Wake, p.6
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       Wake, p.6

         Part #1 of Wake series by Lisa McMann
 
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  He pushes past her into the room, closes the door and locks it, takes her hand, and holds her. He is pleading. “I don’t understand,” he says. “I just don’t understand. Why did you do that to me?” He’s broken.

  And so is she. “I can explain,” Janie says. And she buries her face in his shirt and cries. “Just get me home.”

  They fall on the bed, and they just hold each other quietly.

  That’s all they do.

  And then, it’s time to go home.

  2:00 p.m.

  Janie and Cabel are in the back seats again. Carrie and Melinda sit in front of them. Across the aisle, Savannah and Kyle are making out. Janie reminds herself to start taking bets on these things.

  In front of Savannah and Kyle is Shay, or at least her baggage. Shay appears to be furiously ignoring Janie. She tries to strike up a conversation with Cabel by sitting on the aisle floor, next to him. Cabel is cool and mildly disinterested.

  This makes Shay try harder.

  Carrie and Melinda turn around in their seats to chat. Cabel makes small talk and jokes, while Janie looks out the window. He slips his hand into hers.

  The other girls notice.

  Carrie winks.

  Melinda looks at Carrie with burning eyes.

  Shay shifts in the aisle and leans against Cabel’s leg, batting her eyelashes madly. Frighteningly.

  At the front of the bus, kids are roaming around and laughing, singing, chattering. Awake and buzzing. Janie slips into a grateful coma, her head propped against the window.

  7:31 p.m.

  They are back at Fieldridge High School. Cabel shakes Janie awake, gently. She sits up, wondering where she is. Cabel grins at her. “You made it,” he whispers. He gathers their bags and follows her off the bus. He walks with her to Carrie’s car.

  “Come on, Cabel,” Carrie says. “Let me give you a ride, at least. Unless you want Shay to—hey, here she comes now.” Carrie titters, her eyes dancing.

  Cabel’s eyes grow wide. He slips into the backseat of Carrie’s car without a word. “Get me outta here. Fuckin’ creepy cheerleaders.”

  Carrie laughs. She pulls out of the parking lot and eases onto the road ahead of the pack, and turns to Cabel. “So where do you live?”

  “Waverly. Two blocks straight east of your house. But I’ll walk from Janie’s, if you don’t mind. Janie has a superstition about my street.”

  “What the hell?” Carrie snorts.

  Janie laughs. “Nothing! Shut up, Cabe.”

  Carrie pulls into her driveway. It’s cool outside. Crisp. The harvest moon shines orange on Ethel’s roof in the Hannagan driveway. Carrie grabs her things and yawns. “I’m turning in. Catch you guys later.” She clops to her front door and lets herself in, waving as she closes the screen door.

  Janie takes her bag and waves to Carrie. She looks at Cabel. It feels awkward, now that they are in Janie’s front yard. They walk to her door. “Can you come in for a bit?” Janie asks, trying not to sound anxious.

  “Sure,” he says, his voice relieved. “I, uh, figure we have some things to talk about. Are the ’rents home?”

  “My mother’s probably passed out in her bedroom. That’s it, just me and her.”

  “Cool,” he says, but he gives her an understanding look.

  They go inside. There is no sign of Janie’s mother, except for an empty fifth of vodka on the kitchen counter and a sink full of dishes. Janie throws the bottle in the trash. “Sorry about the mess,” she says in a low voice. She is embarrassed. The house was spotless when she left it yesterday morning.

  “Forget about it. We can clean it up later, if you want.”

  Janie waves her hand at the living room. “Well. This is it,” she says.

  “You sleep out here, huh?” He isn’t teasing.

  “No, I have a bedroom. Come.” She shows him. It’s sparse and neat.

  “Nice,” he says. He glances at the bed, and then abruptly turns around and they walk back to the living room.

  “Hungry?”

  “My stomach’s growling,” he says.

  “Let me see if we have anything.” Janie searches the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator and comes up empty-handed. “Good grief,” she says finally. “I’m sorry.” She turns around. “We got nothin’.”

  He’s been watching her, she realizes.

  “Maybe we could get a pizza.”

  “Sounds good.”

  “You want to go out?”

  Janie sighs and scratches her head. “Not really.”

