Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chapter Twenty-Nine - Perchance to Dream


 After the meteor impact, Annabelle was rushed to the hospital. Tom, who was nearby, had heard the explosion and immediately ran towards the sounds of the screaming masses, realizing something had gone terribly wrong. As he was running,


Tom saw an ambulance drive by and saw a hint of green in the window. "Annabelle." 

A few hours had passed and Tom found himself listening to the doctor, hoping his best friend was okay. He knew he shouldn't have let her go to the police station alone, but realized at the same time that he too could have been injured or even worse in the explosion.


 "Fortunately she wasn't close enough to the blast to have sustained any permanent damage. At the moment we have her on medicine which will make her sleep, and when she wakes up she will still have some pain, but it can be managed. Considering this was the second time she was caught in a an explosion like this within the past five years, according to her medical charts, she's rather lucky to have survived this one."

Tom nodded, though he somehow knew it wasn't luck. Ever since Annabelle turned eighteen, she'd been more resilient, stronger. Tom figured it had to do with the fact that she was an alien. Of course he couldn't tell the doctor that. As far as everyone but a few select people knew, Annabelle was a normal, everyday human being with blonde hair.

"So what happens now?" Tom asked. "Does she stay here for observation or something?" 

The doctor shook his head, to Tom's surprise. "Actually we've been monitoring her health for the past few hours since we brought her in, and she seems to be ready to go home. Like I said she'll have to sleep this first day off, and with the medicine we gave her she'd be able to sleep through a train filled with screaming banshees crashing through her house for the next twelve hours.



Tom gave the doctor a confused look, then said. "Ooooo-kay? So it will be alright to take her home right now?"


The doctor nodded. "All you have to do is fill out some paperwork and she'll be released to your family's care, Mr. Jameson. I'll have the nurse bring it out to you."

"Thank you Doctor Harland." Tom said, then walked over to the waiting room to sit down. A few moments passed until the front doors opened, revealing John, Kelly, Mirabelle, Scarlett, and Keera. Keera had heard about the explosion first and went across town trying to find everyone. The family ran into the hospital to find out what was going on, and Tom calmly explained to them everything the doctor had told him.    

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The family drove back home in silence, in two different vehicles. Tom, Scarlett, Keera, and Kelly were in Tom's jeep with Annabelle in the front seat lying back while John and Mirabelle drove back in a different vehicle with the intention of getting some food before returning home, as no one in the household felt like cooking that night. Everyone in Tom's car wanted to speak, but no one knew exactly what to say. However, Keera was the first one in the group to break the awkwardness of the situation. 

"So what do we do now? The doctor said mom's gonna be passed out for hours. Do we suspend the search for the new Benefactor?"


"I don't know." Tom replied as he drove. "Besides, Annabelle went to the police station to find out what Jack knew about the new Benefactor, and all this happened because of it. Frankly, I think we have to suspend our search because it's getting too dangerous." 

"WHAT?!" Kelly yelled out, almost causing Tom to veer off the side of the road. Kelly had always been the calmer of the group, the opposite end of the red/blue spectrum in terms of anger, so when she yelled like that Tom couldn't help but wonder if she and Scarlett had switched seats without him knowing.  "But.. the Genie Lamp, and the people you told me about last night... it wouldn't be wise to-"


Realizing she could bring civility back to the car ride, Scarlett herself motioned her hands towards the injured woman in the car, interrupting Kelly's words. "Let's just wait until Annie wakes up, and let HER decide what we should do. She was the one injured in this, and frankly she has more experience with the supernatural than any one else in this car, what with her magical trip to Nightmare's dimension and the unicorn thing about four years ago."

Tom nodded, and pulled into the driveway of their house. The family got together and moved Annabelle upstairs into her bedroom, and put her on the bed. They were about to cover her up before Annabelle very briefly woke up and said "No covers. Too hot."


Tom's eyes lightened up at hearing Annabelle's voice, but was saddened when he realized she was simply talking in her sleep. He then sat down on a chair beside her and quietly motioned the rest of the family, asking them to depart from the room so he could be alone with her. They silently acknowledged this and walked out.


