Charlie Grace turned on the light next to her bed. She examined her skin then touched herself, worrying one touch would make it all happen again. She was whole. It had all been a dream. She looked at the clock. In half an hour her alarm would go off for her first day of high school. She groaned into her pillow wishing she could somehow roll over and reclaim her peaceful sleep the night had stolen from her.
After putting in major work on her unkempt face she rushed down to the kitchen smelling the sweet smell of maple syrup. Her mom made her favorite waffles. The berries were in season in her moms garden. Just as she hoped, her mother had woke up early to pick them. Dad was reading the paper but he put it down long enough to smile and tell her she looked well. He was always busy for work but he never forgot to give his favorite and only daughter his undivided attention once in a while.
After checking in with her he went back to his paper and her mother topped her off with whip cream and more fresh berries on the side. As Charlie poured the piping hot syrup on the waffles she remembered the strange dream where her body liquified and she was stuck, unable to move or find a way back to her shape. The dream left her with chills. Then she thought about school, leaving her anxious and excited.
Her mother dropped her off at the curb, she had enough time to meet up with her best friend Jasmine at the front of the school. They both greeted each other with big hugs and squeals. They had so much to tell each other. Jasmine stayed with her grandmother in Florida over the summer and went to Disney World. She told Charlie all about how she fell in love with a cute boy who lived in Colorado which was no big deal because they had video chatted every day since she had left and even before they both went to school this morning.
Charlie’s summer wasn’t as eventful. She went to camp with the same people she saw every year for science club. Everyone had looked the same, the boys hadn’t even hit puberty, or if they had she didn’t have much to look forward to in this career. Charlie knew from the age of six she wanted to become a scientist. It wasn’t until a year ago she realized she wanted to be a marine biologist and find better ways to communicate with the sea creatures. Maybe one day she could even find a way to save the ocean from further pollution. If it was up to her everyone would give up driving and anything to do with the use of oil.
“Charlie, what are you doing for your birthday?” Jasmine asked when they reached their lockers. Jasmine had already traded with some other kid so they could be next to each other for the semester.
“Just the same family dinner. You’re coming right?”
“I can’t. My parents are having some important client over and they want us to play house.” Jasmine’s parents were separated all summer.
“We should throw a real party this year!” Jasmine jumped up putting her hands together. “We could have a big blow out. Invite everyone here. How cool would we be if we had the first party of the year?”
Charlie pointed to a well-designed poster. Jasmine shrugged her shoulders. It sounded like a lot of work any way. Charlie didn’t like putting in so much effort because she didn’t like discussing her age.
“Hi Charlie.” A boy waved her way then rustled his hand through his hair when her only response was a confused, awkward smile.
“That’s Weston.” Jasmine poked her in the ribs. “Oh my, what happened to him over the summer?”
Weston lived next door to Jasmine. Their families were very close but Jasmine hadn’t done a very good job of staying in touch with any of her friends.
Jasmine was right, something had drastically changed in Weston. She looked down at herself. She hadn’t grown as much as the other girls over the summer; which hurt more since she was a year older than them all. She wondered when she would go through her changes.
Sitting in first period it felt so free being able to pick my seat even though Jasmine and I weren’t in the same class. She was so used to assigned seating. The teacher’s lecture on the rest of the year made Charlie tired. Even more than she realized because she hadn’t been sleeping well for weeks.
She looked down at her desk where she was writing a note for Jasmine. Tell her about how boring her teacher was and how he asked questions then answered them himself like he was having a conversation. She started to write about how cute Weston’s dimples were when he smiled. She had always noticed but it wasn’t until now she felt Jasmine would agree instead of laugh at her.
Mid-sentence her pencil started bending. Lifting her hand up it fell around the tips of her fingers. Puddled on her desk she tried poking at it and the gel-like substance moved around her finger then filled back up when she lifted her hand. Looking up she noticed everyone’s faces were drooping like they were about to drip off their faces. Paralyzed she froze. The desk began to liquify, the legs twirling against her legs bringing her down to the floor.
“Charlene Grace.” The teacher commanded; even though she corrected him during roll call telling him she goes by Charlie, she always did.
Shaking her head she helped herself off the floor to sit on her sturdy chair. The class erupted in laughter as she struggled to get up and open her eyes wider. Had she fallen asleep or imagined it all?
“A raised hand would be adequate.” The teacher responded over the loud noises and called everyone to order.
Unedited mini series by B. Mauritz.