Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chapter 30: Awake

Chapter 30

I found myself in bed, listening to the sound of my alarm. Its incessant beeping meant hours had passed without me ever having recollection of that time. Sometimes, I would remember a fragment of a dream only to have it wisp away as I tried to hold onto it.

I opened my eyes. My alarm stopped beeping. My alarm wasn’t even there because I wasn’t in my room. I was on the floor if I could call it a floor.

“Good morning, Hank,” a voice sounded from around me.

I looked around but saw no one there.

“Who’s there?”

“Ah, I apologize.”

From around me, the ground began to rise in segments, growing at tremendous speeds until a city was built around me. It wasn’t a city I recognized.

A white figure outlined in black began to walk down from the path before me. It had the shape of a human, but it lacked all the definition.

“Who are you?”

“I think you know who I am,” its voice resonated from all around me.

“No, no I don’t.”

“Oh, well.” A smile creeped across the face of the figure.

I stared at the strange figure standing in the strange world. He didn’t speak again. We stared at each other for a while or rather – I stared at him. He had no eyes – I could not tell if he was looking at me.

“So did you make me dream?” I finally asked.

“No, I had no hand in that. But I saw and heard everything. Fragments shored upon my side.”

“What do you mean?”

Text and Images © Jonathan Lee

“Well, I am everything and everything is me – to an extent.”

“Who are you?”

“An Aspect of the City.”

“How is that possible?”

“My boy, you aren’t the only thing that’s alive. I’ve been around much longer than you, but not nearly as long as some other places,” the figure smiled.

“Then, what do you want with me?”

“The same I want with everyone else – for them to live, for them to dream.”

“And what does that do for you?”

“A city is only as alive as the people in it. A city’s dreams are only as good as its people’s.”

“You’re living off my dreams?”

“And nightmares as well. And just like people have nightmares, so do I.”

“Is that what Affects are?”

“A type. Affects are many things just like everything else. It’s not how they’re made that’s important. It’s what they do.”

A strange ringing began to echo into the halls.

“Well, it seems this conversation is about over now.”

“Wait. I don’t understand!” I spoke.

“No one does.”

I awoke to a strange mixture of senses. I could smell the smoke of incense burning nearby. A dazzling blue shone before my eyes. And a strange ring called from around me. I realized what the ring was as I gained my bearings. I reached into my pocket and grabbed my phone.

Grace calling…

I answered.


“Hey! We’ve been worried about you all day. Where are you?” she shouted through the phone. I had to pull it back from my ear.

I looked around where I was. I was sitting in a wooden chair in a wooden room with a wooden table in front of me. On that wooden table lay a large warm colored cloth with coins and beads dangling from its edges. A crystal rested upon that cloth, and it looked as if it resonated a soft blue light. A woman sat opposite of me wearing flowing clothing wrapped in a shawl. I knew where I was, but I didn’t understand why I was here.

“Sorry, I’m fine. Can I call you back in a bit?”

“I’m just glad you’re safe,” she sighed.

“I wouldn’t dream of leaving.”

“Call me.”

“I will.”

Call ended.

I looked at the woman opposite of me.


“Because there are so many parts of you hidden away, shouting to be released, but you wouldn’t listen.”

“Who put you up to this?”


“Really? Not Eason? Anna?”

“I don’t know who those people are. I saw in my own crystal that I would meet you. When you walked by, I knew what I had to do. And I watched you dream, and I dreamed with you. I walked with you when you turned away from whom I suppose is Grace. I was there when you woke in the same bed with her. And I was there when you turned from your family.”

“And when I spoke to the City?”

“What?” the woman asked.

“The fourth dream. You made me dream four dreams.”

“Dear boy, there were only three, and I made you do nothing. I may have made you dream, but those dreams were of your own choosing.”

I sat there at a loss for words.

“There was another dream?”

I didn’t answer.

“Curious. Well, off you go, Hank.”

The woman walked over and began to shoo me out of the shop. I left the store, and heard the door close behind me. Then, the lights behind me snuffed to darkness. I turned around and saw a boarded up window. I looked up, and the sign that read mystic when I first walked down the street now swung broken with faded words. On the door of the building hung a flyer.

Listen to the city and the words of another.


Chapter 29: Innocence

Chapter 29

I found myself in bed, listening to the sound of my alarm. Its incessant beeping meant hours had passed without me ever having recollection of that time. Sometimes, I would remember a fragment of a dream only to have it wisp away as I tried to hold onto it.

