“Adeline White-Smith! If you do not get out of that bed by the time I come in there, I will get you out of there myself!”
“Watch your step,” they hissed.
“Only if you watch your mouth,” I said under my breath. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you should never use comebacks against people who shove you in the locker corridor. Why? No idea. I’ve never been daring enough to try.
I turned around, only to be greeted my a mob of messy red hair and a friendly smile.
“Hey, Cara,” I smiled back.
“Why do you look so sad?” She put on a pouty face. “Do you know what day it is?”
“Of course I do,” I walked towards my locker, and completed the combination. “That doesn’t mean I have to be excited about it.”
“Excuse me?” Cara folded her arms and raised an eyebrow. Typical Cara pose. “Yes - you do.”
“Why? It’s not like I want anyone to ask me,” I said.
“What? What about that Samuel guy, huh? You’ve had your eyes on him since grade seven, hon!”
“There is no way,” I shoved my bag into the tight space my locker provided. “In a gazillion trillion years that he is going to ask me.”
“How do you know that?” she asked.
“The way this school works, Cara, is that the dorks get asked by the dorks, the fashionista brats get asked by the fashionista brats, and the popular adorable people get asked by the popular adorable people. Got it?” I sighed. “I think you know where I fit in.”
“Stop being such a pessimist, Addy,” Cara said, rolling her eyes. “That’s not how the world works.”
“I didn’t say that was how the world works. I said that was how this school works.”
“Whatever. Same thing. Anyway - the world works like this: the dorks ask whoever they want, the fashionista brats ask whoever they want, and the popular adorable people ask whoever they want. Got it?”
“Well,” it was my turn to fold my arms. “At the end of the day, let’s see whose theory is correct, okay?”
“Adeline?” A voice said. A male voice. Hang on a second...
I looked up, and sure enough, there he was. Samuel. Turned around in his chair, and looking straight at me. Me. And there was that smile. There were those green eyes, gazing in my direction. I gaped at him.
“I was wondering whether you’d like to be partners with me,” he shrugged. “For the activity.”
“I - I, um...sure,” I stammered. “Yeah.”
Samuel laughed. “You have no idea what we’re doing, do you?”
“Huh?” What was he saying?
“Mr Hoffman just gave us an exam notification,” he said. Samuel held up an orange piece of paper with ‘Maths Assessment’ written on the top. “He said the best way to learn all the stuff we need to know for the exam is to work in partners and ask each other questions to learn the answers.”
I continued to stare at him. So he wasn’t asking me to the dance. That was a shame, although he had never said so many words to me at once before. And of everyone in the class, he was asking me to be his partner. So he did know who I was!
“No,” Samuel looked down at my textbook. “You’ve been...preoccupied.” He grinned.
“Yeah,” I laughed. “I guess you could say that.”
“So - do you want to start some of the questions?”
“Sure.” I was still dumbfounded.
Samuel held up another piece of paper. “Mr Hoffman gave us these questions to ask each other, so how about we do three each? Here, I’ll ask you some first.”
“Are you coming to the disco tomorrow?” He asked me.
“Yeah,” I shrugged. “I guess so.”
“Who’re you going with?”
“Nobody,” I felt my cheeks redden. “Well - at least, nobody yet. How about you?”
“I haven’t got ‘round to asking anyone yet,” he said.
There was a silence. Luckily, we were saved by the bell, signalling it was the beginning of lunch.
“Yes,” I smiled. “But really nobody calls me that. Addy, mostly.”
“See you around, Addy.” And he walked away.
“Addy?” he asked. I spun around to face him.
“Sam - Samuel?” I was surprised to see him there.
“Hi,” he waved, and grinned. “I was wondering whether...you know...”
He was looking at the ground. Was he...nervous? No, surely not. It was almost as if he was going to ask me something. Something important.
“Yes?” I answered.
“Well...you see...” he stammered.
“What is it?” I asked eagerly. He was going to ask me to the dance - I was sure of it.
“Would you like to come with me to -“ Suddenly, he stopped mid-sentence. He looked at me, and gripped my shoulders. He started shaking me.
“Samuel, what’s going on?” I asked, trying to pry his hands off me.
“Hello? Wake up!” He practically shouted. “Wake up!”
“Sorry,” he said, putting the bucket down and kneeling down beside me. “I didn’t realise you were already awake.”
“What on Earth are you talking about?” I looked around, and gasped. I was lying down, on my back. I seemed to be in...some kind of woods. And it was snowing. That was weird. The boy who had poured the cold water all over me was staring at me, as if I was some kind of alien. He had dark, brown hair that covered some of his eyes, which were an icy blue.
“I asked what you were talking about,” I, too, stood, and brushed the snow off my clothes.
“No, you said something different,” he scratched his head. “You said: What on something are you talking about?”
“I said Earth, Einstein,” I told him angrily. “What on Earth.”
“Einstein?” He looked confused. “What’s that?”
I laughed at him. “Einstein? Albert Einstein? The German scientist? C’mon, you have to know who he is!”
“Never heard of him.”
“You’ve probably just been living under a rock for the past century or two, that’s all.” I rolled my eyes.
