I’m an eleven-year-old girl, and like all eleven-year-old girls I am unique. Some children yearn to grow up; I’ve already been there. By my guessing, I am almost two hundred years old. There is the old me and there is the current me, just like there is in everyone. A grown up is never the person they think they are, since they can’t watch themselves from the outside, and you can’t see them all the time. Someone you think is nice may be very mean, and someone you think is brave might at a scary moment become a coward. I am all at once, the same and not the same with myself.
I like my life. I am a kid, a girl. But I am also a prisoner, waiting to be released, so I can go back out again and make the world known to me.
The Furr Fly I call Say Song goes to my past and brings me bits and pieces to help me remember. I write it down here in my secret journal, which someday I know I, and perhaps other people, will look at. When I remember all the stories about who I was in the past, I will transform, yet I’m not quite sure if I will become her again or simply a more complex and pronounced version of me.
This is the first tale I remember. It comes from pieces of memory I keep in my drawer, that Say Song found. They come to me as scraps of different colored paper.
It’s bizarre. I know I’m her. But I’m also me. The me that I’m being right now.
My name is Elasee. And one time, not too long ago, my name was Dayjenderalice, and I traveled in space on a golden throne. The throne had a name I can no longer remember.
It was several minutes past the scheduled meeting time. Thal Gernus and Ionko strode quickly down the hallway to the doors of the assembly chamber. With each step they both had a sense of growing anxiety.
No one stood as they entered the great chamber. Hundreds of ambassadors watched silently as they made their way to the podium formed by pure light. Upon reaching it, they both placed their hands over it for an instant and then put their attention on the Asker who was sitting among the ambassadors in a special chair raised across from them at the podium’s height.
“Thal Gernius. Ionko. Scientists of Kawen-thol. Are you ready to address the Assembly?”
“We apologize to the Assembly for our tardiness,” Thal Gernus announced. “We needed to double check.”
Ionko thought to assure them. “We haven’t seen it, but we are as close as we can be to absolute certainty.”
“Please explain.” The Asker held his hands together and peered over at them.
Ionko, a slight woman who carried herself with supreme intelligence, paused and took a breath before answering.
“The experiment, Dayjenderalice 569, did not go as expected.” Her voice left her body forcefully, as if she were nervous about the possible reaction to the statement and wanted to get it out quickly. “The effects are now unknowable.”
There was a stirring the in chamber as ambassadors made exclamations of shock and dismay and then turned and talked to their colleagues.
Ionko stiffened. Thal-Gernus, a man of great physical stature and regarded as the top scientist in the Havilla Galaxy, stepped forward and raised his voice to address them.
“Ambassadors. The experiment that we proposed to you the last time we were all gathered on the Observant Cansilarax, was something that had never been thought of before. We worked with the top mind experts, top geologists, top scientists in all twelve planets our Galaxy. For a thousand generations, we have been coming on our greatship to the Five Earths to study and protect. We have watched the humans, who are like us in function and form, struggle to advance in intellectual capacity, and turn themselves away from conflict and greed. We have worried about them; that our enemies, the Zeytolians of the Nazui galaxy, would successfully overtake them and enslave the populations of all five worlds. And I will not say the name of those worse than them – “
The Snullash; inhabitants of the demon universe, Ionko thought to herself with a shiver.
“- only to point out that the Zeytolians are not the only race who could pose a threat to the Five Earth’s survival.”
Recovering from her apprehension for speaking to the Assembly, Ionko took over for Thal-Gernus and spoke with a great passion for the project she had overseen.
“We know that the Earthlings on all five planets must come to a point of rapid and advanced evolution if they are going to be able to survive without destroying themselves or making themselves susceptible to the Zeytolians in their weakness and ignorance. The Awareness Dust was created to infiltrate into each planet’s atmosphere and disperse itself, so every human would be effected by it. We predicted through our tests that every adult human would increase in mental ability and dexterity by twenty-eight percent, and some perhaps higher than that. The missile carrying the dust, Dayjenderalice 569, was launched yesterday morning and exploded without incident in the center of the space between the five worlds. However, the dust either rejected the planets, or the planets rejected the dust entering their atmosphere. We watched as the dust created five separate stream columns, and each aimed itself at one of the Five Earths. But then the dust, instead of going to the planet, broke apart from their column streams and turned away from the planets. The particles of dust all gathered where the missile exploded, and then they all came together and took on a form, and they created – a woman.”
“A woman!?” The Asker sat back and his eyes bulged in surprise. A loud buzzing rose up from the Ambassadors.
“Yes.” Ionko felt the same sense of dread return she had felt since the incident had happened, just hours beforehand. The gathering of the assembly had been an emergency meeting called by herself and Thal-Gernus. “A fully formed human woman. She appears to be sitting in a chair.”
