Written by AllyTrish34. This continues Masai Giraffe Attack!, Coincidentally..., Devin Verona, and Ghost Story as part of Lucid Dream, which is inspired by the FantasTeen novel of the same name. Note: the whole Lucid Dream chapters utilize American English.
Devin goes home in the evening, picking his brother up from the school. Mom offered him food, but he declined it.
"Takeaway food has been a custom," says Devin as he chortles, walks down the street, and disappears by the 90° corner.
I stare at Mom, "Can you double my lunch?" I ask her.
Mom fires questions at me. Of course, Devin is the first friend to enter my house in Gloucester, MA. Probably, he's the first one that I play with. I keep denying that I was not playing, but I can't find a better word. But, for the first time that night, I'm not the listener in dinnertime. Dad seems happy with me because I tell him stories of my school days; even the ghosts (and wraiths) look more sparkly, their wounds not gaping wide open — but that's just my feelings.
But Devin has a different opinion about that. "I would say that what looks good to you like in your thoughts, is what you see," he says. Mom brought him lunch, so he isn't playing with fire with all the lab equipments just to concoct his lunch. We're in the music room this time. Devin keeps on playing a classical piano, while we talk. "Like this: ghost-whispering is related to perception and mental condition. There's another theory why we can see ghosts when we were twelve besides the surgery..."
"What?" I curiously ask.
"The crash," replies Devin. "A massive crash on your head can activate the nerves that connect to supernatural perceptions. There's a case where a person sees such things after his head collided. But there's also another, in which the person loses his talents in the same case."
I think about the chances. Probably right; this explanation is more theoretical and makes sense. "Then, what does it have to do with the neat-looking ghosts when I feel happy?"
"You know, some people lose their supernatural powers — nope, not the interspecies ones — when they get older," Devin says slowly, grimacing when his music tempo speeds up. "According to me, supernatural powers relate strongly to a person's emotions. When you're afraid, you see scary ghosts. But if you're not, you see plain-looking ones. Collections of emotions are located in your brain, so is sensitivity; all of them come from the main nerve up here."
I fold my hands over my chest. "Don't emotions come from the heart?"
Devin smiles gleefully. "The heart is for neutralizing poison. You fall in love, thanks to hypophysis — and gravity, too. Your brain controls your emotions; hypophysis is responsible for creating endorphins that make you happy."
I roll my eyes. I've heard about it in a National Geographic show that discusses the human brain and whatever goes on in it. That's the scientific explanation. But people who don't have any idea what romance means do exist. He plays his piano, not wanting to stay still, just like a bullet train. After that, he continues his explanation when he finishes playing.
"You know, human memory can't be relied upon because everything is under the control of your feelings. For instance, I could picture Mrs. Bloom as a gnarly old lady; but others think she's not bad and I think of her that way because she told me off in the first day."
I stifle a laugh. "You think Mrs. Bloom is gnarly?"
Devin chuckles, shaking his head. "No, I'm just giving an example. I mean, memory is influenced by perception; perception is influenced by feelings. It's not a surprise that your supernatural perception is influenced by your feelings."
I almost want to say something, but Devin moves to a new song, and this one drives me stark raving mad that my mouth hangs open. "What the hell is this song?"
"'What Do You Mean?', Justin Bieber," he mutters between his leaping fingers, making them look like there are twenty of them due to its fast movement.
Hooray! A Justin Bieber song!
I hate his music.
Devin stops abruptly and snatches a paper bag on a chair filled with food and a can of strawberry-flavored Fanta. "I'm hungry," he mutters, then puts his hand inside to grab a lunch box.
I look him in the eye. "You said that some people lose their, let's say, sixth senses when they get older. In your opinion, why do such things happen?"
He shrugs and starts chewing. A piece of smoked beef dangles from his mouth. "Don't know. Adults. Maybe they've got too much in their thoughts, they forget their powers. Or, maybe, too busy to care which prompts the ghosts and/or wraiths not to show themselves in front of them." He smiles like a Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. "As always, adults are the ones who don't understand the fun of miracles."
