Do you dream of me in the next life?
Joseph was asleep, until he was not. His alarm went off emphasizing the fact that it was indeed morning already.
“Alright, alright. Shut up alarm; I’m up already,” said Joseph to himself as he shut the alarm off.
He got up and put his flip-flops on before proceeding to stretch. Exiting his bedroom, he checked to see if his mom was still asleep. She was not apparently, which was not what she normally did. Probably couldn’t sleep well because of all the late-night work that she did last night. Joseph went downstairs and found his mom making breakfast in the kitchen.
“Mornin’, Honey! Did you sleep well?”
“Well, I tried. What about you?”
“Nope.” She yawned after saying this. “Breakfast will be ready soon, so get ready.” Joseph took his seat and patiently waited for his blueberry pancakes.
His mother hummed to herself as she flipped the pancakes. Her hair that was as brown as Joseph’s swayed back and forth with her movements. She turned around and smiled with her hazel eyes.
“Alright, Breakfast is ready!” she said as she placed his meal in front of him. While Joseph was eating, she sat down on her side of the table. “So, are you commuting with Kalah this morning like usual?”
He took a moment to swallow a piece of pancake. “Of course! We take the same bus to School; it just makes sense to go together.”
Mom smiled and then asked, “Are you two going home together as well?”
Talking with his mouth full of a piece of pancake, Joseph said, “Yeah, she has book club today, so she'll be leaving School at the same time as I do…” Then swallowing the piece of pancake, he continued, “I have Vice President duties today at the Student Council, so she’ll be waiting for me to finish up.”
Mom followed up my statement with a “hmm”, and said, “you sure you don’t have feelings for Kalah? I mean, she would make for a great wife if you got married.”
For a moment, Joseph could only stare at her. “Mom!” he complained. “I don’t feel that way towards Kalah! And I’m pretty sure she doesn’t feel that way towards me either.”
She then stared at him with a look of doubt. “Well, I think you two actually like each other, besides I’m not getting any younger you know!” which she says in a teasing sing-song voice as she gets up to make her own meal.
Once Joseph readied himself to go to High School, he left to Kalah’s house to meet up with her. But she was already outside. It looked like she was about to ring the doorbell. “Oh, morning Joseph! Ready for school?”
Joseph blinked twice before he responded in kind. “As ready as I’ll ever be, Kalah. Also, morning.” He said while laughing at the convenience of Kalah being here first for once.
Kalah also returned a smile. “I thought I should get ready earlier for once, so I did.” They walked along the dirt path to the bus stop and waited for the bus to arrive.
Kalah, a slender eighteen-year old girl with long, blonde hair. She was wearing a white shirt with a dark blue skirt, as well as Mary Jane shoes matched with white stockings. She always dressed nice for as long as Joseph's memory could recall. She broke the silence and said, “Did you study for the math test today?”
He closed his eyes for a moment to think about what he did yesterday. “Yeah, I studied for it, which is why I said I’m ready as I’ll ever be. I assume you’re ready for the test?”
“Yep. As you know, I’m always ready to tackle math tests. They all fear my mighty math powers!” she said as she waved her hands up and down while wiggling her fingers. Kalah was always good at math, which was a lifesaver for Joseph since he loathed math with a passion. He understood the importance of math to society, but sometimes he wondered if he really needed to know this stuff.
After traveling for an hour by bus, they finally reached their destination, Littlewood High School. It’s a big High School that had a big library as well, but for the most part it’s pretty average inside as far as High Schools go. Though the Student Council had made efforts in recent years to make the School look less drab and more colorful than it used to be, which Joseph was proud of being involved in.
As they were walking into the High School entrance, his vision was suddenly blocked. “Guess who” said a voice. Of course, Joseph could recognize that playful personality anywhere. It’s Kalah’s friend Rebecca, a chubby girl that was the same age as them and had braided black pigtails. She had been friends with Kalah since Freshman year.