“What’s a scientist? What’s Earth? I think you must’ve hit your head a little too hard, missy.”
“Earth? You’ve never heard of planet Earth?” I looked at him. “What’s going on? Where am I, then, if I’m not on Earth?” I poured some sarcasm into my words.
“You’re in Sparrow,” the boy explained.
“Sparrow? Never heard of it.”
“It’s up near the Mountains,” the boy said. “The East Mountains? You’ve never heard of them, have you?”
“You’re making my head hurt,” I glared at him. “Whatever sick joke this is, stop it now. ‘Cause it’s not funny, mister!”
“This isn’t a joke,” the boy said, almost with a touch of sadness into his voice. “You’re the one who’s playing dumb.”
“Look,” I said, annoyed. “Just tell me where I am and who you are. How did I get here? What is going on?” I tried to remember back where I was before I appeared here. “A minute ago...I was in school. With Cara. And Samuel.” I gasped. “Samuel! He was about to ask me to the dance!”
“Listen to me - this is all I know,” the boy made a gesture somewhat similar to surrender. “I was out hunting, here in the woods. I saw a pretty girl lying unconscious in the snow. I thought she - you - were dead. I went over, and realised you were still alive. It was as if you were sleeping. So I tried to wake you up.”
“What?” I breathed. This made no sense at all.
“I shook you, and then poured cold water on your face. Turns out you were already awake. You were kind of annoyed.”
“Wait,” I said. “So you’re saying...Samuel...he was shaking me, telling me to wake up. That was you?”
“You were dreaming,” he shrugged. “Probably about that Earth place and Einstein and whatever. That was all your imagination.”
“No. That can’t be true. You’re just some messed up kid, you are. This is Earth. No, even better - I’m just dreaming. And then I’m gonna wake up, and Samuel is going to ask me to the dance. I probably passed out or something.” I pinched my arm. “Wake up, Addy, wake up!”
“Someone must’ve wiped your memory,” the boy observed. “You must’ve fallen unconscious, or something.”
“What?” I gaped at him. “Wiped my memory? That’s not even possible! You’d have to have magical psychic powers or whatever.”
This time, it was the boy’s turn to laugh.
“Yeah, like that’d be unusual,” he said, grinning. “Your memory’s been wiped. Here is this world, a lot of people have ‘psychic powers’. If that’s what you want to call them.”
“You’re mad,” I concluded. “This is not some magical land, and my memory has not been wiped!”
“Don’t freak out,” the boy said suddenly.
“About wha-?” He leapt forward, and put his hands on the side of my head, his index fingers on my temples.
“It’s your memory,” he explained. “We’re inside your mind.”
“That’s not possible,” I breathed.
“It is when you have magical psychic powers,” he grinned.
“And a lot of people have those kind of abilities, here in Sparrow?” I asked doubtfully.
“Sparrow is a small village, close to the base of the Eastern Mountain Range. The mountains are kind of a border for the province Nevina, which is where Sparrow is located, along with about a dozen other villages, towns, and one large city - the capital. Nevina is a part of eight provinces that all make up the state Rondelle. And Rondelle is one of the ten states that make up our country - Diallena.” The boy smiled again.
“And how many countries are there?”
“About twenty-three, I think. And across all of those countries, there are people called the Edane - the Gifted. People with ‘magical’ abilities. I’m one of them.”
“So...I’m in a whole other world? None of the things I...this,” I gestured to the memory around me. “Is all part of my imagination? Even my family, my friends -“
“Well, that’s where it gets tricky,” the boy said. Suddenly, I felt the memory fading, and we were back in the woods. “You see, technically, there are rules about dreaming.”
“They’re not exactly rules. But rather things you should know. You can’t actually dream someone up. It’s impossible to dream about someone who you haven’t seen before sometime in your life.”
“So you’re saying that all my friends and family I dreamt of...they’re real? They exist?”
“Kind of. Yes. Well, they probably aren’t actually your family and friends, but those people you dreamt of - you’ve seen them, in your past. Here, in Diallena.” The boy told me.
The boy groaned, but then said: “Okay. Off you go.”
“So, I used to have a life here, in this world.”
“Diallena. Presumably somewhere around this area, as that’s where I found you.”
“And for some...important and strange reason, someone chose to wipe my entire memory of this world. And so I fell unconscious.”
“Usually when someone drains you of all your memories, energy is too hard to sustain for you. Sometimes it can be fatal.” The boy said.
“And so I fell asleep. And just like any other normal person, I had a dream. Because I had no memories for my imagination to build onto, I created a whole new world - a world called Earth, and all the countries and cities within it. I created a life for myself. I created a past and a present for me to live in. And I thought it was real, because my mind didn’t know any better.”
“And for some reason,” the boy began. “Your mind was able to sustain the images of people you had met before.”
“And so I dreamt up people.” I said. “And while I was unconscious, you were out hunting for food for your family. And you came across me, and tried to wake me up.”
“Exactly. Well done,” the boy smiled. “Now all you have to do is let all of that sink in. Trust me - it’ll take a while.”