A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
By Angel Lopez
There were six crosswalks: four to connect the streets and two that ran diagonally from one street corner to the other to make travel a bit faster and easier. Reginald waited alongside a crowd of people at one of the street corners, waiting for the lights to change so they could get on with their lives. Reginald swayed amongst the crowd and bumped into a few people. Had he been any older, he would have seen like a drunk, but even with his age people could get that impression. He wore his headphones under his hoodie to try to block out the sun’s heat, but it only made it worse. His face was incredibly pale and the heat made sweat beads formed all over his head. Was it a sunstroke or what happened to him that was making him act this way? He didn’t really know. He stared ahead with a blank stare that only furthered the impression of him being on something. He didn’t know what to do, he couldn’t think straight. His mind was completely blank save for the lyricless song that played from his headphones.
The people around him chattered amongst themselves. They talked about their current events like birthday parties for their sons or daughters and what happened at work today. Some younger students talked about the latest bit of gossip about how Jenny cheated on Brad with some guy she just met a day ago. Some of them, older business men or social outcast, waited patiently and silently, most with headphones of their own on. Small children bothered their parents as they talked with their significant other or with a friend of theirs or an older child in the family. Suddenly, the light changed and a small jingle played to alert those that didn’t have the light in their peripheral. They all became silent for a few seconds as they started walking towards one of the diagonal crosswalks, but then continued on talking as they walked almost as if they needed all the focus they could get to just get on the crosswalk. Reginald followed the crowd, but he swayed and twirled around as he walked, bumping into more people and not apologizing. He reached the point where the two crosswalks intersected and came to an abrupt stop in his stride. Certain individuals in the crowd bumped into him, but they apologized and continued moving with the rest of the crowd while Reginald reset his original position. He just stood there, staring at whatever was in his gaze. By now, everyone was at their desired street corner, but many of them didn’t continue to their destination. Instead, they stopped to look at Reginald and wonder why he was just standing in the middle of the crosswalk.
They formed a perfect circle around Reginald and where they were cut off by the streets, cars took over and continued the circle. The people inside the cars were too confused to honk or act, they just stared at him and wondered. It was a miracle that they were able to keep their foot on the brake. Reginald looked all around and he would have looked behind him if his head was able to turn around or spin, but since it couldn’t, he had to be content with what he could see. Normally, he would be able to hear the people, but his headphones provided a sanctuary that protected him from what he didn’t want to hear. He met their gazes with his blank stare and then quickly moved to another before they could question why he looked back at them. His eyes were heavy, his eyelids covered half of his eyes and so this made his vision blurry. The sun was beating down at him and the aegis he put up wasn’t helping much. Time seemed to slow down at the intersection as Reginald looked around and around.
Suddenly, the lyricless song that was playing in his headphones stopped and Reginald’s eyes widened. He could hear everything. Now, he could hear the voices of everyone around him loud and clearly. So clearly in fact that you would think you were reading their minds. Each voice tried to be louder than the last almost as if Reginald was a king and he was standing in front of people that were pleading for a change in their laws and structure. Now, the cars started honking and he could hear them louder than the thoughts of people and since the horns were so loud, the voices and thoughts became bigger so they could try to reach Reginald. He wanted to block out every last bit of all the noises, he wanted to be deaf so that he wouldn’t have to hear a thing. In the far distance, far from the city, far from all the corruption that plagued this city, far in the outskirts was a crying cicada. It was letting out short, weak hisses with long periods of time in between each hiss. It was dying. It was crying because it was dying. Its short life was quickly coming to an end. It was reminiscing about all the problems in its life. It was feeling guilty for everything it did. It was wishing it never hurt anyone in life. It was wishing to fix all its mistake and mend all the wounds it left. It was about to die. Reginald placed his hands over his headphones to try to block out some of the noise, but he came to no avail. He began to tremble and cry even harder as he slowly descended to his knees with his hands still at the sides of his head.
The voices and noises only grew louder as the seconds passed by. The cicada he heard in the distance began to let out even weaker and shorter hisses. Was it accepting death? Was it giving up? Was it done fighting? Was it finally happy with the life it had? Reginald couldn’t tell, but his eyes wanted to meet the sun once again to see what it was saying this time. His eyes ran up from the ground to the street and up a skyscraper where he could see the faces of people inside who crowded around the tiny windows to catch a glimpse of what was going on. Instead of meeting the sun, however, his eyes stopped at a massive clock imbedded in the side of the skyscraper. Instead of meeting the sun, his eyes met the second hand as it began its journey around the face of the clock. He followed it through every tick and was almost hypnotized by its cycle. He continued to follow it until it reached 12. When it reached 12, a loud bell rang twelve times to warn every one of the time. Everyone that was asking one another why Reginald was standing there stopped and reacted to the clock chimes in their own ways. Some looked up at the clock while others made gestures of annoyance. Once the last bell rang, Reginald stopped trembling. He stood up with his eyes fixated on the clock and continued to stare at it.