 Tom sat where he was for what seemed like hours, what seemed like days, watching over her and making sure she was alright. Suddenly, he had the urge to talk to her, he didn't know where it came from and he didn't know why he did it, he just wanted to. He smiled, and began talking in a whisper, almost to himself. "Hey Annie. I don't know if you can hear me, but if you can just... let me do this. Let me talk, okay?" Tom waited for her reply, then realized waiting for it was a moot point, and continued.

"I remember the last time you were injured in an explosion like this. I was too, if you recall. You blamed yourself for taking me to the library but I told you it wasn't your fault, just like the meteor shower wasn't your fault. Right then and there, as we stood in the paved out lot that was the destroyed library, as we held each other in our arms, I wanted to kiss you... hoping the pain would go away for both of us, even just for one split-second of pure happiness."


"...But I didn't, and I regret every single day that has transpired since then. I never got a real chance to tell you this, but... I love you. I've always loved you. I always will. That was why I pushed you away in Hidden Springs. Because I didn't want to bear the thought of losing the love of my life after seeing that other version of you lying on the ground in the alternate universe. And I'm so sorry for that, for everything that's happened. I'm not asking you to wake up right now and kiss me, tell me everything's going to be okay, tell me I'm being silly and that you love me too. I'm asking you to know how I feel."


Annabelle nudged in her sleep, smiled, and said. "I'll love you always and forever." Then her smile faded, as did Tom's when he realized, yet again, she was talking in a dream. He then closed his eyes, and wondered what kind of dream she was having...

---------------------------------------------------


"Hello, it's 9:00 AM, time to start the day. Wakey wakey! No? Okay, I'll just throw this cover over you and take Gabe to his audition myself. You don't have to do anything..."


 "No covers!" Annabelle playfully said as she stood up. "It's way too hot!"


Suddenly Annabelle's husband walked over to the bed and smiled at her, a big grin on his face. "Well whose fault is that wanting to move to the middle of Colorado in summer time? I wanted to move back to Bridgeport, but NOOO, you were all like 'No Tom, Gabriel needs a small town environment! He needs this, he needs that, yadda yadda yadDOW!"


Suddenly the rest of Tom's sentence was drowned out by the impact of a pillow hitting his face, knocking him back. "You know I don't sound like that." Annabelle said, she then threw the pillow down and hugged Tom. "Or do I need to remind you? Besides, I'm up now. I should take Gabe to his audition right, right now."

"Well, not RIGHT now." Tom smirked. "Come on, hug me." Tom hugged Annabelle warmly and said, "remember when we first kissed? It was just three months after that nasty explosion at the library in Bridgeport. I dunno why I remembered this just now."

"Yes, I know." Annabelle smiled as she embraced him. "We kissed, got married two years later, had Gabriel, and have been living a perfect life. Though I have to admit, I sometimes wonder what our life would be like if we hadn't gotten together seventeen years ago. Maybe... boring. I dunno."


"Well how can you be boring? You're Annabelle Jameson! People far and wide hear your name and bow! You sink ships with your beauty! Your face launched a thousand go-carts! Wait... I may have gotten some of that wrong, although I do know the go-cart thing was real."




 Annabelle chuckled. "You don't have to impress me... you know I'll love you always and forever." She leaned in and kissed him, prompting a noise from someone nearby. Annabelle turned her head and saw their son Gabriel with his arms outstretched.

"Ugh, no no no no no no! I don't want to see my parents kissing like that! Eugh! I come up to see when I'm going to my audition and I see this?!?!" Gabriel said. "I... I'm blind. I think I'm blind. It's hysterical blindness! It's a psychological reaction to seeing things that cannot be unseen!"


"We've stopped kissing, Gabriel." Annabelle said. "You can cut the theatrics."


"I mean I might spend the rest of my life in the darkness, like a bat in a cav- you've stopped? Oh... and YES! Perfect acting from me, Gabriel Caleb Jameson! I am soooo getting this part for sure! I haven't acted that well since I stayed home from school with a 'stomach flu' last spring!"



"I thought that was real." Annabelle said, then looked at him with a sternness in her eyes.