"According to you," I cut him off, not caring what he's saying. Devin stops munching on the hard crust of his sandwich, catching my serious tone. "According to you, will we lose our ghost-whispering powers when we're older?"
Devin stays still, for the first time, he's not moving. He's stiff as a statue; he's not even chewing. The bone-white bread must have been soggy and limp in his mouth when he resumes chewing. He slowly says, "Maybe yes, maybe no, We could end up using our time for an uncertain fear."
* * *
After school that day, I head to the library. Dad told me the location of his favorite library to Mom last night, it's not really far away. I don't know what I should look up for; there's no way I'll give up everything to Devin. So I start with rummaging through the Supernatural section, studying the book shelves there. Then, I head to Mystery and Occultism, taking a bunch of more books, Most of these mystical books aren't thick, but there are old, thick books which weight can be exchanged for a blue whale.
According to these books, some people own supernatural powers since birth, but these powers can be triggered after a certain event. Some, like Devin said, get them after a terrible hit on the head. Some earn ghost-whispering after a family member of theirs go to a better place. Their sensitivity rises after the person who was close with them becomes a part of "another life". Some attend rituals to see ghosts. And there are people who coincidentally see ghosts because the ghosts show themselves.
Sometimes, perspective is the key, but not like what Devin said, more like "suggestion"; people think they see wraiths and similar things to emphasize their fear when they're scared.
A lot of people say that ghosts can't hurt the living, but some deny that. One of the bad cases is a controversy about a ghost who can't make you move. This kind of thing happens often. People who will sleep, or sleeping people, feel their bodies stiff and unmoveable, like a ghost is leaning against them, their bodies. Scientifically, this is explained long. It's called sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis happens when a person is fast asleep or will wake up. This happens because the body is creating a self-defense mechanism to evade from movements in dreams that can cause physical damage: falling dream, etc. This can befall them before, while, or after a person sleeps, and this can make them feel they're paralyzed, and their bodies feel stiff.
Wow. I have never heard of a scientific explanation for this phenomenon of "getting held down by a demon" before.
There are a lot of stories about supernatural visions. I learn a list of words that I can't understand, despite reading their respective definitions over and over. Clairvoyance. Parapsychology. Quasi-perceptual experience. Extrasensor perception. My eyes spin around and around in the sea of words. I have no idea how Dad does it; he reads hard-to-understand journals like this every time he's got free time. I close them all, capitulating.
Probably, Devin's explanation about seeing spirits after a massive cranial hit does make sense. I read in one of those books, according to a ghost-whisperer since being a newborn baby, they can "activate" their talent when they want to see them and "deactivate" it when they don't want to. Additionally, young children can't do both due to their ages, they say. Weirdly, Devin doesn't always see ghosts. Does this mean that he's capable of "turning off" this talent without realizing it? But, same as me, Devin didn't acquire this ability until he turned twelve. His superhearing sense is a whole other story. He has it from birth, and can't control it. Maybe, this person's opinion is irrelevant — on the other hand, doesn't it seem rude if I say that to the publisher? I think back of Devin's words. Kids tend to consider wraiths as their friends and adults consider them their "imaginary friends". Maybe, ghosts appear nice to kids because kids aren't afraid of them. Maybe. Scary ghosts? Well, they look menacing, frightening, whatever you call it, because they send off bad energy. This kind terrifies kids. Do ghosts have bad intentions?
I also read a book about supernaturals. I learn that there are lots of different species of supernaturals: vampires, werewolves (think Devin — supernaturals determine each other's species by "scanning each other's brains", symbolized with twitching eyebrows), fays, witches/warlocks, shapeshifters (me!), and, here's the coolest one: chameleons. No, not the prehensile reptile that changes its skin colors. Chameleons, the rarest and most powerful breed of supernaturals. They can shift into any species in order to adapt with their surroundings. Their species-linked powers are also stronger than a normal one's. But, for example, if a chameleon doesn't have DNA of a particular species, they can't turn into that species. Fays are better known as fairies. Werewolves have enhanced strength, speed, and senses. plus the ability to stalk someone unnoticed. So, Devin must've not felt much pain when I kicked his shin.
