Sorry I’ve been scarce. A lot has happened, and I’m thankful for our phone calls as of late to keep me from drowning. It’s all good things, and eventually, even better things. In the mean while, I’ve still been writing, and in addition to that, my fellow-author-to-be cousin and I have created a website called WHAT THE PROMPT? in order to spark out writing style. For me, it’s great. I get to create on an outlet that is not my main novel, but I don’t have to stand around for hours for roleplay chances – which used to be my old outlet. Anyway, check it out. Love you, and here’s my first response to the very first prompt:
“Let’s pretend the year is currently 1995, and you’re still the current age you are now. You’ve fallen asleep, and you didn’t wake up until 20 years later. It’s now 2015. You’ve missed everything in your 20-year-slumber. Write what happens next.”
There are three certain ways to wake up from a good nap. The first one is waking up with an acute awareness, alert as if someone just blew a bugle to remind you your work shift started twenty minutes ago and you missed the alarm. The second is not as panicked. It’s relaxed, but not to the point that you feel you can’t manage to move a limb. You twist as you pop this joint and stretch that muscle. A smile creeps on your lips, a kiss from the sun peeking through your window shades. It’s time to get up, but take your time. Today is a gift.
The third way is so crippling that it’s almost as if you never fell asleep at all. You wake up with more exhaustion tugging at your shoulders. Your eyelids protest the signals from your brain, concerned that you haven’t opened them yet to find that, in fact, your nap lasted much longer than it needed to, and it wasn’t for the better.
This time is the third, and it wasn’t hours late that I woke up.
After what feels like five minutes, i split the shade over my eyes and find myself in the closet I had fallen asleep in. For some reason, I cannot remember why it was that I went to the closet in the first place, or why I had decided it’s floor would be any aid to fatigue I must have felt; the worsened condition I felt now.
I lift my hand, a finger digging at the crust that formed in the corners of my eyelids. Out of habit, I lick the tip of my index finger and begin rubbing underneath my eyes, just in case mascara has made a smudgy home there as it’s want to do. My eyes begin to focus and I can see wrinkles on the back of my hands that weren’t there before. Good lord, I’ve become my mother – not over night – but in a matter of a nap.
I push this thought from my head and rise from the ground on wobbly knees and uneasy ankles, parts of my body that aren’t sure if they can bear the weight of the rest of me so quickly after their rest. My hand clutches the pole that holds empty hangers, all white. There are no clothes on them, nor on the floor where I am certain to keep my dirty laundry despite the overpriced woven basket hamper from Home Goods. The floor beneath my bare toes feels damp, as if recently shampooed. How hadn’t I noticed that before?
I open the door slowly, disgruntled as the light showers me from the darkness of the small, dark room. There are no blinds, no curtains. There is no furniture in what should be my well-worn bedroom. The walls are no longer adorned by painted sunflowers on a dull green backdrop from Lowes. My eyes scan the corner for the stain of coffee that fell from my bed years ago and wasn’t retrieved until last month, when I remembered it had happened at all. The carpet? It was the same color, the same texture, but the stain was gone.
I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath until I’d opened three more doors: my bathroom, the hallway, and the room to my littlest sister. All remarkably cleaned and remodeled. All notably… empty.
Adrenaline met with the panic that filled my throat, disabling my subconscious ability to breathe. Where had everyone gone? My lungs pumped with oxygen at such a quick rate, I forgot to exhale. I was a balloon, expanding until my head began to ring dizzy. I opened my mouth to call out but only a whisper escaped, “Is anyone there?”
I fought the urge to buckle at the knees, to cry out. There was an explanation for this, there had to be. Seek it out. Keep your shit together. It’s just a puzzle. More than likely, a dream. With this newfound determination, I descended the stairs. The banister had been replaced and what had once been carpet covering were now fresh planks of wood stained in a red color that reminded me of bitter wine. More empty rooms. The kitchen to my right was hardly recognizable and had been walled up where an open bar once stood. I don’t bother searching any more rooms on my way to the front door. My assumption is that they are all as empty as I felt. The front door is locked from the inside, and I struggle to pull the deadbolt in the other direction before I hear a successful ‘click’.
I pull the door towards me and open Pandora’s box.