59. Matt

Chapter 58

Matt

Matt was dreaming.

In his dream, he was watching himself sleep. He was in his old room, the one with the yellow rug. He liked his new room better. Not the one in his aunt’s house. His real new room. The room in his aunt’s house had monsters in it, and it made him too afraid to go to sleep, so sometimes he would ask his friend for help and he would be brought away blissfully to the real room, where he slept and played and learned things every day.

But this dream was in his old room, upstairs and right across from mom and dad’s. He was standing at the foot of his bed, and he was also fast asleep under the covers. He watched himself breath in and out very slowly, and did his very best to time it just like he saw himself do it. He was vaguely aware of someone else in the house – in the basement, looking up through the floor at him. He carefully nudged his sleeping self and woke him up.

He stared at himself.

A gentle voice said “go on, now, Matt.”

So he put his hands around the other Matt’s neck and began to squeeze as hard as he could. The other Matt smiled at him and began to laugh loudly. And then he was laughing too, drowning out the first as it sputtered and died. A third laugh joined them, like music, ringing from all sides, in and out and in and out. The third laugh was loudest of all.

He heard a tiny snap and the other Matt slumped over, still grinning. Matt brushed the hair out of his eyes and looked down at the floor, where he could see his friend staring back at him. His friend left the basement and walked through the living room and up the stairs. He opened the door to Matt’s room, and took him by the hand. He led him into the hallway and into another room. Matt looked around and didn’t recognize it. It was daytime here, but at home it had been nighttime.

He had learned in school that it was different times in different places because of time zones, and if it was nighttime in one place it would be daytime somewhere else, and now he knew for sure that was right. He was in a living room with a woman he knew. It was Izzy’s mom. She was talking on the phone, and she looked very scared. His friend was standing next to him, and he walked very carefully over to Izzy’s mom, who had started to cry and shake and was talking about things that Matt didn’t know about. His friend put his arms around her and hugged her very tight. He patted her on the back and said “it’s okay now. You’re safe. You can come live with us, and we can play together.”

That’s what Matt heard.

“Hi, Mrs. Parsons,” he said to her.

Matt thought that it was nice of his friend to hug her and make her feel better, to include an adult like that. And a girl one, too. He wondered vaguely if Charles would like to join their club, or Izzy or Chelsea, but he forgot about it pretty quickly. His friend hugged Izzy’s mom one last time, and she looked very calm and happy standing there with him.

That’s what he saw.

Zig walked up to Mrs. Parsons too, and that was the last thing Matt could remember for a little while.

His friend took her by the hand and led her out the door, and Matt knew where she was going, and it was a wonderful place full of strings and sounds.

Zig knelt down next to him. He was holding a little gold key. He looked back and forth conspiratorially and beckoned him closer.

“This key is magic,” he whispered to Matt. “Can we trust you to keep it safe?”

Matt beamed and nodded until his head would fall off.

He woke up in his room in his aunt’s house, smiling. He wanted to tell Izzy all about his dream, because wasn’t it funny that her mom was in it? And after breakfast, they could play together again. He missed playing with Izzy sometimes. He should invite her to his real room. If his friend was alright with letting a girl join the club, it should be okay if he brought her along. He smiled at the thought of it and quietly drifted back to sleep.

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Chapter 60

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