Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday Writings #11 - Just a Dream?

Today's "Wednesday Writing" is a continuation of a story started back with Morning Machinations, and then continued in Communication Between FriendsDaydreaming Decisions, Off to the ParkDriven,  Coming Home and finally in Revealing Photographs.

I look forward to any thoughts, suggestions, reactions or critiques.  One of my biggest worries right now is trying to balance the blog posts such that they can advance the story by keeping some excitement/interest building while also not rushing the story so much to make it feel cheesy.  In other words, keeping you from getting bored while still making sure there are enough details and intrigue in short blog posts.  My other worry is a problem I often have...of trying to make the "middle" of the story work (as far as revealing/solving the mystery) and then producing an acceptable/believable conclusion.

So far, so good.  I guess we'll see.


Just a Dream?

Morning came sooner than either girl hoped. The radio from Gabby's alarm actually woke Julie up long before her friend. Julie shuffled into the bathroom and tried to work out the aches and knots in her shoulders and back. Gabby really didn't have a comfortable couch. Julie had slept very fitfully, and the couch was only part of the problem. When she left the bathroom and saw Gabby stumbling out of her bedroom, it was evident that neither girl had a restful night's sleep.

After a few minutes of near silent puttering, both girls felt their way into the kitchen and slumped over the table. Julie tried to put forth her most enthusiastic smile but she could tell it came off more like a tired grimace. She watched as Gabby pulled some glasses from the cabinet and then stared at the fridge.

"You ok Gabby?" After another moment of silent, Gabby cleared her throat and, mumbling something, quickly flung the fridge door open. A bottle of salad dressing flew from the door onto the floor and other bottles and jars rattled slightly. Gabby stooped slightly and scrutinized the contents.

"What is it Gabby?" Julie stood and walked over to stand by her friend.

"I was worried there was going to be another note on my juice."

"Is there?" Julie craned to see over Gabby's shoulders.

"No. There's nothing." Gabby grabbed the carton of juice and took it to the table. Julie stared in the fridge for a moment, grabbed a cup of yogurt and sat down. For a moment, neither girl said anything. Gabby at a banana while Julie slowly spooned bites of yogurt into her mouth.

"So what do you want to do Gabby? About all this, I mean?"

"I really don't know Jules."

"I still think we could go to the police."

"Yeah. But what would they do? What could they do? Besides laugh at us and call it some big prank. I mean, nobody's been hurt yet. No laws have been broken."

"Did you forget I was picked up last night for breaking and entering? And what about whoever broke into your house to deliver the first note? And the car? I'll bet the car is stolen. We could have them investigate that."

"Sure. Tell them I just happen to have a very expensive, very nice stolen car. And that somebody just gave me the keys along with a couple hundred bucks cash. They'd either laugh me out of the office or lock me up. No, I don't think the police can help with this."

"Then what?"

"I don't know. I guess we do what the last note said and wait for new instructions." She finished off her juice and carried the glass to the sink and stood, staring out the window.

"Who knows when that will be. We need to do something now. What about the photo albums. We could take those to the police. Have them see what they can find out about Evan."

Gabby just shook her head as she turned back around.

"I just don't think the police are the answer Jules. I agree that we need to find Evan. We need to get him to talk to us. To tell us more about what he knows. He gave me that wedding album for a reason. I think it's so I'll trust him. Trust that if I loved him enough to marry him, that I should be willing to trust him."

"What are you talking about? You did NOT marry him. That album is a hoax. Those pictures are some crazy photoshop prank. You haven't met him before the party. You've never been married. This is all some cruel cruel joke and it has to stop."

The fatigue and aching muscles made it difficult for Julie to keep her emotions in check. She was on the verge of shouting and had to fight down her frustration and try to show Gabby the sympathy she deserved. As their eyes met, Julie noticed that Gabby's were filling with tears. Julie stood and pulled Gabby into a hug.

"I'm sorry Gabby. I don't want to hurt you, but you know this isn't real. It can't be real."

Gabby led them to the couch and picked up the wedding album. She flipped a few pages and then stopped at the image of her and her mother.

"I know it's not real. But I want it to be. Even if I don't marry Evan, I want my mom back. I miss her so much Jules. I miss her so much."

Julie wrapped her arm around Gabby and pulled their shoulders together. Suddenly, Gabby turned her attention to the other book that had fallen onto the floor and lay open to one of the multi-colored drawings.

"What's that?" She pulled away from Julie and bent to pick up the book.

"I don't know. It's the other book that was in the backpack. Didn't you look at it? It's just bizarre."

"How did….it's not…I don't understand…" Gabby slowly turned through the abstract colored swirls and blots. When she reached the formal, linear, mechanical looking sketches, she fanned through a few pages briefly but then returned to focus on one of the colored images. She drew her fingers across the page, tracing a harsh red line that spiraled around the top of the paper and then ended in a wild blob of red that looked like an angry stormcloud.

"What is it Gabby?"

Without a word, Gabby stood and walked to her bedroom. Julie picked up the discarded album and looked at the picture in front of her. Slightly off center was a pair of humanoid blobs colored a grayish green. From one of them a series of jutting straight orange, yellow and blue lines shot out an inch like a strange circle of lightning. From the other came the red line that extended to the top of the page and spiraled around before ending in the large red cloud. All around the image random purple and green squiggles and blobs fought to frame the image.

