By Veronika Kowalski
I’m in a room with a bunch of 20 year olds I don’t know but recognize
And I guess I’m 20 here too because I fit in just fine.
The room is dark. Not pitch black, but dark.
There is a guy whose face no one has seen,
and he has been killing people.
We are hiding from this guy.
The way people die is they first get notes saying how they will die.
They don’t know when it will happen
it’s not a matter of if, but when.
The girl across from me, since we are sitting in a corner, is crying
she is sitting in front of a door
she gets a note
I guess it says “you will be stabbed” or something stupid like that
The rest of us are trying to stay calm.
After a while the door swings open from behind and the girl is half dragged, half falls into the man
He is wearing long sleek black gloves and that is all I am really able to see of him
For some reason I can’t see his face; maybe the door is covering it, but something makes me look away and look at the girl’s friend
She is standing in front of her with her hands to her mouth
It’s kind of like a movie where they don’t let you see the guy’s face; they tease you
but you can never see his face
By Veronika Kowalski
I got off the train, early, at Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, with an adult friend. I was telling her why I had caused a scene as we walked up a grassy hill. She was listening intently. She agreed with my course of action. There were video cameras scattered around the sides of our path. They were surrounded by white plastic in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s face. We were heading toward the forest. I saw a slender, tall, blonde girl running our direction. Then, we saw a boy running after her. He was shouting, “Thief!” so I started running after her, too. My friend said when someone is running into a forest, it’s usually because they’ve stolen something.
I was running after her for about a couple of minutes. The trees got taller, the woods got more dense. The trees were actually really skinny. I remembered the article that mentioned how longer strides made faster runners. I made longer strides. I could feel the ball of my foot digging further into the ground. I leaped over a dried-up creek, caught the girl, and we fell. The boy who was calling her a thief caught up to me. He reached into the reusable grocery bag the girl was carrying, and took out a box of cookies or something.
“I would help her up,” the boy shrugged, “but she has the flu.”
If he was implying I would get the flu, I didn’t really care. I told the girl. Almost without thinking, I said, “Go home and get something to eat.” But maybe this was her home. And maybe that was her something to eat.
As I released her, I noticed that one of her elbows was further down her arm than the other.
Man Named Amy
By Veronika Kowalski
I’m in a subway car in on a dimly-lit B train. There are a couple of people standing here and there. I’m reading, or doing a workbook, or something. I realized I had fifteen dollars on my lap; a ten and a five. I stuffed them into my coat pocket.
The man next to me smiled. “Hi, I’m Amy.”
I started shouting. I looked at my dad, who was sitting a few feet away. I started calling him. My voice was hoarse. He looked around a bit, but his eyes didn’t meet mine. I kept screaming, looking for somewhere else to sit. One lady saw me and pointed at the two chairs at the end of the car. Good idea. The man named Amy started coming toward me. If he sat down next to me, I would be trapped. Bad idea. For a couple of minutes, I switched seats, changed places, tried to get in touch with my dad. Eventually, I ended up sitting in the front row of these three rows with three chairs each, all facing the same direction. In the middle row, there was Tahani, and in the third row, there was Allan, and my dad. I talked to Tahani. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going trick-or-treating at Union Square.”
“Hey, me too! Are you going with Jada, Nawar, and-” Suddenly, I saw the man named Amy was sitting next to my friend. I started screaming, out of fear this time. Everyone else started screaming, too, at each other. It must have been really pleasant for the other people on the train.
“See? That’s what I mean,” remarked Allan.
I paused. “Wait, Allan, are you the one who’s been following me this whole time?” It was darker than I thought in the subway car.
He cringed. “It just goes to show how certain characteristics can make someone look more menacing than they actually are, and how some people can overreact.”
“You wrote about this in your Spec article, didn’t you?” I was buying time to think of a legitimate answer. “Well, people don’t usually smile at me on the subway. And I don’t like talking to people on the subway I don’t know. The fact that he smiled at me, introduced himself to me, right after I put some money away, that was sort of telling. So I think my reaction was rational.”
