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Somnium: Chapter 14 The Familiar and the Forgotten

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NOTE: My life story; condensed and minimized to one chapter. Mind you, this is all based to true events. Enjoy. :P

Somnium


Chapter 14: The Familiar and the Forgotten


The next morning, Isabel struggled to awaken as her heavy eyelids slowly slid open. As she sat up, memories of the previous night flooded her consciousness. In the midst of her awareness, she wallowed in guilt and buried her face into her knees as she made a soft, groaning noise. Pathetically, she began to look back at what had happened and felt prompted to relive it over and over as she always did.


Vulnerare was right. She shouldn’t have left Slappy hanging at the cave like that. Yet did it make sense to continue leading him on with feelings that didn’t really exist? There were times when she would look at him and feel nothing and she wanted to feel something so badly. Instead, the warm, blissful, heavenly spirits she should have been experiencing were often replaced with loads of confusion and emotional conflict.


Isabel sighed deeply and took a glimpse around. Everyone was still lying in pitiful, lethargic positions. At least the rain had stopped. It had left a misty glow on every inch of the natural setting surrounding them. The sweet smell of precipitation wafted all over as she inhaled. In an instant, she was reminded of her mother, who loved this particular scent.


However, there was no time to dawdle; Isabel needed to gather everyone up and decide their next endeavor. Her voice was nearly gone and her throat was terribly sore, so trying to yell was useless. Excruciatingly, she stood up. Startlingly, her muscles were extremely painful, tender and raw. With every step she took, there was a stinging, aching sensation in her knees. Horrifically, Isabel began to suspect that maybe her precious, exquisite Fountain of Youth had ceased its effect.


Slowly, everyone began to rise with the sun. Appallingly, the rest of the users seemed to be undergoing similar discomfort. It was becoming more and more apparent that they needed to get out of the forest.


As if her mind had been read, Isabel turned around to see Slappy with an understandably distraught look on his face.


“We need to get out of here,” he said soberly.


“We really do,” Chiz agreed. “I don’t like it here…”


“Me neither,” SJF miserably affirmed. “I’m cold, hungry and tired…”


“I hate it here!” PurpleJerk chimed in with a sardonic grin. “It sucks having to sleep on the mucky, wet ground.”


More moans, groans, complaints and laments could be heard from afar. Isabel could not help but wince. She couldn’t stand the idea that she had endangered her wiki buddies; people that she cared very deeply about. The idea that she was to blame for the despair of the closest friends she had ever had just about sickened her.


“We need to keep moving,” Tash urged.


“Where do we go?” PurpleJerk asked in distress.


Tash shrugged, “Ask Toon…”


With that, all eyes darted towards Isabel.


“…I…I guess we could gravitate towards that opening over there…” Isabel helplessly suggested.


Hopelessly and downheartedly, they followed her directions.


Trudging dismally from behind, Slappy caught up to Isabel. Remorse continued to build up inside of her her as she stopped him.


“Listen, I—” she awkwardly began.


“Say no more, Toon; it’s okay…” Slappy assured her. He then walked away not giving her any further eye contact.


All of a sudden, a portal appeared near the opening. Inside the swirling abyss was an eerie darkness that somehow drew Isabel closer. She stared blankly into its enigmatic glow.


The rest of the gang strongly disapproved of this sudden change of plans.


“Toon, you shouldn’t get any closer; you don’t know what’s in there…” Tash cautiously counseled.


“That’s why I need to go in…” Isabel said in an entranced tone.


In one swift motion, she dived into the threshold. A tad traumatized, Tash and Slappy hurried after her and held their breaths as they jumped in. One by one, the others followed.


What awaited them in the strange, black void was in fact a twinkling array of star-like lights that radiated various shades of violet. The scenery was actually quite pleasant.


Isabel anxiously glanced around and took a few careful steps forward. It was certainly an abnormal perception; although there seemed to be some kind of base below her feet, she was in essence floating with every step she took, as if she were abiding in some unusually bright-colored space.


Some of the users took this change of atmosphere lightheartedly. Mainly SFG, who was cheerfully and elegantly floating from side to side with her face beaming in satisfaction. Churchpants looked thrilled and wanted to join her but Jon grabbed ahold of her before she could.


“Don’t,” he pressed. “Just let her do her thing.”