“Where is she now?” The Asker demanded in an anxious tone.
“When the Observant Cansilarax left its point of suspension between the five planets this morning, we lost track of her,” Thal-Gernus said.
The assembly chamber erupted in loud, shocked conversation.
Ionko watched the nightmarish scene before her and wondered if her career in science was over.
The massive greatship was on a course to return to the Havilla galaxy after its annual survey of the five Earths. Going back to the area would be out of the question. The ambassadors were expected home, back to their own planets.
The woman, whatever she was, would be on her own, and for the time being they had no way of establishing contact with her, or keeping track of where she travelled.
Kellbetra wanted to scream.
Her heart was pounding so fast and so hard she could feel it in her chest, and the back of her neck felt like someone was squeezing it.
She was scared. So scared as she ran through the streets, her body and her mind seemed like they were disconnecting from another.
Panic. Why wasn’t somebody doing something? They were going to blow up the planet. They were going to destroy Earth.
Everybody knew what was happening, but the people who were out on the street showed no signs of distress at all, just resignation.
She reached where the trucks had stopped at the middle of an intersection. From the back of one, three men lifted out a metal ray catcher shaped like a flat upright cannon and set it on the ground.
“Stop!” Kellbetra yelled. She was held back by a crowd of onlookers, members of the Only Way, a cult that had infiltrated and destroyed the governments of the top nations of the world. They wore the hard grey clothes everyone was wearing after the war, but had red armbands that symbolized the blood of a religious savior that they were obsessed with joining in the afterlife.
“We don’t have to destroy this world!” Kellbetra pleaded to people gathered. “We can make it better. We have a chance to change it if we work together and make it the world we want it to be.”
“Haven’t you been paying attention?” A woman whose face had been made severe through years of malnourishment and hardship snapped at her. “Nobody agrees on anything. Everyone wants to have power over everyone else.”
“But killing everyone is insane!”
A young girl, a few years older than Kellbetra, turned to her. “It will be over quickly. The Earth is nothing but hardship and pain.”
Kellbetra knew well of both and had suffered greatly. Her first years were spent in happiness; a loving family, food, toys, and warmth. Then her parents became worried, and argued, then fought. She saw on their Main Screen vast fields that were barren. Her father told her there were places in the world where no food could be grown for the first time anyone could remember. Drought, he told her was the cause. Drought and intense heat.
At school she read about dome farms, places where crops that could no longer grow in open fields were grown in specially maintained artificial environments. The food they created though was not enough to meet the needs of the population, and soon there were fights in markets and prices were raised above what most people could comfortably afford.
She was seven when she first knew hunger. The portions her mother served became smaller and smaller. Soon there was no meat, then no bread.
Until her parents and sibling’s deaths they had lived on rice and the scant amount of carrots or greens they could buy.
She was playing with a friend when she heard the aircraft overhead. One missile would cause an entire twenty story building to light up instantly in flames, incinerating everyone inside.
There must be a reason her family was dead and she had survived, she told herself.
There were good people who had taken her in; friends, people her parents had known. They gave her food even though that meant having less for themselves. They sustained themselves on stories, laughter, and hugs.
It had been decided at a meeting of world leaders that afternoon that the world should be destroyed. There was no opportunity for dissenters to try and change their mind. Around the world, ray catchers would be set up and weaponized satellites would target them with laser fire. Once hit, the reaction from the ray catcher would be to spread out a wave of destruction no living thing could run from or survive.
The soldiers who had set up the ray catcher stepped back, creating a wide circle around it, then stood silently at attention, waiting for their death.
Kellbetra trembled violently and tears ran down her cheeks. This was madness. She didn’t want to die.
“We don’t have to do this,” she yelled out to the unresponsive crowd. “We don’t have to do this!”
She looked around. The scene was like something from a nightmare. Everyone stood with no expression at all, as if they had mentally removed themselves from the end of the world.
There was a dog barking, frantically and unceasing. That dog knows, Kellbetra thought. That dog knows that we’re all going to die.
She wasn’t going to die just standing there. She couldn’t die without testifying for what was right.
“Think about the children of the world!” she yelled, growing angry. “Think about your parents, and your grandparents and the children yet to be born! Think about the good things humanity’s done; all the things we’ve overcome! Humanity can overcome!”
Blinding red light shot down with the cruelty and precision of a killing knife.
In a second, Kellbetra and her hope for her planet were dead. A few seconds later, the entire world, Earth Five, exploded.
From her golden thrown floating in between the Earths, newly born Dayjenderalice recoiled in shock and horror at the explosion taking place before her.