Gabriel choked a bit on his words, then said "I mean YES! Still a master actor I am! I just acted right now with the role of a teenager who revealed that he tricked his mom into thinking he had the stomach flu the spring befor-"


"Still in trouble."

"Dang it!!!" Gabriel said with exasperation, then walked downstairs in defeat. "I'll be in the car if anyone needs me."

Tom and Annabelle resumed their kissing, then Annabelle stopped to get dressed to take Gabriel to the theater. She looked over at him, and smiled. Thinking back to their first kiss, in the wreckage of the Bridgeport Library. She had a thought that popped into her head, that said that first kiss gave them a split-second of happiness that had lasted forever since.

-----------------------

 

"Tom? Tom wake up."

\

Tom had fallen asleep in the chair, and when he opened his eyes he immediately wondered who Gabriel was, before turning his head to see Kelly. She was wearing her sleeping outfit, meaning that some time had passed since he nodded off. "Hey. What time is it?"


"About one A.M." Kelly said. "I couldn't sleep, and Mirabelle suggested I come by and make sure Annie's okay. Is she?"

"Yeah, yeah. She's just still sleeping." Tom said, standing up out of the chair. "I'll be here all night if I have to, just to make sure."


Kelly looked at Annie. "Well, how about you go take a nap on your bed, Tom? I'll stay here with her for the next hour or so, give you some time to get off this chair, okay? Besides, I wanna say a few things to her, just to pass the time."



"Uh... yeah, sounds good. I'll be in my room if you need me." Tom walked out of the bedroom and Kelly sat in the chair beside the bed, looking over at Annabelle.



"Hey there." Kelly said, smiling. Like with Tom, she was whispering, not wanting to wake her up. "Man this is surreal. Just two minutes ago I was in my bedroom with Mirabelle, looking into her eyes, and I still see you every time I do. So I go from looking at you and you looking back, to looking at you like this in less than two minutes. It's crazy, isn't it?"


Annabelle didn't respond for obvious reasons, so Kelly kept talking. "I love Mirabelle, and I love you. I love Mirabelle because she is you, technically. She has the same quick-witted attitude that I fell for years ago, and I'm glad she's here, frankly" Kelly looked somberly at the sleeping woman, then continued. "I know I'd never be with the real you no matter how much I wanted, because you always had Tom in your heart. Even that night, after I confessed to you my true feelings, and we... you know, I still realized it was only for that night. And I have to say... thank you, Annie. Thank you for being there with me, for thinking of me, and for being my friend. Thank you for stepping onto that teleportation pad a month and a half ago, even if you didn't know what would happen. I'm thanking you for that because you unknowingly gave me a chance to be with you."

Annabelle remained sleeping, and Kelly decided to continue the one-sided conversation. "I guess I should tell you when I first fell for you, honestly. I never actually told you, just bits and pieces. Do you remember when we were teenagers in Bridgeport? It was just after you were caught in that explosion. I remember sitting next to your hospital bed, tending to your broken arm as you slept, being the friend I was and still am. One night, something just... clicked."


"I looked up from my magazine I was reading and saw you lying there. I don't know what it was, maybe the lighting, but something clicked in me. Ever since then I couldn't imagine a having to go through a day without you. Even now, when I'm in a relationship with... the other you.. I don't think I could think of a better person as a friend than... you. I'll always care for you, Annie, even... especially in the darkest of times."

---------------------------



Annabelle was standing outside the theater, waiting for her son to get his stuff out of the car and walk into the building with her. "Now straighten your clothes, and make sure your hair is neat." Annabelle said to him, playing the part of the typical mother that she loved doing so much, even if it typically annoyed Gabriel. The two walked into the audition room in the top floor of the theater, which was more empty than she thought it would be.


There were few others in the room, and all three of them were sitting at a table ready to judge auditions. Annabelle chalked up to there being no one else simply due to the fact that they were earlier than everyone else. When the audition began, Gabriel stood on a platform and gave off the first lines of a world-famous soliloquy as part of it.



  "To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,



"And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation."



"Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
To sleep, Perchance to Dream; Ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come." 