As she watched Jon gaze in admiration at SFG’s graceful moves, Churchpants couldn’t help but feel a bit restrained and restricted; even a tad jealous. Because of this, she grumbled and crossed her arms as she rolled her eyes.


Unexpectedly complimenting SFG’s little dance was some very faint music echoing across the planetary. Of course, this impelled and encouraged everyone to move forward.


The once violet hues of the ether were becoming darker and darker until they eventually appeared to be pitch black in the distance. Up ahead, a reel of flashing images could be seen; almost like a slideshow. Abruptly, things that Isabel didn’t even remember that she remembered began to flash right before her.


One of the first imageries was of Isabel lying down to get her diaper changed at the age of 2. This happened to be the earliest childhood memory that she could semi-vividly recall.


Next appeared these rough, rudimentary stick figures that resembled potatoes with capital L’s for legs, sticks for eyes and a crude squiggle line for a mouth. There were two boys and one girl (the female had slightly longer hair) and they were mumbling illogically and incoherently in a deepened, little girl’s voice. These odd-looking sketches were essentially the very first characters that Isabel had ever created. Deep in thought, Isabel struggled to put her finger on what their names had been.


Alan…? Karen…? Calvin…? It was something with N… she thought aloud.


Throughout her early childhood, at the age of 2 and a half up until she was about 4, Isabel would doodle these three figures everywhere; on the walls, on newspapers, books and magazines, even on furniture. She would literally tear apart markers and let the colors drip on her hands as she did this, letting them dry out within days. It wasn’t until her parents finally got fed up and bought her a whiteboard with some expo markers that she began to control her impulsive creativity. From that point on, the smell of expo markers always fumed around the small apartment they used to live in. Isabel adored the smell but her parents didn’t. Every time her inky, smelly pen swiped the glossy, hard, melamine surface, she would create a distinct dialogue for the characters. Not quite knowing how to write yet, she could not express this dialogue in actual words and instead could only mumble them under her breath. Nonetheless, according to her father, by the age of two, she could read a small list of words.


Just then, the music that was echoing before became more recognizable. Since Isabel was a mid-90’s child, audio cassettes were still widely used and available to the public. Her father would check cassettes out from the library and then somehow convert them to some blank cassettes that happened to be lying around. Each side of the cassette would have a different artist, so that when the music stopped, you could flip it over and hear completely different music. Tunes from the Beatles, Juan Luis Guerra, Pablo Milanes, Ruben Blades, GUACO, Oscar De’ Leon, Dragon Tales, Sesame Street, Madeline and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood shaped her youth. Many familiar songs by these artists began blaring and overlapping each other as Isabel continued to walk and observe this strange, bizarre phenomenon of sequences happening in front of her.


Before her eyes, she saw a scene of her third birthday party. Obviously only having their own interests and motives in mind, her parents decided to invite all their grown-up friends and gather in the festive indoor apartment facility that was located by the pool. It didn’t matter, anyway; since she wasn’t in school yet, Isabel had no friends at that age. This particular party was very special because it was one of the few times her family had even thrown a party for her birthday. Growing up, Isabel didn’t like the attention to be solely on her so she never wanted to have one. However, at the mere age of 3, she was practically completely unaware of what was going on and thus, didn’t protest. Another reason why this party was special was because it was when she came in contact with her first Eric Carle book; The Very Quiet Cricket, and also her first Barbie doll; Cool Shopping Barbie. When her parents denied her desperate request to play with these items before opening her other presents, she became enraged and threw an acute temper tantrum. Isabel vividly remembered running towards the crotch of her mother’s black pants and crying into them.


In the spur of the moment, another famous childhood memory unfolded in front of her. It was of her dancing and tumbling all over the floor to the Silvio Rodriguez ballad, Melancholia. This scene was made especially awkward because Isabel was topless and only wearing her underwear.


Apartment life consisted of being outside a lot; whether it would be walking around counting sewers, hiding under pine trees or just hanging out by the pool. Sometimes she would spend time imagining and having quests inside as well as line her assorted stuffed animals in a row. She would also talk to herself quite a lot.


Abruptly switching itself yet again, a scene appeared from that same time period where her clueless foreign parents took her to an adult movie when she was still at a sensitive age; this scarred her for life. For a few years afterward, she did not want to step into any movie theatre. A similar event ensued when her parents took her downtown on the 4th of July for the annual Red, White and Boom celebration. They sat up so close to the fireworks and the noise was so abrasive that Isabel was once again, scarred. From that point on, instead of fireworks being a pleasing, aesthetic tradition, they always scared her half to death.


