I awoke in a messy bed in what looked like a boy's room. There were posters of bands I've never even heard of and posters of scantily clad women on every wall. The floor was copious with clean and dirty clothing. The desk in the corner looked more like a trash can for papers. And I'm pretty sure that was a pair of undergarments I saw stuck on the ceiling fan.
The door to the room opened and Josh came in with a tray of food. There was a fresh slice of pizza and a glass of water. "Hey, glad you're awake. Go ahead and eat something then come downstairs if you want." He grinned at me and set the tray on the nightstand to my left.
"Is everyone downsta-" I put my hand to my cheek. "Ouch! Fuck." I inhaled deeply as the pain started flooding back like a memory. I winced as the pain went up another level.
"You good?" Josh asked me with a concerned expression.
"Yeah. I don't think I feel like eating, though, with this pain. I'll just go downstairs with you."
"Fine. Don't eat. I don't tell you how to live your life." He motioned for me to follow him. "But you owe me for your share of the pizza."
Downstairs in the living room, I heard a lot of loud rock music and I smelled beer and more pizza. I assumed Josh was having some sort of party. Turns out that the boys were just having some fun. John was sitting on Brian's shoulders where they were both singing loudly to "Sugar We're Going Down" by Fall Out Boy. John had a neck tie around his forehead and curly brown hair. They had pretty nice voices. Stephen was on the couch with a beer in hand, smirking at his brother and best friend acting so immature. I couldn't help but smile myself a little bit at the scene.
"Look who decided to wake up, boys." Josh announced to everyone. John and Brian put their cups in the air and cheered, "Jess!" when they saw me and continued singing, beer splashing over the rim of their plastic cups. Josh pat my back a little too hard, causing me to fall onto the couch next to Stephen. "Whoops, sorry, Jess. I'm too used to doing that to guys." Josh shrugged and started singing/yelling with the other two guys.
Stephen chuckled and took a swig from his beer bottle. He offered for me to have some of it, but I refused. "So...do your parents know you skip school, come home, and drink beer while you're underage?" I inquire while sitting myself up.
"Well do your parents know that you like to get involved in vicious fights?"
"Shut up and answer my questions." I glared at him.
He chuckled silently. "My parents live in Baltimore." He finished the last of his beer and set the empty bottle on the coffee table he had his feet rested on.
"Baltimore. As in...Baltimore, Maryland?"
"No, genius, Baltimore, Hawaii. Of course Baltimore, Maryland." He pinched my nose. I stuck my tongue out at him and rubbed my nose.
"Okay, geez, sorry. It's just that...Baltimore's like a jillion miles away from here. On the other side of the country..."
"Yeah. Want to know what else is on the other side of the country? My parents' rules." He finished his beer in one last, big gulp and set it on the coffee table in front of us.
"Fuck, you are not as smart as you had me believing, Jessica." He shook his head. "Look, my parents put me behind a lot of boundaries that I didn't want to be restricted by. They said that I was under their roof, so I had to follow their rules. So, to make all of us happy, I moved out from under their roof. Thus, I didn't have to follow their rules."
"So...this is...your house? Like, your house?"
"Finally, you say something smart." He gave me an emotionless applause. "Yes, it's my house. All mine. My roof, my rules." He gesutred to the domain around him. "And my baby brother, John, over there singing his heart out lives with me. He just wanted to be a loyal brother to his superior sibling so he moved with me." He showed a small, grateful smile towards his little brother who was too busy singing his heart out to "Pour Some Sugar On Me". I followed his gaze and couldn't help but smile myself.
Then both of our gazes travelled under John to Brian Dales. "John and I met Brian at a local gig with a band we used to be in. He was in the band before us. They broke up a few years ago, right around the time that our band did. Brian's parents basically work 24/7, so he's home alone a lot. So, to kill all the time he has, he hangs with us. Not a tenant here, though." He said as if he were a landlord. "He's got one hell of a voice. Almost as good as John's."
"Hold on to your big girl panties, Jess, he's the last one left anyways." I hated how he was being kind of rude to me but I shut up anyways. "We met Josh in Music Theory class. We hit off pretty quickly. He had the same issue I had. Parents, rules, and shit like that. So we offered him a room. Great guy with great hair." I smiled at this. "There. I'm done now."
I chuckled. "So what is this? The Gomez Home for Troubled Boys?"
"Hell nah. We be The Summer Set." Oh, that's what it was.
"Did I fucking stutter? We're The Summer Set. We were a set of guys with good music taste that met one summer. Get it?"
"Yeah, yeah. Pretty weird, though. How come I've never heard of local gigs from you guys?"
"Because a band without a beat sucks. Our drummer is a terrible drummer."
"That sucks. Why is he a drummer then?"
"You ask him that. You'd scare him shitless out of the band because he's totally frightened by the Popular Kids."