  “Good. Let’s order delivery.”

  Janie finds the number for Fred’s Pizza and Grinders and orders. “Thirty minutes.”

  Cabel tosses a twenty-dollar bill on the coffee table and sits down.

  “Cabe.”

  “Yes.”

  “What is that?”

  “It’s twenty dollars, Hannagan.”

  Janie sighs. “Let’s be truthful with each other here, mmmkay?”

  “Of course. Our whole relationship is based on it. Right?” He’s smiling sardonically, and looks down.

  She cringes as the words hang ominously in the room. “Look, I’m sorry,” she begins. “I have a lot of explaining to do. But I know you don’t have any more money to spare than I do. So how about I pay for this?”

  “No. Next question.”

  Janie sits down next to him. Shakes her head. “Fine,” she says, giving up. She draws her legs up under her and turns to face him.

  “Okay,” she continues. “How did you get in the dream twice?”

  He looks away, and then back to Janie.

  “Well, let’s just jump right into it, then.”

  “I guess.”

  “All right . . . uh . . . I guess the answer is, I have No. Fucking. Clue. Oh, and just let me know when it’s my turn to ask a few questions. Because I’d like to know how the hell you. Got into. My dream. Hello.”

  Janie blushes. “Some of your dreams are kind of great.”

  “Oh, really.” Cabel leans forward and catches her chin. Catches her by surprise. He pulls her toward him and traces her cheekbone with his thumb. And then, he puts his lips on hers.

  Janie falls into the kiss. She closes her eyes and slips her hand to his shoulder. They explore the kiss for a moment, sweetly. Cabel digs his fingers into her hair and he pulls her closer. But before it grows any stronger, Janie pulls away. She feels like her limbs are rubber.

  “Shit,” she sputters. “You . . . you . . . ”

  He smiles lazily, his lips still wet. “Yes?”

  “You kiss better than I imagined. Even in—”

  He blinks. “No,” he says. “No, no, no. Don’t even tell me you’ve been there.”

  She bites her lip. “Well, maybe if you stopped sleeping during study hall, I wouldn’t have a clue.”

  “Good God!” he says. “Is nothing sacred? Sheesh.” He turns away, embarrassed. “Maybe you should start from the beginning.”

  Janie sighs and leans back against the couch. It was like reliving the dreams. Again.

  “The short version? I get sucked into people’s dreams. I can’t help it. I can’t stop it. It’s driving me crazy.”

  He gives her a long look. “Okay, um, how? That’s just bizarre.”

  “I don’t know.”

  “Is this a recent thing?”

  “No. The first one I remember, I was eight.”

  “So, in that dream, my dream, where I’m standing behind you, watching myself . . . in . . . ” He holds his head. “Okay, so that’s how you see the dreams, right? Like I saw mine. While I was dreaming it. Ughh.” He rubs his temples.

  “That was weird, huh,” Janie says softly. “I know this is all really weird. I’m sorry.”

  There’s a knock at the door. Janie jumps up, relieved. She grabs the twenty and goes to answer it.

  She sets the pizza and a two-liter of Pepsi on the coffee table and goes to the kitchen for a beer, glasses, napkins, and paper plates. She pours the Pepsi for
Cabel and clips open the beer. She takes a sip as Cabel grabs some pizza.

  “Now. Tell me what else you’ve seen in my dreams, before I get really paranoid.”

  “Okay,” she says, suddenly feeling a bit shy. She takes another sip and begins. “We’re behind that shed or barn of some sort. Is that your backyard?”

  He nods, chewing.

  “Up until yesterday, I’ve seen you as the monster-man-thing”—she cringes, not sure what to name it—“that monster in the house—the kitchen. With the chair. That one was purely coincidental—I didn’t even know it was you, dreaming it. Not until later. It was sort of a drive-by thing.”

  He closes his eyes, cringes, and sets his pizza down on the plate.

  “That was you,” he says slowly. “I knew I’d seen your car before. I thought you were . . . someone else.” He pauses, lost in thought. “The yard—oh, God—your so-called superstition. Damn. So—” He sits up, hands paused in midair, eyes closed. Thinking. Processing.

  And then he turns and stares at her. “You could have totally crashed.”

  “I didn’t think anybody saw me.”

