The Girl in My Dreams

By: Logan Byrne

Chapter One


Have you ever known somebody who completely changed the course of your life? I have. Her name is Annabelle Hawthorne, and she’s my muse.

When you grow up next door to someone your own age, especially if that person is of the opposite sex, things are just assumed about the two of you. I remember when Annabelle and I were younger, maybe seven or eight, and we were nothing short of inseparable. My mom would whisper to her mother that we were so cute together and one day we’d get married. I wasn’t even into girls yet, but for some reason, I was into her.

Things got in the way, though, and our time together grew less and less frequent as the years wore on. First she wanted to hang out with more friends—different friends, and ones who didn’t always want me around. She’d fight for me, saying she wanted me to come along, but eventually that ended. A few more years passed and she started doing activities like gymnastics and cheerleading, while I shoved my nose a little bit further into my books and escaped into worlds that seemed to welcome me with open arms. We finally got to the point where we’d nod at each other and say hi when we were both outside our houses, but I knew she only did it to be polite. She didn’t dislike me—at least I didn’t think so—but we were living in two different worlds. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, she was from Venus and I was from Gliese 581 d.

•••

“Theodore, are you ready to go?” my mother asked from the base of the stairs.

Up in my room, I grabbed my Velcro wallet with the duct tape–covered rip and my three-year-old iPhone before walking down the stairs to my waiting mother.

“I don’t know why I need to go to this stupid thing. It’s not going to help,” I said with typical teenage angst that seemed a bit much, even for me.

“You’re going so that you can work through your emotions. Therapy isn’t a bad thing, you know,” my mother said.

“You and Dad are the ones getting divorced, not me. Maybe you two should think about going instead,” I said as I walked toward the front door.

“Hey,” she said, grabbing my shoulder and looking at me sternly. “I’m trying to do what’s best for you, Theo. I know you don’t want to go. But I didn’t choose for all of this to happen, remember? We have to make do with the best that we have.”

After she let go of my shoulder, I walked out to the car. I could feel the tension in my chest. Why wasn’t my father required to go to therapy? Oh, that’s right, it was because he left us for another woman and they were living it up in Punta Cana or some other place I’d never heard of. I guess I’d just have to do what I’d done every other session and say the absolute minimum necessary to fill the time and get out of there. I had a feeling my therapist was going to say that I’d made “remarkable progress” and that I was just fine.

After we got into the car, I strapped in and looked over at Annabelle’s house to see Trent, her star football player boyfriend, pulling into the driveway. I tried not to look as my mom backed out onto the street, but the two of us unfortunately had to drive in that direction, and it was like staring into the sun. You know you shouldn’t do it and that it can damage your eyes, but sometimes curiosity gets the better of you and you take a quick glance. This time, I shouldn’t have stared into the sun.

I saw her coming out of the house, a smile on her face, as her stray strands of mahogany-colored hair flowed in the crisp autumn breeze. She was something of an enigma to me, and as we drove past her house, my eyes fixed on her, she glanced at me, at us, and I felt the panic inside me. Her gaze held for just a moment, a single blip in the timeline of the universe, but to me it might as well have lasted as long as the evolution of our species. The sad part was that I’d evolved this far only to wish I could devolve back into a swamp thing as her eyes caught mine.

As she looked at me, her smile went away, though I wouldn’t call her expression unhappy. Trent, with his manicured eyebrows and forty-dollar spray tan, looked over, my mother not driving quite fast enough, and I saw him snicker and roll his eyes. Yeah, that was just about how things went these days.

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