By AllyTrish34, inspired by the FantasTeen novel of the same title (Lucid Dream). It is told from a first-person (Yolanda's) point of view, unlike most fan fiction stories. WARNING: This story contains themes of mockery, but they are all only AllyTrish34's imaginations, and not meant to hurt anyone. And don't forget the language (even though used minimally).
Surprise, surprise: Lexi is already bawling noisily and gossipping about Mom who asked where Devin's house is to her mother. I'm supposed to ask her back why her mother knows Devin's house, but I've never experienced such thing: gossip. Wow, I guess this is how it feels like to be the center of attention, in another perspective. Maybe it's fun, no wonder Hollywood celebrities like to make some.
Just like me, who decide to ignore all the rumors, Devin doesn't seem interested in them, either. I think, he's used to them. I mean, he's been here longer than me, so he's adapted to his surroundings better as well. You know that around these ages, a relationship between a boy and a girl invites suspicion for others. It looks like, when you're older, this sitch changes. They're adults. Other than that, I don't know. I'm still fourteen.
This time, Devin drinks mocktail with a beaker. He demonstrates how to make instant ice to me: you only need water, table salt, a lighter, and a drinking straw. Sprinkle the salt on the water; block one edge of the straw with your fingertip, then singe the other edge. Souse it into the water, wait for five seconds, then lift. If your timing is correct, you'll get ice in no time.
He enjoys his tacos relaxedly and sits on the table. "You don't mind if we pick Rocky up first, right?"
I almost lunge forward to suffocate him and ask him to finish his food first before talking, but this sitch is still within my patience zone. If Devin is only a dream, I'd better enjoy his offers before I wake up.
Devin's calling jerks me surprised, realizing that I've been daydreaming. I nod. "No, I don't," I say. "What are we going to do in your house?"
"I dunno, babysitting?" he jokes. He swallows his mocktail, then frowns to see me quiet again. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
I decide to say it to Devin. What happens if he says, "Yep, this is just a dream?" Will the world around me spin, then I wake up to find myself back in Rye, ready to face the kids there? Maybe, I should be the next Sleeping Beauty. Or, maybe, are they part of a dream as well? I clear my throat, "Devin, are you real?"
Devin gazes at me as if a new necked head is growing from my neck. I (hotheadedly) explain to him about everything I read in the library yesterday. Devin bites his lip, looking like he's thinking deeply. "Maybe your theory about this dream is right — if so, this is a really, really bad dream, but"— Devin locks his gaze with mine —"if you're right, then whose dream is this?"
* * *
Devin and I walk side by side, walking down the streets. I'm in a spotted hyena form, to keep up with Devin's steps. I guess, for being a werewolf, he's very strong. A few more blocks away is Devin's house. Rocky leads the way, saying everything that happened today and asking everything he can. I used to be like that, too, asking everything in my mind. Devin gives short answers, but the more Rocky asks, the more Devin doesn't answer them, because he doesn't think Rocky needs them.
Along the way, nobody seems to care about two boys walking with a carnivorous animal. Without even glancing around, I know that Devin has turned into a wolf. A gray wolf. And Rocky gives no darn about what's happening behind him. I think that he's used to seeing his big brother as a canine.
This day pokes a finger of worry at me. I didn't think of Devin's speculation. What if I'm part of a dream? If this is his dream? What if I'm not real, if I don't exist in the real world? Judging from the silence, Devin is also thinking of the same thing. The reality that one of us may not be real horrifies me.
I glance over my shoulder, a bit surprised. We both simultaneously shift back into our respective human forms. Devin holds my hand, and he's smiling at me.
"It doesn't matter who isn't real. If possible, we both aren't real, if this is Rocky's dream, or anyone's dream. If this is a dreamworld, we better enjoy it, the remaining time we have? Maybe, whoever's dreaming this, they will soon wake up. Make every second worth it."
I nod a little, deciding that I like that speculation. "This is a dreamworld, so let's try flying. Anything can happen here. — Right?"
Devin chuckles. "If you're trying to be optimistic, why don't you just say that your speculation is outlandish?"