She took and exhaled several sharp breaths in rapid succession, not knowing what was happening and what to do.
“What….what….what…” she stammered.
Then she did something she had not yet done in her very brief life. She tightened her face and opened her mouth and cried out.
What were these feelings? Why was the world gone?
She balled and sobbed and stared at the space where the Fifth Earth had been just moments before.
Who was she? Why was she? Where was she?
A name popped up in her head. “Dayjenderalice,” she said aloud to herself. “My name is Dayjenderalice.”
She looked down at herself. “And I have a coat and a chair.”
She looked at the planets before her. “And those are Earths. Four now. And I am to – I am to – “ It came to her and she raised a triumphant finger. “Cantillerious! Fantipopsic! Those words mean nothing and yet I like them! Words! Words? Strange sounds with meaning. But I know where I am to go. I, Dayjenderalice, have a purpose for my existence!”
Telepathically, she swung her chair around in the direction of the second planet, and then began her descent down to it.
His body was frozen. He stood in front of the bathroom mirror like he was paralyzed, trapped in time. The pain was getting much worse. It wasn’t physical pain, it was love pain.
A loneliness, a yearning, an unfillable need tortured him every moment of the day, no matter what he did to escape it.
He had gotten up, taken a shower, gotten ready for class. But the weight of grief and need was overwhelming.
He closed his eyes in anguish. His roommates were still there. He didn’t want them to see him crying.
It was the first time Gus Wilder had ever been in love. And it was not reciprocated. He wanted to cry as a release mechanism; he didn’t want to think of her, he just wanted to cry. He wanted to go back to bed and go back to sleep to escape the overwhelming misery that was impeding his ability to function.
He had tried being with other girls but all he could think about was her.
They had met in the spring of freshman year doing community theater; he played Leo Bloom and she played Ulla in The Producers. They were not theater majors; he was a thousand miles away from home and had been in high school plays and, looking for some familiarity, had decided to audition; she was a journalism major, super smart, worldly, who knew about everything.
He was impressed by her during the rehearsals and the run of the show but didn’t fall in love until six months later. They were both in a Philosophy class for an elective credit, and one day, as the class was all sitting around in a circle in the old wood paneled classroom, she answered a question during discussion.
What is the role of man in the world?
“It’s to make himself, and help others, become better,” she had said.
“But how can that happen with war, famine, hatred?” the T.A. leading the class asked. “Without being able to overcome them, isn’t it futile? Those things will drag you down.”
“No,” Brianna, argued with confidence, her large blue eyes blazing. “What happens in your physical world may affect how you see the world, but it doesn’t have to change your values, or your hopes or aspirations for what you, or someone else, can be.”
That was it. That’s when he fell in love. That was the moment when he saw her.
She was so beautiful. He felt a connection, a feeling inside of himself that he had never felt before.
He had asked her out. She declined politely, saying she had a boyfriend.
But how could he feel for you what I feel for you? his mind had pleaded as his heart receded into oblivion.
He was devastated. He saw them on campus together; happy, laughing, in love. Nothing mattered to him anymore. He had been run over.
He didn’t care about school, or if he even finished college. He flirted with the idea of just leaving and going someplace else, travelling, finding some kind of job. Maybe running away would make the feelings vanish.
But he was already locked into a loan, and he was going to need a degree to get a good job to pay it off. He had to finish, he was trapped.
He dropped out of Philosophy class, and instead of leaving school, he just cried and thought of her. Alone late at night, he thought about her and her boyfriend, together. He thought about what she was doing at any particular random moment as he went through the day.
Unrequited love was the deepest, most persisting hell imaginable. At times he didn’t know if he would survive it.
The reflection of the boy going through all of it looked back at him in the mirror. He couldn’t go to class. He couldn’t push himself forward. His mind was too heavy with pain.
He waited several minutes until he heard both of his roommates leave the apartment, and then went back to his bedroom.
Fully dressed, he collapsed in his bed and hugged his pillow, yearning for comfort, relief, and possible sleep.
Before he could slip out of consciousness, he heard a rattling.
He opened one eye.
There was nothing on the desk across from him that was shaking.
He looked down at the rest of the room. Nothing.
Then he realized. What was rattling was his bedframe, and it was rattling because his mattress was shaking violently.
Before he could get off it, the mattress shot up through the ceiling and up to the sky.
The pressure pinned him down as he was pushed up though the atmosphere and out into space.
The mattress drove him right into a lady in a big chair and left him half dangling over it, feet and shoulders over the armrests and the rest of him crammed into the back of the seat. After depositing him, the mattress continued to speed off in the direction of Mars.
“What is happening?” Gus cried.