When Gabriel was done with his monologue, the Judges seemed impressed, then told him that they will give him a call in the next couple days if he got the role. He was happy to hear this and stepped off the platform, walking confidently back to Annie.

"So what do you think?

"I love Shakespeare!" Annie teased, then said "And you were amazing at quoting it."

"Thanks mom." Gabriel said. "Now it's just a matter of waiting. I mean, yeah this is a big role. I could actually be in a theatrical film if they call me back! It's like I'm dreaming! Living the dream!"



"Well, Mr. Dream, don't get a swelled head just yet. I mean, yeah I would give you the role in two seconds... one second... instantly!"


Gabriel smiled. "Thanks mom."

"For what? Being your mother? I'll always be your mother, no matter what!"

The two walked down the stairs into the outdoors, then Gabriel said "No, I'm thanking you for always being there for me, even in the darkest times of my life!" Gabriel smiled at her, and she smiled back at her son.


"You're welcome, son." Annie replied. "Now wait here, I'll go get the car and meet you around, okay?"

--------------------------- 

Kelly had nodded off when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Expecting to see Tom, she was surprised when she looked up and saw John standing beside her.

"How's she doing?" John asked.

"She's good, I think. I must have passed out or something. I thought Tom was going to come back to watch over her."

"I saw him in the hallway. He looked dead tired so I decided to take over for him. You go get some sleep, Kel, on a proper bed. I'll sit here, make sure she's okay."

Kelly nodded at him and left the room. "Thanks, John." With that she walked out and shut the door. John, who sat on the chair, looked over and saw a television with a video game console. He immediately walked towards it, but something drew him back to the chair, as he too wanted to talk to the sleeping Annabelle, just as the others did. Like before, he whispered, but only slightly.

"Hey sis. I know, I know, I haven't really chatted much with you these past few weeks. Big plans ahead, you know, the wedding and all. Red and I are planning it for after the Solar Eclipse thing you guys were talking about, just so we have something to fight against this whole 'Benefactor' thing for." John stopped for a moment, then continued talking. "Fighting, that's what you're great at... I remember this one time, a long time ago, I was being picked on by Travis Jenson, that neanderthal of a school bully, you don't probably don't remember him."

"When we were kids, I remember being picked on by him one day, I don't know why he chose me on that particular day, but he tried to pick on me but, neep. You were there, Annie. You helped me. If I remember correctly, you beat the ever-living crap out of that bully with your super-advanced alien powers..."

"yeah that's uh... that's what I called them at the time... what more do you want, I was ten?! Ever since then I always looked up to my big sister, you were my protector, and I was so weak-STILL so weak to protect you when you needed it. I wish I was there, Annie, when that meteor fell and hit that car. I would have thrown myself between you and the explosion just so I could pay you back for all the times you've helped me. I'm sorry I didn't get that chance. Hey, there's always next time, eh?" John smiled, then walked over to the video game console to play it.


----------------------------

Annabelle was walking around the theater when she saw Gabriel standing near a wall. She was about to call him over when she saw another teen walk up to him.


"So Gabe, I take you're here because you want to give me money." It was Jake Thompson, a well-known bully who would pick on anyone he could. "I call it... protection money, you pay me to protect yourself from my fists hitting your face!"


"Back off Jake." Gabriel said. "I'm not giving you anything and you'd better not bother me again." Gabriel was about to walk away when Jake knocked him to the ground.


Annabelle's face became twisted in anger seeing her son being pushed around, and she realized she had to do something for him without having his schoolmates know that his mother saved him from a bully. So she quickly tousled her hair, smeared her makeup and, just add to the effect, used a special ability she had learned to make herself look like her normal green self to the bully.

Jake was about to reach down and punch Gabriel in the face when he heard a noise coming up from behind him. He turned around and saw Annabelle, who was acting like an alien monster.


"I WILL SUCK OUT YOUR BRAINS THROUGH A BENDY STRAW, HUMAN MEAT PUPPET!" Annabelle yelled out with a raspy, hissing voice.

Jake, too scared to bother with anything else regarding Gabriel, bolted down the street screaming about an alien invasion beginning.


