It’s like a page turned and I was in another world.
The sky was pink, the air smelled of raspberrys, and everyone I saw walked tall and proud.
Everyone, everyone, was smiling.
I couldn’t help but smile too.
I stood still a long time just watching. My eyes saw purple grass and mountains taller than the tallest on Earth.
And the sun. No, two suns, two suns were covered by green cloud wisps.
“Hi! Welcome.” A man said, He wore one of those newspaper caps you’d see on a newspaper boy in the 1920s. He looked up at the sky with me and laughed. “It’s wonderful, isn’t it?”
“It’s amazing.” I replied, turning to look at him. He was a man. A real man. Not some kind of alien. I touched him.
“Yup.” He said, laughing again. He let me touch him, his arms, his back, his face.
“You’re real.” I finally said, believing it and not believing it all at once.
He kept laughing, “I’m real. Most definitely real.” He slugged me on the shoulder like my old football coach used to do.
Now I laughed. It was funny after all. Such a strange new world, coming out of the blue, like I’d flicked on a light somewhere and here I am. And yet, all the people were just like the people I’d seen before. Only, they were better somehow.
“You look good.” I said. My eyes grew in surprise at having spoken the thought out loud.
“You too.” He winked at me. Then he took my arm and pulled me down the purple hill. “Come, meet some others. Have a beer – talk about amazing. Oh are the beers here good!”
When we got to the road, a blue gravel road with white horses and buggies – when we got to the road I stopped. I noticed my feet for the first time.
The chucks I’d been wearing before were no longer on my feet. Black boots had taken their place. And my jeans, my jeans had turned into brown corduroy pants. I felt my chest, realizing I was wearing a tie and a jacket. I must have looked like a professor.
“Pat your head.” The man said, having watched me examine myself.
My hand touched fabric instead of hair. I felt the cap and realized I was wearing the exact same hat the man in front of me was wearing. I looked around again and realized that everyone around me – every man wore the exact same outfit as the two of us. The women too. They didn’t wear what we wore but they all wore the same garments: a white tunic, brown skirt, with black tights and brown heeled boots.
“We’re all the same.” I said, again surprised that I’d say such a thing out loud.
The man didn’t laugh this time, instead he forced a chuckle, “Well, not all the same. Just wearing the same. What you wear and who you are isn’t the same. We aren’t all the same.”
Still, he looked worried. His bushy eyebrows furrowed for a moment, then his eyes brightened and he laughed again, “Come on! We were going to the pub!”
A good beer was exactly what I needed. I ran along behind him. It was only a few blocks to the pub. People giggled at us as we rushed past them. Though a couple of them were looking at the dark cloud that was forming off in the distant. I stopped a moment to stare at the cloud. It was a real thunderstorm looking cloud, like one you’d find on Earth.
“Don’t worry about that! Come on, get in here and have a beer with me!” The man shouted from the doorway.
I turned my head from the cloud and ran the last few steps into the pub.
“We don’t serve his kind here.” The bartender greeted us.
The man looked confused, “What’d you mean?”
“He’s fourteen. Gotta be sixteen.” The bartender slapped the wooden sign stating “Gotta be sixteen for a pint”
“He’s not fourteen.” The man looked at me. I blushed.
“Leroy!” My mom’s voice cracked through the world.
My blush grew in size, “Sorry, I gotta go. Thanks though!”
The two men stared at me as I left the pub. Then, just as suddenly as I had appeared there I was back in my room sitting on my bed with my book in my lap.
“Leroy! It’s dinner time! Come down here now!”
I stared at my book a moment longer before putting it gently on my nightstand and then running down the stairs to dinner.
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