When I was in fifth grade, Andrew had a strange notebook in which he wrote down everything compulsively. He never showed anyone what was in it, I don’t think I ever knew what was there, I once theorized that there must have been a bunch of grammar rules, with the way he used to talk, but no one ever knew for sure. My love and admiration for Andrew caused me to compulsively write down any dreams I had, only then would my life have any value, for it was dreams that gave us direction and guidance from the Lord. The most important dream of my whole life was one I couldn’t remember, but the Lord wouldn’t give me visions he knew I couldn’t remember; there had to be some clues in the past, clues he would expect me to find myself. The secrets to that dream I had Monday night were in that notebook!
After making sure Elijah wasn’t coming, I pulled it out from under my mattress and flipped through it. The notebook was deep, about a few inches deep. Most of the pages were devoted to hating Joshua’s gang, but a small section was devoted to dreams and ideas. I looked through my dreams all the way back to June of 2001, I read a bit through them, there was the one where I was thrown off a boat by a skeleton to drown, and the one where I was being force-fed my own arm. This wasn’t direction from the Lord, I had forgotten how truly scary my childhood dreams were. I looked for what I wrote just before I collapsed, but it was nothing important, just some science homework I did that was overdue now. I crumpled the paper in disappointment and shot for the wastebasket. The paper landed on the floor. I had been too busy with the puzzle to write anything. I had absolutely no use for anything I got in the last three days, just a headache from dodgeball and a hospital wristband that was now in the garbage. Somewhere, there had to be a source to all this trouble, I was on the verge of time travel, I needed to find out what went wrong.
Well, duh. Don’t you remember the whole “let go of earthly attachments.”
Yeah, but how hard would it have been to write down something? There’s probably something I thought of then and forgot.
Whatever, you know I don’t forget things that easily.
Then what the heck are we doing here?
There was only one thing to do now. I found a blank section and wrote above it: Lost Dreams. My pen waited on the blank page for a while as I tried to re-embark on my trip down memory lane. That trip went nowhere.
I slept curled on the bus seat with my knees in my coat and woke up to a freezing draft and the horrid buzzing sound the bus makes when you open the back door. It was time to start another day, and I was not prepared. Monday was an exceptionally cold day. I didn’t understand how it could be so warm over the weekend, and now we were chilled to the bone. I sat under the lone tree with Freya and some of the fifth graders, which included Nephi and Sam, and luckily didn’t include Christopher Reagen.
On Friday, I saw a beautiful bird to signify the coming of spring, now, the lone tree only contained a bird skeleton, and an snowy owl who tried very hard to look like he’d never seen the bird before in his life. Wait a minute, there’s an owl, an owl in the tree. That never happens. “Look, guys!” Sam said as he pointed to the tree. “It’s an owl!”
“Awesome!” Nephi said. “Owl! Owl! Hoo! HOO!” And then it flew away, leaving us shivering in the cold with absolutely nothing to talk about.
“So, g- guys, umm, what do we do now?” Nephi asked. We all knew the answer: stand and shiver until the bell rang. The students weren’t allowed in the school before it started, though we only minded on days like this. The cold wind tore at my flesh, and when the sun came out, it only served to freeze us with its rays. We were the lost boys, left out in the fields like cows in a pasture. Then Sam said: “Screw this! Let’s go inside! They can’t lock- lock us out like this!”
“You’re right.” Said Freya. “We should go to Sister Rose’s classroom.”
“I already tried.” Said Ross. “She’s not here.”
“You guys wanna wait for her?” Nephi asked.
“Nah, let’s sneak in.” Sam suggested. There were no objections.
The school was divided into four sections, with the knowledge getting more advanced the further south you went. On the west side of the building was the playground with ten doors leading into the building. On the east side of the playground were two doors leading into another building inhabited by important Mormon people, but these doors were always locked and nobody ever used them. The southern section of the school was the least used with only two classrooms, Amber’s and Rose’s. The rest of the space was used for room ten and a bunch of dilapidated rooms that were never used for good intentions. We wanted to go into room ten since Rose was a nice teacher and Amber was—well, we hoped she wouldn’t find us. Not only that, but the empty room next to Rose’s classroom contained our secret stash of candy and weapons, and as a wise man once said, you can’t have a good school day without a healthy supply of candy and weapons.
