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I Think I Just Gave A God A Kleenex MAG
Jamie Falkner squinted down at the illuminated phone screen in her hand. Raindrops occasionally rolled down her scalp, but she didn’t flinch. She wasn’t scared of the rain; if anything, she was annoyed by it. Bright headlights cut through the dark night as cars whizzed past, flinging gray rain droplets up toward the girl, who stumbled back. Pushing a short strand of soaked dark hair away from her steel gray eyes, she turned her head to study the “bus stop” sign for the eighteenth time that night.
The bus she took home every Monday and Wednesday night after karate class was always reliable and right on time, but as soon as she stepped up to the curb and waited for it, time seemed to pass more slowly. She was convinced that this specific section of the sidewalk was in a whole different dimension where time really did slow down. She called it inter-dimensional travel; her dad called it, “what you get for spending too much time at your mother’s house.”
The young girl sighed and let her eyes drift away from the sign, surveying her surroundings yet again, as if something new and interesting would have appeared within the 20 seconds since she’d last looked at it, but to no avail. She saw the same cracks in the pavement in the same spots, the same weeds poking out from the gap between the sidewalk and the curb, the same puddles of murky water slowly draining into the same sewers, the same pharmacy across the street and the same post office next to it. Hugging her lime green rain jacket closer to her torso, she unlocked her phone and played the same dull game she’d been playing for what felt like hours.
After another agonizing moment of boredom, Jamie felt a presence come up to stand beside her. Her shoulders tensed, but she refused to look up from her phone. She didn’t want to seem like a creep and stare them down, so she tried to keep her eyes trained on her screen. But she was a naturally curious person, and she’d been staring at the same rain puddle for forever.
So, Jamie occasionally – not moving her head or giving the slightest hint that she was looking at the person – flicked her eyes ever so slightly to her left toward the part of the sidewalk they were standing on. The stranger was wearing dingy black combat boots caked in mud. They were rather large, probably a size 11, and came up just past the ankle. The left rubber sole was peeling off and the right one looked like it was about to go with it.
She examined the boots for a moment, for lack of a better use of her time, but then her eyes fell on what was next to their feet: a puddle of blue. It wasn’t a tamed blue like the sky (although the current overcast view was a bad example), it was electric blue, like Powerade. But it wasn’t as fluid, it looked like a denser, thicker consistency. Like blood.
Drops of the blue substance continued to drip inconsistently into the small puddle forming, and Jamie’s curiosity got the better of her as her eyes slowly lifted to the source: a severed head in the person's right hand, clutched by its slick, black hair.
She didn’t think it was real at first. To begin with, the skin was a pale, sickly green, and the purple eyeballs were bulging out like a '50s cartoon character who had just seen a particularly attractive woman. If not for the blue goop oozing out of the base of the neck, where some sort of knife had cut jaggedly between the head and the rest of its body, she would have thought it was a fake zombie head Halloween prop. But the blue goop was there, and Halloween had been over for a month. She didn’t scream. Or run. She just looked farther up to see a young man in his twenties with bright blue dyed hair. Or at least she thought it was dyed. Who could tell at this point? He was wearing a neon pink and green bunny mask that looked like it was stolen from Walmart.
The girl’s eyes were drawn back down to the head and the man’s hand above it, covered in the blue substance, clutching at the black hair. She knitted her eyebrows together and observed the scenario as a whole for a while, not quite able to draw her eyes away. She’d been dreaming about becoming a secondary character in a YA fantasy novel all her life, and it looked like it was happening now. The girl looked back up at the man, who made solemn eye contact with her. Jamie didn’t look away. Neither did he. Something about his eyes was calming. She was not afraid.
However, the silence was becoming increasingly unbearable, and Jamie had no idea what to do. She couldn’t acknowledge the decapitated head he was clutching in his left hand, because he might cut off her head as well (the thought of which made her body freeze up in terror); but it could very well drive her crazy if she just ignored it. So, Jamie did the only thing she could think to do. She fished in her backpack, produced a small, crumpled pack of Kleenex, and handed the man one.
He paused for a moment before silently reaching out with his free hand and accepting the offering. Stillness fell again. Jamie turned her body forward and she watched the bus pulled up. The metal doors slid open and the man with the bunny mask, without casting another glance back at her, walked on. Jamie just watched. The bus driver seemed to not pay any attention to the man, but instead frowned at Jamie. “Hey, kid, you gettin’ on?” Without thinking, she shook her head no, watching through the windows as the man walked down the aisle full of people who seemed not to notice his presence at all. The driver shrugged and closed the door, and Jamie stood and watched as the last bus of the night sped off.
It took a moment, but Jamie eventually recovered her senses and looked down at the pavement beside her, watching the raindrops slowly dilute the blue substance and carry it down the drain. She watched until it was all gone, and suddenly, she didn’t seem to mind waiting on that sidewalk all that much. Jamie began her trek home in the rain, more dazed than anything. She had no idea how to feel about the situation or how to explain her tardiness to her dad. All she knew was that this boring little town suddenly seemed all the more interesting.