“What?” There was a woman in the chair, who’d been pushed to the front of the seat by his sudden appearance. “What are you? Who are you? And how did you get in this chair?”
“What? Why am I in a chair?”
“You’re in my chair, and I’d kindly thank you to get off!”
The woman looked young, not much older than he was. She was black and had dreadlocks, some of which had mismatched ribbons and rings on them. She was wearing a blue and beige Revolutionary War long coat that had pins and medals stuck to the front, along with one purple and one green long glove, and a scarf that was red, white, and blue and knotted in a messy way.
“Who are you?” Gus’ voice cracked.
“Who is anybody?!” Dayjenderalice snapped. Her chair steered toward one of the four Earths. She was surprised and unhappy with her sudden visitor. “I’m as who to you, as you are to me!”
Gus looked at the four identical planets in shock. “There are four of them!”
“Yes! There are four Earths. And now thanks to you, interloper, I can’t remember which one I’ve just been to and which one I was going to. You don’t want to relive the day again, at least I try my best not to!”
“I think I’d like to relive this day again – re-START this day again.” Gus started yelling. “Wake up!”
“Ow. Don’t yell in my ear! You’re a stowaway.”
“I’m not a stowaway! I have no idea what’s going on!”
“That makes two of us.”
“I was in my bed in my room and my mattress just started flying up and next thing I know I’m in this chair with you.”
Dayjenderalice turned her head and shoulders around him to face him more directly. “Are you a sorcerer?”
“Did a sorcerer put a spell on your mattress?”
“Well, in that case I see no excuse for you being here. I shall put you off at the nearest Earth.”
“No. Wait! How do you know which one is mine? And why are there four of them? And how come we can’t see them?”
“Do I look like someone who answers questions? Am I sitting behind a desk or behind – what do you people call it – a blackboard? I’m afraid stowaway, without any rudeness intended, that all your queries have just gone into one of my ears and have travelled through my immense, expansive, perfect brain and exited my other ear, and now have gone out into space. I’m not sure you’ll be able to retrieve them, and so your lamentations to me are no good at all!”
“You need to understand; I’m not used to being in such a strange, uncomfortable position where I don’t know anything.”
“Take your pulse quick and make sure your heart is still beating! If it is, it means that you’re simply unobservant. Or else you go around lying to yourself about who are in relationship to others and how aware you are. Or maybe you’re dead.”
“Dead!” Gus pressed his fingers against his chest. “I can’t be dead.”
Dayjenderalice lifted a dismissive hand up. “How can the living know what death is when to the dead, death might be living? I’m not here to prove or disprove anything. Now, if you’ll please be quiet, we’re approaching the next stop!”
“The next stop?” Gus cried, realizing it wasn’t home. “Where is that?”
“Wherever my fate, which is also this chair, decides I should go.”
An enormous rock, tumbling over itself, narrowly missed striking the chair as it flew closer to the Earth that the chair Dayjenderalice and Gus were sitting on had chosen to go to.
Gus yelled out.
Dayjenderalice hadn’t noticed it at all.
“Asteroid!” Gus yelled in a panic. “Look!” he screamed in horror. “There’s another one coming!”
In a casual, ho-hum tone, Dayjenderalice said, “Beeno Bother Boy – what’s another word?” She explained to Gus, “I’m learning words and phrases. Some words I find don’t suit their meaning. Take the word potato – “
“Watch out!” Gus pointed to a second asteroid coming at them at increasing speed.
Without a hint of alarm, Dayjenderalice reached into the front of her coat and pulled out a sling shot. She plucked a small sparkly ball from her pocket, and shot it at the advancing space rock. The asteroid exploded into dust, some of which landed on both of them.
Gus spat out some of the ancient power, his face covered. Dayjenderalice brushed the dust off her coat.
“Sorry, occupational hazard. As I was saying, a potato is an object that can be called anything. I find the word to be quite flavorless, but in all of the four worlds there are so many potato dishes that I LO-OVE! Like scalloped potatoes. Do you like scalloped potatoes? And licorice. I must have licorice. I simply could not survive without it.”
Gus wiped his face off and tried to shift in his part of the seat, though there wasn’t much room to do it, and he was afraid if he moved too much he might fall off the chair entirely and into the void of space.
“I’d like to go home now,” he insisted.
“The chair will take us where we need to go. It appears like it’s going to be Earth Two. If this is your home then you’re about to be there,” Dayjenderalice said about the Earth they were heading toward. “In a few minutes, I’d say.”
“But – it’s got to be my Earth. How do I know Earth Two is my Earth? Maybe it’s that one over there!” Gus punched his arm out to point a finger at the Earth to the right, and quickly retracted it for fear of losing his balance somehow. Besides, he’d heard space was cold, although in terms of temperature he realized that he didn’t feel any different than he did when he had been lying on his bed moments before.