Then, the scene switched over to the first Garcia Family Trip to her parents’ home country in Venezuela. Though she could only vaguely remember bits and pieces of the excursion, the extracts shown of her riding in the car and on the roller coaster with her cousin immediately jogged her memory. Not to mention the blatant graffiti that colored the walls and buildings of the realm.


At this point in Isabel’s life, the ages of 3 and 4 always seemed to blend, distort and garble into a blur. However, she did remember when she first began preschool. It was at a Catholic school near the city and there were many nuns that taught and inspected the youngsters daily. Starting on the first day, Isabel gravely missed her parents and was terribly reluctant to play with the other kids. Because of this, she spent her first recess sitting sadly on the bench with snot dripping from her nose. Eventually, however, she found a hobby. The dangling gear in front of her had somehow beckoned her off of the bench and onto the swing. Afterward, she began to swing all the time. It wasn’t long before she was the highest, most skilled swinger on the playground. To this day, she could get on any run-of-the-mill swing set and still pump with the same grace and finesse.


Of all the fond and not-so-fond memories she had of the establishment, the most crucial ones she had were of her first “best friends”, Mary Alice and Michelle. Interestingly enough, she could never recall hanging out with both of them together at the same time. Right off the bat, Isabel was an outlandish child. Despite her friends being female, she wasn’t shy about blowing them kisses and sometimes even kissing them on the cheek. She would also follow them around everywhere, to the point where it really got on their nerves. Other ambiguous memories of the time included watching random juvenile religious videos as well as visiting the chapel every Wednesday. In addition, she recollected eating many sugary treats and colorful flavored drinks at the round tables; especially at the holiday parties.


Being Catholic and going to church every Sunday was never very pleasant for Isabel because not only was it tedious and boring but it’s how she met and came in contact with a bunch of people that she really grew to dislike.


Early on, Isabel’s mind was mesmerized and enthralled by the television and would always watch various PBS Kids shows. Furthermore, her father always brought home all kinds of home videos. There were two in particular that stuck with her. One was of Casper the Friendly Ghost and his ongoing struggle making friends. At one point in the video, Casper meets a fox named Ferdy but soon loses him to a couple of hunters. The fact that he lost the only true friend he ever had in his whole life touched Isabel and emotionally affected her. It was then that she learned the importance of having friends and how miserable one’s life could be without them. The other video that greatly influenced her was Space Jam. Isabel was practically spellbound by this movie because it was the first time she witnessed Cartoon characters and real people interacting with each other. Of course, this was all done using special effects but she was nevertheless completely fascinated with the concept ever since.


In the midst of all this, Isabel’s little brother was born, who was much later diagnosed with a form of Autism. When this was discovered, it caused a substantial amount of turmoil within the family because they had to put him through loads of therapy as well as some hospitalization to check for some things.


Things were a tad more fun the second time around since her mother naively enrolled Isabel in preschool twice. In similar simple-mindedness, she thought that she could send Isabel to school in the same clothes every day; a uniform from a different school. This New Year in the institute brought new friends; Bridget and Robert. Bridget was a little eccentric and a trifle hyper. Robert was colorblind and would always get in trouble for coloring red things green and green things red. More memories flooded of her making Christmas ornaments as well as buying a cute bear with a Santa hat one at the school store. Curiously, this was also Isabel’s first encounter with peer pressure because as soon as she started seeing other kids with various toy chains hanging from their backpacks, she felt the need to do the same; to the point of tying some of her toys to the straps.


Switching over to yet another scene was one of the family’s many home videos; this one was the infamous one of her rocking her new baby brother on a baby swing. While doing this, Isabel noted that her voice sounded different in the videos than it sounded to her.


“I sound like a girl!” she stated. “’Cuz, you know, I’m a girl…”


If she only knew that her parents would playfully mock her for this comment for the rest of her life.


The summer before kindergarten was quite pivotal for Isabel. Based on a segment she saw on Sesame Street, she wrote her first true storybook. Using her unpolished writing and artistic skills, she crafted a story about going to the zoo. Then, a day before her first day of kindergarten, she scribbled a story in a notebook about the first day of school. From that point on, she upgraded exclusively to notebooks and began to write stories every day, based on her day-to-day experiences. Although her drawings had evolved from her white board days, they still slightly resembled potatoes and were still a bit of an eyesore. Also, she wrote in all caps and not everything was spelled correctly.