Reginald’s heavy eyelids finally won and fell over his eyes alongside Reginald as he collapsed down onto the boiling cement. A police grabbed his radio to call for help, the crowd let out a massive collection of gasps, the cars all came to an abrupt stop in their constant honking. The cicada in the distance finally let go and died. A murder of crows took flight and began to congest and swallow the entire sky. There were so many of them that you would think they were flying in from a different dimension through portals. They created a massive aegis that protected Reginald from the sun that mocked him again and again and again and again and again and again.
Reginald woke up and stared at his ceiling with sweat falling off of his forehead.
He looked around his dark room and then quickly grabbed his cellphone from his nightstand. He clicked it on and stared at the date. 6.29 AM September 15. Wasn’t that yesterday? He checked the alarm clock on his desk and it still read the fifteenth. Why was that date so odd to him? His phone vibrated and a message icon appeared on his hot bar. It was Fae, who else would it be? The message read “Hey, think you can meet me at the park in like half an hour? Reginald looked around his dark room almost as if questioning if he was thinking straight. He sighed and started to get dressed. Reginald walked towards the park that Fae loved. The breeze was cool, but the sun didn’t make it a problem since it wasn’t completely hot. It was rare to see the sun out and it not beating down at Reginald and only Reginald. Now, he shared the heat with Fae and with a lot of weight off of his shoulder, the sunlight was bearable. It was almost…pleasing. Fae was sitting on one of the picnic tables with her eyes fixated on her phone.
“It’s going to turn really cold soon. We escape from one thing and we have to face another.” Said Reginald with a sigh.
“But I like the cold! It’s so much better than that damn sun up there,” said Fae.
She closed her eyes and rested her head on Reginald’s shoulder.
A few hours later, Fae finally decided it was about time to go home and Reginald offered to accompany her. They came to a busy street intersection. Cars were blazing by whenever the light was green and people were walking on by without a care in the world except for their reason for walking. Reginald and Fae walked at the same pace, side by side. They talked to each other as they walked and constantly made each other laugh. It wasn’t long before they reached a part of the intersection where a massive crowd was standing around a shop. “What’s going on?” asked Fae.
Reginald stopped. Something made his stomach begin to churn. The butterflies were at it once again, but he didn’t know why this time. “I’ve…got a bad feeling.” Muttered Reginald just loud enough for Fae to hear.
The time was 11:55. It was just another ordinary day, an uninteresting day. Why did he have a bad feeling about today? “Don’t stress about it, it’s probably nothing. Hey that’s Juniper’s, think they’re having a sale?” asked Fae, “Let’s take a look.”
Fae squirmed through to get a better look and then the next series of events happened so fast. Someone shouted “I said don’t move!”
A loud bang that made everyone’s ears ring filled the sky and made crows fly up into the sky to try to eat the noise. Everyone gasped, a lot of them screamed. Reginald’s eyes widened and his heart sank like never before. Fae collapsed onto the ground and a pool of blood began to form around her from her chest. The robber quickly escaped as Reginald fell to his knees. He stayed paralyzed as he turned her around and laid her head on his knees. Blood started dripping from her mouth as her eyelids formed small little slits. Tears flew from the small slits as she looked up at Reginald. He screamed for an ambulance. But no one moved almost as if they were mannequins or statues. “It…hurts!” she cried as her tears became faster, “But I’m glad…so very glad…that I got to meet you.”
Fae closed her eyes and her head fell limp. Reginald called her name over and over again, first slowly, and then more frantically. The clock in the massive intersection hit twelve and rang twelve times. Once it reached the twelfth ring, Reginald’s head fell back and his gaze met that of the suns. It looked down and laughed at him, it mocked him with its intense heat. He hoped this was just a dream, no, a nightmare, but the sun seemed to reassure him that this was all real life. A murder of crows flew right in front of his face and made his vision black.
He immediately reached for his phone and clicked it on. The phone screen read 6:59 September 15. He stared at it for a few long seconds until he blinked and reacted again. It felt so vivid, so real. Suddenly, his phone buzzed. It was a message from Fae, the same message from the dream. Something seemed way too off. Just what was going on in his head? Was he going insane or was it really just a dream? With it still in the back of his mind, he left for the park once more.