There was a loud beeping sound.
“Excuse me, what was that?” Daygenderalice asked politely in reference to what Gus had just said.
“What’s that beeping? And” – Suddenly Gus remembered something – “why can we hear it and what each other is saying? There’s no sound in space.”
“WHAT!?” Dayjenderalice tilted her head up and called back to him.
“There’s no sound in space!” he yelled. And with an instant sense of panic he added; “And there’s no air in space!”
“The chair creates a dome that can’t be felt or seen. Gravity and air are included That’s why we can breathe and hear each other, and why we stay in the chair,” Dayjenderalice explained in a rote manner. She had never before needed to explain her chair to anyone, and was looking forward to getting rid of the stowaway as soon as possible.
The beeping grew louder and louder. There was a large black object spinning toward them.
“What’s that?” Gus called out, alarmed at the appearance of another big thing.
Before Dayjenderalice could answer, an antenna from the satellite hooked under the chair and swung it around.
The motion was unexpected and startling, and Dayjenderalice couldn’t focus her mind on freeing the chair from the satellite.
The chair was lifted up as the satellite rolled counter-clockwise, in a slow continuous motion that was like being on a backward roller coaster.
Dayjenderalice knitted her brow and concentrated.
The chair raised itself up and off the satellite, and then straightened itself.
After the satellite made a full revolution, the chair was released in the direction of another oncoming satellite. The second satellite smashed into the first one, sending debris floating out above and around the chair.
Gus tried to scrunch his head down as much as possible.
“Without internet or cell phone service,” Dayjenderalice commented, “some people will have to go back to reading old fashioned books. And then they’ll get an idea in their head where they hadn’t had one before and that will be QUITE the situation down there, dealing with all of those ideas.”
The giant digital outposts, having impacted against each other, now began to drift apart. Dayjenderalice relaxed her mind, and the chair took over and propelled through the gap between them.
A third, smaller satellite, a silver ball with different sized antenna sticking out of it, whooshed past behind the two satellites and struck against the second one, causing it to smack back against the first.
The force jolted Gus and Dayjenderalice and caused the chair to plummet in a spiral motion down to Earth.
Gus yelled, thinking if he wasn’t already dead, he was about to be.
The chair zoomed from the stars into the Earth’s atmosphere, and continued to go straight down like an elevator.
The chair touched down in dirt. They had landed in an empty lot across from a suburban neighborhood street. The gentle warmth and lavender light was the type of weather typical for an early spring night.
“Where are we?” Gus asked, anxious for Dayjenderalice to stand up so he could get out of the chair.
“Give me a moment.” Dayjenderalice took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
“What are you doing?” Gus asked impatiently.
“I’m figuring out where we are. Now – I take the atmosphere and the feelings and vibrations of the environment around me and that way I can get an impression of the time and the place where I’m at. Oh. That’s it.” She opened her eyes and turned to Gus and said, “Oklahoma.”
“Isn’t that lucky? And it’s on your Earth. You’ve have impeccable good fortune. Tell me the date you left on.”
“Left on?” Gus thought that was a strange way of putting it. “It was…October 24.”
Dayjenderalice took her glove off and shot her arm up with her finger in air. She closed her eyes and moaned. “It’s coming down to my feet back into the ground. The season. The measurement of the time around us. And it’s – May.”
“Late May as a matter of fact. There should be flowers. I like flowers. One of the best things on all the Earths. I prefer the blue ones. Oh, and the purple. So pretty.”
“Wait!” Gus grew animated and on the verge of freaking out. “This can’t be May! I’ve missed a semester and a half of school. No! You have to take me back.”
“Take you back? Ridiculous. Take you back to where?” Dayjenderalice ran her hands over her purple paisley skirt under her long coat. She looked up at him bewildered and not the least bit concerned with his belly aching. “I have no interest in having this conversation again.”
“Why? You can do it, can’t you?”
“I suppose, yes. I’ve never tried. I’ve never had a stowaway before.”
“What’s that?” Gus pointed at Dayjenderalice’s boots.
She was wearing moonboots. Painted on them were images of swirling galaxies that actually moved.
“What?” She looked down. “Oh, my boots have taken a photograph and then made it into a painting of where I’ve just been. Isn’t that pretty.”
“I’m normally a very strong person,” Gus said, mostly to himself, “but I can’t take all this weirdness. Really, you’ve got to take me home.”
Dayjenderalice looked up from her boots.
“No,” she told him.
They heard the horrible rumbling before they felt what the cause of it was.
The swirling galaxies on Dayjenderalice’s boots vanished, and the boots returned to their original color; sapphire.
