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Chapter 3 : Reality Check
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“Separated? How?” said Neville, getting up and looking out the window.
“I don’t know, Neville, but it doesn’t do us any good knowing how.” This is not happening. We’re all gonna die.
“Don’t panic, boys,” said Luna with her pothead voice. “If we all just calm down I’m sure we’ll be able to find a way out of this. We’re witches and wizards, after all. We can do something.”
“Yes, Luna. You’re right.” The excitement was rising in my voice, mostly to mask the fear. “We’re magical, we can just apparate…” I patted my pockets. I felt the empty box of cigarettes... weird. I could have sworn my wand was…
I punched the wall. “Of course! They took our fucking wands! This is just great!” I clenched my eyes shut and shook my head. How could this happen? Why me?
“Just relax, Clyde. Somebody has to come sometime, right?”
“No other train uses this track except the Hogwarts Express,” Vandy said. Her voice was calm and collected. I was jealous.
Luna looked at Vandy, annoyed that she ruined her optimism. “Well then the Hogwarts Express will come back to the station soon.”
“No it won’t. How do you know?” I said.
“Does it come back after it drops everyone off?”
Luna squirmed under the pressure of multiple questions. She should have just kept her fucking mouth shut.
“Shut up, guys. It doesn’t matter. We’re all gonna die anyway,” I said. It was true. We’re just gonna rot here.
“We’re not gonna die. We just have to find a way out,” said Neville. “Here, let’s try the door.”
He pulled at the handle but it wouldn’t budge. The handle rattled around and it was the most sickening sound I’d ever heard. He grunted and with each failed attempt my heart sunk lower in my chest. “Must be a security thing. Manual override’s probably in the conductor’s compartment.”
“I got your manual override…” I tried, too. That handle wasn’t gonna do shit. I pried my fingers into the crack between the door and the wall and pulled as hard as I could. Nothin’.
“Window,” I said. I knew the window opened. I just smoked out of it.
The window opened, all right. But there was no way any one of us was going out of it. We were in the middle of a bridge. And its only purpose was to keep the track above a pit of sharp ragged rocks. No room for even toes to sneak around.
“Looks like we’re stuck here until we die, gang,” I said, sitting down on the floor. I thought I heard Vandy sigh.
“Will you stop saying that? We’re not gonna die,” said Neville. Naïve as always.
“It does us no good arguing about it, boys,” said Luna. “We might as well just play a game or something to pass the time.”
“Like what?” I said, lying on my back with my hands behind my head. I was down for a game. Better than sitting in that shit-hole and staring at the walls.
“Well, we could all tell each other about our summers.”
“Booo!” I whined. Telling stories didn’t constitute as a game.
Luna ignored me. “This summer my dad took me to see my mum for the first time. It was quite an emotional experience, really. Dad says he’d never seen me cry as much as I did…” Her voice trailed off into an embarrassed laugh as her face turned pink.
I stared blankly at her. “Luna, your mum’s dead.”
Neville glared at me, but I wasn’t sure what for. It was the truth!
“I know, silly!” She looked completely serious. Like I was the one being ridiculous.
I looked at her, truly trying to understand. I couldn’t. I looked away. “Whatever, Luna…” Just go smoke some more fucking pot. Maybe your long-lost brother will show up, too.
“My gran showed me old pictures and newspaper clippings about my parents. They used to be good friends with Harry’s parents back in their day. I guess they had their own revolution group back then, like we had the DA a couple years ago.” Luna and Neville smiled at each other.
I grimaced. I wasn’t invited to that meeting.
“And what about you, Mystery woman? You haven’t said anything all day,” I said to Vandy. It surprised me that words were coming out of me so fluently. It must have looked like I wasn’t scared of talking to her.
“What about me?”
“Wha’joo do this summer?” I said light-heartedly.
She looked at me for a long time but there was no friendliness in her eyes. It was a huge back-off sign. She said, “Not much,” but it sounded more like, “Leave me the fuck alone.”
Defeated, I turned back around. I felt like shit. Why did I press her so hard to open up to us? Yeah, I was just trying to make things light but she’s probably not in the light kinda mood. She’s stuck in a tiny box with three people she’s never met before, and we’re all fucking weirdos. I don’t blame her for telling me off, even if it was only with her eyes.
“What about you, Clyde?”
Rocked out of my depressed world by Luna’s voice, I said, “I didn’t do much, either. Dad was gone the whole summer, as usual, and me and Neville went down to the Leaky Cauldron every Tuesday, as usual, and I went to work every day. As usual.”