Rocky jumps up and down impatiently in front of the door of our destination. Devin steps forward to turn the doorknob and open the door. Rocky instantly runs inside, and Devin reads out loud a long list of rules my mom would read as well when I get home. I laugh. Devin grabs a basket and humongous wooden tongs next to the door, and walks ahead of me. A pair of socks goes into the basket with the help of his tongs.
"Well, this is my house. This is the living room. Let's go to the kitchen; I put your lunch bag there. I've washed everything," he says.
I scan the living room awhile — neat enough. unexpectedly. Devin enters another room, not the kitchen, but the television room. He picks up a shirt from the floor, then finds pairs of shorts and a short-sleeved jacket. He goes through the dining room; there are towels there; then we're finally in the kitchen.
Devin smirks slyly at me. "Sorry for the tour, but I have to pick up clothes every time I get home from school. You see, while Mom isn't around, we liked to stash our clothes wherever we wanted. One day, Dad found the house being messy after arriving from work. We made an agreement. Anyone who arrives here first must pick up the clothes and put them by the washing machine. Now, there's your lunch bag."
The bag sits on the table. It is unzipped, with the containers poking out of the zipper. They're obviously cleanly washed. One of the lunch boxes (the Tupperware one) is filled with colorful Jelly Belly candies. A gratitude note is attached to it, with a sparkly ribbon, and written on lined notebook paper with black ink.
i lift the container for a second, scanning it for a heartbeat. "No Bean Boozled in here, right?"
"Nope," Devin answers sharply. "It's not really my favorite."
I let out a sigh of relief. "Maybe, we three can finish this now. If I bring this home, Mom's going to drain the contents."
Devin chuckles. "Yay! You wanna watch a movie? Dad left some money for me, so we can order pizza while we lounge until it's time for you to go home."
I frown. "I thought we were going to continue our discussion."
Devin waves his hand, dismissing my idea. "See, Yolanda? This is your fault, you're too serious. C'mon, that theory about dreams has shaken me enough. I don't want us to find scary discoveries. Besides, we have Rocky. A six-year-old won't be able to sleep if he hears our stories. ROCKY! WE'RE PHONING PIZZA HUT DELIVERY. WHAT'S YOUR ORDER?"'
Rocky thunders down the stairs. "THE ONE WITH LOTS OF CHEESE!"
Devin begins to complain. "'The one with lots of cheese'. Always that and that. Why can't people be more soecific?" he mutters slowly.
Rocky joins us, turning on the TV while Devin dials the number.
"Rocky, can you turn on the TV, please? I wanna watch Good Times & Good Friends. Oh, and The Sixth Sensefor later. I'll give you Jelly Belly later on." Good Times & Good Friends is a Land Before Time DVD, containing some episodes from the show.
He stares at me for a second, stays quiet, and seriously says, "You don't have to tell him, we really are going to eat jellybeans."
I laugh. "I want the meatiest one. So, so much meat, that you'd want to give up your carnivorous side."
"Maybe, we should ask him to put a live cow on the baking tray," offers Devin, then begins talking via telephone. Devin joins us a few moments later, and we watch Good Times & Good Friends. "We're taking a break, but please remember that we are still going to find new discoveries after this."
We three watch it calmly, because it's a kids' show, occasionally laughing at some comical scenes. After the Land Before Time episodes finish, Devin receives our delivered pizza and gives us each a glass of mocktail, straight from the refrigerator. He replaces the DVD with a The Sixth Sense one. Rocky takes the first pizza slice: thin pizza crust topped with oozing melted, juicy cheese, slices of pepperoni... This is the kind that prompts me to drool, just fantasizing how tasty it is.
"I like pizzas with thicker crusts, you know, like the ones from Chicago? But this one is pretty decent," Devin says through a mouthful of food, as usual.
I decide to reprimand him. "Why can't you talk after you finish your food?" I snap, sounding like Mom.
Devin grins. "Sorry," he says. "Sometimes, I forget what I wanted to say if I don't say them right off the bat. I blame it on the info quantity I have while I live for fifteen years."