Once again, Fae decided to start heading home and Reginald once again offered to accompany her. Then his heart fell, heavy. It was like a warning and this was his chance to save her before he lost her forever. Reginald caught her wrist as she started walking. He lead her elsewhere.The two walked through a different path to get to Fae’s home. In the distance, they could hear a gun’s cry and Fae sounded worried, but Reginald reassured her it was all in her mind by saying he didn’t hear it. His heart sank once again and his palms started shaking and sweating like never before. At least now he knew that dream meant something. He didn’t question it. Instead, he used it as a tool to keep her safe. Now she was safe. Now, he could protect her.
The two came to a smaller intersection in Fae’s neighborhood. They waited at one of the crosswalks for the light to turn and started walking once it did. Reginald’s eye watched her necklace fall to the ground and start to roll towards the middle of the intersection where it stopped. Fae immediately walked off the crosswalk to grab it while Reginald continued walking. However, once he reached the end of the cross walk, his heart sunk even more.
Before he could step on the sidewalk, something zoomed behind him. He immediately spun around just in time to see four cars hit Fae at the same time in the intersection. Reginald looked at Fae’s mangled body in between the mess of cars. He heaved and threw up on the sidewalk as his nostrils filled with the rotten smell of blood. Just like in the dream, a murder of crows shot out of nowhere and made his vision black.
Reginald shot up from his bed and quickly reached for his phone. 6:59 September 15. Reginald immediately jumped out of bed and ran out the house.
Fae tried to say a hello, but Reginald didn’t answer. Reginald firmly grasped Fae’s wrist and took off running. He took another street this time. He heard the bullet’s cry and he heard the four cars crash together. He ran into a massive skyscraper and quickly ran into an elevator. He slammed his finger onto the top floor and panted as he leaned against the elevator wall. He didn’t answer her questions.The two reached the top floor quickly and Reginald stepped out first. He heard chords snapping and then the howl of the elevator as it plummeted with Fae in it. Reginald’s tears followed the elevator down the shaft as it fell. He wasn’t sure which scream was louder. The elevator’s or Fae’s.
For what seemed like years, Reginald had to try over and over to save her, but each day, he came to no avail. Everyday, he had to watch her die a new way and no matter how many times he watched her die, he was still hurt so much by each death. He wasn’t sure how he would start and finish the day since his heart sank even more each and every day. Each day, he would wake up, run out of the house out of the house, run to the park, grab Fae, and avoid “yesterday’s” accident. Every once in awhile, he would accidently let her die to an old death and the day wouldn’t end right away like it used to. The day would stretch out past the death so that Reginald could sit in pain and tears as the sun stared at him with its mocking laugh and stare. Then, he would just allow for the boiling concrete to hold him in his embrace. Every time she died after the elevator, he would hear a cicada crying. They always used to bother him, but they didn’t do so anymore. They sat with him and cried over Fae’s death. The chorus of cicadas accompanied him until the cruel being that was watching over him decided it was enough and ended the day. Then he would just wake up to start all over again. He felt worse and worse every day with an even more gruesome death each time.
One day, as if to forsaken him even more, he was taken to a blank, white space where there was no definition of a ground or wall. There were, however, borders of stop watches, clocks, and watches all around him. Instead of having a face with a clock on it, the face was a sort of screen. On the screen were videos of each of the days he had passed. Whoever or whatever had forsaken him was building up on his suffering even more today. Reginald stared at each of the clock’s faces. He just watched them with a blank face. One of the border of clocks suddenly disappeared and a black room appeared. Far in the black room, there was another white face, but it was filled with color and the only white was actually the thin borders of the image. In the image there was a day that he remembered all too well. It was a day when an airplane literally fell out of nowhere and slammed into Fae as she passed a crosswalk. Reginald watched it as Fae started walking on the crosswalk. The Reginald in the creation was about to walk right next to her to try to not let her die. Fae was about to playfully push him aside and that’s when Fae was about to die.
Reginald looked down to try to not look, but then something finally snapped inside him. This day, this day when he was forsaken more than ever, was going to be different. Reginald shot out towards the far away image. He ran past the darkness and grew hands shot out to try to grab them. He pushed each one of them aside and continued running nonstop without faltering. He reached the image and actually entered the space. He ran into the projection of himself and then they became one. Reginald pulled Fae back, but due to his momentum, he still staggered while he tried to stop. The airplane crashed down onto him and this time around, he died. Fae stood watching in terror as pieces of the airplane flew past her. A drop of blood fell onto her cheek and the gust from the airplane made her hair fly. The sun looked down at her and sadly said, “This is all real.”
Angel Lopez is a junior at Bryan Adams High School Leadership Academy. He was hand selected for a creative writing program and is developing a body of work through this class. He also participated in after school readings such as the end of year creative writing program exhibition and the 2016 Dallas Festival of Ideas.
An excerpt and announcement of this story’s place in the contest was also published here, on Hypertext Mag, the site that hosts this contest and sister site of Hypernova Lit.