“Geez, Clyde, I thought with your reputation you’d lead a more interesting life,” said Neville through laughs.
“See? It’s not that glamorous to be me.” Not at all. Sure, you get a few one-night stands and a lot of little shit relationships but they don’t mean anything. And no one wants to be around you for more than an hour ‘cause they’re afraid they can catch an STD by just standing next to you. And when you finally think you actually fancy someone for more than a day, you’re afraid to even try. I feel dirty in my own skin every day.
“But I did have a fucked-up dream last night. I dreamt I was at Neville’s house and he was hiding in a wardrobe, and he was yelling at me to hide. But I wasn’t scared. But then these huge fuckin’ army boot soldier Death Eaters came crashing into the house and I didn’t have my wand. I remember something like they broke a picture of Luna when I ran upstairs, and I hid behind Neville’s curtain of clothes. I could hear them coming up the stairs but I was suffocating. And when I woke up, I figured out that I had that dream about suffocating because the covers were over my head. Isn’t that weird?"
“Weird?” said Luna, looking at me like she didn’t like the taste of the word. “Clyde, why didn’t you say that sooner?”
None of us had a clue as to what the hell she was talking about.
“Don’t you remember studying dreaming in Divination class?”
I thought for a moment. “I remember dreaming in Divination class,” I offered. I could tell Luna was going to take the conversation to a sour place and I didn’t appreciate that, so I tried to steer it in a different direction.
To no avail. She almost looked like she was getting annoyed. I’d never seen that look on Luna before. It didn’t suit her. “It was said that dreams that occur before important days could be foreshadowing of the day itself.”
“So what are you saying, that we’re stuck here because of my fucking dream?”
“Well it does kind of make sense, Clyde,” said Neville. There he goes again. Defending his girl no matter what kinda shit comes out of her mouth. “I mean, when you think about it… In the dream I was locked away in a wardrobe, right? And you were alone in my room.” He looked at me and expected me to understand, as though those two sentences were enough to connect the dots with.
“And now here we both are, all alone, waiting for someone to find us. That was in your dream too, right? Someone trying to find us?”
“Yeah, but that was different. We’re here now, waiting for someone to rescue us. The people in my dream wanted to find us so they could kill us.”
“It doesn’t matter, Clyde,” said Neville with a bite to his tone.
“He’s right. The principle is the same,” said Luna.
They were both out of their fucking minds.
“Okay, okay. Let’s say for the sake of argument that I did tell you about this dream before we got on the train. What difference would it have made?” I hoped they felt as ridiculous as they sounded.
“We could have sat somewhere else and avoided the easiest place to be disconnected from.”
“Oh, like that’s the first thing you thought of when I said the back seat.”
“Well I did think of it,” said Neville.
“Yeah, maybe after it happened!”
“Guys, that’s enough!” said Vandy. Even when she was annoyed her voice was like harp strings. “I’m getting a headache.” She rubbed her temples and I watched her eyes slosh around.
“She’s right,” said Luna, brightness returning to her voice. “Let’s just forget about it.”
With a final look of forfeit between Neville’s eyes and mine, we looked away from each other.
“Anyone know what time it is?” I said blankly, lying back down.
Luna always wore a watch. It was a weird one, all shiny with gadgets and shit hangin’ off it. She probably made it in her basement out of aluminum foil and Christmas ornaments. Fucking insane. “It’s almost one.”
“Fuck…” I said, sighing.
Luna and Neville started whispering something that I didn’t recognize. I tuned them out and started counting the dots on the roof of the compartment. At around forty-six I started to get tired and I felt my eyes start to close. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t dreaming. I heard the background noise of Neville and Luna and none of it sounded like actual words. Just speaking. Occasionally I’d pick up a real word and it would bounce around my head a couple times before disappearing completely.
Amidst Neville and Luna’s conversation I started thinking about my dream. What if it really did mean something? I kind of felt that suffocating feeling in my chest again. Maybe Luna was right…
Or maybe Luna’s a fucking crack head. No, she couldn’t be right. Those Death Eaters were trying to kill us. And now no one’s trying to find us. Not even good guys. No one’s coming, Cylde. Not a soul. I knew it. We’re gonna die here.
That sucks. But at least Neville’s here, too. But wait. To him it doesn’t even matter that I’m here because he’s got Luna. Yeah, Clyde, you’re my best friend but only when Luna’s not around. When she is I’m gonna side with her and against you no matter what either of you say. Great friend, Neville.