Unfortunately, the doors were locked all the way up to one leading into fifth grade territory.
“Now we must move quietly.” Said Nephi.
Freya understood. She silently moved ahead to the hallway and looked all around her. “Area’s secure.” She confirmed.
“Let’s go.” Sam said. We followed him carefully, trying to follow his exact footsteps. The hallway was a wide hallway leading across the school, splitting into one hallway to the left and then ending in a left to right split. Sam stopped us at the first left hallway and listened for anyone who might be lurking there. There were footsteps, and we tried to make out who’s they were, staying still, waiting for their owner to speak up. Before that happened, though, another voice spoke up at the end of the hallway, around the right corner.
“Oh, shoot!” Nephi said. “It’s Sister Amber!!” We wasted no time powering up our feet and running like heck down the left hallway, where there was nobody. The hallway then turned to the right, just past Sister Maggie’s classroom, where there was Israel.
“What’re you doing here?” Israel asked.
“Sneaking around.” I said. I saw Sam throw her a discouraging glance, but she ignored it.
“You can’t do that.” Israel said.
“Then what are you doing?” Nephi asked.
“My mom’s class is right there.” He pointed to Kolleen’s classroom.
“Well, my Aunt’s class is here somewhere.” Said Sean, who was one of the students with us.
“Can that excuse pass off in court?” Sam asked.
Amber’s voice met us from around the corner and everyone leapt down the hall.
“Quick!” Sam whispered. “Let’s get out of here.” We ran down the hall as quietly as we can and enlisted ourselves in the foreign exchange student program of the nearest closet. It was locked, so we enlisted in the foreign exchange program of the old dressing rooms. This closet was big enough that it was once used for dressing rooms; now it was a generic bad kid’s hideout, with marker writings on smeared across the wall, overlapping to the point of illegibility. The floor was covered in tall fields of clothes and other junk we had to clear a path through before we turned the light off. Once the room had been dark for a half a minute, our eyes had adjusted, and we were able to see silhouettes of each other. Freya was one of those silhouettes, and hers was much more holy than the rest of us. “Guys.” She said. “We can’t have boys and girls together in the dark, that’s against the rules.”
“What?” Nephi asked.
“It’s breaking the Davis code.” Freya said.
“Oh it’s not that bad. None of us are holding hands or anything.”
“It is that bad. My teacher says that a dark room has its own magnetic field, that it brings boys and girls together and makes them hold hands!” I never heard that one before, my teacher told us that when boys and girls are alone together, they start to lose parts of their hearts that are very difficult to reclaim. When you’re consumed in the dating game, your heart is in a perpetual state of drought, unable to receive our Heavenly Father’s blessings. That was the words of my Sunday school teacher two years ago, a very strict woman in that area. She once said that at times, a boy or girl will develop certain feelings for each other, and that they were to keep such things secret. “The greatest skill you can ever learn” she said. “Is how to keep a secret.”
Nephi received different teachings in this area. “No, it’s not breaking standards if we’re in a group.” He said. “It’s only bad if you pair off. Because there’s three girls and five guys.”
“Actually, Ross says it’s bad even if you’re not pairing off,, but it isn't bad if you don't do it more than once in a fifteen day period, or something like that.” Said Sam. “What was it again? Ross? Ross?”
The doors flew open and Amber and Kolleen yanked us out, with Ross and Israel behind them.
“What are you doing in there?”
“Uuhh.” One of the girls said.
“They were hiding.” Said Israel.
“From me?” Amber asked.
“We wanted to stay inside.” Said Sam. “It’s cold out there.”
“Why didn’t you just stay in Rose’s class?” Amber asked. We tried to go around her, but her mere presence impeded us like a divine aura of authority.
“She wasn’t there this morning.” Sam replied.
Amber sighed. “I still have to pull your cards.” She said. “You’re all on my list.”
