I haven’t opened my bedroom window in six months. Not because it had been stuck or anything- six months ago, I was mucking around with a science project and accidentally set it on fire, so I had to brave the torrent of bugs and an exasperated mother in order to clear out all the smoke.
Of course, I took the opportunity to tell my friends that my mixtape had done it, but being that I don’t actually have a mixtape, they saw right through me.
I went outside Heavestone today. To whoever might find this diary (which I just got today), I know that taking a step outside of your city might not be such a big deal- but it is to me. You see, Heavestone is different than most other cities.
It doesn’t actually exist.
Mom explained it to me when I was little like this- like Heavestone was a snow globe, self-contained with nothing going in or out. Obviously, that was a lie, because if that were true, then how did I get here? How did Old Man Jenkins or my friend Boney or Mr. Greenland get here?
Mr. Greenland showed up one day about six or seven years ago, and that was long after Mom told me about the snow globe. So obviously that theory was out.
Heavestone, from my tests, seems to be stuck in a loop of time. I can go in and out as I please as long as I have the pendant my mother gave me. It’s a weird technicality I don’t really understand. And there’s a neighborhood right outside where I usually pass through the border- I call it the “Land of Shadows”. Not to be edgy or anything, but because the first time I ever went through with my mother, all it did was rain and be dreary. And the name stuck.
Today, I passed through with Boney, my friend. My only friend, to be exact. I’m not the most sociable of creatures. There were a few kids milling about outside on the basketball court, which is almost always the first thing I see after I pass through. The streets were empty, and we walked for a few minutes before being accosted by this man in a trench coat. It played out almost like in a bad gangster movie- the two suburban kids being asked where they were from, what they were up to. One of them being intimidated, the other urging the frozen kid to flee, and flee we did, out to the lake a short distance from there.
The man didn’t follow.
To be honest, I got this diary as a relaxant. I don’t have to worry about being such a dweeb in real life if I can simply write myself as the hero of every situation.
But, to be honest again, I was the kid who got intimidated. Please, if you’re reading this, don’t tell Mom.
We stopped at the lake to rest. It was more of a pond, really, a man-made hole about the size of three houses squished up against each other. The only life I’ve ever seen in it are ducks flitting there in the warmer months and kids braving the easily cracked ice in the colder months.
The Land of Shadows doesn’t have winter, I’ve noticed.
“Hey, Eponine,” I remember Boney saying. “You got any more of that music library transferred over? My internet’s been crapping out recently. I’m getting kind of scared.”
“Not everything,” I replied, tossing a rock into the water as we sat a few feet from the murky shores. “A few discographies. My main concern is running out of disk space.”
“Not everything has to have a redundant copy, you know.”
Boney tends to use me as his personal pirate. But that’s a story for later.
We got up and moving as soon as the tornado siren started blaring. It always does that on Saturdays in the afternoon, I’ve noticed. I would have thought that maybe once a month would be fine enough for the people living in the Land of Shadows, but maybe they just like to live in fear of tornadoes coming.
I’ve never seen an actual tornado with my own eyes.
A short distance from the lake was an abandoned dollar store sandwiched in between a daycare and a dentist’s office I’ve never seen anybody go in. I slipped the key to the front door out from under the mat, grimacing as I wiped the grime and dirt off my fingers, and unlocked the door. No alarms sounded; we’d already disabled all of them a long time ago.
Sometimes I wonder why nobody ever bothered to buy this property after the dollar store went under.
The shelves were long since emptied, just wire racks standing in solitude, ghosts of former days, bolted down to the ground to keep them from having another try at life somewhere else. Rack purgatory, I imagined, if purgatory were a rancid-smelling building with no lighting and probably some sort of childish monster lurking in the bathrooms.
“Hey, over here,” Boney whispered, his fingernails scraping against one of the floor tiles. “I need some help over here.”
I went over and helped him peel off the aging tile, flinging it aside, and- you know, diary, maybe I’ve been casted into a B-rated horror film. I’m about 99% sure that dollar stores don’t have secret tunnels leading into an unknown basement.
Uh oh- I’ve got to go- it’s dinner time now-