The constant beep of an alarm clock pulls me out of my deep sleep. I never set an alarm; it must belong to the new foster kid I’m sharing a room with. I want to move, to throw a pillow at her so she’ll turn the damn thing off, but I’m too exhausted and comfortable to even try. I will my eyes to open but they fight back, pressing down like they’re made of concrete.
Just when I think I’ll be able to ignore the nagging alarm and return to my peaceful sleep, the smell of alcohol catches my attention. Not the good kind, like vodka or whiskey, but the medical kind. Something icy and wet touches my skin in the bend of my arm. I can’t open my eyes to see what’s happening so I try and speak but my lips remain sealed. Am I paralyzed?
The alarm clock beeps faster. The icy and wet feeling is replaced with a sharp and painful prick. A needle? I focus all my energy on opening my eyes. Finally my eyelids part showing me a murky view of halogen lighting fixed into a plain white ceiling. Two figures stand on each side of me, but I can’t get a good view of them. Am I in the hospital? I try and remember how much I drank the previous night. Did I overdo it?
I realize that what I thought was an alarm clock is actually my heart monitor, which is now beeping very fast.
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The two figures start talking.
“Why is her heart rate up?”
“Is she waking up?”
“My God, her eyes are open!”
“She needs more anesthesia.”
I try to communicate with them, to shake my head “no.” I want to know why I’m in the hospital. Am I okay? Am I going to die? All I can manage is to move my head slightly, but the weight of my head is too heavy and it lolls to the right. Instead of facing the generic ceiling, my head is now positioned toward the other side of the room.
A few feet away from me another girl lies lifelessly on a medical table with her own set of figures working over her. Her long brown hair hangs off the table; her eyes are shut in a deep sleep. Her nose, cheekbones, and mouth startle me — because they are mine.
Am I somehow looking at my own reflection? Maybe this is one of those weird out-of-body experiences that you hear about on TV. But why would I see myself as having long brown hair? For almost two years I’ve kept my hair shoulder length and bleached my natural muddy color a white-blonde.
My heart monitor continues beeping at a fast pace. I strain my ears to focus past the noisy beep, past the shuffle of sounds as the figures work around us. There it is. On the other side of the room, the faint sound of a heart monitor beeps at a much slower rate than mine. She has her own heartbeat; she is not me.
One of the figures blocks my view. I see something in its hand. I try to fight, to speak, to scream, but all I can do is blink away tears that flood my vision. I want answers but no one is going to give me any.
“This will send you back to Wonderland, Alice,” the figure says.
I hear a couple of chuckles from the other figures. And then I fall into the most peaceful feeling, and then there is nothing.