Voices Not My Own
Lucy ‘Sky’ Diamond. Quite. Self-contained. Invisible. She had spent an entire freshman year with everyone forgetting her name. By now she had developed a thick skin about it, not really much of a choice, so she had sadly… gotten used to it.
Her room was her sanctuary. Away from prying eyes and people. Here she could really express herself! She had been up late last night riding a high of inspiration! She had been in a flurry of colors and paint as she brought a vision to canvas. So when morning came and her alarm screeched and the morning school email blasted her phone, she really just wanted to roll over and beg the sun to give her five more minutes!
She groaned, moaned and complained as she rolled out of bed. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes as she walked by her art doing a triple take. “What the hell?” She blinked the shock of it waking her up as good as double shot espresso.
Lucy shook her head of distraction to examine the oddity of what she THOUGHT was her painting. It was highly abstract, surreal and just a little weird. Mostly because she was POSITIVE this was NOT what she painted last night yet here was us! As good as the written word!
Her in an array of colors almost prismatic being shot with an arrow! Like some type of bird! “That’s what I get for drinking so much coffee so late at night.” She said trying to reason it out. How does an artist paint one thing and it turn into something else without you knowing?
“Maybe I’m finally going insane?” She said answering her own question with a question. “I am talking to myself so … there’s that.” It was still a pretty painting. Weird but pretty.
“I like the colors …” She nodded. “… good work brain… let’s agree not to do that again hmm?” She said moving on to the bathroom and start her day.
The morning greeted her like any other. Her single in Williams Hall providing just enough sun to let her know that morning had struck but confident that syllabus week had provided her the comfort of being late to whatever appointment she needed to get to. The only question remaining was, what did she need to get to anyway?
“Coffee that’s what!” She said to no one in particular. Lucy paused wondering where THAT came from. She shrugged and moved on. The college student figured if she was going to have coffee she might as well have a side of food to go with it. The girl had priorities!
Art history had hands down the worst art class on campus! She swore the professor took personal pride in trying to make as many students fall asleep as possible. Always a morning class. Always in a dark room. Always DRONED like a white noise machine! Worse he disallowed the use of recording devices!
Lucy yawned convinced she would not fully awake without caffeine. Her messenger bag strapped she headed out. Stopped went back into her room to look at the bizarre painting and snapped a picture of it on her phone. Why not!
Wait?! Was today Art history or music class?!? She checked her phone and sighed with relief. Art history. The relief was brief and she shluped to the campus cafe.
Passport was the obvious option, 8:15 was only for late night studies and the most desperate of circumstances. The refreshing aroma of coffee and fine panini sandwiches greeted her like an old friend to her undoubtedly bloodshot eyes. The young-blooded, and somehow cheery sophomore stood up somehow straighter behind the counter and gave her a cheerful grin, “Hello mahm, what can I get yah?”
“Suger Plum Fairy latte with a shot of espresso extra-large and an everything bagel with the cream cheese that has the lox’s mixed in.” Lucy said in a single breath sliding her glasses back up her nose. “Toasted. Names Lucy.Please?” She added trying not to drool and she fished around for some cash.
Bless all seasonal coffee! Was it bad she drew so much joy over such a silly thing as seasonal coffee? No. No, it was not when she saw the women write LUCKY instead of LUCY on the cup.
The sophomore behind the counter gave a quick smile and went about their work with an elaborate breakfast order. The whole small cafe brimmed with the smell of early morning promise and plenty of carbs and dairy-free soy based alternative to milk but for some reason Lucy felt an unexpectant yawn come over her. This would, of course, be standard for someone who had spent the last night going around campus in a haze of creative passion, but this one in particular came with it’s own little voice in her head “I’m sorry about what happened last night...but I’d like to help”
“Eh?” Lucy blink. This was new. How? What? She looked around confused. Sure she talked to herself pretty often but never had … her … it … brain .. talked back?! Clearly, her addled mind had bee starved or precious overly sugared, dairy laden, caffeine. Food too.
“Wow.” She chuckled to herself self wiping a smudge from her glasses. “I’m really in rare form today… losing my mind.” She said clicking her tough as she smelled her order being prepared.
Yep … just a hiccup brain. OOo sparkles… she cooed seeing a girl self decorated bag. Nice. She said holding on to the idea like a balloon. Coffee. Bite of food. Then sketch. Yes … in that order.
She waited a moment to see if the errent voice was a fluke or not.
Fluke… yes… totally a fluke.
“Oo I love this song!” Lucy hummed brightly.
