You’re in math class at school. Gripping your pencil, you furiously work through the last problem on your math test, factoring polynomials and getting rid of radicals in the denominator of a fraction. Eraser shavings are scattered all over your desk in gummy pink slivers.

Mrs. Davis walks slowly through the rows of desks, monitoring all the students and keeping an eye out for cheating. She breathes loudly with each step, possibly from the exertion. She has a sharply hunched back and always wears thick cardigans, even in the summer.

Her smell precedes her presence, that unmistakable old-lady perfume. Rosewood and mothballs.  

You smell it seconds before she stops at your desk, curving her back even further to look at your paper.

Her expression twists into one of discontent as she reads your work, the type of face teachers make when you’re doing the absolutely wrong thing. What did you do, you thought you were doing it right! Did you not use the right formula did you round to the wrong decimal did you solve for y instead of x?

White-hot panic courses through you and you flip your pencil upside down, ready to erase yet again-

Mrs. Davis lunges for your wrist, wrapping her mottled hand around it, throttling it. Your pencil falls out of your hand and clatters against the desk.

She opens her mouth, framed by saggy old-lady wrinkles, and you think she’s going to yell at you, and then she beeps.

Your eyes fly open and you immediately sit up. Sweat drips down the back of your neck, your shirt is damp, your hair is sticky and matted to your forehead.

Just a dream, just a dream.

You try to steady your breathing and tuck your hair back behind your ears. Your hands are shaky and your wrist burns in the spot it was grabbed. 

At your nightstand sits your alarm clock. You squint to make out the time, 6:00 AM. Time to get ready for school. But as your sweat starts to evaporate, a chill jolts through you, and you decide to stay in bed for just a little bit longer.

Next to the alarm clock is your glasses and a glass of water. You slide on your glasses and then reach for the water, suddenly parched.

Your fingers curl around the glass and you raise it to take a sip. The water is room-temperature and might be a few nights old, you’re not sure, but it feels amazing.

You take another sip. Then another, and another. 

Another after that.

You gulp down mouthful after mouthful, so greedy, so thirsty. Water dribbles down your chin and splatters on your shirt. It's an odd sensation, but it feels good. You tilt the glass further, till there’s more water pouring down the sides of your face than into your mouth.

Water soaks your shirt, and then your pajama pants and your blanket. You keep on drinking.

Water starts trickling over the sides of your bed and onto the carpet. You keep on drinking.

Water starts to build up in your room, inch after inch, rising steadily. You keep on drinking.

Mrs. Davis’s perfume is still rank in your nose.

Idly, you wonder how you were able to smell something in a dream. 

Are you in a dream now? It doesn’t feel like a dream. You can feel the water in your mouth and the wetness of your clothes. That doesn’t happen in dreams, does it?

Snapping out of your thoughts, you finally pull away from the glass. Water smacks your arm as you try to move it down, how high has the water become?

It’s up to your chin.

You don’t know how to swim!

The glass slips from your hand and silently sinks to rest on your mattress. You have to tilt your head up at this point to stay above the water, and you’re hyperventilating, the water is everywhere and it’s sloshing around and your clothes are wet and chilling you to the bone.

It keeps on rising and you can’t do anything except sit on your bed, your entire body is frozen in place. The water reaches your mouth, nose, eyes.

You’re fully submerged. You hold your breath for as long as you can, lungs screaming in protest until they force your to let your breath out.

Your mouth opens against its will.

Your mouth goes dry.

It’s all gone! You and your room are completely dry!

What the hell?

You look at the time on your alarm clock and it says 2:03 AM. Next to it sits your glasses and a glass full of water. 

Your heart stutters.

Grabbing your glasses, you slide them on for the second time, or the first time? Your eyes shift unsteadily, adjusting, and the room is brilliant orange.

Everything looks like it’s on fire. Dazzling pumpkin, apricot, melon, saffron, everything everywhere. Your closet door, your laundry hamper, the posters tacked to your wall. 

Orange orange orange.

You shudder, it’s so bright! You try to take off your glasses, but the movement is so clumsy that they get knocked clean off your face.

Blue blue blue.

Aquamarine, cerulean, azure, navy.

Your room is now blue.

It’s not as bright but it hurts. Your mind is in shock, delusional. Without your glasses, everything looks fuzzy, and it’s all so similar in color that you can’t really discern anything from anything and you’re already groggy so things aren’t registering as clearly as they should and nothing makes sense.

Your vision becomes an aggressive blue splotch. Your head throbs so violently that you cry out and slap both of your hands on the sides of your face.

You snap your eyes shut, you count to ten, twenty, one hundred. You can see the blue from behind your eyelids, taunting you.

Why is it taunting you, what did you do wrong?

You don’t know how long you sit like that, but the pain eventually subsides. Reluctantly, you pry your eyes open.

You’re laying down on your back, facing the ceiling. The covers are snugly pulled up to your chin. You feel comfortable, oddly content.

You should just sleep.

But didn’t the alarm ring, so many dreams ago?

You roll over to check the time again.

6:00 AM.


You grab your glasses again and slide them on again. Stumbling out of bed, you make your way to the bathroom across the hall.

You flick on the lights and turn the squeaky sink knob. You splash cold water over your face and goosebumps prick your arms.

When you’re done, you turn off the sink and reach for a towel to dry off your face, then put your glasses back on.

The scent of rosewood and mothballs wafts through the air.

You look up at yourself in the mirror, and Mrs. Davis’s wrinkled face stares back at you.

February 29, 2020 00:44

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Jane Thomson
23:34 Mar 07, 2020

Loved the 'gummy pink slivers'


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Ay Jay
22:09 Mar 05, 2020

Usually, I don't enjoy second person stories... this one, however, was fantastic!! I could smell and taste and feel everything described. Wonderful job on this!


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