All of a sudden, strangely, the windows at the end of my table open wide and a blast of wind blows in, sending golden brown leaves inside. The librarian hurriedly shut the doors. He stares at me, the only visitor reading in there.
"I'm sure I closed it. The weather is pretty windy recently, don't open it. Did you open it?"
I frown, wanting to debate, but my eyeballs are glued to an open book. I reach to grab it, reading it slowly with a pounding head.
This book's article tells about lucid dreams. Many people have been researching visions and dreams, alleging that abnormal visions are the result of an illusion inseparable with reality — at least that's what I get. Some dreams are extremely lucid that we still remember them the following morning. And between these dreams, there's a condition where someone dreams of being wide awake on their bed, doing their daily routines in their dream until they're fully wide awake.
I remain quiet. Is this what's been going on? Could this all be just a dream, nothing more?
* * *
I read too much books that I almost have a blurry vision — one of the symptoms leading to passing out — when I get home. I'm physically and mentally beat. Those books consume too much of my energy! Mom is preparing food — fried chicken and clear soup with pork meatballs — and Dad is reading a book below the chandelier that hangs from the ceiling, lighting up the dining table. My head pounds to see it; I'm already beyond fed up with books!
Mom spots me walking inside. "How unexpected. You're home late. Did you go to Devin's?"
"Huh?" I shake my head. "No, I paid a visit to the library."
Dad looks up from his book. Wrinkles form on his forehead. "You should've told us if you would be home later. Look at the clock. What time is it? Do you think we're not worried? Next time, phone me, so I can pick you up." As parents, sometimes I think Dad's and Mom's roles as being apples and oranges. Dad almost always talks my ears off about discipline, while Mom usually is the one who'll afterward be saying, "Let her alone, Hubert."
This time, Mom's even talking me into getting stubborn. She takes out two Tupperware containers and a lunch box, while I go upstairs and stash my bag in my cupboard. When I'm back, downstairs, she holds out a lunch bag in front of the stairs. "You want to give this to Devin? — It's full of food."
My mandibule drops open, and I don't have to move my eyeballs to figure out that Dad is doing the same thing.
"Mom, the sun's setting!"
Mom nods. "Yeah, before dinnertime, right? Go ahead, go with your dad. It is pitiful if they keep eating takeaway food. Imagine if you have to eat McDonald's every day."
"It's like heaven, right?" I say sarcastically. "I don't know where Devin's house is and I don't want to get lost in the darkness."
"I've asked this question to Aunt Ivy..."
"Oh my God, for pity's sake, why did you do it?" I'm on the verge of yelling. I bet Aunt Ivy will be gossipping with Lexi, and kiss my butt if they don't. They both will. I stare at Dad, who looks relieved because I refuse it with all my might. He then nods, grabs the car key. Shaking my head, I say to Mom, "I know you mean good, but if I were Devin, I would freak out."
Mom shrugs and sheepishly smiles. "Sorry, I'm too happy. I guess, living in a city pleases you, I sort of can't stand it."
I flash a tiny smile when Dad is ready to go. "I know," I say, kissing Mom's cheek and taking the bag from her hands. "I'm going for a while."
Dad has been in our Subaru when I open the door. Fast, because I'm hungry, too, I rush into the SUV. We look like we're escaping from here; even though Dad isn't driving in a high speed, he looks like forced to do so fast. Dad hates going out of the house at night. One theory is that he's too tired after teaching for a day. It pisses him off if he gets a teaching shift in the nighttime. Thank God, it didn't last too long today.
He tries to start a chat with me — neither Dad nor I are good at it — but always trying. "So, what were you doing in the library? School assignment?"
"It was no assignment," I reply, shaking my head. "I, like, was conducting a little research. Anyways, do you know when I had my eye surgery?"
Dad's eyeballs move toward my way for a heartbeat, looking confused, but concentrates on the road again. "Probably around mid-June. June the eleventh, maybe. It's been three years ago. What's the matter?"
I shrug. "Part of a project."
