Excerpt: Chronology

For my twelfth birthday, there was nothing I wanted more than my own room. I was tired of sharing with Dina, although I loved her with all my heart. She was 7 years old now and had grown to be very loud. She walked around the house on fat, stubby legs and crashed into my things, knocking them at least ten feet away from where they once were. But I was not allowed to get mad at Dina because she was younger than me and didn’t know any better. Well, she talked in her sleep and it bothered me. I would wake up every single night, listening to fragments of her dream, as narrated by her subconscious. Waking up in the mornings no longer meant being fresh and ready to take on the world. Instead, I was weary, having spent the better part of my night taking part in my sister’s nighttime adventures.
That morning, I walked up to Madame and tugged at her skirt to catch her attention. She was a tall, thin, and stern woman who always took off her glasses before talking to people. That day, she didn’t. I had a feeling she didn’t think this would take long.
Determined to act my double digit age, I took a deep breath in and spoke in a calm voice.
“I am twelve years old today, Madame”.
“Yes, very well. Is there something you want?”
This was going to be easier than I thought.
“I want my own room, Madame”.
Madame’s eyes narrowed as she shook her head.
“That’s not possible. Dina needs to sleep somewhere”.
“I understand that but why does she have to sleep next to me”?
I was talking to her like the tall officer on my favorite forbidden television show talks to murderers who are holding the gun against an innocent person’s temple. I had learned that it was always wise to remain calm, to show affection or sympathy, at the very least, and to show that you understand. I watched three episodes before the warden found me one afternoon, sobbing after the murderer had proceeded to blow the young boy’s brains out. I haven’t seen the show since but I’m certain the officer has stopped more baddies.
Madame shook her elongated head once more.
“Dina says that sometimes you cry in your sleep. If you’re having nightmares, being alone would be worse”.
I had one more chance before she lost interest, and I had to play carefully.
“Madame, I would like my own room because I know that people that look around the place and give you your certificates are coming tomorrow evening, and I know that if I tell them about the scar on my foot, they might not give you the certificate this year. So please, let me sleep alone”.
Madame looked at me in disgust and I thought she was going to spit in my face. She settled for giving me a slap across the cheek, and my own room for three nights. She made Dina sleep with her. Even through the tingling on my face, I was overjoyed.
I had dreamed of being on a bed at night, without Dina, for a while now. It was finally happening. I tucked myself under my blue-green dolphin blanket. I snuggled up against the fuzz of the sheet and wondering about how I could utilize the spare pillow that used to be Dina’s. Perhaps I could use it as a footrest. I believe I fell asleep fantasizing about my toys coming to life, now that my pesky sibling wasn’t around to deter that. I needed to memorize their specific locations in the room so that I could catch them in the act.
I woke up after what felt like hours and it was dark, much darker than when I had fallen asleep. Even the street lamps outside seemed to be snoozing. I heard a whisper first.
I do.
It wasn’t one voice, it was many meshed into one.
I would love to leave the palace.
It grew fiercer with the wind that was battling with my window panes.
Can you show me the way to the chapel?
The pillow was pushed back beside my head, a little too close to me for comfort. There was a slight pressure in the middle of it, like the skull of a frail person had just left its warmth. I sat up to find the bare remains of a woman at the foot of my bed, her eyes peeking out from where my mattress seemed to end, her skull made of brittle ceramic. Up close, her slit-like eyes gave the impression that she was sleeping. Then, I watched as she opened her mouth and asked me the following question.
Can you make sure I don’t fall asleep?
I knew I couldn’t yell for Madame. She would skin me alive. I took a deep breath in and continued to stare into the slits. I stared for at least an hour before I realized that Dina didn’t talk in her sleep after all.


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