April 17th, 2011
Cara gently awoke to the sound of her phone buzzing. Her hand automatically reached down and grabbed the phone off her bedside table. She brought it close to her face and opened her eyes. Even with her fuzzy vision, she could see that Tracy had texted her.
“Sleeping in today?”
Cara stared at those lines as her mind slowly woke up. Realizing what she had forgotten, she jumped up and ran to the window. The sky was clear and bright sunlight was shining down After seeing this, she checked both her phone and her clock and confirmed it was already past noon.
Her alarm must not have gone off.
“Sorry, is everyone there already?” she texted back.
“Yes, are you still coming?”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
Cara closed the window blinds and prepared to leave the house. She grabbed her clothes, took a shower, got dressed, brushed her teeth and then ran out of the house as fast as she could. After running halfway to her car, she realized that she had forgotten her keys and ran back inside to get them. Then, she was once again outside and she quickly jumped into her car.
She suddenly realized how dangerous it would be to drive in a panicked state and stopped to take a few deep breaths before starting the car. She buckled her seat belt, adjusted her mirrors, and focused entirely on driving. Normally she wasn’t this cautious, but she didn’t want to get into a car accident because she had overslept.
It didn’t take long to drive to the restaurant where her friends had gathered. The restaurant wasn’t far from any of their houses and it took about fifteen minutes to walk to. Yesterday she had planned to walk there, but after waking up late she didn’t want to make her friends wait any longer.
Inside of the restaurant, she scanned the room for her friends. After finding them, she dashed over to their table and took the available seat at the head of the table. She apologized and everyone smiled because she was taking her late arrival far more seriously than she needed to.
“We’re missing someone,” she said. “I thought I was the only one who was late!”
Sitting in the seat to her left was Tracy and to her right was John. Martha sat next to John and Adam sat in front of Martha. The chair at the other end of the table was empty.
“He’s even worse than you,” Cara said looking at Adam.
“It’s only recently that he’s been late and stuff. I think I’ve had a negative influence on him,” Adam said while smiling. “I tried texting him, but he didn’t answer so I assume he’s driving.”
“We could have all taken one car if it wasn’t for you two,” John said. He was referring to Cara and the other member of their group who was late.
The door to the restaurant opened as the final member of the group walked in and sat down.
“When I heard Cara was late I totally thought I could beat her here,” he said.
“What would make you think that? I’m usually on time for everything. Of course I’d get here before you, Luke.”
“Well, I was the first one at the library yesterday.”
“Only because it was your idea,” said Tracy. “I still don’t know why you wanted us all to go there.”
“I thought it was weird that we had a town library all the way out there. And look at how interesting that was. My ideas are great, right?”
“There’s a first time for everything,” John said in a low voice. Tracy heard this and, unsuccessfully, tried to hide a smile. Martha outright laughed and Luke stared at John.
Cara responded playfully. “Can we prove that it was your idea? I think it was probably Adam’s idea and you’re just taking credit for it. You two probably went up there and discovered the secret passage before us. Then you asked Adam to pretend like you hadn’t so you could suggest it for yourself.”
“That’s insane! Who would do something like that?”
Luke was known in the group for not having the best ideas. Whenever he had suggested something they could do as a group, everything went horribly wrong. And if nothing went wrong, it was completely boring. Of course, the rest of the group overlooked this as Luke was a good friend of theirs. All six of them had known each other since childhood and they had remained friends from that time until now. From age 5 to age 16, they had known one another for 11 years.
“I actually think I believe Cara,” said John. “It sounds like something you would do.”
“What about Tracy and Martha? They probably know just how ridiculous this is.”
“I won’t say anything,” said Tracy.
“Well if Tracy won’t say anything then I won’t either,” responded Martha.
The waitress arrived after that and took their orders. They all ate their lunch and talked as they celebrated the second day of spring break. The first day, Saturday the 16th of April, was the day that they had gone to the library and discovered the secret passage. There was an entire abandoned building beneath the town library and they had spent the day exploring it. There was even more beneath the secret facility: a natural cavern path that led downwards. Because there weren’t any branches in the path, they didn’t have to be worried about getting lost and they were able to reach the deepest point of the cave.
At the end of that empty cave, Cara had been lucky enough to have an experience that made her feel like everything was right with the world.
She now felt confident she could be happy with her friends for the rest of their lives. This event was in the back of all of their minds, but the restaurant they were in wasn’t an appropriate place to talk about what they had discovered.
“Do we really have to do that?” Martha asked. “Your dad is the teacher, isn’t he?”
The conversation had continued while Cara was remembering the previous day and Martha was now talking about an English assignment they had been given to complete over the break.
“Don’t remind me,” said Luke. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”
“I don’t think Mr. Mullen is that bad. Or even that Irish,” said Tracy.
“What?” John asked.
“He has an Irish last name.”
“He’s not Irish though. Neither is Luke.”
“That’s what I just said,” Tracy responded with a smile.
