Amanda, Age 15, Waterloo, ON

Never has the balance between reality and fantasy been tested since Lorelei moved to the Bronx. Since she took my life and tilted it until all of my carefully placed pawns were precariously balanced on edge, like a chess board knocked mid-play by an inconspicuous passer by.

I hated her for changing everything, I hated her for making my life livable since my test with fate, chaos.

I even hated her for the things she did, randomly popping into my window anytime, day or night, wearing clothes from every era but this one, disappearing for days on end. But mostly, I hated her for never leaving my brain, a permanent exterior entity of my mind. No thought was safe from her stamp of originality, no dream left without her face. I hated it, but I was obsessed with her and there was no denying it.

“Hey.” I was sitting on my bed, reading emails. when there she was, sitting on my window sill, wearing purple leg warmers, grey workout shorts, a violet, off the shoulder T-shirt and a teased, off centre ponytail, completing the look with black high tops.

“Hello, Lorelei,” I said. I had gotten used to her sudden appearances and they rarely made me jump.

“Hey, want to go for a walk?” She usually wanted to walk the side of the Throgs Neck with me.

“Sure, one sec.” I walked over to my door. “Mom! I’m going on a walk!”

I always told her where I was.  Even if she said no and I went anyways, she knew.

“Let’s go.” Lorelei slid back out onto the tree and dropped to the ground. I, being a less experienced climber, fumbled my way to the tree and shimmied from branch to branch until I was seven feet from the ground. I got a firm grip on the branch and swung there for a bit, contemplating the three foot drop, then released my grasp on the rough bark of the oak tree and landed on the damp grass, feeling the impact in my knees.

“I'll never understand why you don’t just jump from the tree to the ground. You waste so much time on the branches when all you have to worry about is landing on your feet.”

We walked to the bridge, taking side streets and bike paths.  Lorelei always said it was because she didn’t like the busyness of the main highway, but I thought it was to stop people from staring at her. It wasn’t just her clothes that made her stand out; it was the fact that she couldn’t do anything without being different. Like when she wore roller skates instead of shoes or when she took rhinestones and glued them to her body. She can’t be the same as everybody else; she had to be noticed. She’s peculiar, but I don’t think I ’d ever change her.

We were on the bridge awhile when I noticed something different. She wasn’t walking like she usually did, swinging her legs and dancing. She had matched her stride with mine and hadn’t once tried to break the silence.

“What’s up Lorelei?” I asked, stopping and grabbing her arm.

She sighed and walked to the edge of the bridge, hanging off the side of the railing.

The wind whipped her black and purple hair everywhere. I stood next to her, resting my arm on her shoulders. She placed her hands gently on mine and looked up at me with her big, brown doe eyes.

“Colton, have you ever wondered about what happens once we die? If we go to heaven or the light or if we just stop living?” Where had this come from?

“I believe in heaven,” I told her firmly. I had spent my fair share of days thinking about this after my dad had died of cancer and I became depressed. “Why?”

“It’s nothing, I was just thinking about if it would be better than where I am now. You know I hate my foster parents. Maybe the afterlife wouldn’t be so bad compared to this.”

My brain flew to when I had been standing on this very bridge, ready to be swallowed by the black water. “No, if you can’t stay with them, we’ll run away. I’m eighteen in a month. Can you last that long?”

“You know what?” she said, curling into my chest. “I don’t know if I can. If only you knew everything.”

“Tell me and we can figure it out,” I said, becoming concerned,

“Maybe,she said and ducked under the wire railing to walk along the outer edge. “I just don’t think any amount of running will cure it.” She turned to face the water.

“Just hold on for another month and then we’ll leave and you can just forget about it,” I said, I knew what she was thinking. “Come on, Lorelei, just step back onto this side and we can sort it out.”

“Take my hand, Colton. We can do it together.” She held out her hand for me to jump with her.

“We can solve this together, Lorelei. Just come over here. I’ve been where you are before and jumping doesn’t solve the problem.” I was screaming over the sound of the wind. I took her hand and as I tried to pull her back, I woke with a start.

“What the...” I said.

“Cool wasn’t it? Want to see more?” Lorelei leaned over me. We were on my bed and I was trying to put everything together.

“What was all that?”

“A dream where the two of us take turns choosing the next idea. What’s with the suicide?”

I hadn’t realised that we were dreaming, I had never told Lorelei about my cutting days but now I guess I had to. But, only after she explained the dreaming.

“I call it balancing. It’s like a balance between two dreams. I love it,she said smiling. “Want to try again. I’ll start this time.”

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