"Whatever." I rolled my eyes and propped my head up on my elbow on the couch. "The Summer Set, huh? Interesti-" I stopped to rub my cheek that was suddenly throbbing violently again. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!"
"Here." Stephen handed me a beer a bottle.
I took it from him. "What am I," I winced, "supposed to do with this?"
"First, drink it. Then-"
"What? No! This is beer." I held it out back to him.
"Okaaayyy...I mean, if you want the pain to get worse..." He reached for the bottle back when I retreated it back to me.
I pouted and muttered, "Fine. What do I do after I drink it?"
He smirked and sat back. "Okay. Before you so rudely interrupted my instructions," I rolled my eyes at that comment, "drink it first. Then hold it against your cheek."
I sighed deeply and took a quick swig of the beer. It wasn't that good, but it sure as hell wasn't bad either. It's sort of like bitter lemonade or something to me. I looked up at Stephen. "Why did I need to drink it?"
"The alcohol keeps the mind off of pain, both physical and mental pain. In your case, physical pain." He shrugged and grabbed my hand to put the bottle on my cheek. "There. An alternative to a raw steak. Better?"
I nod in a guilty manner for being rude to him when he was only trying to help. I rested my head against the couch and closed my eyes until I heard Stephen speak again.
"I haven't seen you that relaxed since you passed out in my car."
I opened one eye and blushed, grinning sheepishly. "Oh, right. Yeah, I do that...kind of a lot actually. I'll just, you know, black out for no reason. Then I'm out like a light for a couple hours."
He nodded. "I could tell. I've seen you do it twice in the last week, remember? This time I carried you to my room so you could sleep it off." I scratched the back of my head nervously from both the embarassment of passing out and that I was in Stephen's room. "So, did you have a dream? While you were passed out, I mean."
"Huh? Yeah, I always have weird out-of-body experiences when I'm out of it. It used to be just one, but they've started changing only recently from one dream to another. It's weird and...I don't know why I'm telling you all of this."
"What's wrong with telling me this?"
"Well...like I told you this morning, you're not my favorite person. And I don't trust you."
He snorted and shook his head. "Oh, you don't trust me? Me. The guy who saved your ass twice. Once for when the lunch bell was about to ring and then a bunch of teenagers could trample you to death. And the second time when your boyfriend," ex-boyfriend to me now, I suppose, "was beating your ass and my little brother's ass."
I sighed. He had a good point. "Fine. I'll tell you my dream. I don't know why it's so important to you, though."
* * *
I found myself driving an old car. I mean, I guess it was an old car. It looked like one. The windshield had tiny cracks here and there. The black paint was chipping off in some places, one of the headlights wasn't working, and the car made a weird humming sound. I think it was also pretty smashed up on the hood. I'm guessing...Mercedes Benz?
Anyways, I driving it. I'm not really sure where I was going. I was just driving on a single road. The road didn't have and other turns or intersections. There weren't even any stoplights or signs anywhere. So I just followed the path.
It appeared to be winter. There was snow that covered the ground and the trees around me like a big blanket. And snowflakes waltzed down from the sky. The sun shined on all the white brilliantly.
I saw a house come in to view. It was the only manmade thing in sight for miles. So I stopped to see if I could get some help.
I hopped out of the car and expected to feel cold. I didn't feel anything and snow was already starting to cover me. I ignored it and went to the front door. I knocked and knocked and rang the doorbell and knocked and knocked, but no one came. I saw a light turn on from the window near the door. I decided to take a peek to see who was home.
I saw a boy, about twelve or so, sitting under the table in the dining room, sitting in a fetal position. He was rocking back and forth. I could tell he was really scared.
Then, a girl, maybe a year younger than the boy, ran over and slid under the table next to him. She looked like she was yelling and she was shaking him violently by the shoulders. This went on for a while until two grown-ups pulled the two kids apart. The girl was struggling to comfort the boy while the boy just looked at her with wide, frightened eyes. One of the adults started scolding the boy while the other tried to get the girl to calm down.
The boy was dragged into a room and left there so the two adults could talk to the girl. But it seems that she passed out right when the little boy was removed from the room.
* * *
"Then I woke up." I shrugged. Then I realized where I was again. John, Brian, and Josh were still singing, unaware that I was nearly in tears for no reason. Stephen stared blankly at me.
Then he stood up. "Um, wow...that was kind of heavy." He stood up and stretched. I tried not to stare at his firm stomach as his shirt rose a bit. "Listen, I have to head upstairs really quick. The boys are kind of drunk and they've been at it for a while, so don't be surprised if they pass out soon." He turned and walked toward the stairs.
I relaxed for a minute and wiped my eyes. I took deep breaths and thought over my dream. What did it mean? And why did I have it?