"If you'd just shut up and leave me alone-I wouldn't be like this, ugh!" I almost slammed my bedroom door, but didn't. Slamming it would've meant coming back outside for a forced apology. I needed some sleep.
My fingers closed around the smooth, green stone of the speacial necklace I'd found. It was almost an accident, but I was glad for it. It let me fly. But I'd been too tired lately to do much...maybe tonight. The star-filled skies and the midnight-thick air were calling me. Maybe not tonight...gotta sleep.
Light was shut out from my bedroom as I turned the lock and stuffed a rug along the bottom edge of the door. Fumbling around the desk, I switched the lava lamp on and grabbed a few pillows from the bed.
My life was falling apart at the seams as I tried to keep my parents together. Saving them was killing me. "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!" I muffled the screams in pillows, while standing in my closet.
That helped with the frustration part, but not with much else. I was physically exhausted with the added bonus of being an emotional wreck. The darkness of the closet was almost comforting.
I rooted through my shoeboxes to find the diary I'd hidden under my black pumps. The gold clasp reflected through the purple glow, provided by the lamp and I found the necessary nightlight for writing.
Arranging the pillows on the cold, linoleum floor, I settled down for a few minutes of sanity. Pen poised over page, I waited for the words to come. They seemed to be stubbornly stuck to my brain.
Maybe music would help. I dragged myself up and out of the closet to retrieve my Ipod from its position on my nightstand. The gummy earbuds were soft to the touch as I stuffed them inside my ears and cranked the tunes up.
Some of the stress slipped away as I returned to my self-appointed scribble spot. Words came out jerkily, in bunches I couldn't understand. "Girlfriend, you have seriously got to take better care of yourself." I muttered.
When I'd successfully filled five pages, I slammed the diary shut and buried it beneath my shoes as before. The nightlight was unplugged, the pillows quickly gathered and returned to my bed. I paused to grab the devotional from my desk.
Feeling for the ribbon bookmark, I turned the page, squinting in the dark to make out the daily verse. It was something about something that didn't make any more sense that my day had.
I turned off the lamp, mouthing the Lord's Prayer as sleep seeped through my eyelids. That's when I heard the whisper.
"Sleep well my love."
The sultry purr couldn't have been my imagination. My imagination is practically non-existent. My eyelids were stubbornly stuck together as the whisper was accompanied by a throaty laugh.
"Who's there?" I took my hands, rubbing my eyes to coax them open. Clapping my hands, the fear faded as the bedside lamp turned on.
A quick glance around the room showed all to be in its usual, perfect place. The tiny nagging thing in my chest was shoved away as I voiced the affirmation aloud. "There's nothing to worry about. Go back to sleep."
Familiar words of my mother, usually repeated in the aftermath of another horrible nightmare, I pictured her stained bathrobe and sky-blue curlers, as her cherry-glossed lips planted a fruity kiss on my cheek. "There's nothing to worry aboutgo back to sleep." I mumbled, already giving in to dreamland.
Silky, thick vines brushed against my shoulders, tickling my cheeks.
Tickling. By the time my mouth caught up with my brain, it was far too late to scream. For once, the nightmare was real and not inside my head.
Vines wrapped around me quicker than a roadrunner in summer. My arms were tightly pinned to my sides, two smaller vines were delicately twined around my neck and the remaining ones dragged me out of bed, to be held, suspended in mid-air.
The lamp flickered on.
If my mouth could've fallen open, it would have. I know something is wrong when I can't wake up from a dream. I'm an expert at interrupting my own dreams.
"This isn't a dream." The voice gurgled in delight.
More vines snaked out from the shadowy corners of my bathroom and behind the matching bureau, creeping towards the light.
Bright red hair was confined to numerous braids wrapped around a very white head. A young woman, clad in , a green, flowered frock that seemed to sprout from her skin.
The leaf over my mouth shifted as she was brought forward by her vines. "Hello thereyou don't know me, but we've got a lot to talk about." She laughed again, the emotion seeming to travel through her greenery. "Now listen closely, love, because I as much as I love myself, I absolutely hate having to repeat things to you humans."
The vines lowered her to my bed, where she sat, legs crossed and hands folded innocently in her lap. "I thought I'd never get out of the forestbut you helped. More correctly, your parents did. You see-would you stop trying to bite me? You can't get rid of me that easily." She rolled forest-green eyes. "Oh all rightspeak!"
"What are you?" I gulped in several deep breaths.