Everyone turned to Luke for an explanation.
“…what? It’s just a last name. You guys are crazy.”
After that, the conversation turned away from Luke. Everyone finished, or nearly finished, their meal and decided to pass on dessert. In the parking lot, they all decided to go to Cara’s house as her parents were away for the weekend. The only problem was that they had too many cars. Adam had walked, but Tracy and Martha had taken Tracy’s car, and John, Cara, and Luke had taken their cars as well.
They talked about this and decided that Adam, Cara, and Martha would go to Cara’s house in her car while the others drove home. Within half an hour, everyone had arrived at Cara’s house and Luke was once again the last to arrive.
“I wonder if the versions of you in alternate karas are just as slow,” Cara teased.
“Come on, there are no such things as alternate karas. There’s only one kara and we live in it; this is the only world in existence.”
“Actually, I think we have definitive proof that there is more than one ‘kara’. Right now we’re talking about karas while speaking to Cara,” Tracy said.
“It was implied. I said we lived in the only kara. Obviously I wasn’t referring to living inside of Cara.”
That was when Adam walked in from the kitchen with a small bag of chips. “…do I even want to know what you’re talking about?”
“How Cara the person and kara the world are almost the same word,” said Tracy.
“You explained that once, didn’t you?” Adam asked.
“Yes,” replied Tracy. “The word kara doesn’t actually have any relation to Cara the name. It’s actually a term that gained popularity just before we were born. Before that we used to call the world the universe. Now, we call it the kara.”
“Why do we do that?” Luke asked. Tracy wasn’t an expert on etymology, but she knew more than most people and enjoyed searching online for the history of names and places. Even though the questions she was asked could be answered with a simple Internet search, she was the only one who would bother to take out her phone and look up the answer.
“I think it’s derived from a Japanese word, ‘kakera’. It means shard or fragment of something. Why everyone replaced universe with kara is something I don’t get.”
“Universe sounds stupid,” said John. “Now, can we actually do something instead of talking about words?”
“Well, Cara’s parents aren’t home so now’s the time to raid her house for liquor,” said Luke.
Everyone was amused by this as they knew Luke wasn’t serious. None of them had much of an interest in drinking, so it wasn’t something they did as a group. Some of the members of the group did go to parties and drink, but it was never all that much or all that frequent.
They all decided that they would play a famous console game called Night Sector and everyone gathered on the couch. Night Sector was a four player game so they would have to take turns. Each match in Night Sector lasted no more than five minutes, so the people who had to wait wouldn’t have to wait long so it was a good game for a group of any size.
Cara smiled at both the game and the environment created by her friends. In the dark caverns beneath Greyville’s forests, she had made an important promise to herself. She didn’t believe that her friends were living life to the fullest, and after making that promise, she knew things had changed.
Everyone was happier. Everyone was having fun and it was likely that they would spend the entire day together. She felt that was something that didn’t happen often enough. Getting to be with all of her friends, Cara felt a great happiness deep within her heart.
It turned out that Cara was right and they did spend the entire day together. Very quickly, the sky became dark and the time was 8 PM.
“Have you noticed anything weird in Greyville lately?” Adam asked.
“No. Is there something going on?” Cara asked.
“I just got a text from my dad saying that strange people have been walking around town since yesterday. He wants me to be on the lookout for them and get home early.”
“Nothing ever happens in Greyville,” said Martha. “I’m sure they’re harmless.”
“It’s not like Adam’s dad to worry about things like that though,” said Tracy. “He’s usually carefree.”
“Completely irresponsible,” said Adam.
Tracy laughed and Cara began to talk. “Well, good luck getting home. I hope nothing horrible happens.”
“Thanks Cara, I feel a lot safer having heard that.”
A few minutes later, everyone decided to leave Cara’s house. They were all tired from spending the day together and they had just enough energy left to drive home. If they waited any longer then driving might become too dangerous.
Outside, the air was cool and the environment was darker than they had expected. The only source of light was the moon in the sky. It was almost a full moon and it was shining brightly.
“Do you think the moon is lonely?” Luke asked.
“It’s not alive,” said John.
“I know, but it’s the only object up there. There are barely any clouds. The entire sky is completely empty except for the moon.”
Martha proceeded to make a ‘Star Hunters’ joke and everyone laughed before returning to their cars and driving home. Luke laughed as well, but he couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of loneliness in the sky. They were all happy inside Cara’s house, but once they stepped out into the cold world there was less happiness as they parted ways.
Seeking to be happy forever is the same thing as being gluttonous, but that’s not what Luke meant. He wasn’t trying to hold onto the happiness of being with his friends. He felt more like it was being attacked by the night. The jealous moon stared down upon the happy friends and cursed them.
Once Luke had this idea of a jealous moon in his mind he laughed silently at himself. The thoughts he was having were ridiculous. Maybe they had a spot in poetry, but not in reality.
So, what do you think everyone?