I sat up and saw my alarm read 7:30. Ack! I don’t want to go to school!

I looked at my airplane wallpaper. I wanted to be a pilot. I wanted to fly and soar through the skies. What I didn’t want was to go to school. School was boring.

My mom walked through the door. “Come on! You’re going to be late!”

“I don’t feel so good, mommy.”

She ran over to my bed. I thought she would feel my forehead. I wanted her to believe me. I didn’t want to go to school.

She grabbed my hand and pulled me out of bed. “No! You have to go to school. Don’t lie to me, Hank!”

“No! Mommy! I don’t wanna!”

“You have to go to school! It’s good for you! What kind of mother would I be if I let you stay home because you wanted to stay home?”

She dragged me to my closet and began to dress me.

I didn’t scream. I pouted. I didn’t want to go to school.

She dressed me in a white dress shirt, a black tie, and a sweater vest. It was hot and stuffy. I didn’t like it. I looked in the mirror, and I saw my eyes. I didn’t quite understand what I saw, but it wasn’t right.

“Come on!” She walked out the door.

I pouted and followed after her.


I descended the stairs and saw my mother walking out the front door. She looked at me, then closed the door behind her.

I entered the kitchen and looked at the dark room. Like all mornings, the kitchen and the dining room were dark. The sink was spotless – no dishes – no drops of water – unused. I opened the refrigerator and looked into its half empty confines. Anything in the refrigerator was mine. Neither of my parents were home to cook. They usually brought food home or ate out. I poured myself a bowl of cereal and cut fresh strawberries to put into it. I sat at the table and ate silently in the dark. I finished eating and placed the bowl into the sink.

Soon, I would take the bus to my new school – it was the first day of high school. I didn’t think much of it. Just another day.

I walked toward the bathroom to brush my teeth.


I stared into the mirror and began to sob. I held his toque in one hand and struck the wall with the other. This couldn’t be happening. This couldn’t be happening.

“Hank. Are you alright?” My mother’s voice sounded from outside the bathroom.

I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. No words would come out. The only sound choked out was gasps of air swallowed by tears. I couldn’t even think. So many memories came back that they fragmented and overlapped. There echoed times I wanted to return to, times that I had forgotten, and times that never were. It was as if time stopped. I wished it did.

“If you’re not feeling well, you don’t have to go to school tomorrow.”

Donny died an hour ago, and that’s all she had to say.

I looked up in the mirror, and I understood what I saw in my eyes all those years ago.

Text and Images © Jonathan Lee

Chapter 28: Ephemeral

Chapter 28

I found myself in bed, listening to the sound of my alarm. Its incessant beeping meant hours had passed without me ever having recollection of that time. Sometimes, I would remember a fragment of a dream only to have it wisp away as I tried to hold onto it.

7:30 as usual.

I slapped the alarm and rolled to the other side.

I found my arms wrapping around her body. The ephemeral fragrance of her black hair etherized my senses. I closed my eyes and wanted to lull back to sleep with my arms wrapped around her. They say if you hold onto something you cherish, you dream only good dreams.

“Hank?” her voice whispered with waking vibrato.

I didn’t answer.

“Get out,” it returned to that pitch I knew so well. “Stop being lazy. Your snooze is going to go off in a bit if you don’t get up, and I can’t really take that sound at this forsaken hour.”

“And what will you do all day?”

“Sleep. Whereas you should be going to work, lazybones.”

I took one last deep breath, and I rose from the bed.

I took a shower in our bathroom. I used the bar of soap she bought, and I thought about how years before, she would have bought a different shaped bar of a different brand. We were different, but nothing had really changed. Nothing important. I dried myself and walked into our closet. Years before, my side would have been monochrome – white shirts and black jeans. Now, there were more colors – even some grids and stripes. But today, I felt like what I wore all those years ago. I felt young. I wore a white shirt and black jeans. I found a grey hooded jacket. And I found the red tie she had given me years before. The patch was still on it – faded from overuse. No toque though. The toque, well, that’s another story.

As I was leaving, I saw her still lying in bed. She wouldn’t have to work for another two hours. So I walked over to her and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

She rolled away from me.

I turned.

Her arm wrapped around my neck, and she pulled me down. Her lips locked on mine. My eyes closed. I could smell the sweet fragrance of her hair, and I felt like I was dreaming.

