3.12 – The Mall

The next morning Mom woke me up on the couch.

“It’s time to go to The Mall,” she said.

“Nooo,” I said.

It was too early, and I wanted to keep sleeping.

“Come on,” she said. “We need to get your pants.”

“But I have pants.”

“We need to get your dress pants for the wedding tho, remember?”

“I don’t wanna go to a wedding.”

“But you’ve already come all this way for your friends in Philadelphia.”

“I don’t know anyone there.”

“Yes, you do, sleepyhead.”

Then she opened the blinds, and the sun shined too hard on me.

“Nyaargh!” I said.

But it was too bright to go back to sleep. I hadta get up and get ready and go to The Mall even tho I didn’t even remember why.

“Do you want to drive?” Mom said.

“Of course not,” I said.

Then we took her car, and I got in the backseat.

On the way The Radio was playing a song with sitars and chanting. I’d never heard it before.

“Is this some kind of New Hit?” I said.

“No,” she said. “This is my Self Growth Music. It’s good, listen.”

I trusted Mom the most on songs and tried to like it. But it was in a language I didn’t know, and there were no electric guitars or high, powerful vocals. There were no choruses or verses or bridges or solos, it was just the same noises repeating over and over.

“It’s not very high or powerful,” I said.

“Its vibrations are high and powerful tho,” she said.

“Oh.”

By the end of the drive I decided there was no way it could ever be on The Great List of Old Songs. But more importantly my ears were getting full of TimeFuck Tingles. They hurt, and they were growing, and I knew it would be really bad if they spread to the center of my head.

Soon the massive concrete square that was The Mall arose before us.  We pulled into the equally massive parking lot, and Mom turned the music off.

We went into The Department Store where all the clothes were.  There was a men’s section with my clothes, but no one else was there with their Mom.

She immediately started looked thru the racks of dress pants trying to find the right size.

“Hmm,” she said. “I don’t think they have anything small enough to fit you.”

She picked up a pair of pants and held them up to my waist.

“These might be alright,” she said, “but you’ll need to go to the fitting room to find out.”

“Do I have to?” I said.

I was tired and my head was still funny from Mom’s new music. I just didn’t have the energy to take off my pants and put on new pants and then take those pants off and then put my old pants back on.

“You don’t want them so long you’re stepping on them with your shoes. They’ll fray at the bottom.”

“I don’t think I care.”

“If you stay for another day we could get them hemmed.”

“Aren’t I just going to stay here for every day forever?”

She didn’t hear me tho. Then she got the pants, but she still wouldn’t let us leave The Department Store.

“What are we doing now?” I said.

“You still need to get a dress shirt and shoes and socks and a belt.”

“Oh.”

Then we had to look thru more racks. We went over to the shirts, and she held a blue button-down one up to my chest.

“I think you’re a small,” she said. “You’re probably still a small.”

“Alright,” I said, “just get it so we can go.”

She got it, but she soon got distracted by other racks that didn’t even have the things she said I needed on it.

“Ooh,” she said, “look at this t-shirt. What’s that on it? A crocodile?”

“I hate crocodiles,” I said.

I was so tired and bored, I didn’t want to stand anymore. I sat down cross-legged on the floor and held my head in my hands while Mom kept shopping. It was taking forever. Sometimes pretty teenage girls would walk by and look at me weird, and it would make me feel bad.

“Mom,” I said, “can we go now?”

“But we haven’t got your shoes yet,” she said.

“I feel sick tho. I’m too sick to be at The Mall.”

“Tsst, I bet it’s all that Dr. Pepper you drank.”

“We need to go home so I can take something that makes me better.”

“Alright, I have some Self Growth remedies that will cure you.”

“I don’t care. We just hafta leave here.”

When we got back in the car The Self Growth music was playing again. The Tingles were now in my stomach, too, and I felt like throwing them up.

“Can you play The Real Radio instead?” I said.

“You mean like The Hits Station?”

“Yes!”

“Oh, I don’t ever listen to that kind of music anymore.”

“Not even Journey or Mariah Carey?”

“No, I guess I’ve Grown past that.”

Suddenly my whole body got filled with a gigantic dose of TimeFuck. Had I remembered I was a Reality Traveler I might have made a last minute sacrifice to The Goddess of Faith, but I did not. The spinning went faster and faster until all my senses shut off, and I didn’t even know where I was anymore.