The list was a probation list. If you were on it, Amber was less lenient toward you and kept a closer watch on you. Then if you were unlucky, she’d stare you into submission. Everyone was given card-pulls and sent outside to wait for the bell’s toll, except for Ross and me, who, being in Amber’s class, and therefore, subject to her authority, found ourselves in the most excruciating punishment imaginable: we were forced to copy the dictionary.
For people being forced to copy the dictionary, Ross and I felt good. We felt like those rich people who sit on the sidewalk and pretend to be poorer than Uganda while taking the sympathy and cash of others. Where the winds brought cracked skin to the others, the heat vents above showered us with warmth. We still feared for Amber’s arrival, however, but, for a blissful ten minutes, we were alone, sitting in the room, hiding in our room, we touched no one and no one touched us, we were a rock, we were an island. I don’t think I’m remembering that song right.
We ignored our dictionaries and complained about how Israel didn’t get punished at all because he told on us. The. Whole. Time. It was the best day ever until Amber walked in. She asked Ross and me how much we had copied, I had copied two words, and Ross had one.
“Then, in that case,” She told us as she spread rat poison in the corner of the room by the closet. “You two must meet me at lunch and finish up then.”
“The whole dictionary?” I asked.
“If that's what it takes.” she replied.
We put our dictionaries on the shelf next to a copy of Computer Magazine, knowing we’d see them again very soon. When the rest of the class came in, we received a spelling lesson. Many of the kids misspelled the word although and few others while exploring the world of the letters ough.
“There are eight different pronunciations to the letters.” Amber said. “Eight of them. When in doubt on whether to spell it like that, you probably do. Now I want you all to stand up.” We all0020got out of our seats and stood next to our desks.
“Spell although.” She commanded.
“Although, A-L-T-H-O-U-G-H, although.” Who knew we could go so low? Not me, I wondered who it was who was dumb enough to not understand this concept. Probably Moroni.
Next, Sister Amber talked to us about our book reports. Aww, crap, I knew she’d bring that up, but my book was still left at home!
When class got over, everyone left except for Sean. He asked if she needed help with anything, and Ross who decided to ask with him. Ross wasn’t used to doing this, so he let his half-brother do the talking. Amber told both of them to put the books away, and when they finished, Amber affectionately said: “Thank you for your help, Ross.” The authority in her voice was gone, in fact, Ross wondered if she was getting sick with her raspy voice. “Why the change of heart?”
“Change of heart?” Ross asked.
“You never stay after and help me.”
“Well, you see, I needed some extra experience points.”
“My dad said in our family home evening that there are people who are like sponges. They sit around and wait for opportunities to come, and then there are people who are like fish, who go and seize those opportunities. I thought that I could be your grunt and help you out.”
“Very well, at lunchtime, you’ll be my ‘grunt’, and copy the dictionary.”
When Ross walked into Kolleen’s classroom, he met my eye and mouthed the words, “Dang It”, then put his head down on the desk. I knew Ross’s plan wouldn’t work, and Ross should’ve known it to. Amber's punishments put the taliban to shame. She once punished him outside school hours. She told Ross she’d punish him on a weekend, and he decided to see if she’d carry out her threat. She did, and Ross spent his Saturday clearing out branches from a teacher’s yard. He was dehydrated and covered in rashes by the end of the day. Luckily, Amber was there to provide him with fresh spring water and aloe.
The lunchroom had no heating save for a heating box twenty feet above the outside door. In this room, Ross and I would spend the entire period copying the dictionary while eating. I left the cafeteria with a serving of salad, apples, bread, and rice with white gravy. I eyed the gravy suspiciously and smelled it. It wasn’t as strong, but definitely there. I’m talking about the smell. This gravy was the same kind they were making last Tuesday. It made it hard for me to think. I’m talking about the smell. Something like this should never even be made by a member of the Colony.
I set my tray down on the faculty table and ate my apples, salad, and bread quietly while the other kids chirped in vivid conversation like birds in springtime, and then started writing the words from the dictionary.