Gabriel stood up and smiled. "Hey mom. Nice look there! You should go to an awards ceremony like that!"




"Well I may get some kind of accolade for the acting I just did." Annabelle smiled. "How long until he stops running?"

"Frankly I hope he never stops. He's such a neanderthal. By the way thanks for sticking up for me, mom. I don't know if I could have handled that bully on my own. And you did it with your awesome alien powers so... double points for you!"

Annabelle smiled, and laughed. "So kid, what do you say your alien mom takes you to the diner for a big lunch. Her treat!"


"Sounds great on one condition... you have to go like that. Hey, maybe you can scare the waiters into giving you a free meal! Say that you would much prefer a hamburger to eating their brains?"

"You know I'll do that, next time okay. Right now I need to wash my face and put on some new makeup."

-----------------------

John was entranced in his game, but very often turned around to look at Annabelle to make sure she was okay. One time he did, though, he thought she was up, but instead it was Mirabelle who was standing there.

"Hey." John said, turning off the console. "I thought you were Annie for a second... NOT THAT YOU AREN'T. I'm just... sorry, I still can't get past the fact that you're... here."


"Don't worry about it John." Mirabelle said. "For a time there I didn't know who I was. Hey can I get a moment? Kelly is tossing in her sleep and I can't sleep myself because of it."


John nodded. He thought that maybe she too wanted to talk to Annabelle like everyone else. "Okay. I'll leave you to.." John chuckled a bit. "...yourself."


Mirabelle shot him an angry look as he left, but just to get him out quicker. John had rarely talked to her since the teleporter accident which split Annabelle into two different people, mostly because of the fact it was all his doing in the first place, but lately he had come around and, like that remark, had begun to make jokes about it. When John was gone, Mirabelle sat down on the chair and looked over to her doppelganger.

"So... whatcha dreaming about?"

There was obviously no response, so Mirabelle continued. "If it's anything like the dreams you've had in the past, its' probably a good one, unless it's a nightmare in which case, wake up. Wakey wakey! I remember a dream I... we had when we were younger. I married Tom, because he kissed me in that old library lot we stood in after the explosion that nearly killed us. I always wondered to myself what happened after that, in the dream, of course. Did we have kids? Did I ever become a singer? Did... Kelly... ever profess her love and kiss me like she did?"

Mirabelle then developed a saddened tone. "Now that I'm in a relationship with Kelly I consistently wonder if I am simply because you aren't. She loved you like she loves me. I know this for a fact, but I also love Tom. Man, a person can go insane thinking these things up. I can live a life you never did, and I don't know if that's good or bad! I don't want you to live a life you don't want to simply because I'm here! I'll always think that even if we both live our lives perfectly in every possible way!"

After sitting in the chair, Mirabelle started to tussle around. "Sorry to change the subject but I don't see how you can sit in this thing, let alone have someone sleep in it." Mirabelle stood up and walked over to Annabelle's bed, lying down next to her.



She did this because Annabelle owned a new hovering bed, and since her back was aching she thought sleeping on air would do well to help it. As Mirabelle lied down next to her counterpart, she closed her eyes for a few moments and drifted off to sleep.
---------------------------



A few days had passed since Gabriel's audition, and he was antsy about getting the part. Suddenly the phone rang and he ran to the kitchen to answer it, but Annabelle had reached it first. "Hello?"

Annabelle stood there for a few moments, talking to the person on the other end of the line. "Yes, I understand. I'll tell him. Thanks for calling." She hung up the phone and looked at Gabriel. "Gabe... you got the part but-"

Gabriel jumped with joy. This was the biggest news of his life, and couldn't help but thank anything he could for it. There was an unfortunate side-effect, however, that he couldn't get around. After hearing Annabelle tell him, he couldn't help but stop, think it over, and repeat her.

"I have to move to Europe?"


"I'm afraid so." Annabelle said. "There's a high-class acting school there that you received a full scholarship from, but the travel conditions are only for you and one person alone. Full living conditions for two people. I'll let you chose what you want to do, son."



"I don't know what to do." he said, angrily. "I'll have to move across the world, with either you or dad and not have a chance to see the other?! That's unfair! It's like you two will separate because of me! I don't want that to happen! No!"


