Perhaps from the view of a stranger one would think that the young teen was deep in his own thoughts, the concentrated look on her face and furrowed brow pondering the truth of existence. In reality, it was just me, trying to get over another thundering headache that seemed to come every afternoon around the same time, like a timely gentleman at a tea party.
I gave a tired breath and I placed my head into the crook of my elbow. My brain seemed to ache and throb, and I turned my head toward the large window to my side, a beacon of light in the dark room.
My eyelids felt heavy and tired as I stared outside into the far distance, not focusing on anything or anyone, just content to drift and lose focus. For a moment the incessant pounding seemed to lighten, when I was jolted back by a flurry of movement.
I peered outside, and blinked at the large brown and white bird that looked back at me, it’s strangely large eyes staring into mine, large, dark, brooding eyes that seemed almost human. It’s just a bird, nothing special about it. I think to myself as I watch it, watch me.
Suddenly I thought, wouldn’t Luke like to see this? and I moved my hand to my pocket to get out my phone, but when I looked up the bird was no longer there. Now armed with a mission, I decided to head outside in hopes of seeing the bird again.
I moved to the front door and winced as I opened it, the soft sunlight still seemingly so harsh against my eyes. I took a few moments to adjust as I stepped outside, my eyes unused to being exposed to the light. I took a step forward to look for the bird, but as I moved, my headache seemed to come back with a vengeance, and my knees wobbled under the pressure.
Squeezing my eyes closed, I felt a heat flash throughout my body, and suddenly my body was rushing to meet the ground.
When I opened my eyes again, I realized that I must’ve blacked out or something, as the sun had set and the sky was a deep dark endless black, as if someone had draped a blanket around the world and wrapped it all up. I huffed. “This is all that dumb birds fault,” I muttered to myself as I stood, dusting off my legs and hands. I turned around and prepared to head back inside but startled when I realized there was nothing there.
I stood there mouth agape for a few minutes as I tried to process what had happened. “What the- the house was right there!” I said to nobody, waving my hand up and down at the barren patch of land.
Turning around, I realized that almost none of it was the same. All the neighbors houses? Gone. The stop sign at the end of the road? Gone. The large pine tree at the end of what would’ve been our driveway? Gone. Well, not exactly. It wasn’t a pine tree any longer but… “Is that a large dandelion?” I ask myself, as I move forward for a closer look.
It was. It was a large dandelion at the foot of my driveway in this upside down-houseless world. I extended my arm to touch it, and it felt just like a dandelion stem, but made fifty times larger.
“Helloooo,” called a deep, gravelly voice from above of me, and my head whipped up to look for the owner of the strange voice. There’s nobody there, but instead, on one of the seeds perched the bird.
“You!” I said with a scowl, “you’re that bird! That brought me here!” The bird blinked at me and I balked. “Wait a minute. Birds can’t talk,” I said, to myself or the bird, I didn’t know.
“Birds can’t talk who says?” pips up another voice, but instead of the deep voice from before it was high-pitched, like a child. I looked back up, and the bird seemed to give me a smug glance.
“You are talking. Are you? You’re talking and I’m not mad or high or whatever,” I said, and it shook its wings out instead.
“Ye-ah??” it says, this time in a choked, wheezing voice, as if from an old man.
“So. Birds can talk. Can you… maybe tell me how to get home?” I ask, the bird’s strange voice and manner of speaking messing with my mind. The bird shuffled around on the dandelion for a bit, until it jumped off and fluttered down. The bird paused for a few moments, then bobbed its head in a nod.
“Come along! Along! Along now!” it screeched, flapping off down the road. I ran to follow, the bird flying ahead, and waiting for me to catch up. Every time I thought I had lost it, they would appear again, seemingly out of nowhere.
The odd thing was, even though there were no houses, the road still remained, but now a smooth, polished silver. The road mirrored the sky above, dotted with trillions of stars, all sorts of colors. I made the mistake of looking directly up at the stars, to wonder over the strange natural oddity, and found myself being pulled in, like a vortex had captured my gaze and wouldn’t let go. I finally looked away when the bird gave me a vicious bite to the ear, and the pain brought me back.
“Don’t,” was all it said as I winced and nursed at my bleeding ear, and the bird flew off with a softly muttered idiot.
After that, I only stared at the stars through the road, till the bird led me to a strange formation of trees that split off of the silver road. The trees seemed to grow and crawl on top of each other, forming tangles and tangles within their own branches, pushing higher and higher to the sky, with no limit in sight.
The bird paused, and did a strange little dance, tapping its feet against each other and suddenly with a rumble, the thick bark parted into a little archway, almost perfectly my height. I glanced at the bird incredulously as it motioned its wing toward the gap.
“You want me to go in there?” I asked, looking into the tangle of trees, “why can’t we just continue on the path?” I said, in almost a whining tone. The bird rolled its eyes.
“Idiot continue the path you want to die? Don’t worry, bird protect you,” they said, puffing up their chest.
“Protect me?? Protect me from what!?” I say, but they flapped over and butted my leg.
“Go,” they squaked, and with no other choice I stepped through the trees. Almost as soon as I walked in another rumble rang through the air, and the gap behind me closed. I felt trapped, constricted, the leafy growth and darkness seeming to claw at me from all sides.
The bird nudged me again, “go,” it said again, and I stumbled forward, into the unknown.
The path straight, no turns or curves, like someone had drawn it out with a ruler. However, every so often the tree’s would close in and brush up against my shoulders, or perhaps widen out so much you could fit a parking garage inside the area. Whatever was going on, I ignored it, and moved on.
The strange birdsong however was a lot less ignorable. It seemed to seep and penetrate into every corner of the forest, and when the bird motioned for me to stop I gave a breath of relief. We must be near the exit.
“You go now,” they said, voice light and airy, as if an angel was directly talking to me. “Through there, and you’ll be home.”
I looked at what they were motioning at and a small laugh tumbled through my lips. It was a window. It was my window. My fingers fumbled with the familiar latch as I unlocked the window and stared into the other side, the other side which was me, slumped over my desk, sleeping. I glanced back at the bird, then back at the window.
“Uhh… thank you. For getting me home Mr. Bird. Do you- do you have a name?” I ask, pulling a leg onto the ledge of the window. The bird simply shook its head.
“I am You,” it said cheerfully, then jumped and pushed me over with more strength than a bird could possibly have. I felt myself fall through the window and-
—and my eyes flew open.
Everything seemed to ache as I checked to make sure all my limbs were in place. And to my surprise, I was back at my desk, the same desk I had seen myself sleeping over.
“What a strange dream,” I said, and I would’ve kept thinking that, if not for the warm trickle of blood coming from my ear.