  “The headlights—your headlights. That’s what woke me up. They were shining in my window. . . . Jesus Christ, Janie.”

  “Your bedroom window must have been open. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have happened. I think. I had no idea it was your house.”

  He sits back, shaking his head slightly as he puts the pieces together. “Okay,” he says. “Get to the good part before I completely lose my appetite.”

  “Behind the shed. You walk up to me. Touch my face. Kiss me. I kiss you back.”

  He’s silent.

  “That’s it,” she says.

  He regards her carefully. “That’s it?”

  “Yes. I swear. I mean, it was a good kiss, though.”

  He nods, lost in thought. “Damn bell always rings then, doesn’t it.”

  She smiles. “Yeah.” She pauses, wondering if she should mention the part where he asks her to help him, but he’s on to the next thing.

  “So when I found you on the desk in the library a few weeks ago, and it took you a while to sit up . . . what was that? You weren’t asleep, were you.”

  “No.”

  “That was a bad one?”

  “Yeah. Real bad.”

  He puts his head in his hands and takes off his glasses. He rubs his eyes. “Jesus,” he says. “I remember that one.” He keeps his head down, and Janie waits. “So that’s why you said . . . when I asked you if you had a bad dream,” he murmurs.

  “I . . . I wanted to know if you knew I was there, watching. Even when people talk to me in their dreams, no one seems to remember that part. No one ever mentions it, anyway.”

  “I don’t recall ever seeing you there, or talking to you . . . except when I’m actually dreaming about you,” he muses. “Janie,” he says abruptly. “What if I don’t want you to see it?”

  Janie grabs a slice of pizza. “I’m working hard, trying to bust my way out of them—the dreams. I don’t want to be a voyeur—seriously, I can’t help it. It’s almost impossible. So far, anyway. But I’m making a little progress. Slowly.” She pauses. “If you don’t want me to see, I guess, don’t sleep in the same room as me.”

  He looks up at her with a sly smile. “But I’m known for sleeping in school. It’s my shtick.”

  “You can change your schedule. Or I can change mine. I’ll do whatever you want.” She looks at the uneaten pizza and sets her plate down. She is miserable.

  “Whatever I want,” he says.

  “Yes.”

  “I’m afraid you haven’t been privy to that dream yet.”

  She looks at him. He’s looking at her, and she grows warm. “Maybe I’d rather experience that firsthand,” she says lightly.

  “Mmmm.” He takes a sip of his soda. “But before this goes offtrack . . . What the hell is wrong with you?”

  She’s silent. Not looking at him.

  “And,” he says, “Jesus. It just occurred to me why you freaked when I pretended I wasn’t me. You must be a freaking mess, Hannagan.” He tugs her arm, and she falls back on the couch toward him. He kisses the top of her head. “I can’t begin to tell you how bad I felt about that.”

  “It’s cool,” she says. “Sorry about the flagrant foul,” she adds.

  “S’all right. I was wearing a cup.” He twirls a strand of her hair with his finger. “So, when do you sleep, like, normally?”

  Janie smiles ruefully. “Normally, I sleep fine, if I’m alone in a room. When I was thirteen, I finally asked my mother if she would do me the favor of passing out in her bedroom rather than in here. There’s something about a closed door that blocks it.” She pauses.

  “But what happens, exactly?”

  She closes her eyes. “My vision goes first. I can’t see around me. I’m trapped. If it’s a bad dream, a nightmare, I guess I start to shake and my fingers go numb first, then my feet, and the worse the nightmare is, the more paralyzed I become.”

  He looks at her. “Janie,” he says softly.

  “Yes.”

  He strokes her hair. “I thought you were dying. You shake, you spasm, your eyes roll back in your head. I was ready to steal the nearest cell phone, stick a wallet in your mouth, and call 911.”

  Janie is silent for a long time. “It’s not as bad as it looks.”

  “You’re lying.”

  She looks at him. “Yes,” she says. “I suppose I am.”

  “Who else knows? Your mother?”

  She looks at her plate of uneaten pizza. Shakes her head. “Nobody. Not even her.”

  “You haven’t been to a doctor about it or anything?”

  “No. Not really. Not for help.”

  He throws his hands in the air. “Why?” His voice is incredulous. And then, suddenly, he knows why. “Sorry,” he says.