Annabelle affectionately grabbed his arms and said "Gabe, please. Just... think it over. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you! Things will work out if they have to. Remember when I told you I wanted to be a singer, and never did? I never did anything I wanted to do when I was younger, and I don't know if that's good or bad.! I don't want you to live a life you never wanted to."

Annabelle didn't know why she said that. Of course she wanted to live her life as it was, with Tom, with Gabriel, but had occasionally thought to herself 'What if I was a singer like I wanted to be?'. Gabriel didn't seem affected by what she said, though, instead focusing on her saying "think about it.".


"Okay. I will, mom. I'll think it over, because this is something I really want, and you don't get second chances on things like this."


When Gabriel walked out of the room, Annabelle looked over at herself in a mirror and wondered something. She then said, out-loud, "Yeah, I missed out when I was a teen, but who is stopping me now?"


The next day Tom took Gabriel to a basketball game, allowing Annabelle to have some free time. She walked downtown to a business office and talked to the people working  there responsible for careers, and asked if she could audition for a Backup Singer spot that had opened up in Starlight Shores recently. She thought that if she could get a nice job and move there, then Gabriel wouldn't have to worry about going to Europe, he could try in Starlight Shores and still live with his family.


The audition was short. It just so happened that the same people who ran Gabriel's audition were there running Annie's, and they had the same looks on their faces as before. The one in front, whose name was Mera, approached Annie after she sang and smiled at her.


---------------------------




Mirabelle woke up and stood out of Annabelle's bed when she heard a knock on the door. She walked over to the door and opened it to see Scarlett standing at the doorway. She walked into the room and sat down on the chair without saying much, then looked up at Mirabelle.

 "John told me that he came in here and talked to Annabelle, and that made him feel a little better about the whole situation. I want to see if the same can happen with me."

Mirabelle nodded. It seemed everyone wanted to have a one-sided talk with the sleeping Annie, for whatever reason it could be. She left the room and closed the door, letting Scarlett have time to herself, but not before saying "You know, with me and her in here just now, it's almost like we were alone."


The red-haired woman half-smiled at her, then Mirabelle left completely. "Alone.", Scarlett said, "I hate that word. I hate it with all my passion. I hate being alone." She stood up and walked to the mirror. "If it wasn't for you, Annie, I would have felt alone all my life. You were the one who calmed me when I had my first rampage, you were the one who helped me talk to John you... I needed you my entire life. If you were never born, I don't know what I'd be today."


 "I know you feel alone, Annie, being one of the only aliens on the world. I'm human, but as you know I sometimes feel alone myself. I always feel sad, and angry and I don't know how to deal with these emotions. It all stems back to when I found out that my parents died, I felt so, so alone in the world. I felt incomplete, knowing that there were others who had parents and I didn't. Lucky for me I found out just a few days before my seventh birthday party, huh? Isn't that all kinds of loveliness?" Scarlett lowered her head.

"That was when I realized that Aunt Mei and Uncle Elliot weren't my parents, and that my real parents died four years before. I remember going on what was possibly my first real rampage, destroying everything I could get my hands on... and I remember little after that... until you walked up to me and said something that I never forgot. You told me you loved me like a sister, and that I wasn't an incomplete person because we were all family, that I was never alone, and then you told me that your brother John..."

Scarlett chuckled, then continued, "You told me John liked my rampage, it was 'cool' to him. I remember laughing, and crying. That's why I don't get angry much around you, or try not to, because I love you that much as a person, as my family. And that's why I want you to wake up."


"Your family could use you right now, just like I needed you." Scarlett stood up after hearing a knock on the door, and then said one final thing to her sleeping friend. "And I want you to know, from me, that you'll never be alone. Never."


----------------------



Annabelle ran out of the office building with a joy on her face. "I got the job!" Annabelle yelled out to the town, letting everyone in the vicinity know that she was hired for a singer job, one that she'd been wanting to get since she was younger. Annabelle laughed and smiled as she read the contract, but then... her smile faded. She looked at the contract again, and again, and again. Annabelle saw one condition for her having to go to Starlight Shores: Because of the bizarre scheduling, the tight living quarters, and multiple other reasons... she had to go alone, without Tom or Gabriel.