The Sixth Sense tells a story about a boy who can see ghosts. A psychologist tries to help him exit his problems, but this psychologist apparently is a curious ghost who failed to medicate a patient who had the same problem with the Boy. Rocky is the one who gets scared this time, surviving upon Jelly Belly. He loses interest in the first hour, then Devin allows him to borrow his comics and read them out loud while playing his, Rocky's, Transformers robots. It's funny that, as an only child, I've always wanted a sibling.
"Do you think it's possible?" Devin breathes, so Rocky can't hear him. He points at the TV. "That kid. He's advised by the psychologist to make contact with ghosts to put an end to their curiosity. According to you, can we do that?"
I frown. "They're not talking."
Devin looks baffled. "They are," he argues doubtfully. "At least, I heard them. In some scenes, they're really not moving their lips, but they're talking."
"Or, probably, at least with you. I can't hear their sounds."
"Very good," Devin mutters. "That way, you don't have to hear them crying, shrieking, and cussing. Okay, I can hear them, so that's enough. That means we can help curious ghosts. Right?"
"We could," I say, reluctantly nodding. "But why would we want to do that?"
"Maybe, they know how to erase our ghost-whispering powers," replies Devin excitedly. "And, you know, cornea donors are usually — if not, then mostly — long gone. Maybe, we can find them among these ghosts. Maybe, they have something to tell us. Maybe, they know what happened in springtime three years ago."
I doubt it, and Devin can see it on my face like it's written on my forehead. He gazes at me, waiting for an answer. I know that there isn't a lot we can do now, save for trying, so I nod.
* * *
We decide to continue our experiment tomorrow at school. There's no way we'll do it now, in Devin's house, with a phasmophobic Rocky. So, after finishing the old, but spectacular, movies, we bring the leftovers to Devin's room and sit on his bed, filling it. And Devin's bedroom, for the sake of all ghosts, looks like an uncontrolled Cookie Monster due to not eating cookies for fifteen years straight.
Carefully, I avoid the rolled cables and a machine that looks like it can electrocute me anytime luck doesn't stand by my side. Rocky steps over Devin's electric devices more relaxedly. But, after being raised in a family which cleanliness and neatness are its custom, Devin's bedroom really poses as a warehouse for me. "Oh my God, how do you sleep here?"
"So you're not telling anyone?" asks Devin, staring at me seriously. He points to his bed. "I turn off the nightlight, then sleep there."
I laugh, throwing a pillow at him. I guess, the difference between a girl's bedroom and a boy's lies within the number of pillows and cuddly objects. I still keep a lot of my stuffed animals and Monster High dolls in my cupboard. Oh yes, and don't forget Lalaloopsy Girls. I reach to take an unfinished electric device, I'm not sure what it is. "What do you do here?"
"Oh, just the small ones. I do the rest in my treehouse up there — you see it?" He swishes the curtain aside. This room overlooks the backyard: I see a tall tree with a small wooden house perched at the top between branches. A brunette is going up and down the house, but I say nada due to Rocky's presence here. "Um, not so amazing either, but Dad made it. You know, having two sons means you have to have a secret lair. It's mostly my lab. Nevertheless, Rocky likes to play there. Right?" Rocky smiles widely, nodding in agreement. Devin whispers in my ear, "The pro of being the eldest kid. For centuries, your brothers will always consider you a god of know-how."
We spend our time watching Devin's science show. He takes out a bunch of his tools from the treehouse — he disallows Rocky to join him when their dad isn't around — and demonstrates a series of magnificent chemical reactions in the kitchen. He places some gummy bears (and gummy worms) in potassium chloride and manages to make them glow in test tubes — such an utter amazement that it makes me speechless! He also shows how sodium acetate and water react, creating some kind of wax. Afterward, he brings in a jar of sulfur hexafluoride, pumps a little into a closed container, and puts a paper boat on it. The boat floats in midair for a few seconds.
Rocky and I applaud — obviously, science shows are always strongly entertaining.
Devin shrugs. "With superconductors, we can make levitating magnets — ever heard of the Meissner effect? But with sulfur hexafluoride, we can do this."
