It was morning. Again, I knew this despite having a blanket pulled tightly over my head, by the insistent-and annoying-beeping of the digital alarm clock that sounded like it was somewhere very close to my head. Actually, it sounded as if it was somewhere inside my head-but I was reasonably sure that wasn’t the case.
I could have sworn I unplugged that thing. It was for reasons, like this my bed was no more than a mattress on the floor, placed strategically in the center of my room, and why I didn’t have any tables or high surfaces. It made it much easier for me to find and grab things from the comfort of a prostrate position.
Reaching out from underneath my blanket with one arm, I blindly groped through the piles of clothes which covered the entirety of my room until I felt the clocks rectangular plastic shell and retrieved it from beneath the discarded depths. First, I tried simply slapping the top, hoping to hit the snooze button. When that failed, I got a firm grasp on the corner and proceeded to slam it off the floor. Unfortunately, the floor was so heavily cushioned with cast off clothing that this too failed to have the desired effect. Finally, my sleep-addled brain cleared enough for a brief strike of inspiration and I felt around the clock’s surface until I managed to locate the cord, lifted it slightly and yanked. The beeping ceased.
I sighed contentedly and snuggled into my pillow, pulling the edges of the blanket around me tightly. I was a little disappointed to have awoken from my dream, a dream of a pair of clear green eyes, but I smiled to myself within the dark confines of my cocoon. It was Saturday, one of just two days of the week when it didn’t bother me so much to have to wake up. The reasons for this were simple: Saturday meant that it was the weekend (obviously). This of course meant no school (always a plus), but mainly it meant that I didn’t have to deal with people. Except my family, which was bad enough.
This weekend was especially promising because my parents had left the night before and would not be back until late Sunday. This left me home alone with my obnoxiously popular little sister. But this seemed like a small price to pay for a reprieve from my father’s mandatory Saturday morning workouts and my mother’s habitually worried questions about why I never had any plans. She either could not understand or refused to accept, the fact that I didn’t have any friends. That I didn’t want any. Not anymore anyways. I brushed all of those thoughts away and tried to concentrate on that perfect pair of light green eyes, hoping to recapture my dream.
I had almost drifted back to sleep when a tell take itch began at the tip of my nose and, before I could reach up to scratch it, quickly spread over my scalp, chest and arms as well. Zoe.
“Go away”. I complained loudly from under my blanket, vigorously without effect.
“You said that you’d drive me into town today”, A tiny voice complained back.
“Ichabod…” she whined, stretching my name out in her little girl voice.
Where was a sneaker when you needed one? “Zee, go away,” I growled, giving up on the sneaker and feeling around for the alarm clock. It had just been right there. Somewhere.
“Itch!” She continued to whine and I heard a thump that sounded suspiciously like the stomping of a very small foot.
Itch. I hated that nickname. Although, in truth, it wasn’t the name itself that bothered me so much as it was the reason behind it, and my frustration at not being able to figure out how exactly Zoe was able to pull off her little trick of sending me into uncontrollable fits of scratching. She of course, continued to insist that the phantom itches were the physical manifestations of a guilty conscious. I found it more than a bit suspicious that it only happened when she thought I had a reason to feel guilty-like when I really annoyed her. If it hadn’t been for that irritating mystery anything would have been better that Ichabod, even Itch. At least Zoe was the only one who used it.
“Alright!’ I finally surrendered, “I’m awake!” Predictably, the phantom itches disappeared at the exact moment of my capitulation. Eventually, I was going to figure out how she did that.
When I rolled out of bed, after the few moments it took to disentangle myself from the blanket, Zoe had already fled. I sat up slowly rubbing the sleep out of my eyes with my fists, and noticed the clock, my sneakers, and several palm-sized objects piled neatly together near the door. Just out of reach from the bed. Cleaver little twerp.
Still half asleep I grabbed what I was fairly certain was a towel off the floor
and stumbled across the hallway to the bathroom, kicking the door closed with a heel. A shower was what I needed. The not water felt good and went a long way toward waking me up. As my head began to clear of it’s post-dream fog. I actually began to feel optimistic about the day-until I remembered I was driving General Zoe into town to launch her weekly invasion of the mall.