She giggled. "A manifestation of your frustration, anger and neglect." Cotton-candy pink lips pursed in surprise. "Don't you recognize me?"
"Excuse me?" I wriggled in the vine's grip, as my left foot lost all feeling. Whatever hopes I'd had of sleeping had been swiftly chased away by the jolts of adrenaline.
"Remember that necklace you fished out of the creek bed a few months back, the one that allows you to fly?" She leaned forward, propping her pointy chin in her skinny hands. "There are side effects to it, you know." Another giggle spouted out. "I'm one of them."
"You're not real-" I started to protest when a fiery line sliced down my cheek. Specks of red were visible on the razor leaf that was shoved in front of my face. Something warm trickled down my face with a soft splat on my bare shoulder.
"I'm as real as you are, you ungrateful brat! I've spared you these past weeksbut you make it incredibly hard to survive with being such a goody-two shoes. I've been starving away here for daysbut you have to be the perfect daughter, dedicated to your darling parents, your dumb job and your crazy friends!" The last words came out as a hiss. "Do you think I haven't noticed? Do you think I'd just let it keep on happening?"
Flecks of greenery leapt off of her gown and onto the bedroom floor. A thick green grass quickly overtook my ivory carpet. The vines loosened and I tumbled to the floor, awkwardly sprawling at her feet.
Pointy fingernails tipped my chin upwards. "Now here's the dealioyou help me and I'll leave your parents alone."
"My parents?" I couldn't begin to fathom this puzzle, much less this crazy new twist.
Her short bark of laughter cracked the vanity mirror. "You don't really think you get poison ivy by sitting outside for five minutes, do you?" She pushed me away, standing to her full height. "They've been good enough, but now I need more. Living off the misery of their plight is getting very old, very quickly."
Her fingers slapped over my mouth, stinging my cut cheek. "Shhh! While we're hereyou are absolutely nothing more than...than a slave! You talk again and I'll-"
"What do you want from me?"
The giggle escaped again. "Now we're getting somewhereall I want you to do is just sit down, close your eyes and think back a little. There we go."
Her arms slipped around me and I succumbed to the sudden warmth and touch. My eyes began to close and I drifted off without another thought.
I could barely move the next morningand the mornings of the next two weeks afterwards. My life was literally being drained away, a little bit each night. My temper frayed first. This resulted in more time spent, locked away in the green prison at Ivy's mercy.
I didn't want to give in, but I couldn't give up either. Work, family and life already had their claws in me, Ivy was just another hook in my tortured soul.
Her voice would coax and drag out memories of hurts and tears I'd long buried. When I couldn't handle the pain anymore, then she'd hold me and sing the strangest lullabies I'd ever heard.
This ritual went on forever, it seemed. Days, weeks, monthsmaybe even a year. During the day, I found that using the superpower from that necklace, it helped to cope, just a little. I could sleepwalk through the entire day, but with the power of flight, I was never late to anywhere.
You don't have to give in to her. The thought spiraled through my head as I cried out in one weak moment. "I don't?" I forced the words through my lips, leaning against the metal reality of a public bathroom stall.
I choked my back sobs to try and focus coherently.
Twenty-nine and eleven.
The words slipped out of my mouth. "For I know the plans I have for youplans to prosper and not to harm"
The weight on my heart began to thaw. I found myself methodically folding a scrap of toilet paper. The reality of it sank in and for the first time I could remember, I laughed.
I didn't care who heard me or what they thought. I laughed. And when I finally left the restrooms, I headed straight for the supervisor's office. It took a lot of explaining and a bit of negotiations to wrestle some time off.
From there, I stopped by the café to draw on the support of my closest friends. When I finally told my story, with the exception of a few Ivy-related partsthey enveloped me in the love that sealed our friendship and surrounded me, literally, hands joined in prayer.
The fog lifted and so did my spirits. I called up my parents and told them I was bringing Chinese takeout, if they could spare to spend their dinner with me on the back patio. I repeated my strange story, only to be humbled by their understanding and promises of hugs for when the poison ivy was all gone.
Courage and faith had begun their work, restoring more than I'd expected. When my fingers touched the bedroom doorknob, a smile inevitably crossed my lips. Tonight I will stand up and Ivy will meet her worst nightmare. I refuse to belong to leeches that take more from me than I have to give. I will not drink their angry, jealous poisons any longer.
Tonight when I meet IvyI will be ready.
Sara Harricharan is a young Christian woman with a passion for writing for the Lord through faith-filled Science Fiction/Fantasy stories and pure words. www.fictionfusion.blogspot.com