The notion hit her terribly. On the one hand, she'd wanted to be a singer since she was born, pretty much. Everything about her life was leading up to being a Singer, a star. She imagined that she would be one at the moment if she had never got together with Tom. And with the money her family would never have to worry about financial troubles again. On the other hand... nothing about this made sense. It was completely unreal! Why would she have to leave everyone behind to go to Starlight Shores? It's because of them that she went for the job in the first place!


She then ran across town in anger, finally stopping at an old attraction in the outskirts of town. "No. No I... I can't leave my family. I can't do this! What the hell? Why do I have to leave them behind? Why do I have to go? Who is making me go? I don't want to go!"

"You should."


Annabelle turned around sadly and saw her husband standing behind her. He had a bit if a smile on his face, but it looked pained. "You should go, Annie. Starlight Shores could use you right now."

 "Tom? I didn't know you were here. Look... these people, they're calling me to go to Starlight Shores, but they want me to go without you. I would be so alone there. So... incomplete."

Tom hugged her. "It's something you have to do, Annie. As long as you have memories of us, you'll never be incomplete. You'll never be alone, Annie... never."

"I love you."

------------------------------



 Scarlett, tired from being awake all night, started to walk out of the room to get Tom, but when she opened the door she saw Keera standing there. The teen had been sitting outside her room all night watching everyone walk in and out of Annabelle's room, and wanted to get in on the bandwagon. Scarlett silently let her in and left the room herself, letting Keera have a few minutes alone.




Keera sat there for a time in silence. She didn't know that everyone else was coming by and talking to her, just that everyone was coming by. She thought it was a good idea to talk to her as she slept, she read that helps the brain develop during a deep sleep and help the slumbering person's thought capacity in the long run. After a short time contemplating it, she decided "what the hell?" and leaned forward to talk.

"Hey mom. I... don't know what to say here. I mean, you're asleep because you were caught in an explosion, something that I can deeply, deeply relate to. What do I say? What do I do? First of all, I love you mom. I will always, but that's a given, I'm your daughter. I may be a genetic clone of you, but that doesn't change the fact that I am your daughter in my soul. If it helps you out of this deep sleep, let me tell you that everything you've done since I was, quote-unquote 'born', has helped me grow up to be the person I am, good or bad. I am who I am because of your determination as a mother, as a friend, as every positive role model I could possibly need in my life."


"Let me tell you something that I never told anyone. When I was in that explosion, when I called out to your name, I saw you. I saw you cry on the floor of the house back in Hidden Springs. I don't know how, I don't know why, but I think we have some connection that goes beyond family, to the impossible. I can feel what you feel sometimes, know what you know..."


"...like a psychic line that's threaded out between us, and that link is making me ask you to please, please wake up. please come back to us. I know whatever you're dreaming of is a great dream. I feel wonderful emotions when I look at you sleeping right now, so it has to be great, but please come back to reality. Let my voice carry you home. Please? I need you. I need my mother."

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 Annabelle looked up and saw the bus schedule. It had been a few days since she got the job offer, which gave her ample time to say goodbye to everyone she knew, and gave Gabriel enough time think over his own traveling predicament. When she first told Gabriel what was going on, she could have sworn she heard him cry. She hugged him close, slept in his room on a chair one night, and had spent the entire day before going through their family photos together. Annabelle didn't want to leave him, or have him leave her for Europe, but felt compelled to. It was a surrealistic feeling that overcame every other emotion that she had, that she needed to get on that bus.

When the bus finally came into the station, Annabelle noticed that the name of the bus was "Keera's Voice", and thought that was a strange enough name for a vehicle but didn't think much of it. She quickly turned around and hugged Gabriel, and both were on the verge of tears.


With her leaving for Starlight Shores and him leaving for a special acting school on the other side of the world, it would be a long, long time until they ever saw each other again.  Annabelle continued to hug her son, and a tear fell down her face. "I love you. So, so much. I will never forget you, my dearest son. Please never forget me. Promise me this."

