Warning: Insinuation and mentioning of violence. Indirect thoughts of suicide?
I was so thirsty that it actually hurt to swallow. My lips hurt if I moved them any which way. So much sand had blown into my eyes that they were the driest they’ve ever been. I was itchy and bruised from head to toe. Every step reminded me of the throbbing in my thighs and the radiating pain down my broken arm. But, my physical pain was still eclipsed by the deep, dark void I felt inside me. Nevis. No matter how far I traveled, my Nevis existed somewhere just beyond my reach.
Ra, I begged as I glanced up at the scorching sun. Please allow me to see him again. If not in this life, then the next...
I felt my stomach drop as I collapsed onto the sand beneath my feet.
Something inside me knew that I wouldn’t be able to get back up that time.
I gasped loudly as my body startled awake. My hand immediately clutched at my shirt over my pounding heart. Though it wasn’t the first time I had dreamt of that bereft young man in the desert, I felt rattled by the hopelessness that accompanied it.
Desperate to shake off the residual feelings, I sped to the restroom. For a brief moment, my own reflection looked foreign to me. I don’t know what I expected to see instead of a pale, green-eyed blond kid; a russet-hued Egyptian? My eyes furrowed as they caught sight of the dark spots along my arms. If I had anything in common with the dream guy, it was the bruises. Looked like it would be another long-sleeved day.
Momo, I thought to myself. I’m Momoiro Takiwa; not some Egyptian dude.
I finally began to feel like myself again after a few deep breaths, a splash of water, and a good brushing of teeth. The man in my dream might have lost hope, but I was still clinging to mine. And I began by hoping that my dad was already awake.
Genbu Takiwa might carry my grandpa’s name, but he was nothing like him. When my mother was alive, he had even insulted her for having the gall to name me Momoiro just because my baby head reminded her of a peach. A slight pang formed in my chest at the thought of grandpa Genbu.
The kind old man cared for me from when I was three until I was six years old before my father found me and stole me back. I missed him so much, but I had no way of finding him again. We were a whole continent away.
I found my father passed out on the couch. Four empty beer bottles were on the floor and a half-empty bottle of higher grade liquor was wedged in between the cushions. If I woke him up, I’d end up going to school with even more bruises. That meant that I had to forge his signature yet again before turning in my field trip form to my teacher. Thank goodness they didn’t require notarizations like my middle school did.
I heard him give a grunt as he stirred awake on my way out the door. I quickly shut it behind me and rushed out to the bus stop without even locking it. The one time I had stopped to lock the door, I was beaten up so badly that I had to call out sick.
When I was finally seated on the bus, I let out the breath of air I had been holding. Even if my father did blame me for waking him up, it was at least a Friday. I could enjoy the field trip and most of the day before having to deal with him during the weekend.
“Ready for competition?”
The sing-song voice announced the arrival of my best friend, Zoey. Had the bus reached her stop already? The ravenette didn’t hesitate to sit beside me. I ushered up a small smile for her in greeting.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I murmured in response. Many of our peers felt nervous to be before an audience. The audience didn’t bother me as much as the heat from the stage lights. Any kind of heat from above reminded me of the Desert-Dream-Dude, and it would never fail to ruin my mood.
“So, what was the Triple-D doing this time?” Zoey inquired.
The Desert-Dream-Dude surely had a name, but the majority of my dreams involved him being by himself. No one called out to him and he never called himself by his own name...so, we simply referred to him as the Triple-D. My dreams showed signs that the desert man had a male lover, since Nevis was the name of the person that he always thought about. The idea that Triple-D was gay was downright fascinating to my bestie.
A shudder rolled down my spine as I recalled the utter defeat that had overtaken Triple-D in my dream. “He was alone in the desert again. This time, however, it felt like he completely gave up on living...”
Zoey’s expression was sad, as if we were talking about a relative instead of a fictitious man that didn’t exist. “He just gave up? Damn, that’s depressing. I’d have hoped he finally found his guy...that Nevis of his. I’m dying to know what he might have looked like. I mean, he had to have been a hottie for Triple-D to have been so taken with him.”
I gave her a shrug. “As much as he talked and thought about him, Nevis never showed up in any of my dreams,” I reaffirmed.
The bus made its final stop before heading straight to school. Though I didn’t consciously mean to, my gaze was immediately drawn to the tallest of the group that began to board the bus. He was a fellow Junior who had recently moved into the area with his single mom.
Leo’s shoulder-length, dark hair was tied back into a low ponytail. But, it was his lovely amber eyes that stood out in contrast. With so many gazes fixated on the guy, I wondered how he didn’t light up on fire every morning. But, if he noticed all the staring, he never so much as blushed.
“Ooh, on the subject of hotties,” Zoey whispered to me, wafting her face with a hand, as he walked past us to sit near the back of the bus. “It should be illegal for such a deep, sexy voice to come out of someone who already looks like a damn male model.”
I couldn’t help the snicker that escaped me. “Then it would be perfectly legal for him to look like a hot mess?” I questioned.
“Yes, exactly,” Zoey replied without any hesitation.
“Hot mess or not, we need his voice if we’re going to win this year.”
“As if there’s any question about it! This is our year.” Zoey boasted. “All the other high school choirs need to watch out.”