“Sorry” the voice returned, “Not a fluke, and deadly serious. Already almost lost one person to their shenanigans. But for real, what happened last night? With the arrow? Really sorry that happened to you. It seems like they were in a fairly trigger-happy mood last night and well...let’s just call it a poor night to go walking around the lake.” The voice sounded almost embarrassed at the explanation but certainly serious. No one else in the cafe seemed to react so Lucy knew it had to be her...or perhaps just her lack of sleep.
Lucy stood frozen for a moment. “What arrow… I was in my room the whole night! Painting! Remember.” She said pointing out that little tib bit as if that would discredit the voice. “Why am I talking to you? Myself? I don’t know but you’re taking crazy and you’re making me look crazy too. Last night was uneventful. Normal. Unlike now.” She said clearing her throat as her order was handed to her.
“Besides you about to be drowned out and vanish under a wave of coffee.” She said positively that this would cure her growing insanity.
If only the river in Egypt were a river of coffee. Either way she took a long grateful sip and she went to find a seat. "Lakes and arrows. Phsss … " she shook her head. " … thats wild … even for me." She said doodling in her sketchbook as she crunched into her bagel. " … you would think … that the voice in my head would at least make sense. " She noted as she finished a rough sketch.
Sure enough, with the flow of caffeine she heard nothing more beyond the soft din of the early morning crowd. Surely then it had just been those early morning bouts of insanity that any college student experienced these days. However a few minutes into her morning art session she was once again interrupted by a more familiar voice and the incoming presence of an everything bagel decked out exactly as she liked it, “Hey there, long time no see.”
Lucy blinked looking up.”Uuuuhhhh hey … OH … uhhhh …” She said knowing the face but not the name.
“Al.” He said with a snarky laugh.
“AL!” Lucy said nodding rapidly
“You haven’t changed a bit.” He laughed again.
“You go to this school?” Lucy asked with a tilt of her head. “Since when?”
“Well let’s see, since I got my acceptance letter and sent in my deposit just like anyone else.” His snark continued and placed the small plate with bagel and cream cheese in front of her, “Surprised to see you out wherever the hell you hide out between classes.” Al clearly was on shift at Passport, but he gave the room a scan and avoided contact with anyone behind the counter as he shifted down into the chair across from Lucy. “So how’s it been going? Miss our class together.”
“I was up stupid late … you know. Getting my art on.” She said with a smile and proceed to take bite. “ Yu know ow ib is.” She said chewing and then swallowing. “Like got hit with the muse … HARD.”
He gave a smile and pulled up his hat to push down some errant bits of hair, “I get it, too cool for the rest of us normal college kids.” He gave another look over to the counter just in case but quickly turned his attention back to Lucy, “You don’t really get out much do you?”
“Normal would nice every so often.” Lucy snickered. “But no … uhhh … I’ve been, you know … busy?” She offered as a lame excuse. Well honestly she really was out of touch with social activities. She didn’t do much in terms of parties or … well social. Occasionally she had hung out on a one on one basis but that was the extent of her social life.
He gave another small chucked at her discomfort, clearly enjoying the squirming that the question had caused. “Well damn I had heard you were a shut-in from a few people but that’s..well damn I feel kinda bad for you now.” He rapt his fingers on the table, threatening to nearly graze against the plate with his middle finger once or twice but avoiding catastrophe. “Maybe I can help with that if you’d like…” He wasn’t making eye contact with her now, looking off the nearby window into the scene of bumbling freshman outside.
“Oh! Nonono! You don’t have to do that!” Lucky said quickly. “You, you don’t have to put yourself out like that. I am a perfectly well adjusted college student … having a college experience! With my coffee … and breakfast! It’s an amazing experience.” Lucy assured Al nodding rapidly.
He looked down to the table with a chuckle, again the deflection seemed to be the real joy of the conversation for him. "Well," he gave her a smile, "if you change your mind I have the shuttle numbers for Lamda tonight, and I can guarantee this one is going to be good." He pulled his phone out from his pocket and handed it out to her, "Here put your number in so I can text you the shuttles to call."
“My num- Hahahah … Oh wait you're serious.” Lucy blinked. Stipped her coffee and then looked at the phone. “Okay … Sure ...why not. Don’t see how this can go wrong.” She said with a nervous laugh as she tapped in her number on Al’s phone.
Al said nothing but smiled politely. “You’re not going to regret it I promise.”
Lucy held the phone out for him to take back awkwardly.
He softly reclaimed his device, his hand grazing her hand perhaps a little more than she’d like. He opened his mouth to say something else when a voice came from behind the counter, “AL! What the hell are you doing?” He shot up to attention and pulled his phone quickly in his pocket, “Working mahm!” he said nervously as he tried to hold a smile, “Speaking with a customer.” The voice behind the counter was clearly not impressed and he quickly gathered his composure and began moving away. “See ya’ later Lucy.”