The problem with going into town was that it as always full of people. The problem with going into town with Zoe was that the majority of those people would, somehow, make their way to wherever she happened to be. It was inevitable, Ugh. People. I had not been capable of stomaching the company of people. Despite what she thought, it was not because I was an anti -social monster determined to make her look bad and ruin her life. The truth was that, since that dark summer, it had become impossible to find a male above the age of puberty who could think coherently if Zoe was anywhere within a mile radius-a fact she seemed oblivious to, but I had my suspicions.
If Zoe wasn’t so…..well, beautiful, I grudgingly admitted to myself, then I might have been able to get through a day, or at least an hour, without some love-sick moron asking me about my little sister. The worst were the seniors. Seniors! As impossible as it seemed, at only fourteen, Zoe had captured the heart and mind of every guy in town. It occasionally drove my father into fits. Zoe had the same golden-brown hair as our mother; however, unlike mom’s short cut, Zoe’s fell in waves and curls all the way down to her waist. Her features were small and delicate, but at little more than five-foot-two, everything about her was small-tiny even-except of course for her eyes which were large and round with long lashes and of such a startling blue that most people were convinced they must be contacts. Our mother had beautiful blue eyes, but nothing like Zoe’s. Zoe looked like a painting of some mythical woodland goddess come to life.
It took me awhile, but I eventually decided I wouldn’t be able to hide in the shower all day. I reluctantly turned off the water. After brushing my teeth, I ran a thumb over my chin and cheeks. I didn’t need to, but I shaved anyway-it seemed like a good way to kill ten minutes. When that was done, I spent a long time examining myself in the mirror. I had inherited my father’s deep gray eyes and thick brown hair, though I kept mine cut short, slightly longer on top than on the sides, while his hung past his shoulders. I complained a lot about my father’s insistence that I spend a few hours every weekend lifting weights with him, but I had to admit I liked the results. I was no where near as well muscled as the old man, that took a level of dedication I simply didn’t have. At least I wasn’t gangly. With a name like Ichabod that would have been just asking for trouble.
As I stood there, flexing in the mirror, I could feel it there suddenly. Building inside of me with the speed of fire. The urge to smash my fist into the glass. Maybe my face. I began to quiver with the desire to strike out. I gripped the sides of the sink, breathing in deeply through my nose and out through my mouth. I’d read somewhere that sort of breathing was supposed to help control anger. It wasn’t doing a thing for the rage blazing beneath my skin. I gritted my teeth and watched the reflection of my jaw muscles jump. then as swiftly as it had appeared, it was gone. I shifted my attention in time to see the last of the strange light leave my eyes. These episodes were getting more frequent, which scared me only slightly less then the episodes themselves. .
I released the kung fu grip I had on the sink and sank to my knees, setting my forehead against the cool porcelain. There was something seriously wrong with me. Normal people did not suffer from unprovoked spells of intense anger, and even if they did, their yes certainly didn’t glow when it happened. Maybe I imagined the glowing thing. That made more sense. A mild hallucination. but did it then mean there was something less wrong, or more wrong with me? So far, I hadn’t been able to bring myself to tell anybody about it. They would probably just think I was crazy. I know I did.
I headed back to my own room with what, thankfully actually had turned out to be a towel wrapped around my waist. I stopped just inside if the doorway and surveyed the mess before me with a critical eye. It helped take my mind off my possible insanity, so I let my imagination carry me away.
My bed looked like a raft which had been set afloat on a sea of rumpled clothing. Somewhere beneath the surface lurked a stereo, my collection of cd’s and the monstrous wooden trunk I used as a dresser-when I actually bothered to put anything away. Eventually, I would have to clean up this dump. Or, at the very least, tidy up a bit.
I began randomly grabbing and sniffing clothes to see if they were clean, or rather, if they were not. It took me a few minutes, but I managed to put together all the makings of my usual uniform; a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, plain black today I took an extra moment to look for a shirt emblazoned with a slogan sure to embarrass Zoe; unsurprisingly the numerous shirts I owned suitable for the task were all missing. Clever little twerp. I briefly contemplated revenge, but only briefly. I knew that was a war I would not win. Zoe could be rabidly dedicated to messing with me, whereas I just wanted to be left alone.