Our car zooms down the road smoothly. Dad parks his car next to a bricked house. In the garage lies a Jeep, which makes Dad stop to stare, but he keeps walking next to me, arms thrown around my neck along the way, as if he's worried that someone might just snatch me right away from him. In front of a maroon-painted door, I ring the doorbell. I jerk, surprised, when, instead of the normal buzzing sound of a bell, the sound of a tot screaming comes out. "SOMEONE'S COMING! SOMEONE'S COMING!" I look at Dad with a freaked-out face, he also looks unsure. I press it again, but pull my hand back when "SOME..." is heard.
After that, from inside the house, we hear a little boy screaming brashly, "DEVIN ALEXANDER, IF YOU DON'T REMOVE THAT STUPID BELL, I WILL KNOCK DOWN YOUR TREEHOUSE!"
A familliar cackle follows the yell. Turns out, Devin is the one who cackled. He opens the door, still smirking. He looks awestruck to see me and Dad standing on the doorstep (literally). For a second, I think that he's in trouble — for instance, Devin and I have been trying to get to the bottom of our unusual powers and Dad found out about it and doesn't like it — but Devin's smirk stretches even wider.
"I renewed the doorbell this afternoon. Rocky was bored to death, so I let him join me in my garage. It may be a surprise for my dad, I think. Looks like he doesn't like it, does he?" Devin holds out his hand to shake Dad's, and introduces himself the same way he did toward me. Devin's mother must have taught him proper ethics and manners before she moved away to North Carolina. If he's not demented, Devin is extremely polite toward adults.
I laugh. "That's your brother?"
"Hell, yes," Devin says with a smile. He whistles toward the inside, and footsteps thunder down the hallway, getting closer to Devin. Another scream: "DON'T YOU EVER CALL YOUR BROTHER LIKE A DOG!", and Devin cackles again. His brother — brown-eyed and blond — sneaks into behind his big brother, hugging his waist and peeking at us. "His name is Rocky. And, if you guess that my mom's name is Aprilia, you luck out. Believe this, my dad's name is Donatello, but he goes by Donnie."
Dad shakes his head, amused. I giggle, reminding myself of how this reminds me of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Devin lets go of the gold door handle he's been holding. I know, he's controlling himself not to begin making movements. "So, Yolanda, why are you here? Am I caught red-handed?"
I think of what he said. After knowing what it means, I say, "Yeah, if you're a vegan. My mom asked me to bring you some dinner. Fried chicken, bolognaise spaghetti, and...mac-and-cheese. The pasta for the mac-and-cheese is a tad...you know, spirally. Like sprockets."
Devin receives my lunch bag and unzips it. He yanks the lunch box, eyeing the yellowish pasta as if they were preserved extraterrestrials' eyeballs. He smiles, "Thanks a lot. And it's called fusili, by the way."
"My pleasure," I reply, grinning and looking at Dad. "We're going home, if you say so." Devin nods, then Dad says goodbye to him and walk to our car. I swing around, returning to Devin's front yard and saying, "My surgery was on a June the eleventh, or any date around mid-June."
Devin narrows his eyes. "Imma look up for mine." He passes the bag to Rocky shortly afterward, reminding that kid to be careful with it. He turns around and smiles at me. "Wanna come over to my house tomorrow? I'll send you home, but by bicycle."
His offer shocks me to the core, I have never had a friend who offered me to go to their house. Playing, visiting, whatever. I feel like skipping, but I only chuckle instead. "The chances are, like, Mom might just allow me to stay the night."
"Tell her, I respect her trust and wishes, but I would be a happy guy if she respects my gender in the bargain," says Devin seriously. He flashes me a smile, then disappears behind the door.
I stare at the maroon door for a moment, listening to Devin's footsteps getting farther from me and asking him if he is just an imagination. That thought makes my chest pound painfully. As I walk away, I hear Devin shouting, "THROW ALL THE CHINESE FOOD ON TABLE! WE GET HOMEMADE FOOD! OR WE EAT BOTH! LET'S HAVE A BUFFET!"
Even though I'm shivering in fear, I run toward Dad, laughing. "I'm grateful that Mom still lives."
Dad smiles. "Me too."