"I promise, mom."

"All aboard for Starlight Shores!" 




Annabelle turned and walked away from Gabriel, smiling at him. She was still crying though, and didn't stop until she had boarded the bus, walked over to the nearest seat, and lied down for a nap. 


And then suddenly, the world around her went white...

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After tossing and turning in her bed, Annabelle opened her eyes to Keera, who was smiling. "Mom? You're okay! You're awake! Keera happily stood up and walked to the door. "Everyone, she's awake! She's okay!"

Annabelle stood up out of the bed, still dizzy from her experience. "Gabe, where's... Gabe?"


"Who?" Keera asked, as everyone walked in. Annabelle looked around and recognized her room. She recognized Keera, Tom, and Scarlett, and everyone else who showed worry on their faces.



Suddenly reality hit her, and she lowered her head. "Uh... no one." she said, sadly. "No one at all."
---------------

An hour had passed and Annabelle was up and walking around. She still felt a bit of pain in her chest, where the blast hit her the hardest, and continued to tell herself that was the only reason she had pain there, and not heartbreak from losing a world that she felt so complete in.

In the bathroom, Annabelle looked at herself in the mirror, noticing the bruises on her face that seemed similar to the ones she had when she was a teenager after that explosion. Tom stood beside her as he had for the past hour, ready to catch her if she fell, but she smiled at him. "I need a minute to myself, okay?"



Tom nodded. "If there's anything you need, I'll be right outside." He said. Annabelle smiled, and looked at him as he left, then when he was out of the room she glanced back to the mirror, seeing a faint image of her dream-self in her own facial features. She missed Gabriel, and the relationship she had with Tom, but then again it was "only a dream".



With this thought, Annabelle washed her hands and left the bathroom, unable to give herself any semblance of closure after that experience. She then calmly walked into her bedroom, changed her clothes, and stood next to a wall.


"Why don't I live in that world? Why did I have to wake up? It was perfect, and beautiful... here I'm just... me. Injured old me." In a bout of anger, Annabelle smashed her hand against her bedroom wall, prompting a recording device to fall from the ceiling.


She then remembered that she had an audio recorder installed in her bedroom as part of a security measure. Something in her mind prompted her to listen to the audio from the last twelve hours, as she had slept, so she walked over to her computer and plugged the device into a USB port, skipping ahead to the current date and deleting certain files from a couple nights before.

------------------------

Annabelle walked out of her bedroom with tears in her eyes, but this time of happiness. She had just listened recordings of everyone talking to her as she slept. She thought she needed the world she imagined, but now she knew that everyone needed her in reality, including someone that her son had taken the place of in her dream.

Keera was in her room continuing to look up on the Genie Lamp, despite the fact that Tom had told her to take a break on it until Annabelle was back to being 100 percent. She heard a noise, and smiled when she saw Annabelle standing in her bedroom. "Hey mom, feeling any better?"

"A little, thanks. Keera, I have a question. Have you ever thought about getting into acting? It's just, I've always wanted a child who wanted to act, and at the moment, you're my only child."

Keera stood up and smiled. "Yes, sometimes. In fact there's a new school play I was thinking of auditioning for." Keera and Annabelle continued talking about Keera's audition, and talked for hours about numerous other things.

All the while Annabelle thought to herself that even though she never lived the great life with Tom like in her dream, she still had a pretty good life here in the real world, and she should make the most of it.


8 comments:

  1. Wonderful! Very sad! Almost brought me to the verge of tears!

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  2. You are brilliant! Love this chapter! Wonderfully writton

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  3. Great chapter! It was very very very good! Lol, in the last slide I thought that the dude in the poster was actually there standing behind Keera and Annabelle, it scared the shi-er, scared me. Haha :D

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  4. I almost cried reading this! Very well done Chapter. Definitely one of your best.

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  5. i hope shes pregnant! :)

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  6. i am dying to hear more, please put some new chapters up, you're writing is captivating. i started reading yesterday and read all 29 chapters in a day.

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  7. please write more! this was a great chapter! i hope annie is pregnant two! i cant wait to see the ending of this amazing story! dont stop writing!

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