Kids can't believe in fairytales forever. It's just one of the crappy facts of life. At some point, someone or something is going to grab him by the scruff of his shirt and force his head into a bucket of reality. Most of the time that reality is so rancid that it makes you want to throw up into said bucket. Other times, it's just unpleasant enough to make you tear up a bit before sucking it up and moving on with your life.
Now, I don't really want to brag but my wakeup call came in neither of those forms. Mine came in a pristinely wrapped birthday present in the midst of a deafening storm, hand delivered by a car crash I wasn't even a part of.
Reality. It was overrated. Why settle for something so imperfect when there were dreams to explore? In dreams, you can be anyone, do anything. You didn't have to accept the made-up reality there as fact, you can change it. Maybe that's why I was always so good at falling asleep. It was a skill I never had to learn. One second, I'm awake, the next, I'm off to my own personal paradise. But just as kids can't keep believing in their Grimm's and Aesop's, a guy can't stay in his hidey-hole forever. No matter how much he would want to.
With an internal groan, I shook myself awake, blinking blearily at what woke me. It was a crow from the way it cawed, shrill and as pleasant as broken glass.
"Well, aren't you just the little non-conformist?" I teased, holding out a hand in an attempt to get it to come closer.
I didn't know why I wanted to touch it. Perhaps because, even though it sounded like a crow, it looked nothing like one. It was white, an albino; its pinkish-red eyes watching me steadily. It cawed again, as if in warning, ruffling its feathers as it turned away from me and flew off. I watched it go, and from afar it could've passed for a dove.
Yawning, I settled back in a more comfortable position - leaning against an air vent on the roof of our school. I wasn't going to let a prissy albino crow ruin such an eventful day. It was the last day of the school year and, more importantly, my entire high school existence. I wanted to relish the date with the knowledge that I was up here enjoying the sun while every other senior at our small school was enduring their teachers' last goodbyes.
Clean country air filled my lungs as a polite pre-summer breeze blew by, ruffling my already tousled brown hair. From up on the school roof, a mere three-story establishment, I could still see farther than from the roofs of any other building in the small town. White Oaks was truly beautiful, I noted with a hint of both nostalgia and regret. It was almost a shame that I planned to leave town the second I got my diploma. Okay, maybe not second, but definitely within the week.
Situated in the heart of Massachusetts, the small town was an hour drive to Boston, also meaning that it was an hour away from civilization. The place was beautiful; there was no contesting that - the lovely foliage that were always blooming with color, the hulking trees that provided shade on warm summers, the simple establishments run by exaggeratedly nice people, the fact that every night there were more stars than can be seen by the Hubble.
But I knew there was more to life than living in a safe albeit picturesque environment. And whatever that "more" was, I wanted to experience it.
I sat there on the roof - my back against the cool metal, my legs crossed, and my head thrown back as I watched clouds flow slowly by - for what seemed like hours. I didn't try to fall asleep anymore after deciding that the day was too nice for that. Only when the final bell rang did I move, stretching to loosen my stiffened muscles.
A scrunched up ball of paper soared through the air and expertly hit my ear. I already knew who threw it. Only Dinah used paper dark enough that you'd have to squint to even get a glimpse of what's written - probably with the teachers in mind. Turning my head, I found her standing next to the half-closed door, another ball of paper readied.
Dinah was a tiny thing - petite, though she would never let me use the word in her presence. She was what she'd like to call a colorgoth - goth without all the black. She was an adamant non-conformist, which apparently extended to the archetypical Goth so she tried to look...perky. You wouldn't even realize she was Goth until you saw her notebook and all the stuff that's written on it. I shuddered involuntarily as I recalled the last time I went through it. To prove she was goth despite her abundance of color, she cut her naturally blond hair short and spiky.