Text and Images © Jonathan Lee

Chapter 27: Forgotten

Chapter 27

I found myself in bed, listening to the sound of my alarm. Its incessant beeping meant hours had passed without me ever having recollection of that time. Sometimes, I would remember a fragment of a dream only to have it wisp away as I tried to hold onto it.

7:30 as usual.

I got up, and I did my morning activities. I checked my e-mail. No new e-mails from my professors. It was just another day.

I then took the train to the university. I always liked the train. The wheels screeching as they grinded against the metal rail comforted me. It was a brutal sound that would always be there – that those wheels would always be turning – moving – even if nothing else were.

I got to class on time, which meant I was early. Everyone else was late. It seemed they showed no respect for the system, for the academics of learning, for the fact that some people had to pay for their college and chose to learn. No, they didn’t care. They didn’t care that a person put themselves up on the stage everyday to the scrutiny of others. Then again, not all professors cared about teaching. Some were in it just for the money. Others for the research. Not everyone cared about passing something onto someone else. Not everyone’s like me. I just don’t have anyone to pass it onto.

I sat in the park as I ate my sandwich. My phone rang. Mom.

I’m her son but not really. I’ve always felt more of a puppet – something for her political career. She married and had a kid to show a family aspect. I remember posing in family pictures when I was younger, but at some point, I was no longer invited to them. Instead, I became the angsty teenager, which made her more relatable to families.

And Dad? Dad showed more affection to other children – to his patients. I remember visiting him at work one day. I sat in his office and looked out toward the waiting rooms. Children played with the supplied toys and parents would talk to them. Whenever my dad walked into an exam room, he’d smile and say something that pertained to the child, personalized. I could hear it through the glass – it wasn’t sound proof. When the door opened again, the child would be waving goodbye to my dad as they sucked upon a lollipop.

Whenever either of them talked to me, they would only ever ask – “how was school?”

So I let it ring.

I sat through another class, and my school day ended. It was time for me to head back to the station and head home. Someone tried to hand me a flyer, but I pushed past him.

As I continued toward the station, I found myself stopping in front of an alleyway. It led toward the back of buildings. I didn’t know why I stopped, but something felt familiar. I walked on. A strange feeling.

A girl bumped into me. She was running to go down that alleyway and struck me. She fell to the floor. She apologized from the floor, got up, and ran away. All I really saw was a skull ribbon in her hair. Somehow, I felt like I should know her. That I’ve seen her before.

I found myself reaching out and the word “grace” breaking through my lips. Why?

I continued walking toward the station, and a scream came from the alleyway.

The wheels of the train screech as I return to my apartment.

Text and Images © Jonathan Lee

Chapter 26: Mystic

Chapter 26

The next morning, I checked my e-mail. One new mail from Listentoyourpeers.org.

“To whom it may concern,

Listentoyoupeers.org will be one years old next week! In honor of this momentous occasion, we’ll be hosting a party at our tower. You are all cordially invited to attend. Please see attached the flyer.


Your friends at Listentoyourpeers.org”

How did they get my e-mail?

I checked the e-mail and moved to delete it.

Ring. Ring.

Mom calling…


“Oh! You answered!”

“I know.”

“Well… how’s school going?”


“I’m glad to hear you’re doing well.”

I never said I was doing well.

“Glad we had this talk, Hank.”

Call ended.

This was the first time I answered her phone call since I went to college. What could there be said? I now know. I went about the rest of my day as usual. Class was interesting – new material, but the same people. Did anything really change?

I walked out of class and looked at my phone. The curt conversation still rested on my mind. My family never talked much. My mother and father were busy working all the time – a politician and a doctor, always too busy with their own lives and careers that the dinner table only ever had one person sitting at it.

They only ever asked me about school. That’s what I became focused on. Even now, away from home, they only ask me about school.

Which I wasn’t on anymore. I had wandered off to another place of the city I had never been before. It was an older section of the city – still brick mortar rather than concrete slab. Light cascaded out the windows and illuminated the stamped street. No cars were around and no people either. Every day, it seemed like I was finding myself somewhere new.

A door opened near me, and a woman walked out. She wore the strangest clothing for this time – gypsy garb. Above her hung a sign: “Mystic.” It suddenly made much more sense.

“Let me get a good look at you.”

“I’m not interested.”

“Don’t be such a rash boy, Hank.”

My eyes widened.

“I’ve been waiting for you, boy.”

Text and Images © Jonathan Lee