  She doesn’t answer. She’s thinking. Thinking hard.

  “You know, nobody’s ever gone there with me, like you did.” Her voice is soft, musing. She gives him a sidelong glance. “I don’t understand that part. How did you get there too?”

  “I don’t know. All of a sudden it was like I had two different angles to watch from: one of them as an observer, the other as a participant. Like virtual reality picture-in-picture or something.”

  “And don’t even tell me you’d believe a word of this if you hadn’t come through it with me.”

  He nods soberly. “You’re right, Hannagan.”

  It’s 10:21 p.m. when Cabel says good night at the door. He leans against the frame, and Janie kisses him lightly on the lips.

  He hops off the step and starts walking home, but turns back in the driveway. “Hey, can I see you tomorrow night? Sometime around nine or ten?”

  She nods, smiling. “I’ll be here. Just let yourself in—Carrie always does too. It’s cool.”

  TRUTH OR DARE

  October 16, 2005, 9:30 p.m.

  It’s Sunday. The house is clean. Janie had the day off. She ran out for groceries in the morning, vacuumed, dusted, washed, polished, shined, and steam-cleaned.

  Now, Janie is asleep on the couch.

  Cabel doesn’t come.

  Or call.

  11:47 p.m.

  She sighs, clicks off the lamp, and goes to bed, miserable.

  October 17, 2005 7:35 a.m.

  Janie grabs her backpack and heads out the door. She’s pissed. And hurt. She thinks she knows why he didn’t show up.

  On Ethel’s windshield is a note, under the wiper. It’s wet with dew.

  I’m sorry,

  it says.

  Cabe.

  Yeah, well. Not as sorry as I am, she thinks.

  She passes him on the way to school.

  He looks up.

  And eats her dust.

  He’s late for school.

  She doesn’t speak to him.

  1l:19 p.m.

  He’s sitting on her front step.

  She’s pulling up to the house
after work.

  She gets out of the car, crunches over the gravel, and stands in front of him.

  “Yes?” she says.

  “I’m sorry,” he says.

  She stands there, tapping her foot. Searching for words. She blurts them out as they come to her. “So, you got freaked out. I’m a lunatic. An X File. I figured it would happen.”

  “No—” he stands up.

  “It’s cool. No, really.” She runs up the steps, past him, and fiddles for her key in the dark. “Now you know why I didn’t want to tell anybody.” The keys rattle in her fingers, and she cusses under her breath. “Least of all, you.”

  She drops the keys. “Goddamnit,” she sniffs, picks them up again, and finds the right one.

  “And if you tell anybody,” her voice pitches higher as she gets the door open, “you’ll learn a new definition of flagrant foul! You big . . . fucking . . . jerk!”

  She slams the door.

  11:22 p.m.

  The phone rings.

  “Asshole,” she mutters. She picks it up.

  “Will you let me explain?”

  “No.” She hangs up.

  Waits.

  Pours a glass of milk.

  Drinks it.

  Cusses.

  Turns out the kitchen light, and goes to bed.

  She is cursed for life. She will never have a boyfriend. Much less get married. Hell, she’ll never be able to sleep with anybody.

  She’s a freak.

  It’s not fair.

  Sobs shake the bed.

  October 18, 2005, 7:39 a.m.

  Janie calls the school, pretending to be her mother. “She won’t be at school today. She has the flu.”

  She calls the nursing home. “I’m sick,” she sniffles. “I can’t come in tonight.”

  Everyone is sorry. The secretary. The nursing home director. “Feel better soon, sweetie,” the director says.

  But Janie knows there is no “better.” This is it. This is her life.

  She falls back in bed.

  12:10 p.m.

  Janie drags her ass out of bed and, sitting on her bedroom floor, does the homework she didn’t do the previous night.

  She can’t stand getting behind in school.

  She works ahead, even.

  Her mother shuffles around the house, oblivious to Janie’s presence. The sleaze-bitch. It’s her fault for giving birth to me, she thinks. She’d blame her father, too, if she knew who he was. Briefly, she thinks of her mother’s kaleidoscope dream. Wonders if the hippie Jesus is her father. Wonders what happened that made her mother give up on absolutely everything. She’ll probably never know.

 
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