Alan sat at the back of the room pencil in hand lost in the world of his own creation. School as for so many seemed to be just one more day of insanity. Institutionalized babysitting turning everyone into good corporate drones a place filled with life sucking destroyers of dreams. Be normal or else. His pencil snapped under the pressure of his anger. Looking around Alan wiped a tear from his face. Could the day get any worse?
“You look like crap.”
Alan looked up to find his friend Debs standing over him dressed in her usual monochromatic color scheme meaning all black. Childhood friends or at least someone he had known for most of his life Debs actually seemed to care about him personally. He knew it wasn’t romantic she told him long ago she didn’t swing that way. Maybe it was because he didn’t care about her sexuality that made her at least tolerate spending a part of day with him. On the other hand, maybe misery loved company. When she came out her parents practically disowned her and a number of her so-called friends shut her out of their lives.
“So you want to talk about it or are you just going to spend the rest of the day wallowing in your usual misery?”
Alan smiled she had a way of making him feel better about himself. “The usual, Mrs. Phillips informed me that she does not approve of my artistic style. Nor did she approve of my subject matter. In fact I am pretty sure that she doesn’t approve of me.”
Mrs. Phillips the head of the art department lorded over her students. She believed in artistic freedom only if she approved it. Since the first day of college, it had been a contest of wills but Mrs. Phillips stacked the deck as she was in charge of the classroom.
“Alan, I know that you don’t want to hear this but maybe should expand your horizons. Touch upon a new subject matter.”
On his desk sat a sketchbook filled with images of an imaginary world. Castles, forests, fantasy creatures and its people filled the pages. One subject above all others took up most of the dozens of sketchbooks he had sitting at home, Lady Matilda Angroin, daughter to the Duke of Emir.
Not limited to just drawings he wrote pages and pages of stories, poems and even a poor attempt at a song. Alan knew her world better than he knew his own. It’s not that he was in love with Lady Angroin he wished in his heart that he was actually Lady Angroin.
“Do you have dreams Debs?” Alan looked down at his sketchbook a bit despondent.
“Of course I have dreams Alan.” She sighed and reached down to pull him out of his chair. “Come on Alan lets skip class today, I’ll treat you to a coffee and something sweet.”
As they crossed the commons, Debs looked around and whispered. “I met someone.”
Alan could feel a bubble of joy emanating from his friend. Debs began to explain that she met a girl named Beth in History class. They hit it off pretty well and for the last week have been meeting for breakfast everyday. This morning full of nerves, she asked Beth if she wanted to see a movie. Beth joked was it a date. Debs of course joked that of course it was a date. Her friend then said it would be OK if it was a date.
Alan watched Debs give a little happy dance as they crossed the street to the Student Center. He had never seen her so happy in his entire life. So caught up in her own happiness she didn’t see the car that flew through the stop sign. With no thoughts of his own life, Alan pushed her out of the way.
Moments later Alan found himself standing on top of the Student Center looking down. A group of students had already formed around the accident. His friend Debs thankfully was safe and he thought it nice that she cradled his lifeless body in her arms.
“That was a pretty brave thing you did Kiddo, stupid but brave.”
Alan turned to find what appeared to be a young girl standing next to him. He had problems guessing girls ages but he couldn’t imagine her being more than fifteen. She was dressed in a dark blue and gold dress that was more in fashion during the Victorian Period. He knew he was dead, so of course she must be an angel.
“No I am not an angel, nor a Valkyrie or whatever else you might imagine.” She replied reading his thoughts. “I am a Spiritual Detective but that’s not really important. I am here to give you a reward.”
“A second chance, I mean I look pretty dead.”
“Oh no not here, you are truly dead on this plane. Messily dead, I might add. Anyway, I couldn’t raise you from the dead even if I wanted to. The powers that be in this reality would have a conniption fit.”
“Oh yes but before that Alan, why did you do it anyway? You could have grabbed Debs and pulled yourself out of the mess in time.”
Alan didn’t think of that. All he wanted to do was to make sure that his friend kept that date. It meant more to him then his own life. Had he really wanted to die? No, that was not right. The true issue was that he never thought he actually belonged here.
“That’s what I thought, so my trip wasn't a waste.” The young girl smiled. “You my friend are a rare being who lives on two different planes of existence. Well one less so now but you still exist in spirit if nothing else. “
“I don’t understand, what do you mean by planes of existence?
“Let me put it simply Alan, Lady Matilda Angroin.”
He was confused, how did she know about his obsession.
“Alan it’s because you are her, and she is you. She is not as artistically driven but you are in her thoughts every day. You are her obsession. A great spiritual thread connects the pair of you and that is how I discovered you today. It would be nice to bring you two together, you are causing all sorts of ripples in space-time.”
‘What about Debs?” He wanted her to be happy, not traumatized from the accident.
“You’re a good person Alan, you do deserve this reward. Your friend will live a long happy life. She will not waste the gift you have given her. So Alan, would you like to be Lady Matilda Angroin?”
Alan’s first genuine smile was enough of an answer.
Lady Matilda Angroin awoke from a night of fitful sleep. Since she was little, dreams of another place filled her thoughts. The world of her dreams seemed so strange. At times terrible. At a young age, Matilda also learned to keep those thoughts to herself. Her family would think her mad something she herself wasn’t so sure of.
Donning her robe, Lady Angroin opened the curtains to watch the sunrise over the Whitescar Mountains. When the sun hit her face, all of those worries went away. Lady Matilda Angroin for the first time in her life felt complete. Memories of both Alan and Matilda merged. They were never two people, always one with a sprit torn apart.
“Lady Angroin are you ready to start your day?” A housemaid had entered her bedroom, asking the same question that she asked every day.
Matilda's first genuine smile was enough of an answer.