Nothing feels real in these moments. Staring at the face in the mirror, this familiar stranger whose eyes are bagged and drooping. Wisps of gray hair blending into the dark. It’s one of those dissociative moments. At least something in the hypnagogia realm. And my mouth cracks open. The question on my lips is, “Who are you?” But before any sound comes out, the alarm on my bed blares, shaking me awake. A dream. All of it. A dream.
I am seventeen years old. Outside breeze slips pass the curtain of my window, carrying with it the scent of rain. It’s expected. A drizzle. Something not uncommon in the month of January. The cold front they were expecting must’ve come in early, sometime in the middle of the night. Always prepared, I kept the window open just a crack so the stuffiness of my teenage bedroom didn’t choke me while I slept.
Dragging ass, I make it to the restroom where the day begins. Shower. Brush teeth. Comb hair, poorly. Rub the Avon-brand deodorant under each pit. Get dress. Leave the house. First day back to school after the winter holiday. Better make these last few months of high school last, they say. You’ll look back on these days, relishing in your youth. Remembering all the stupid things you did as fondly as do with whom you did them.
The halls of Edinburg North High School aren’t popping with life. Nobody wants to be here and nothing will change that. From the corner of my eye, I see Teddy lazily looking forward. He survived the break. When he approaches me, just in passing as we were never that close, he gives me that slight head nod. But some ass wad brushes up against him, knocking him into me.
His skin is cold; his hand grasping my bare wrist as he steadies himself. Fragments of a dream, like memories, pour into my head. “Wait,” I say before trailing off due to his interruption.
“Jesus fuck!” he shouts as the dickhead continues down the hall. “Sorry about that,” he turns to me. “See you around,” he says before leaving, mixing into the crowd of adolescents and vanishing from my sight.
And I whisper to myself, “Aren’t you in a coma? Aren’t you dying?”
“I passed Ms. Champion’s class last semester.” I’m speaking more to myself, but Miranda hears me.
“You seem uncertain,” she says.
“Nothing feels real,” I whisper. Either she doesn’t hear me, or she’s doesn’t care. Either way, my statement just floats in the air. For a bit before it fades in to the great unknown. Still, after lunch I walk by a Spanish classroom and take a peek inside. There are a few students already inside, but none of them look too familiar. Just faces in the crowd that sort of thing.
“Can I help you?” the teacher asks.
“No, I’m good, Ms. Ramos,” I say before heading toward my destination.
And once I’m in my seat, I wonder, how the hell did I know her name? I must have heard it after first period. Our classes are right next to each other, after all. In Media Tech, I work on a project Janie and I started before winter break. It keeps my thoughts in line, but even then something I can’t shake the thought that something if off. That all this is wrong, somehow.
After school, I head to my room and pop in the CD to the stereo I got for my birthday last year. Except, the stereo shouldn’t be here. I remember it was stolen in the break in several months ago. And that I wouldn’t get another until after graduation. After graduation?
The phone rings. It’s Kara. She’s at Jessica’s house, and thought she’d call me. Just to hear my voice. And I feign interest in her stories and words. And when she whispers “I love you,” there’s some hesitation on my part.
“It’s ok,” she says. “I already know.”
But she doesn’t know. She will in a few months when I admit my love for Jessica, instead. And she will become resentful towards us no matter how much she swears she’s ok with it.
The question remains, though. How do I know all this will transpire?