A nightmare startled me awake. Groaning, I rolled over and glanced at the alarm clock.
I groaned louder. Two hours? I thought the later I went to bed the more likely I was to fall soundly asleep. It had taken me a good twenty minutes to get comfortable before drifting off. And two hours later, here I was awake due to another nightmare.
For two weeks straight, I have averaged three hours of sleep a night. Either I just lie in bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking about the boring summer that was ahead of me, or I had odd dreams.
I figured they were normal reoccurring nightmares; the one where you’re naked in public. Hasn’t everyone had that dream? I didn’t quite understand why I was having them so often and why they started two weeks ago.
I now remember the end of the semester fraternity party was exactly fourteen days ago. My best friend insisted I went with her. She was leaving her boyfriend behind and “needed” an escort. Tasha had a talent for convincing people to do things they didn’t want to do. I certainly didn’t want to go to some frat party.
After two years in college, I was still invisible on campus while Tasha was the life of the party. Socially, I clammed up and she was constantly trying to change that. She knew how to push the right buttons with me. I had two weaknesses when it came to forcing me into something; I didn’t say “no” to my friends and family and if someone dared me, I would do it as long as it was legal and within my moral conduct. That is what led me to drinking a mustard milkshake last year, which landed me in the bathroom for five hours.
So there I was at this party. Tasha and I were the only sober souls to be found. Sloppy drunken men leering at me was a turn-off, especially when our university’s linebacker spilled beer down my shirt and almost fell on me. A group of sorority sisters proceeded to laugh at me. At that point, I desperately wanted to leave. Trying to fight my way through the oblivious partygoers was not easy. What made it even more difficult was the intense anxiety attack I was having. I felt everyone staring at me as Tasha escorted me outside.
To these college kids, I was stuffy and didn’t know how to have fun. They were completely right, but I had no idea how to change.
That night I had the first of several nightmares. The events of the party happened all over again; this time, I was naked during the splashing of beer on my bare skin.
The lack of sleep had begun before the party, though. I had a strong feeling this form of anxiety was strictly related to my returning home for the summer.
The early morning sun was bright orange and was shining through my dormitory window on the 16th floor. The strength of the rays combined with the lack of sleep was giving me a headache. I looked out into the city that was normally busy with heavy traffic and loud horns.
Never in my life have I seen Boston so asleep. Sometimes I wish I could fly above the tall buildings, the ones with burly construction workers hanging off them. High above the businessmen in stuffy, overpriced suits rushing to their destination, not even noticing they bumped into some helpless, old lady. I’d be away from everything.
The phone rang startling me a little. The dream of freedom plummeted to the ground as I answered it.
“Yeah Dad, the U-Haul is on its way. I’m catching the two-thirty bus…”
I listened to my father drone on about being careful and how he didn’t understand why I opted to take the bus. I didn’t offer much explanation or feedback to his questions and comments. I was too tired and too frustrated.
“Okay bye,” I eagerly hung up.
I sighed and looked back at the screen of my MacBook.
I smiled as I looked at my communications course grade. I had nothing less than A’s throughout most of my academic career. I opened up a blank document and began an entry in my journal. It was a rare occurrence that I had time to write anything besides a ten-page essay on governmental ethics or theories on justice. Pre-law isn’t the best way to go. At least it’s not for me. What else was I to do? A lack of skills, passion and determination leave me nothing but my ability to learn easily and get good grades. One thing I found pleasure in was my journal. There, I could express my deepest thoughts and dreams.
My eyes shifted above my desk to the frame on the wall. Then again, a picture always spoke to me more than words on paper. The photo I had taken a couple of years ago of the moon still amazed me. I found myself lost in it several times while sitting at this desk, trying to focus on the judicial system.
The harvest moon glowed gloriously against the contrasting backdrop of the midnight sky. Stars scattered sporadically, yet strategically across the blank canvas. It was rare to see stars accompany the harvest moon. I was incredibly lucky to capture this vivid image. My roommate, Alisha, thought it was a painting at first glance. Of course, she didn’t believe that I could have taken such a photo.
I guess not many wealthy Bostonians stared up at the moon for very long. There was something devastatingly beautiful in thinking I could be the only one who shared a moment with the magnificent lunar globe every night. It was a shame not enough people acknowledged its beauty these days; however, it was like a romance between me and something much bigger than anything else. The moon is where my dreams lie, ready for me whenever I was willing to take them. I reached for the photo from the wall and placed it in my knapsack.
A loud knock caused me to jump. The sound echoed off the bare walls. I walked through the now empty room to open the heavy creaky piece of metal.
“Haley!” Tasha yelled hugging me.
She was a short Latina with big boobs and long eyelashes. Over the past two years, she had become my best friend. She was the only girl at the university who wasn’t a complete snob. She came from a wealthy family, just as I did, and like almost everyone else at school. Tasha never acted like it, though.
“I can’t believe you’re going home for the summer,” she said, plopping down at what was my roommate’s desk.
“Well, where else am I supposed to go?” I asked as I sat down across from her.
“Stay here with me!”
I laughed, “And live with you and Ricky?”
She rolled her eyes, “Don’t even get me started on him.”
Tasha and Ricky had been living together since the beginning of the school year. He just graduated, while we just finished our sophomore year. Ricky’s a nice guy, but he tries to control her. If you knew Tasha, you’d know she doesn’t put up with it. They often fight, no matter who was around. I try to stay clear of spending time with them together.
“So what are you going to do in Dorksville?”