Gus was thrown off balance and almost fell to the ground. Somewhere around them, a woman was screaming.
Across the street, people ran out of their houses in panic and confusion.
The house directly in front of them began to break apart, beginning with an insidious snaking crack on the roof.
A mother, father and young teenage son ran out to the driveway. The sound of rumbling was deafening.
A young girl followed them out, screamed, and then yelled “Fluff Fluff!” She ran back though the front door as her horrified mother called after her. The mother took a few steps toward the house and was thrown down to the concrete by the violent jolts of the shifting ground.
Dayjenderalice and Gus were each holding on to a side of the chair. Dayjenderalice used her innate powers of her mind and found and communicated with the pet.
A white Persian cat, Fluff Fluff was meowing in the corner as lamps and pictures fell to the floor. Dayjenderalice put her voice in the animal’s mind.
“Fluff Fluff, run fast. Run!”
The cat raced out the room and met the little girl in the foyer under a wildly swinging hanging lantern.
To the grateful cry of the nerve-wracked mother, they both ran out of the house.
The mother scooped the girl up in her arms and hurried down the driveway as the roof of the house collapsed into the upper floor. The entire family kept running toward the imagined safety of the street as their house caved in.
A crack ripped through the driveway, and then the trembling stopped. Everything was silent except for the sound of sobbing.
Gus and Dayjenderalice watched as a female neighbor ran over to the mother and hugged her in trembling grief.
“Why did we come here?” Gus asked. “Did you know this was going to happen?”
“We landed where we landed.” Dayjenderalice walked around to the front of the chair. She thought about sitting down, but could not bring herself to do so.
Gus looked around. Nobody was looking at them, although they were strangers, and the ornate golden throne and Dayjenderalice’s clothes and demeanor should have been attention getting.
“Does nobody see you?”
“Usually, not unless I want them too. To most people, I am like a ghost; I can be seen by some, maybe all occasionally.”
Gus tilted his head in doubt. “How do you do that?”
Deciding it was getting time to go, Dayjenderalice sat back down in the chair.
“I am not human. Not like you. I do not live on the Earths. I visit them.”
“But – is that a trick?”
“No. I don’t do tricks. I just do things that come naturally to me. Sometimes it’s best to be unseen and simply observe.”
“So you travel through time? On the Earths?”
Dayjenderalice looked out pensively. “Time does not exist. Therefore it is easy to pop in and out of periods if you have the means and reason to do so. But I told you, I can only go into the present and into the future.”
Gus shifted on his feet. He put a hand up on his chin and stroked it with his thumb.
“What’s the reason?”
She raised her head to the heavens and her tone grew wistful; “I’m still finding that out.”
“Purpose in life thing? I’m twenty. I get it. I have no clue what I’m doing either.”
“I cannot take you home.” Dayjenderalice told him regretfully. “I do not know how to do it. I don’t know why you came and bothered me.”
“My mattress. What do you think that was? Why does a mattress suddenly fly into outer space?”
Dayjenderalice considered it for a moment. “Either it had a mind of its own, or it was given instructions to.”
“Maybe it will come back and take you home.”
“I doubt it.”
“Was it a special mattress?”
“No,” Gus said, thinking that was a strange question.
“Why were you on the mattress? Were you crying?”
“What?” How did she know that? Gus asked himself. Is she reading my mind?
“So,” Dayjenderalice turned around in the chair and looked at him in a way that to him seemed almost accusatory. “You weren’t crying.”
I’m not going to tell her anything, Gus thought. He answered firmly; “No.”
“Oh.” Dayjenderalice turned away from him, and then lifted herself up and rearranging herself on her seat. “Well, it can’t be that then.”
“Be what?” Gus asked.
“I am made of Awareness Dust. I don’t know where it comes from, but it was to be scattered across the four worlds and then became me. I suspect not all of it joined together to form my body, and that some of it stayed on the planets. Perhaps there was some that got on your mattress. Tell me, did your mattress sparkle like a unicorn’s horn?”
“No,” Gus answered with distain. What she was suggesting was, to him, too stupid.
“Then simple is fact,” Dayjenderalice shrugged it off. “You’re stuck here.”
“Wait – “Gus massaged his temple with his fingers. “You said this is my Earth though. Only – nine months ahead in time.”
Dayjenderalice ran her finger under the opening of her coat sleeve. She was always pulling on it, trying to loosen it up a bit; it felt too tight. “That’s right,” she said.
“The chair can go to the present and the future. Its nine months from where I was, but you can take me home. Then we can both forget about all of this.”
“Taking you home nine months after you left is not my decision.”
“Why not? You can do it. That makes no sense.” Gus felt a pull inside of himself to walk away from the chair and stop the conversation then and there but he knew he was trapped, and couldn’t.