“Man, I wish I chose to fast today.” Ross muttered.
“Quiet Ross.” said Amber. We copied in silence until she became occupied in conversation with Charlotte.
“What word are you on?” Ross asked me.
“Abduct.” I replied.
“Dang. I’m only on abbreviate.” Said Ross. Amber eyed us from the end of the table.
“Martin.” She said. ‘Why aren’t you finished eating?”
“I dunno.” Because this rice smells like crap.
“Well then. Eat while you’re doing this, I don’t want to be interfering with your lunch.” She ordered. I took a bite. It tasted better than it smelled, but not by much. It was like someone mixed pine cones, sour milk, and grease together and then let it burn in the oven. This was a new level of abhorrence that summoned thoughts I never knew I had.
“Martin.” Ross said after Amber left the table, leaving only Rose and a couple of other teachers. “I’m on abhor, what are you on?”
“Assign.” I said.
“No way! You’re skipping words.” He said.
“No I’m not, I’m just writing down the definition of each word in one or two words, It’ll help me get through this faster.”
“She’s not going to make us do the whole thing.” Ross said. “There’s not enough time.”
“Not today, but in the future.” I said. “We still have more than a year in her class.”
“Oh yeah, I didn’t think about that.”
“I didn’t usually think about the future either, the past was usually more interesting, but it didn’t hurt to plan ahead.
At noon, the meditation bell rang. This signaled a schoolwide period of meditation for the next five minutes. You might not think twelve year old kids are capable of meditating for five minutes, and you’re absolutely right. Every kid folded his arms and put his head down. After that, it was all a matter of seeing how much you could do without the teacher noticing, and should one kid decide to start laughing, then may the Lord have mercy on us all.
My particular task was too, of all things, copy the dictionary. I was a good boy who did as he should even when the teacher wasn’t watching. Honest. I wrote as good as I could while my head was down, and in my mind, I was writing a story, with words, and definitions. It was as though I were writing lost memories in that notebook of mine. I wrote, piecing it together, and then, I saw it, a vision. I had defeated Typhos, and I saw Andrew in the forest. I talked to him, ad then the bell rang.
I pulled my head off the desk, unsure if I had fallen asleep. That was probably a dream, but unlike other dreams, I remember it well.
“I would like to see these kids someday composing their own music.” Charlotte said. Amber remained silent, cracking one of the walnuts that I sometimes see Sister Corinne eating. “We have plenty of musicians in Utah; we need to get some of our people there.” Charlotte added.
After I had ingested the last of my meal, I got up, stacked my tray on the cart, and went outside. By then there were only three minutes of lunch break left. I had just enough time to go to Amber’s classroom and put my bag back. I took a look at the paper as I placed the dictionary on the shelf. I was shocked not only because both sides were full, but also with some of the words that were there. I hadn’t noticed it before, but I had written in a pattern during meditation. The words were written in this sequence:
Salt: a crystalline compound, sodium chloride, NaCl, occurring as a mineral, a constituent of seawater, etc., and used for seasoning food, as a preservative, etc.
Lake: a body of fresh or salt water of considerable size, surrounded by land.
Community: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
College: an institution of higher learning, esp. one providing a general or liberal arts education rather than technical or professional training.
Redwood: a coniferous tree, Sequoia sempervirens, of California, noted for its great height, sometimes reaching to more than 350 ft. (107 m): the state tree of California.
Finance: the management of revenues; the conduct or transaction of money matters generally, esp. those affecting the public, as in the fields of banking and investment.
Class: the period during which a group of students meets for instruction.
Picture: any visible image, however# produced
Frame: a border or case for enclosing a picture, mirror, etc.
Flea Market: a market, often outdoors, consisting of a number of individual stalls selling old or used articles, curios and antiques, cut-rate merchandise, etc.
Money: any circulating medium of exchange, including coins, paper money, and demand deposits.
Profit: the monetary surplus left to a producer or employer after deducting wages, rent, cost of raw materials, etc.: The company works on a small margin of profit.
As I read this, I could only say: “What the heck?”