She was referring to my hometown of Bakersfield, Vermont.
It was a small town with great landscaping, but filled with uptight business-oriented minds. One could only imagine how much fun it is growing up in that atmosphere.
“I’m going to intern at my father’s law firm,” I said with a roll of my eyes, and a gag of my tongue.
Tasha laughed a little, “If you hate law so much then why are you doing it?”
I shrugged, “My parents are both lawyers.”
She just stared at me as if to say “so?”
I thought about the love story my parents portrayed. They both came from money and met in law school. To celebrate the passing of their bar exams, they got married. Since then, they worked together, lived together, raised me together, and I had to admit, it was absolutely irritating sometimes. To me, their lives were one. They did nearly the same thing every weekend: go to the country club for a luncheon or play tennis. In the winter I was forced to spend Christmas with them and their friends, the Eriksson family, at Foster’s Ski Lodge, which was named after my grandfather.
“Because I think I’d be good at it,” I said the first thing that popped into my mind.
“Yeah, and I’d be good at wiping shit off toilet seats, but you don’t see me going into custodial arts.”
I cracked up laughing.
“Well you have a dream. I don’t.”
I glanced back at the first couple of sentences written on my laptop. I saved the document and closed the computer before looking back at Tasha. She wanted to be a dancer. I thought she should become a choreographer. She had a unique style, and a flare for creating new dance steps. She always laughed that idea off.
“I wish you were coming with me,” I said sadly.
“I do, too, but you know I can’t leave the dance group before the recital. That’s why I think you should stay here.”
I smiled at her.
“You know my parents would never let me do that.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Haley, you’re twenty-years-old!” she yelled, running her freshly painted nails through her wild, almond colored curls. “You’re not their little girl anymore.”
I sighed, “I know, but I don’t want them to be mad at me, and besides, where am I supposed to work then?”
“You can get a job easily, Haley…you just want them to support you.”
I shot her a cold glare.
“I can’t believe you said that to me.”
I was truly offended.
“Hay, come on now, I know you like to have them pay for everything.”
“No, that’s not it. I would have worked if they would have let me,” I said in my defense.
“Would you listen to yourself? When are you going to stop letting them run your life?”
“Look, they’re good people, and they just want what’s best for me. I really don’t want to fight with you about this.”
Tasha rubbed her lips together and mouthed “okay”.
“When do you have to leave?”
I glanced at my watch.
“I should get going now.”
I stood up and picked up the Louis Vuitton purse and strapped it across my chest. I stuffed the laptop inside my leather Donna Karan knapsack, and swung it over my shoulder.
“I’ll miss you,” Tasha said, now standing up with her arms reaching out toward me. I gave her a hug.
“I’ll miss you, too.”
“Try to have fun this summer.”
I nodded, knowing that fun would be the last thing to enter my life in the next few months.
“Come on, I’ll drive you to the bus station,” she said, as I took one last look around the small room I stayed in during the school year.
I was happy to be leaving the cramped living space that I never really could call home. Then again, when I was home, all I could think about was getting away from the conservative town along with my beautiful house, which held my bedroom that was smothered with useless accessories and overpriced furniture.
On the third day in June, the weather was already showing signs of a brutally hot summer. I sat in the passenger seat of Tasha’s Mercedes E Class Convertible as the music blasted. One thing I owed to her was my newfound love for music. Growing up, I listened to the classics and oldies since that’s what my parents enjoyed. There weren’t many kids my age in Bakersfield, so it was hard for me to get into popular music. I bopped my head to the new Beyoncé song as Tasha sang along at the top of her lungs.
“God, I would kill to have her body!” she said with a grit of her teeth.
I just looked at her and laughed.
“What are you talking about? You have a better body than her.”
I laughed even more at the topic of our conversation.
“Yeah right! Okay, so I do have bigger boobs, but she has a better ass!”
“But you’ve got those hips that Ricky loves,” I giggled, remembering one night how Ricky went on and on about the way Tasha’s hips moved when she danced. She nodded her head at me as if to say I had a point.
“Make sure you go to some clubs once in a while.”
“Yeah, because Bakersfield is just crawling with them,” I said sarcastically.
She looked at me sympathetically as we pulled up to the Greyhound station.
“I’ll call you when I get home.”
“Okay, maybe I’ll come up for the fourth of July,” she smiled. “I’ll bet your parents would just love that.”
I rolled my eyes.
It wasn’t that my parents hated Tasha. They’re just not open-minded. She is a free-spirit and very fun-loving. You either loved her or you hated her. She never has trouble finding guys to fall all over her; they were never an issue. Girls are Tasha’s main enemy. Most of them, especially the snobs, thought her personality was too much. They took her self-confidence as an insult, like it offended them to see someone who did as she pleased and didn’t care what anyone thought. She was a threat to their conformity. There were also the girls like me, who at times wished we could be her.
“My parents just don’t like different,” I groaned and Tasha’s expression looked offended. “I mean different in a good way.”
She smiled, “I know.”
“Take care of yourself and good luck with the recital.”
I hugged her.
“Thanks Haley. I hope something wonderful happens to you this summer.”
I smiled even though I knew that it wouldn’t happen.
My life was planned for me at birth. A boring, miserable job surrounded by wealth, bad company, and most likely, an uptight businessman for a husband.
Every girl’s fantasy, right?
I grabbed my bag and got out of the car. I looked up at the building in front of me with the large dog on it and sighed. This was my transport system back to my own comfy prison.