Dream Journal: Origami Boats
Join Veronika in her quirky, elaborate, and cinematic dreams in this recurring series.
I dreamt it was a rainy day and Ms. Saugin was supposed to keep the entire freshman class. We were put into tiny classes, and the walls were all blue. Occasionally, Ms. Saugin had to check in on us. Connor O’Malley was in my classroom. He wanted to leave but Ms. Saugin wouldn’t let him. She would bring us arts and crafts to do, like making origami boats. When she saw I had something she didn’t bring me, she’d ask whether I brought it into school to see if her activities were keeping us busy enough or if she needed to give us something more to do. There were about five people per classroom. I showed my classmates my tiny playing cards that I couldn’t put back in time.
Veronika's Dream Journal
Join Veronika in her quirky, elaborate, and cinematic dreams in a new recurring series.
I was going on a road trip with a man who was evil and I was part of his evil plan.
He didn’t want Rozalind coming along so I had to put this yellow putty all over the black car.
Even though I put the putty everywhere, Roz still wanted to come with us.
We went by the subway station.
To the right everybody was lying down with their feet near the wall and their head next to the platform edge.
It was some type of yoga.
There was one person who was elevating himself using his muscles.
He wasn’t levitating.
His feet were still on the wall and his head was still on the ground.
Everyone to the left of the subway entrance was sitting down like normal people, but there were a lot more people than usual.
When the train came, a train came for everybody else, but the yellow-putty-covered black car came for us.
The “evil” man was already inside it, and Roz and I got inside.
We went to a nursery school in California.
There were lots of children and trees.
The nursery school was $30,000 per student per year.
I also saw a teacher.
Roz and the evil guy were no longer with me.
It was a couple of friends from school. We had to hide so that nobody would see us.
Then, we went next door to the left of the nursery, where Mayumi, Taehyun, and Camilla lived.
They were staying in California.
At some point I felt something at my feet and I realized it was a small dog.
He was really excited.
He was smaller than Yoda and a tad more brown than white.
Something like coffee with a lot of milk in it.
He was bouncing all over the place like it was nobody’s business.
His owners were really far away; something like 200 feet to the right and a little bit behind where I was standing.
They waved at me like it was okay that I was petting their dog.
I took his paws.
Then I found a red marker and started drawing smiley faces on his toes.
The marker was one of those cheap felt tip markers that run out really easily.
Then I wiggled my toes and realized I drew the smiley faces on my own feet.
It didn’t occur to me dogs don’t have toes, so I found his toes and drew smiley faces on them.
By this time, someone was pressuring me that it was time to leave.
By Veronika Kowalski
On the R train. The doors were closing. Two tall men hopped in at the last minute. One of them was carrying a clipboard. The other one sat next to me.
“Excuse me, Miss,” said the one bent over in front of me, “my coach needs to buy uniforms for our basketball team.” He put a hand on my knee. I looked at it. He took it off. “Do you have a dollar?”
“Oh, sure,” I expressed, enthusiastically. I took out what I had in my pocket and gave the guy a dollar.
He took it, looked at me, stared at it quizzically. “I’m sorry, Ma’am, we only take fives and up. This is for our basketball uniforms. See?” He pointed to some printed numbers at the top of the page.
“Oh.” I pulled out a five. The one I was planning to use in the photo booth.
He took it. “This isn’t enough. Do you have a ten?”
“Do you have a pen, so I can sign?”
“Yeah.” He sensed my unease. “This is for real, for my basketball uniforms. See? People are giving $10.” He started asking down the car for a pen. People were refusing him without having heard the question.
Doors closing. Did I miss my stop? If I did, I’d have to take another train to backtrack. And it’d be this guy’s fault. The monitor flashed: NEXT STOP 5th AVE 59th ST. Thank goodness.
You just got swindled.
You just got played.
Don’t do that again.
Don’t do that again.
The guy came back, with no pen to speak of.
“This is my stop,” I told him, when he showed up in front of me. “I have to go.”
“Yeah, I’m getting off here, too. My coach is waiting for me.”
I ran off the train.
He didn’t run after me.
I didn’t look back.