Julie couldn't understand why this image would have meant anything to Gabby. She looked up as Gabby walked back into the room carrying another binder. She sat on the couch and lay the closed binder on the table next to the other one. Julie looked into Gabby's eyes with growing confusion.

"This is a dream journal I made when I was a young kid. I kept having recurring dreams. Nightmares really. There was a time when they would wake me up nearly every night. My mom convinced me that I should make a journal of the dreams. That by putting them on paper, I would be able to make sense of them and hopefully make them go away. At first, it didn't help. But after a while, the dreams came less and less frequently. Finally, they stopped coming and I was able to sleep again. Off and on through the years, I would still have the dreams. Sometimes even now I wake up in a cold sweat with these images swirling all around me."

Gabby opened the binder. The inside cover said "Gabrielle's Dream Journal" and was decorated with the innocent flowers and horses of a young girl. She turned through the next few pages of handwritten notes and then stopped on a full page drawing. She slid her dream journal next to the notebook from the backpack. The two images where identical. Even down to a small tear and a large diagonal crease on the left side of the page.

"I showed my journal to my mom. She and I read many books on dream analysis and talked through a lot of my fears and anxieties. No one else has ever seen this book. Through my childhood I kept it buried in my dresser drawer under my sweaters. Since I moved out, it's sat buried at the bottom of a box in my closet."

Julie reached out and pulled the two books closer to her, bending down to stare at the images. Even under the closest scrutiny, the two pictures were identical. From the position of the lines and colors on the page to the actual strokes of crayon and the imperfections of the paper.

"They're the same Gabby. Exactly the same. This is impossible."

The girls continued to stare at the books; Gabby trying to work out the impossibility of her drawings ending up in a binder given to her by Evan; Julie trying diligently to find some difference, any difference that would prove some sort of strange conspiracy to frighten them. Neither girl was able to come up with anything to satisfy their questions.

Both girls jumped at a sudden eruption of sound coming from down the hall. After anxious glances at each other, they stood and followed the rhythmic buzzing sound into the bathroom. In the cabinet under the sink, Gabby pulled out and turned off a portable alarm clock. Dangling from a string tied to the clock was a plain white envelope with GABRIELLE written across the front in block letters. Gabby slumped to the floor, leaned back against the bathtub and took a deep breath. She looked to Julie, who shook her head and reached for the envelope. Before she could grab it, Gabby pulled it slightly away, slid her finger under the flap and tore open the seal. Inside was a blue piece of paper in the shape of a bird and another hundred dollar bill. She glanced at the words on the note and then held them over so Julie could see.


Gabby looked briefly at Julie and then at her watch. Without saying a word, she stood, stepped across Julie's outstretched and started for her bedroom.

"You're not going are you?"

Julie stood and ran out into the hallway then down to Gabby's bedroom to watch Gabby rifling through her drawers and closet then rapidly throwing on fresh clothes.

"Gabby. Just wait."

"There's no time Jules. It's already five after eight. You know how traffic is into downtown. If I'm going to be there on time, I have to go now."

Gabby raced past Julie and back into the bathroom where she splashed water on her face and pulled a brush through her hair to try and minimize the just-woke-up-frizzled-look. Unsatisfied, but out of time, she went to the living room and through the binders, along with her own dream journal, into the backpack, which she then slung over her shoulder before turning back to look at Julie.

"Are you coming?"

Julie started to shake her head, knowing this was a bad idea, then decided it was a worse idea to let Gabby go alone.

"I'll be right there. Let me grab my bag. I'll change my clothes in the car."

As Julie turned to pick up her own bag, Gabby sprinted across the room and nearly tackled Julie pulling her into a hug.

"Thanks Jules. Thank you. I know you don't want to, but I really need you."

She released the hug and beamed a huge grin. Julie smirked and shook her head.

"I'm just trying to keep this from going from bad to worse. Just promise me that you'll listen to me when this thing goes too far. I don't want you getting hurt."

Gabby grabbed Julie's arm and squeezed gently.

"I will. Thank you Julie."

A few minutes later, Gabby suppressed giggles as Julie commented on the BMW while changing her clothes and brushing her teeth in the passenger seat. The windows were lightly tinted, but even then a commuter next to them nearly swerved off the road while Julie pulled a T-shirt over her head and fluffed her hair in the mirror.

Thirty minutes later they were circling the streets downtown looking for an open parking spot within a few blocks of the Fidelity Tower. Julie continued explaining what a bad idea this whole thing was. Gabby's exhaustion left her on the edge of uncontrollable laughter that burst out every time Julie complained. Finally they parked the car and walked the three blocks to the office building. At 8:41, they pushed into the lobby.


Brian Miller said...

dude your writings have more twists than if this had all been a dream i think i would have left a nasty comment...smiles.

Phoenix said...

Brian is right, the twists and turns are driving me crazy! If this were a book I would have read it in one night!

Okie said...

@ Brian - don't worry, I wouldn't do that to you...I'm not a big fan of the "dream" cop-out ending.

@ Phoenix - glad to hear that the interest is still there. A 'page-turner' book is a plus and a great 'review', but the question will be...would it be a book worth buying...only time will tell there.