chipotle. I ate my avocado BLT and saved my chipotle for my dinner.
We show up early to the Hole which also happens to be our favorite bookstore. We arrive before my shift starts so no one will bother me while Clarice and I dive into my favorite section, teen fiction, sci fi/thrillers. These books are what Clarice and I have bonded over.
The Hole is different from other bookstores. It’s crowded with so many books, old and new, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It feels comforting. Like being wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of tea on a rainy day, like you’re safe. This is my favorite place in all of New York, you know what, the world. It’s my favorite place in the whole world. I am so happy to be working here.
Clarice and I wander around the store, remembering our book ban because we have way too many books that need to be read. We bump into Charlie, my co-worker who is always a bit mean to me. I don’t understand why. We work together on Thursday nights and he purposely leaves extra work for me or he would play music that he knows I hate and does it all looking completely polite. I try being nice to him since it’s only us two on Thursday nights. Sometimes I’d bring him food or compliment his hair when he dyes it wild colors, which is almost every month. I also try VERY hard not cursing him out when he makes me stay late due to his incompetence during that work hour. He is only like that when we are alone on Thursdays. Every other day, he would say something nice or completely ignore me. Today, he is nice. He notices Clarice and I and says “Hello, ladies. I’ve found a book that you both will love. It has romance and aliens and alternate dimension. You two will love it!”
“OMG! That sounds great”, Clarice says, “lead the way”
Charlie and Clarice rush off to find the book and I stay, absently organizing the books Charlie left in the aisle.
My shift came and went in a blur of books, boxes and friendly faces. Charlie completely ignored me all day which I am thankful for.
At home, I heat up my chipotle and make a cup of tea. The end of the day is always my favorite. No more responsibilities. Just walking around with no pants or bra and streaming shows. Who could ask for more?
Ms. Lauren hated when I walked around in a t-shirt. She used to say that I look like a woman in a playboy magazine. She said it as an insult but I’ve always taken it as a compliment because those women are absolutely beautiful.
When I’m finally settled into the couch and halfway done with my dinner, Clarice texts me telling me that I need to clean my apartment. As much as I’d love to stay in this comfortable state. She is right. I need to clean. I finish my food and start cleaning.
I clean for an hour. Dancing and singing around the place. It’s time to organize my bookshelf. I have books scattered around my entire apartment. This is ridiculous. I’m not sure how to organize them, by color, by series, or alphabetically. I should really get a new bookshelves. I can already tell these books won’t fit on 4 bookshelves. It’s close to midnight and I’m almost done organizing, I’ve decided to go by series.
I come across the book that I was with me when I was found in Prospect Park at 4. I was found crying in the park with a necklace and a book. The book looks like it was someone’s journal. I was told that no one could understand the book so they just assumed it was something I found in the street. I cried when they tried taking the journal or the necklace away so they let me keep them both. A silver necklace with a pendant in the shape of a crescent moon and the name Nneka on the back and a black raggedy looking journal. I still don’t understand anything of the journal but I look through it anyway. The journal has all of these drawings of new machines and creations and scribbles around the drawings. I can only make out a couple of words out of each page, like the person who wrote it was constantly rushing. I love puzzles and this book is the biggest puzzle of my life. Who wrote this? and why do I have it? When I look back at my phone, it’s 3 in the morning. I’ve been so into the book that I didn’t notice the time or that I’ve been playing with my necklace. I begin packing the rest of the books in front of a bookshelf and head for bed.
Tonight feels strange, I keep seeing things, like the walls changing colors or doors turning into walls. I obviously need to go to sleep. Before I reach my bedroom door, it turns to a wall, but unlike the other hallucinations, this wall has strange carvings and symbols on it. The wall glows as if it’s breathing. A living wall, I must be going crazy. When I reach out to where the doorknob should be, I just feel the carvings. I glide over all the curves of the wall and I start feeling a warming sensation from my neck and it spreads all through my body. It feels strange, yet comforting. I get lost in it and close my eyes and feel.. wind. Rushing up against my skin. When I open them again, I look down at myself and I’m glowing. The carving from the wall are on my skin, like living tattoos. They wrap around my arms in swirls lashing out in all different directions like a windy storm. I can feel the wind on my skin, like I’m standing in an open field. The feeling and the tattoos leave my body slowly and the wall turns back into my door. I’m left standing there completely confused with the lingering sensations all over my body. Before I can really think about what just happened, exhaustion hits me. I rush into my room and dive into my bed and within seconds, sleep takes me.