“Correct! And here’s your prize! Your vision.” She took away her hands from his face while laughing at her own joke. “Anyways, just wanted to remind you that we have to go through the club budget papers today. The hype is real, am I right?”
“Yeah, the hype is real all right. There is so much hype in me that I can’t contain it! But seriously though, looking forward to finally getting over it today. Anyways, I’m leaving to Homeroom now so see you two later.”
After waving goodbye, Kalah and Rebecca walked to their Homerooms as well. “Are you ready to sweep the town?”
“Rebecca, not too loud! Joseph is nearby.”
“He’s going to find out eventually. I mean, don’t you have feelings for Joseph?”
“Um, well no, actually. I’m sure Joseph doesn’t feel anything for me in that way.”
Rebecca looked at Kalah with a smile on her face. “He's a good guy. It would be a shame if someone less deserving of him snatched his heart you know.”
“I don't know...” she said while looking down at her feet.
“Well, just give it time, and you’ll see how he feels.”
Promptly after arriving at Homeroom, their conversation ended.
* * *
Joseph got through the math test in one piece. Hopefully, he did well after cramming for the test last minute; he studied until it was close to midnight just to make sure he understood everything thoroughly. Kalah sent him her notes by text, which Joseph thought helped him study. She always wrote little notes breaking down each step in certain math processes.
“Hey, wait up, Joseph!” said Noah as he was running towards him in the hallway. Noah is a friend of his that he has known since eighth grade. He has black buzz cut hair and yellow eyes.
“Have you seen the first episode of that anime I told you about? Cool right?”
“Yeah, I watched it on the bus to here. It’s not bad.”
Noah looks at me like he just ate something sour. “Not bad? What do you mean by not bad? It’s very good my dude!”
“I don’t know, I’ll give it two more episodes.”
“Alright, that’s fair. You should stick with it; it gets better over time!” Noah said while looking optimistically at him. Joseph took a turn towards the next hallway while Noah headed towards the stairs. “Are you heading to Mr. Jameson’s office?”
“Yeah, Kalah and I have to meet him today.” Mr. Jameson is their guidance counselor. He thought it was a good idea for him to be present during their sessions since Kalah has some social anxiety, she’s not always comfortable talking to people. Though with his help, Kalah has improved by leaps and bounds since Freshman year. In Joseph’s opinion, he is a great counselor that has helped him get through what he’s feeling like he does with Kalah. Their sessions always occur during lunch since it’s the most convenient time to meet, so they eat their home packed lunches in his office.
With his packed lunch in tow, he arrived at Mr. Jameson’s office where they were waiting for him to arrive, casually talking to one another. “…I see. Ah! Hello Joseph! Please come in and take a seat. Kalah arrived here not too long before you arrived, so I was just making small talk.” He entered the small room and took the seat opposite of Kalah. Mr. Jameson was sitting in his office chair in front of them.
“Ok then,” said Mr. Jameson, “as you two know, you are both Seniors now in High School. I wanted to discuss what you see yourselves doing in the future, what are your dreams for yourselves?”
They both stared at each other and then back at Mr. Jameson and said, “I don’t know honestly.” They both chuckled at how in sync they were with their answer.
Mr. Jameson breathed out a sigh. “Well, I figured as much since you two could not decide what to do with your lives every year up to this point. That is why I tried to round out your classes so that you could find something that may peak your interests, but it seems like it did not help much. It’s ok, you’re both young and you should take your time but even still, you can’t just go about life forever without choosing your desired dreams.”
“Yeah, that is true…” said Joseph.
“Well, Joseph and I have talked about what we want to do in our lives, and we just can’t decide what exactly. But we do know we want to do something that helps people!” said Kalah with some passion in her voice.
“I understand, Kalah, but it does not change the fact that you both still have not decided upon anything. But that is fine, the School year is not over yet and you still have some time to decide before moving onto college. You can always ask me for help with this of course, and I will try my best to advise you both on whatever you decide to do.” He said with a smile. “Alright, let’s segue to another topic for now.”