“My city is gone,” I managed to say right before everything turned black.

3.4 – The Smaller Nest

Me and my Mom and Dad and Brother usta live in a big house called The Big Nest. It was like a soft, but tightly strewn, perimeter of bramble that could secure and protect a fragile egg or baby bird too young to fly. It was so big, cuz Dad was a moneymaking Doctor, and everything inside it was big, too, like a big kitchen, big toys, and a big TV.

I moved away after I got The Calling, and whenever I came back Mom and Dad would always be talking about a strange new concept called Self Growth.

Self Growth is about your Self not being big enough as it is, so you have to do things to make it grow, like stretching, breathing, running, chanting, eating health food, and acquiring knickknacks from the far off and exciting Realities of Asia and/or Native America. Once your Self has gotten to a certain size you won’t need other things in your life to be as big.

At one point both my parents’ Selves had Grown enough that they didn’t even need The Big Nest anymore, and so they moved into a new Smaller Nest. Every time I went there it never felt quite right.

I got there this time early in the night. I went up to the front door and hadta ring the doorbell cuz I didn’t have a key. Inside I could hear unfamiliar high and powerful noises. When the door opened a small creature leapt out at me.

“This is the new puppy!” Mom said. “We named him Buddhawg after The Self Growth Guru, The Buddha.”

The Buddha was a Wiseman Traveler who MeToo’d via The Great MeToo – All Realities Will End.

“Oh,” I said.

Our old dog Dogritos had just died. We had named her after Doritos.

Doritos are a triangular snack chip about having a bold nacho cheese flavor.

I didn’t even know they’d replaced her with a new dog until that moment. It made me feel a TimeFuck tingle in my head.

The Buddhawg was very adorable tho. His shaggy black hair came down over his eyes, and you could only see a little nose and mouth, and you just wanted to smush his face in with Love.

 “Aww,” I said.

But when I bent down to pet him, he snapped at my hand, and I could feel little sharp teeth.

“Buddhawg, No!” Mom said and scooped him up.  “He’s still a little wild.”

Then she had to take him inside and put him in a little metal cage so he couldn’t attack me anymore.

As usual everything seemed off in The Smaller Nest. The walls and windows and carpets and furniture were all in the wrong places, and they were the wrong sizes and colors. It even had the wrong smell. I hadta shake my head to get all the TimeFuck Tingles out of it.

“Are you alright?” Mom asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Did you stop to rest at all?”

“No.”

“How did you stay awake?”

“Dr. Pepper.”

“Tsst, that stuff is toxic!”

“But I love it.”

“It’s making your Self Shrink.”

“I don’t feel like I’m shrinking.”

“It does it slowly and secretly until your Self is so small you don’t have one anymore.”

“But you usta buy it for us all the time.”

“We didn’t know better back then. But every Self Growth book and workshop and seminar says Dr. Pepper is bad.”

The Tingles wouldn’t go away, and they made me hafta sit down.

“So who’s wedding are you going to?” Mom said.

“Huh?” I said.

Besides the Tingles, my mind was also suddenly having trouble remembering things.

“You said on the phone you’re going to Philadelphia for a wedding,” she said.

“Oh yeah, that must be Wolf&Lamb’s I guess.”

“Do you have something to wear for it?”

“What I’m wearing now.”

I was in my Traveler Uniform, which I wore every day I Traveled – blue bandana, blue jean jacket, plain white t-shirt, blue jeans, and black tennis shoes.

“What about pants?” she said. “You can’t just wear jeans to a wedding.”

“I can’t?”

“Everyone else there will be wearing dress clothes.”

I hadn’t thought of that, but she was making sense. If I looked too different I could Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb and become a magnet for MeNotzies.

“What do I do?” I said. “It’s too late to change my Wedding Uniform now.”

“It’s alright,” Mom said. “We can go to The Mall early tomorrow and get a pair of khakis. I think there’s a sale.”

“But I hate shopping at The Mall. Maybe I don’t even wanna go to a Wedding.”

After I said that I realized that my head wasn’t right at all, and a TimeWarp must’ve been taking over. I tried to play “I’m Like a Bird,” in my head, but I couldn’t really remember how the melody went.

“Oh Gods,” I said, “I gotta get something from the car.”

Then I went to grab The Mix at once.