I wake with a start the next morning. I sit up quickly checking my surroundings and my arms. Everything looks as it should. I relax and reach over the bed to turn off my weekend alarm and lay back in bed. I stayed in bed for a an hour until I realized how hungry I was. Getting out of bed took more energy than usual. My body feels sore all over. My muscles are wary as if I was carrying a heavy load all night or doing squats I decide to make cinnamon & brown sugar oatmeal for breakfast. It’s less work. Oh! And yogurt! Oh! Let’s make a smoothie too! And some tea and some water.
It takes two trips from the kitchen, but when I’m finally settled again in bed. I dig into my huge breakfast and watch Buffy the vampire slayer on Netflix.
I finish the season 2 when Clarice calls me. When I pick up the phone she is talking loud and fast about a crazy plot twist in a book she has been reading. She sounds excited and breathless with a tinge of anger because she swears authors write books just to fuck with you. She talks for 3 minutes straight then stops to ask about my day. I tell her that I’m sick and been in bed all day. once I finish she says that she is on her way.
In a half hour, a red faced Clarice is at my door. She has two bags filled with groceries and I already know she is going to make me her “special soup”.
“He tried to grab my fucking arm!” she says. I let her calm down before I ask her how her day was. She says, “It was glorious. I got paid, bitch and I am making SOUP!”
“Well, sweetheart, let’s get in that kitchen!”
We head to the kitchen and start cooking.
Clarice and I spent 2 hours in the kitchen dancing around and singing. Taking breaks to eat ice cream and take swigs of wine. I always enjoy cooking with Clarice, it’s a party with someone who understands you so fiercely. Someone who knows which spices to put into the mixture or the exact amount of time to wait until you know when to taste the soup,just to see if it’s on the right track. Cooking with Clarice is an adventure and an experience. We try new recipes, we spice things up or sweeten it up or just ruin our meal but it’s always a blast.
Clarice and I wind up back in bed with steaming hot bowls of soup and two bottles of wine. We lay there for hours watching YouTube videos until we both fall asleep laughing drunkenly at something Tyler Oakley said two hours ago.
The next morning, Clarice and I are hungover and spend most of our time chatting in between us dozing off. By afternoon, we finally decide that we should get out of bed and head to our favorite diner, Jimmy’s. Jimmy’s is a family owned diner, Jimmy and his two kids, Becky and Warren, LOVE us. Every time Clarice and I come to the diner, they know exactly what we want once we come in. Sometimes, they would surprise us with the different recipes they’d like to try out. Then they’d sit down and talk to us for hours about the food and whatever new thing is happening in our lives.
It’s exactly what we need this morning because we feel gross. We are only a bit hungover but it’s the kind of hungover that makes me feel woozy walking on the flat ground.
Once we step foot into the diner, we are being embraced and hear exciting voices saying our names and asking how we are. When we are released, we get escorted to our usual booth. Before we can even ask, there are glasses of water and tea on the table. Within 10 minutes of us sitting here, we’ve talked about school, the bookstore and the rude man at table 10. Jimmy has given us his new creation, we decided to do a twist with the traditional fish and chips. He tried to make it spicy by adding curry to the batter but something went wrong because the fish is green without the flavor of curry. The people at the West Indian market just gave him green powder and not curry powder. I’m not even sure if this green powder is edible. After Clarice and I finished a whole cup of water and realized that the green powder is in fact edible, Jimmy gets us bacon, eggs and apple pie with ice cream on the top. As always, Jimmy makes the BEST apple pie. It’s made from scratch and with the freshest apples from the nearest market. For hours, we eat pie and drink tea and crack jokes about the old asshole who lives above the diner. When we finally leave, it’s closing time for the diner and Clarice and I head to our separate homes.
When I return home, all I want to do is lay in bed and relax but I know that I need to finish cleaning the house. Before I begin cleaning, I order a new bookshelf and obviously new books. I don’t need any new books but I want them. I can definitely get them half price from work but I’m deliriously tired and for some reason, I feel like I NEED these books.
The first place I clean is the kitchen, Clarice and I cleaned up a lot of the soup from last night but knowing us when we are drinking, we love late night snacks. It looks like we made grilled cheese sandwiches. I don’t remember making them but I do remember eating them and declaring them the best things we’ll ever eat in our lives. After the kitchen is clean, I go back to the messy stacks of books on the floor. Although there is no place to put these books for two days until the bookshelf comes, I need to be able to walk around the apartment without tripping over a book. I’ll create three clean stacks against the bookshelves and leave that raggedy journal from last night aside. It’s too valuable to be stacked with everything else.
Stacking the books was quicker than I expected. Time for some chamomile tea and some late night “figuring where the hell I come from”. These dreams and now that my adoptive mother has passed away, I feel so alone. I want to know where I come from and maybe this book can help me.