Rather coldly, Dayjenderalice informed him, “Making sense of things isn’t the job of the chair, and it also isn’t mine.”
That was it for Gus. The strange woman from space had no sympathy at all for the situation he was in that was not of his own making, and that never would have been of his choosing. “You’re a bitch,” he told her in reaction to her callousness toward him.
Her gaze was directed away from him, yet as she spoke, she kept turning her head until at last their eyes met. “I’ve been called all sorts of names on four planets; perhaps I am all of them, perhaps I am none of them. But none of it matters, for I am at all times only and one thing; I am Dayjenderalice.”
“Dayjenderalice,” Gus looked closer at her than he had before. “That’s your name?”
“It is the only name I consistently respond to. What is your name?”
“Gus Wilder, I cannot take you back in time, but at least you are on the right Earth that you came from.”
Gus looked around at the destruction from the earthquake, and all the people in the neighborhood coming to the aid of each other and sifting through wreckage.
“It’s so weird they can’t see us,” he said. “It’s strange to be like I was a ghost. You said I might be dead, but I’m not.”
“Every lifetime ends with you being a ghost. I’ve observed that some human beings spend more time outside of bodies than in them.”
“I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“Then you don’t believe in yourself then. I can see you. You don’t have to be dead to be one you know. Every person has a ghost inside.”
“What does my ghost look like?”
Dayjenderalice moved her head way from him and her eyes stared straight ahead. “Your ghost looks like you, stupid.”
Gus stood silently for a moment and watched a woman lead a child wrapped in a towel with cartoon characters on it down the street.
“So how long are we going to be here? I have my wallet, I think.” He checked. His wallet and his apartment keys were both in his front pocket where he had put them before deciding he needed to go back to bed.
“Tell me,” Dayjenderalice called out. “What do you think about names? Do you think that names are important? Can a person raise themselves up from a bad name or avoid having to live up to a good one? Dayjenderalice. That’s my name. But I don’t what it means, or why that’s my name. Dayjenderalice. Is it a good name? Or does it signify that I might not be good, and if that’s true, am I predispositioned to do bad things because my name is who I am?”
Gus felt fear in the pit of his stomach as he asked, “Do you do bad things?”
“I am selfish. Right now I wish I was not here talking to you, even though you need my help. But I go around doing good; helping people do things that will eventually be good. Dayjenderalice. Is there good in that name? Gus Wilder. That means that you are Wild. Wilder. Are you wilder than most?”
“That’s not me,” Gus shook his head. “I’m not wild. Not, like, in a crazy way.”
“Maybe your name then means the opposite of what you are.”
“I think you’re looking too much into it. A name is a name,” he told her. Gus Wilder didn’t believe in self analyzing. Things were what they were. He didn’t like it when people insisted that hidden things about themselves or others suddenly needed to be acknowledged and dealt with.
Dayjenderalice shot up from her chair. She spun around several times, then made a wolf sounding ‘Aoooooooo’ call.
“What are you doing?” Gus asked, surprised and annoyed by her behavior.
“Making sure I’m myself. I can’t be sure just by repeating every day routines. I must do something unexpected; even something unexpected to me.”
There was a silence between them, awkward and uncertain on Gus’ part. He wondered what he was going to do. He felt beyond rational, thinking that he should stay with the stranger and the chair, even though he didn’t know why.
“Since you are here with me Gus Wilder,” Dayjenderalice said from her throne, “I wish to know about you. People are what makes us.”
“What?” Gus shook his head slightly at the statement. “I don’t know what that means.”
She drew her head back, and presented her face up to the sky in a wistful pose and asked him, “Do you like to eat? Are you in love?”
Her head swung down, and she continued to address him playfully, “Are you in love with eating? I think I might be. Potatoes and licorice. And sometimes a good tea, made from roots or flowers or berries. But you’re probably in love with a person. On all the planets, on all my adventures, I always find someone in love.”
“Can you tell I’m in love?” Gus asked, mortified and humiliated by the possibility that she could.
“Only a person’s heart can tell. Isn’t that what songs say? But – “ she drew back in the chair and studied him to his great discomfort “ – let’s see. Oh, I think you tell the world around you a great many things.”
Dayjenderalice turned back to the front of the chair. “How should I know? Specifically. I only just met you.” Then a moment later, before Gus could get too angry she said, “You’re a boy. Isn’t being in love a part of what being a boy is? Or is love something that’s only for girls. I think not, but it is all a strange curtain to me.”
Gus wished he could sit down somewhere and decided to pour his heart out. After all, Dayjenderalice was someone he didn’t know. There was no reason to be embarrassed.
