It had happened again. The Dream. It had been recurring every night for the past six weeks. There were minor inconsistencies here and there, but several factors always remain the same.
Rochelle is always there. I miss her more and more every day.
Robert is also there, and he is arguing with Rochelle about Star Wars. He claims Empire Strikes Back is the best—which it is—but Rochelle disagrees. She says that all about Yoda it is. Robert says it’s the best because it has the most Han Solo and nobody in their right mind could ever think it was all about Yoda.
And then there’s the third man. I call him Orson Welles. Not that he looks anything like him, but…you get it, don’t you? Or you don’t, fine. Whatever. I don’t give a flying leap. O.W. is always giving a speech about why he doesn’t tip waitresses. It sounds vaguely familiar, but I’ve given up trying to guess if I’ve heard it before and just assume that I’m remembering it from my previous dream.
Anyway, in the middle of everyone talking, suddenly Robert grows stiff and starts coughing. He grabs at his chest, moaning in pain. Even though I’m worried, I laugh at him. Every time. Makes me a sucky friend, I guess. O.W. keeps right on talking and ignoring Robert until eventually Rochelle yells at him to shut up and hits him with a beer bottle. I finally manage to control my laughter and then we all turn to see what’s happening to Robert. Rochelle suggest heartburn and Mr. Welles recommends antacid. The end result is always the same. Robert falls to the ground and stops moving, stops breathing. Rochelle wonders if he is dead and then suddenly his chest bursts open and out leaps…a dinosaur?
I forgot to mention, there’s always this creepy guy filming us. I’ve never seen him outside of the dream, but O.W. seems to know him. At least, he knows his name. Hefé, he calls him. The dream always ends with O.W. telling Hefé to stop filming.
The only major change between dreams is that I don’t always wake up in a sweat.
I’ve told no one about my dream. I don’t know why. Maybe I think it would frighten anyone else. Heckleberries, it frightens me. But it shouldn’t, really. After all, it’s just a dream.
This was one of the sweatless awakenings. Thank goodness, I thought. I was in the car with my family and Robert on our way up to Plymouth Rock and it would be quite embarrassing to perspire in their presence. Although, I doubt Robert would care overmuch. He’d been my best friend since the move. My older brother Elmer, on the other hand, would tease me about it for weeks. He’d probably ask me which boy I’d been dreaming about that would get me so worked up in a sweat. Gosh, he could be so immature. You’d never guess he was heading off to college in the fall. Sometimes I wonder if he ever really aged, or if he’s still a little boy inside, wanting to play in the sandbox with all the other kids. He’s certainly more rebellious than I am, and I’m a teenage girl right at the height of the angsty stage of life. I’ve often heard my parents refer to me at the angel in the family, while Elmer is the black sheep. Personally, it bothers me when they say that. I’d rather see a sheep that’s black over an angel anyway. I mean, when an angel tells you what to do, you gotta do it, but when a sheep tells you what to do, you can just tell it you can’t understand what it’s saying. Which would be the truth, so long as you don’t speak sheep.
“Are we there yet?” It was me that had spoken. But don’t worry, I’m not some irritating little kid that you want to strangle every five seconds; I’m sixteen. The question was not a loud inquiry to my parents, it was a soft one to Robert, who was sitting across the car from me in one of the chairs in the middle of the car. Elmer sat in the back and our picnic lunch sat in the way, way back. Not that we had a rear-facing—or, “rumble”—seat anymore, that was our old car. When we bought this minivan, all the worlds I’d imagined while riding in the car backward died out like stars, or something. I guess bugs die out pretty quickly too. Especially that one kind of fly, that only has a twenty-four hour life cycle. What is it called? Fuscrew it, I don’t know.
Anyway, so I asked Robert if we were there yet and he didn’t reply. I noticed that he had his headphones in, so I tried to guess what he was listening to. Kids in the Way? Nah, too dark for a bright sunny day like today. Anberlin? Nope, they’re not good road trip music. Relient K? They’re fun and talented and Robert enjoyed seeing them in concert when we won tickets to go see them(on my birthday, no less! Best birthday present ever!!! Matt Theissen’s hair was glorious, so abundant you could have fit a cow in it. Although, why anyone would want to hide a cow in their hair is beyond me. Also, they ended up playing “Up and Up” which is Robert’s favorite by them, as well as “Be My Escape”, which is my favorite song ever!!! Whoa, two uses of bold ever‘s followed by three exclamation points in the same rabbit trail. Righteous!). Having decided that they were most definitely the band he was listening to, I reached out and took one of Robert’s earbuds and put it in my own ear. I was greeted with what sounded two knives being rubbed together while a third knife was stabbing a victim to death and we could hear her screams.