Devin inflates a balloon, then sucks the air inside. He sings Auld Lang Syne with a deep voice, like Darth Vader. We laugh hysterically, then one by one, try it. For my turn, I cover Shawn Mendes' "Stitches". Not that I like it. In fact, I motherloving despise him and his music. Then I add, "'Is it too late to say sorry?'", quoting a line containing the eponymous word from a Justin Bieber song. Did I mention that he's totally not my favorite?
That act of mine cracks the Verona brothers up.
"That was sooo hilarious," Devin adds, stifling laughter. "Hey, hey, you know what? I bet those people are having a life of the party — a gatecrashed party!"
We laugh again.
"Additionally, really, 'What Do You Mean?' repeats the title, waaaayyy too much. 'What do you mean? What do you mean?' Over and over. As in, there's no mean between option A and B? Get it?"
We double in a fit of laughter.
"You're right. It is an indecision-themed song, indeed. I'm tired of listening to both songs." Devin adds sarcastically, "I mean, like, there's no other song? You have to play both often so that disaster doesn't befall the world?"
Notice that Rocky doesn't say anything. And sorry for the scene, guys.
He tells me, in person, that in a New Year, he ever tried to explode thermite and a nitrogen solution as a replacement for fireworks, which caused havoc in the backyard.
In the evening, Mr. Donnie Verona arrives at home, carrying two buckets of chicken wings from KFC. Devin then informs me that he will accompany me as I go home but he doesn't want to, never wants to, leave Rocky all alone. Mr. Verona, Devin and Rocky's dad, bears resemblance to his sons: brown hair and brown eyes. Note that he's a tad bald in the middle, like Tom Harper of Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn. He thanks me for the dinner I brought last night and hands a bucket down to me.
I sit behind Devin. Silence roams the streets and the sky deepens a shade of red when Devin paddles his bike with all his might. He chews his chicken drumstick, and, don't forget, talking. He's not talking about our supernatural species or our powers, he's talking about other things. Maybe, Devin is fairly flummoxed to hear my speculation about dreams, more than he shows it — sometimes, I like to imagine that I can hear his thoughts. Role switch. Or, probably, he's not in the mood, that's it. Duh, Devin is a normal teen, other than his hyperactive habits.
I tap his back to stop his mouth from speaking more things. Devin looks over his shoulder, catches a glimpse of me, and I smile. "Your family is pretty fun."
His lips lean to a side. "Don't you think we lose control because my mom doesn't live here anymore and rarely visits us. Wait, we did lose control. But we're not that pitiful; just leftover food, messy house, and sometimes forgetting to clean our clothes. One day, we realized we hadn't been putting any clothes in the washing machine. We only wore whatever we were wearing, awaiting the clothes to dry."
I groan, putting my hands over my ears, pretending not to hear him and trying to clear the phantom from my head. "You don't have to tell me that, right?"
Devin giggles. "I told you, my mouth is uncontrollable." He shrugs. "It's hard to live months, or, sometimes, years, without Mom, but we can survive."
I study Devin's narrowed eyeballs to watch the sunset. Then a thought dawns on me: I'm still fourteen, and Devin's still fifteen. Yes, I' used to kids older than me. "Yeah," I muse, leaning against his bent back, "you're a great big bro. I bet your family wouldn't be this way, if it weren't for you."
I hear Devin snort and chuckle a little. "You know, Yolanda, I'm starting to think that you have a crush on me."
"Kiss my ass," I say, but I'm laughing. "No way. Oh, I remember something. Drop me off before my house. I don't want Lexi to see me and invent rumors centered on me again."
Devin frowns at me. "Who in heaven's name is Lexi?"
I blink at him, bewildered. "She's our classmate. Like, the one with blond shoulder-length hair? You don't know her?"
Devin shrugs. "I think there's someone like that. I forgot," he mutters.
He doesn't drop me off, save until in front of my doorstep, of course. I was wrong, too — I didn't think of hopping down his bike. I'm not afraid of short heights (it's a whole other story with tall heights), but if I mess it up, I'm going to look like a chowderhead. Mom gives Devin a tuna casserole, complete with chocolate pudding, for dinner. She really needs to search a new job outside the house; if she's doing nothing, she will mind others' business, and everything irrelevant.
Devin waves his hand at us both — me and Mom. We watch him cycle further until he disappears by the end of the street.