Once she started kindergarten at a new private Catholic school that was part of a church, things shifted gears for Isabel. Since she was left-handed, she had trouble handling scissors and her teacher wouldn’t let her hear the end of it. This also marked the school year that she had her first crush, Andrew. Being that they had a lot in common, they hit it off instantly. From day one, she swore she’d marry him, even though she was constantly fighting for his affections with her friend, Jenna.


That summer, Isabel’s grandparents came to visit and they all took this opportunity to go to the zoo, the amusement park and the church Corn Roast, among other places. It was then that she began to imagine her life as a TV show in which she was the star and everyday was an adventure.


Once she started first grade, although it was enjoyable, it was when she started to become aware that she was something of an outcast. She could tell that some people were somewhat annoyed with her. By this time, Isabel had finely-tuned her writing and drawing skills and began writing storybooks about a girl named Betsy. Later that year, they moved out of their apartment in the city and into the suburbs.


Then, in the second grade, Isabel transferred to a public school. Her teacher, Mr. B was easily her favorite teacher of all time. Not only was he a lot of fun, but she felt like he understood her. This year also marked her second crush on a boy named Alex who wrote her an anonymous Valentine that said “Wacky Girl” written in his handwriting. At the end of the year, her friend Stephanie pointed out to her that she didn’t have very many friends.


That following summer, Isabel befriended her 4-year-old, next-door neighbor, Peyton. Though she was severely irritated by her at first, they eventually bonded and would run all over the neighborhood singing songs, playing in the sprinklers and drawing and writing about cute boys.


The third grade was the worst in terms of her weirdness and unpopularity. Overtime, she had developed all these bizarre habits such as hand flapping when she was aroused or stimulated by something. Now, these habits were at their peak and it really affected the way her fellow students viewed her. As if being made fun of weren’t already torturous enough, whenever her teacher asked her class to partner up or get in groups, she never seemed to have a partner. It was in this school year that she met her best friend Lexi, who didn’t turn out to be such a good friend after all. Lexi was obsessed with being popular and ended up laughing at Isabel behind her back with other girls at recess. Luckily, Isabel also met a girl named Maddy who always opened her arms to her with well-needed kindness. Moreover, this was also the year that Isabel started to keep a journal regularly.


The fourth grade was another peculiar year. She became infatuated with Sonic X and Maya and Miguel to the point that she began to create original characters for both of them. This, of course, kick started her music-inspired role-playing era. Also, Isabel loathed her teacher with a passion; she was from Alabama and always made everyone make these fluff balls made of yarn with googly eyes called Warm Fuzzies. This may have sounded fun but Isabel happened to be very bad at making them. All the girls were fanatical about this boy named Ethan in their class. They also thought this was a great year to give everyone the talk, so not only was Isabel developing poor math skills but she was also developing physically. On the bright side, she was beginning to make more friends and became more interested in what she wore which she previously didn’t care about. Furthermore, she continued to write and started dabbling in historical fiction.


Then, that summer, her family took a trip to Myrtle Beach where her mind was cleared and she was free to daydream about Sonic X to her heart’s content.


The only reason the fifth grade had any significance was because it was the year she met Derek. Though she didn’t realize it yet, this poor kid would soon become her longest ongoing crush.


In the fateful summer that followed, a lot of momentous events occurred. For one, her father had finally installed cable. Incredibly, it was this simple decision that virtually defined a major part of Isabel’s life. All of a sudden, she had access to all these channels and all these possibilities for ideas and original characters opened up. At some point in July or late June, she discovered Danny Phantom, which before long turned into the short-lived love of her life. Being so besotted with Danny instantly meant that she needed to create a character for the show so that she could in some way become a part of this unbelievable, animated world. Taking full advantage of the amazing opportunity that lay ahead of her, Isabel sought to create an individual that embodied everything that she was not and everything that she wanted to be. Thus, Sydney was born.


At first, it seemed as though this would be another one of her fleeting characters that she only developed for a month or so. However, it was soon apparent that this was no ordinary figment of her imagination. Out of nowhere, Isabel began relating Sydney to just about everything that went on in her life. Everything that Isabel was experiencing paralleled what Sydney was experiencing. It wasn’t long before she established an entire backstory for Sydney and gave her a best friend named Lilly.