The rest of the session was a bit of a blur to Joseph. What he said about dreams stuck with him a lot longer than he would have liked to think about. Kalah and Joseph have lived out their lives from moment to moment, but they have never put in much thought into what their “dream” should be. Before he knew it, the rest of the classes ended for the day and he arrived at the classroom where the Student Council resides. The Student Council President was here today, which makes things easier for Joseph since she could sign off on part of the club budget papers.
“Hey Ava, nice to see you today. Ready to approve and disapprove budgets?”
“Hello, Joseph! Yes, I am quite ready for the task at hand today.” said Ava while she adjusts her glasses. Ava has been the Student Council President for three years in a row since she won for the first time in Sophomore year. She is very popular among the student body and for good reason. The vast majority of students love what she does and has done for the students, she is also a very nice person to all that know her. Joseph tried running for president at the time she first ran, and she won by a landslide because of how inspiring her speech was to the student body. He ran for the Vice President position the following year and has been the Vice President since.
“Ava, could I ask you for some advice?”
“Sure, what would you like to know?” said Ava while looking through the last of her share of the papers.
“So, I talked to my guidance counselor today and he asked me about what is my dream for after High School…what do you think I should do to find my answer to that question?”
“Well, I think you should look deep within yourself and think about what truly makes you happy. After all, dreams are what make us happy in the end…it is what we strive to accomplish until they are no longer pipe dreams. A dream should come from the heart since it is truly something from the heart that inspires your very being to do it, especially because it leaves us satisfied in the end to be living the dream. Though only you can figure out what that is.”
“As expected of our President! That was some good advice! Thank you very much for your help!” said Joseph as he finished the last of his part of the papers.
“By the way, that’s a nice heart locket you have there. I don’t think I have seen it before.”
“Oh, this old thing? It was a gift from my father before he…” Ava looked down and frowned as she tried to finish her sentence.
“I’m sorry Ava! I didn’t mean to make you feel sad!” said Joseph with worry in his voice.
“No, no. It’s fine. I’ll be ok.”
The Student Council finished up work for the day. He met up with Kalah who was waiting at a nearby bench outside the School. “Hey Kalah, sorry if I made you wait long.”
“No, its fine, I wasn’t waiting here for too long.”
They left for the bus and rode it out to the countryside which is outside the city limits of where Littlewood High is. They had to trek the rest of the way home since the bus does not pass by their neighborhood. Cars rarely pass by here which makes it easier to walk down the dirt paths.
“Do you remember that time we first talked about our dreams?” said Kalah to Joseph as they were walking.
“Honestly, I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time we talked about it was the summer vacation before our Freshman year began.”
Back then, they bought ice cream together in the park. It was the first day of the summer when they sold ice cream to the public, so they went there to celebrate their success in passing eighth grade. Then Kalah asked him about what his dream was, and he said, “I’m honestly not sure.”
“Me either. Though all I know is that…I want to help people.”
“I want to help people too, Kalah. If our past experiences reflect anything at all about humanity…it needs help from people like us to show them there is still good in this world.”
“I remembered your ice cream almost melted too, because you got too lost in the conversation!” said Joseph while laughing with a grin.
“Pfft, ha! Yeah, I remember that too.”
“We certainly had many good times together…” said Joseph.
“Yeah. L-Let’s continue to have more happy memories together.”
“Y-Yeah.” Said Joseph.
Kalah and Joseph arrived at the train tracks that passes through their neighborhood. The train goes by here and into the city, especially around this time.
“Darn, thought we could make it past the train this time, but it looks like it beat us here to it.” said Kalah.
In that moment when their guard was down, was the moment where everything changed. They couldn’t hear it right away, but someone was running behind them and then…
…Joseph felt the painful sensation of a knife piercing his back as the world fell from his vision.
Kalah gasped with a face of horror at the sight of her best friend bleeding out before her. “Joseph! J-J-Joseph! No, no, no, no, no! This can’t be happening! Somebody! Anybody! Help me please!!!”
As Kalah rushed to Joseph’s aid, the world decided to cry with her as it starts to rain.