“I am in love. I wish that I wasn’t. I’ve lost myself. I think about her more than I do myself. I think about where she is, what she’s doing, what her life’s like; more than I do my own. Love is horrible. I hate every minute of it. But it’s like there’s no escaping it. It’s taken over my mind.”
“If you lose yourself, your ghost can find you. Ghosts always know who they are.”
“No, it’s not. I can’t say I’ve ever been in your particular experience, and for all I know being made of dust, I never will be. Mating practices and love is different on all four versions of Earth. I get quite confused. When I see a man and a woman acting as a couple on a planet, and they obviously are a couple, I don’t understand. It’s almost, especially for the young, as if they’re in their own world, which I suppose to them can be quite marvelous, but for others can be extremely vexing. It’s like you can’t talk to one without also talking to the other, even if they’re not with the other one when you’re talking to them.”
“I know. At this point, I wish her well. I wish them both well together. I just want it to go away.”
“Who? Who do you wish well?”
“I can understand and find some relation within myself to most of human behavior on an intellectual level, but human romance escapes me.”
“Aren’t you lonely?”
She became very quiet and turned away. And then unexpectedly, she started to cry; a broken, fragile, lonely sob.
“That is the moment I know, that I too have a soul! Why would something made of dust have a human soul? What is the reason for suffering?”
“You should be the Philosophy class I was in, earlier in the semester.”
“There’s an answer?!” Her face lit up and she turned to him with a look of desperate, hopeful expectation.
She was so vulnerable and sincere, Gus felt sorry for her.
“No.” He told it to her straight, but couldn’t look at her. “The longer I live, the more it seems that there isn’t an answer. Everybody has to come up with an answer for themselves. A philosophy.” He thought about all the suffering he’d endured the past months over Brianna. “Suffering is something that everybody has to go through themselves. That’s why it seems that life sucks so bad.”
“I have seen such cases in my travels on the four Earths. Is the point of being human to suffer? Is there not – a remedy that can cure all ills?”
“Well,” Gus said thinking. “There’s always other things that make you happy, outside of whatever’s going on. For the most part, no matter how bad it hurts, suffering won’t kill you.”
Dayjenderalice sighs. “Well, I can’t be killed. So I suppose I should just remain happy, or better yet content. Yes, I do like that. ‘Content’ sounds like a cup of tea.”
Gus approached the only subject that mattered to him at that moment again, but this time from another angle.
“Dayjenderalice, can you leave the chair? Like, if you wanted to just go for a walk and leave it here, could you?”
Dayjenderalice stood and raised her shoulders. “Of course. The chair, as it is, will not be seen by people. But I do not have free autonomy. I cannot leave it permanently or for an extended length of time. The chair owns me, you see. I Dayjenderalice am I part of it and it takes me where it wants to. But I can make adjustments as needed, which helps out a lot sometimes.”
Gus looked at the chair. It resembled a fairy tale throne and was made of pure gold, with a high back and majestic cones that rose up on the sides to deadly points. A luxurious red cushion in the seat extended to a royal tufted back rest.
The throne suddenly lengthened itself, stretching out on both ends. The result was a much longer seat with more room, the comfortable possibility of which excited Gus.
He stepped up to it and looked down in near rapture at the expanded cushioned seat.
A rack of metal bars shot across the middle. The seat was now divided. There was more room in the front.
“Oh! Look! Clever. My chair. My rules. Get in. In the back please.”
Gus stepped over the gold armrest into the penned in section of seat, and crouched down into the small space.
“Alright,” Dayjenderalice said once she had sat down herself. “I’ll take you!”
Surprised, Gus laughed in relief.
“Or at least, I’ll try. I’ve never attempted to go to anywhere specific before. I’m not sure that we’ll be allowed.”
She closed her eyes. “Alright. I shall concentrate on it, I shall focus in on it, and I will create a mental path before the chair, and I will ask it in a right and nicely put way to take us there! Where are we going?”
Gus told her the University campus name, then his address; 709 Spiner place, and added excitedly, “October 24. When I left, it was October 24.”
“Alright.” Dayjenderalice went into the point in her mind where she could make things happen.
The chair began to spin. Then it stopped spinning.
There was yelling. It was dark. They were on grass on a field.
There were trucks that were parked with light beams blazing, including one labeled Sheriff on the side door.
A group of people gathered nearby held protest signs.
“Where are we?” Gus wasn’t home. Instead he was exasperated and stressed at the sight before him.
Dayjenderalice opened her eyes. “Only the chair knows, and the chair never tells me.”
“I’m sorry, I’ve failed,” Dayjenderalice said nonchalantly as she got up and stepped away from the throne.
“Wait!” Gus was crushed. “Where are we?”