I can only ever make up some of the words within the scribbling mess in this book. It’s usually the words “remarkable or “shit” and a few words that I assume are names. I can only clearly see is all the details put into the drawings. It’s really beautiful.
This person doesn’t just draw machineries and mechanisms, they also drew faces. There are so many drawings of this women with almond eyes, a beautiful smile and a lots of curly hair. Her face is round and in every sketch, her eyes are bright and they twinkle. She looks so happy.
I think she could be my mother. I think she and I look similar, or I hope we do because she is stunning. Do I look that good to other people? She and I have the same small, round nose and almond eyes. She could be my mom. Or is that just wishful thinking. She’s truly breathtaking. I believe the owner of this journal is in love with this woman, whoever she is.
Late at night when I was a child, I’d open the journal just lay in bed and admire her features. Imaging this woman as my mom, holding my hand and taking me to the park or the zoo. Or I’d imagine her holding me at night lulling me to sleep during a thunderstorm. Lauren wasn’t one for comforting during storms so I’d have to stay in my room alone, imagining
I catch myself doing that now. Thinking about what it would’ve been like to have had a mom who loved me. Someone who played in my hair, took me shopping, sang songs with me. Someone who told me not to go out with Hillary last year. She was the craziest person I’ve ever dated. She tried to physically fight me a few times during our relationship for small things like what movie we should watch or what to eat for dinner. Always a slow debate then she went for all out war. I wish I had someone other than Clarice to tell me she was an absolute nutter.
I spent 30 minutes staring at this woman’s face, imagining until I finally decided that after all these years of searching through this book, I won’t find anything new. I am feeling pretty miserable today, I’ve got cramps and pain in my back so I know that my period will be coming soon. I make myself some raspberry tea and start heading to bed. I also take the journal with me. It won’t hurt so why not have dreams of having a beautiful mother.
I get so lost in daydreaming that when I get out of my daze, I realize that I’ve spilled tea on the book. I begin to rush to the kitchen to get some paper towels but after two steps, I feel lightheaded. Like I got up too fast but when I try to sit back onto my bed, I stumble and fall onto the floor with my body feeling hot and my muscles tight. Within seconds, I’m lying on the floor in fetal position panting and sweating. Too dazed from the pain, I realize too late that my necklace is glowing bright yellow. I felt a strong gust of wind just before I went out of consciousness.
I wake with a start, disoriented from what ever happened the night before. It took a moment to realize that I wasn’t looking at my room. That I’m not lying on the floor of my bedroom, where I passed out but on dirt. I get up quickly still analysing my surroundings. Did I sleep walk to a park? I couldn’t have, right? It took a moment to realize how strange the plants looked. One plant looks like a huge butterfly. It was as big as me and flaming red. Another plant looks like a man eating sunflower. Most of the plant life here were still green but looked more alive. Patches of grass change colors as they swayed in breeze. Trees so tall it looks like they reach the sky. Neon green poppies, chartreuse roses. Dandelions electric blue and as big as an umbrella were twirling in the air.
I needed to sit down before I passed out again. I sat down, covered my eyes and began to cry. I’ve lost my mind. I am certain. I’m probably locked away somewhere and this is the world I created for myself. At least it’s beautiful, but then again, flowers that big need to be pollinated. As if on cue, I heard buzzing coming from my left. I got up quickly and ran as fast as I could into the opposite direction. Once I passed the first line of trees, I ran into something warm and solid. I looked up to see bright grey eyes staring down at me.
Without a word, he pulled me down to the ground and watched intently as the buzzing got closer. I refused to take my eyes away from this strange woodland man, staring at this strange man, who could be a murderer, then again, why would I dream up a murderer. Figuring him out in my mind is better than seeing the source of that loud buzzing. He was only wearing nature green shorts and these odd looking sandal/sneaker mix of shoes. His face along with the rest of his body was covered in mud. My eyes landed back on his shorts, I needed something to focus on. It wasn’t long until I realized that I’ve been staring at his butt this whole time. I decided that the strange patches of grass were much more interesting.
The buzzing sound got softer and my eyes started to hurt from the changing of the grass. The boy turned to look at me. He looked me up and down as I did him. Silently observing each other.
Then I asked, “who are you?”.
Not where am I because, dream, duh. That’s where I am. He looked at me for a second longer and turned around and started walking. I quickly ran up to him asking again who he is and what’s going on and why he just freaking walking away but while I yelled and questioned him, he kept walking, silently and unflinching. It wasn’t long until I gave up and started to walk silently along with him. We walked for about a half hour until I started seeing structures popping up along the tree line. He walked straight there and although I was nervous I kept going. It looks so much like a dream I once had. Like I’ve seen this before.
This strange man guided me into what looked like