Simultaneously, Isabel discovered Zoey 101, which was the first Dan Schneider show she fell in love with. Eventually, she and her mother would bond watching that and Drake and Josh. It was also during this time that she discovered The Fairly Oddparents and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, which had a similar imapct on her life.


More life-changing events ensued when Isabel entered the sixth grade. There, she started Middle School and met a plethora of new people. Slowly but surely, she was gaining more confidence in herself and was almost becoming something of a socialite, in her own uncanny way. She continued to stalk her ever-popular crush, Derek. Before long, she met who was soon to become her best friend, Amanda. Curiously, Isabel finally began to look after herself and wash and brush her hair. Tragically, she wasn't doing too well in school and felt the need to lie about her grades. At the same time, she was listening to a lot of Hilary Duff and Aly & AJ.


As if the summer before had not already been creatively and emotionally overwhelming enough, the Garcia family took their second trip to Venezuela; this time because her grandfather was dying of cancer. Here, Isabel encountered loads of inspiration for new Sydney plots as well as new characters, including Sydney’s womanizing but good-hearted little brother Jared. Also, even though she was hesitant to return at first, Isabel was able to relish the pleasant scenery of the mountains and beaches and certainly appreciate the trip more the second time around.


When they returned home, Isabel arrived to an abundance of CDs that she had found in one of the cabinets. Since she then owned a CD player, she was able to listen to artists such as James Taylor, Bread, Willy Chirino and Juan Luis Guerra, among others. This only intensified Isabel’s ability to create plots and situations, as music generated something deep within her imagination.


With the seventh grade came new surprises. A show called iCarly premiered. Amanda came back with a Fall Out Boy mania, and Isabel met her second-longest ongoing crush, Brandon. Though they both acted as if they hated each other, it was pretty clear that there was some attraction there. Isabel also met a sweet girl named Molly and was later introduced to a bunch of her friends. Additionally, a girl named Sage moved into Isabel’s neighborhood who befriended all the aforementioned girls.


Then, in the 8th grade, things suddenly became more theatrical. Without warning, Molly and her gang had become popular, making Amanda and Isabel popular by association. With this came a lot of new perks as well as issues. In true Middle School fashion, everyone had become concerned about who was dating whom, including Isabel and Amanda. Sage, in particular, was determined to get a boyfriend. This attitude quickly rubbed off on Isabel and she decided that since she was somewhat more known now, that she would go ahead and make her move on Brandon. However, before she approached the situation, she took the liberty of writing an awkward but heartfelt note to him expressing how apologetic she was about being so unkind and malicious towards him before. Soon after, she asked Molly to ask him out for her, since she was bringing it upon herself to do that kind of thing for people. Shockingly, he said yes. Unfortunately, the inner-rapture didn’t last long. After approximately 3 weeks, he swiftly dumped her and immediately got back together with his ex-girlfriend. Later on in the year, she and Amanda had a falling out because Isabel felt abandoned after Amanda began obsessing over a boy named Luke. Amanda accused her of not being supportive and quickly left her for Molly and the more appealing crowd. To further complicate matters, Derek was going to go to another high school, so it would be the last time she would be seeing him.


The summer that followed was rather depressing. Nonetheless, Isabel was still able to create more backstory for Sydney because she was stuck listening to Willy Colon day in and day out.

At the start of the ninth grade, it seemed as though Isabel would have to suffer through watching Amanda and Molly connect and bond all throughout high school. Fortunately, she still had Maddy and her sister Rachel to spend lunches with. Then, out of nowhere, Amanda began having anxiety complications that prevented her from coming to school. Although Isabel felt a tad guilty, she also felt rather helpless to the situation. Later on, she and the school band took a field trip to Disney World. This was the farthest and the longest Isabel had been from home without her parents and she thoroughly reveled in every part of it. She even got over her fear of fireworks.


Next came what was quite possibly the very best summer of Isabel’s life. Out on a whim, her father decided to take them on a double-vacation to Virginia Beach and New York City. During this time, Isabel’s imagination and creativity went on a roller coaster ride. She created several new characters, including Jessie and Cassie who served as love interests for Jared. In addition, Isabel also made up with Amanda, so they spent a considerable amount of time together.