“What is this junk?” I asked Robert.
He looked up at me, shrugged, and said simply “I like heavy music some times. This is The Polygons.”
“Mmhmm,” I nodded, “Well, I’ve just been sleeping; do you know how much further we have to go?”
“Just half an hour, sweetie.” That would be my mom. Of course she was listening in on our conversation. “Would you like me to style your hair for the rest of the trip?” she offered.
“Mom,” I rolled my eyes, “I don’t need to do anything with my hair when all we’re doing is looking at a rock.”
“But it’s an important rock,” she said defensively, “You’ll wanna look your best.”
“Why?” I raised an eyebrow. I was so happy when I first learned to do that. “In case George Washington is there and asks me to marry him?”
A smart reply followed, “Actually, George Washington was not one of the original pilgrims who landed at Plymouth—”
“Shut up!” I snarled.
Again, you’re probably thinking I’m horribly bratty and rebellious to speak that way to my mother, but actually, it was my brother who had piped up, and it was he I was silencing. After I’d snapped at him, he gave a satisfied smirk and opened up his book again. How could he read in the car and not get carsick? It’s so unfair! Besides, he’s using his ability to do so to read Ted Dekker. I mean, really, can you get any lower than that? If I was able to do what he could, I would be reading classics, like Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, or Anne of Green Gables, not trash about murders and alternate universes and such.
After a brief silence, Robert piped up. “I hear Plymouth Rock isn’t even that big.”
“Where’d you hear that piece of rubbish?” asked my dad from the front. That was my dad, always trying to put Robert down. I don’t know why he hated him so much.
“Have you ever seen Plymouth Rock?” I queried.
“No,” he admitted.
“Then how would you know that he’s wrong?” I retorted. That shut him up for a while.
Okay, so maybe I do have a bit of a rebellious side
After what seemed like hours, but was only half of one, we finally reached our destination.
“Anyone want half a piece of gum?” my mom asked.
“Mom, stop taking only half the stick,” whined Elmer, “Nobody wants the other half!”
“Actually, if you don’t mind, I’d love to finish it for you,” volunteered Robert.
“Here you go,” said my mom, delighted. I just rolled my eyes. That was Robert, always sucking up to my parents.
“And here we are,” announced my dad triumphantly.
We all took a moment to gaze upon the majesty of Plymouth Rock and ponder its significance in American history—hey, is that a butterfly? So pretty!
It was Elmer who broke the silence. “You know what? Robert’s right, it’s really not that impressive. I’ll be in the car.”
“Come on, son,” chided my dad, “we just got here. Stick around for a bit.”
“Why?” Elmer wanted to know, and to be honest, I was wondering the same thing.
“Because it’s history, man!” uttered my father, going off on one of his over-dramatic tangents, “Culture! You have to appreciate it while you’re young! Lord knows I didn’t fully comprehend the significance of history when I was your age.”
Elmer smirked, “Then I guess I’ll just wait until I’m an old fogey like you to appreciate it. See ya.”
Elmer strolled off toward the car. My dad followed him, still trying to reason with the boy. The rest of us just sort of hung out and waited for them to come back. Eventually, we realized that they weren’t going to and that my dad, despite his claims to the contrary, was probably just as bored as Elmer and in all likelihood, they’d slipped off to have a burger or something.
Around the time I figured this out, my mom decided to move off to a distance to admire the rock from a new angle, leaving Robert and I alone.
“So this is Plymouth Rock,” I said.
“Yup,” he agreed.
“And what spiritual significance have you gleaned from this enlightening experience?” I inquired dramatically.
Robert smiled. “Never take part in a Kirschbaum family trip.”
“I wish I could choose to opt out,” I groaned.
“You were born into the wrong family, Marie,” Robert remarked. Then he reached into his mouth, pulled out the piece of gum he’d been chewing, and flung it at Plymouth rock. The white glop stuck to the rock as if determined that it should be part of history too. For a moment, I stood in shock, nearly furious as my friend for defacing such a significant monument. Then I looked again and realized it was just a rock with a piece of gum attached. I turned to Robert and we both burst out laughing. I high-fived him, and we turned to go back to the car.
“Smile for the camera!” a voice called out. I hate random crowd photographers, but Robert and obligingly turned to face the camera and smiled. The man pressed his finger on the button, but there was no flash, no beep, no noise of any kind. To my surprise, I noticed that he was not photographing us, he was filming us. I was immediately taken aback, but then my shock multiplied tenfold when I realized that he was the man from my dream. Hefé.