So here we are, two feet in the coffin. Neville’s got Luna, Luna’s got Neville, and Clyde’s dyin’ alone. Well, Vandy… No. Just because we’re in the same room together it doesn’t mean anything. She doesn’t like any of us – she hates that she got stuck here with us. And I’m not even sure if I’m enjoying being here with her either. I mean, it’s not like I can lay some sick moves on her and leave her thinking about me. Not that I would dare try to put moves on her. And even if I did, if I messed up I’d have nowhere to run. This is a prison. So what am I supposed to do? Just sit here and say and do nothing until we all die? Fuck that.
I got up and sat down next to Vandy, whose different-colored eyes told me to go away. I ignored their warning. “So, Vandy,” I said idly. Subconsciously I was competing with Neville.
“What?” she snarled. It was sexy.
I shrugged. “Let’s talk about something.”
Again with the warning eyes. “Like what?”
“I dunno. Anything.”
She stared at me for a long time with that I’m gonna rip your fucking head off look. And I looked at her, too, thinking about how beautiful she was. I didn’t even blink. It looked like a thought came to her. “Okay, Clyde. Let’s talk about last summer.” She looked at me like she wanted me to finish the thought.
The only monumental thing that happened last summer was that fiasco with Jessamine… But there was no way Vandy was referring to that. How could she be?
“What about last summer?”
“Do you remember Jessamine Robbins, Clyde?” I’ve been trying to forget. “Seems like a while since her name’s been around, doesn’t it? Well since you shagged her and tossed her aside she’s been hanging out with me more often. And guess what. She wants to kill herself now, and it’s all because of you! I hope you feel great – you got her virginity and then you left her, when she could have been pregnant!”
I just stared at her. I couldn’t believe those words were actually coming out of her mouth. Where was the angel of my dreams? The girl we’d all seen sitting peacefully in the compartment only a few hours ago? Maybe I should have heeded that warning. Maybe this was why she didn’t say anything all day. She was probably bursting at the seams to tell me that shit.
I felt like shit. Not because I hadn’t heard people say things like that to me before, but because they came from Vandy. Since I looked so high up to her for so long, I believed every word she said to be law. Somewhere in my mind I knew I should kick her off that pedestal in my head, but I couldn’t. She’d been there for so long it was like she owned that part of me.
I looked away from her, trying not to look as weak as I felt. Luna and Neville had long since abandoned their now trivial conversation and they both looked scared. Neither dared to say anything.
I slid off the seat and found my place back on the floor. Below her.
She just kept yelling at me. “It’s all your fault! It’s your fault my best friend hates herself! Maybe if you had a little more consideration for other people besides yourself! There are more important things in life than sex, Clyde! Swallow your pride and grow up!”
I couldn’t look at her. I absorbed everything she said.
After the echoes of her last words dissolved in the air (it felt like days when no one said anything) Neville and Luna started a safe conversation that filled awkward places in the compartment. But it didn’t matter. All I could hear was Vandy’s voice, yelling at me.
Neville, Luna, and Vandy fell asleep a few hours after the sun set. I lay awake on the floor, my mind saturated with Vandy’s words.
It’s your fault she hates herself!
Whose fault is it that I hate myself?
There are more important things in life than sex!
Maybe for you. I’m jealous of people like you. But when you’re a bum like me, that’s all you have. I’ve succumbed to basing my individual worth on things like that. Who made me so? How did I become this monster?
Do people really live this way? Going around from girl to girl in a day’s time. Repulsive. Life of a sewer rat, that’s what it is. How would anyone want to put up with me?
I hope you feel great…
I don’t. I feel like shit. How could I do that to her? I really liked Jessamine, too. She was nice to me – not that I deserved it. Come to think of it, what kind of treatment do I deserve? The treatment of someone who steals girls’ purity. The treatment of someone whose life is based on sleeping around. The treatment of a monster. A dirty animal.
Vandy, why did you have to say those things? If it were anyone else I wouldn’t be sitting here in crumbles. It wouldn’t matter to me how true the words were, if anyone else said what you said, I’d just tell them to fuck off and wouldn’t think any more of it. The way you weren’t afraid of me and just said what I needed to hear… that’s admirable. Even though it kind of seemed like it was coming out of nowhere… You were so nice when we first got here. And I’d always heard stories of you and how nice you were. That was why I didn’t think I deserved you. I still don’t, even after that bitchy truth rant. But I don’t because of a different reason. Because you weren’t afraid of me. You weren’t afraid to tell me what you really thought of me. And if that’s what you really think of me then there’s no use trying to win you over anymore.
As my eyelids closed for the night, I made a decision. I would listen to what Vandy tells me like I did tonight. Not to try to impress her, but to fix myself. It’s about time I whip my lazy ass into shape.
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