Regrettably, all of the syrupy pleasantries of freshman year were turned on its head when Isabel became a sophomore. Suddenly, all of the teachers and classmates that made her life slightly more tolerable had all been exchanged for maddening, immature turds. Isabel tried to text Derek and confessed that she liked him, but things ended up less than satisfactory when he stopped texting her back. Amanda became sick with anxiety again and stopped coming to school. In an effort and desire to fulfill her life’s newly-found emptiness, Isabel turned to television and the internet. Coincidentally, her old phone had a faulty charger and her old warranty was up so it could be replaced. Promptly, she got a new phone that had easy internet access. In the wee hours of the night, Isabel began surfing the web reading random but extremely well-written iCarly fan fiction. This was around the time the iStart a Fanwar promo came out. Intrigued to see what other people had to say on the Seddie vs. Creddie debate, Isabel stumbled upon none other than the iCarly wiki. After reading the entire Seddie page and all the comments as well as other pages on her tiny phone, something within her deeply compelled her to join. On Voting Day 2010, that is precisely what she did.


From this point forward, everything in Isabel’s life began to change. It all started when she was first greeted by a user named Katydidit on the site. Despite the girly username, he happened to be a middle aged man. In spite of the glaring age difference, the two of them became fast friends. They hit it off instantly. Long story short, he showered her with kindness and she fell very hard for him. Pretty soon, Isabel became very well-known on the wiki for her blogs about the show and had caused uproars of stimulating comments and discussions. Suddenly, her ties and relationships with the real world didn’t seem to matter anymore. She even abandoned Sydney. In this mere website, Isabel could do something she loved, be someone she had always wanted to be and gain admiration for it. The combination was almost too perfect. She became enraptured with this new online world and it became her whole life.


Now, her mother did not approve of this drastic change in lifestyle. Craftily, she blocked the site and for four months Isabel could not log in. This was perhaps the worst punishment she ever had to endure. After making so many wonderful friends, it was obviously difficult for her to imagine life without them. Nevertheless, she was still able to keep in touch with Katydidit through Twitter and email and they only grew closer. It was also during this break that she discovered other shows like Regular Show. Ultimately, Isabel cracked the case and was able to unblock the wiki. As soon as she came back, she was warmly welcomed back by her peers and it seemed as though things would continue where they left off.


Devastatingly, things took a turn for the worst after chat was added. Long story short, Katydidit was revealed to be a pedophile and since then, the drama took over. As users got to know one another through chat, they sometimes rubbed each other the wrong way. The result was an almost constant tension between them that things could blow up at any moment. That being said, things weren’t always bad; in fact, there were still quite happy times where everyone would still be together as a family. However, overall, the atmosphere had changed and things were edgier.


The only good thing that came out of Katydidit’s revelation and subsequent banning was the fact that in the midst of all the chaos, Isabel and Samlovesham got to know each other. Previously, Isabel saw her as a threat because she happened to be very close to Katy, as well. But then, Isabel was faced with a problem: She needed to pass on a message to Katy but couldn’t because her mother was now aware of him and didn’t want her talking to him. Noting how friendly he and Samlovesham were, she figured she could just use her to pass on the message. Astonishingly, she was glad to do it. However, once they both started to discuss Katy with each other, they realized that they had been through nearly the exact same thing and that he wasn’t who he said he was. Upon grasping this, they both became outraged and eventually confronted him, only for him to make lame, pathetic excuses. However, it wasn’t until he was caught saying inappropriate things to under aged female users on chat that he finally got banned.


Soon afterward, Isabel and Samlovesham became practically inseparable.


Later on that same summer, Isabel met Slappy. While she was mildly exasperated by his seemingly childish and obnoxious behavior at first, they soon got to know each other and hit it off. Their relationship brewed up until the point that they began to fight a lot they realized they had nothing in common.


By now, Isabel was in the 11th grade and she realized that the montage she had just watched had pretty much caught up to the present. When she casually glanced over at everyone around her, she noticed that they were all staring in complete awe of the epic picture show they had just witnessed.


Both moved and distressed, Isabel realized she was sobbing hysterically. Here she was, almost 18 years old; everything she had just seen and heard had all been leading up to this very moment.


“Are you okay…?” Pop suddenly asked as she touched Isabel’s shoulder in concern.


“Yeah…just…stunned…” she responded in a flabbergasted tone.


Looking down at her feet and then back up again, Isabel thought back to what Sydney had said: …the deeper you get into your fantasy world, the less control you have over it…


Isabel bit her lip; things would only get more intense from here…

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