Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.
I suppose one might call it a gift. The ability to fall asleep on command, anytime, anywhere. I, for one, utilize it admittedly excessively, even when I shouldn't. It is my escape from the harsh and painful reality into an illusionary dream world. Sometimes at school I ask to use the restroom, lock myself in the spacious handicap stall, and curl up in the concealed corner until the bell for the next class shocks me awake. Well okay, "sometimes" may be a bit of an understatement. But it's not like anyone cares if I'm present to pretend to absorb Mrs. Albert's monotonous algebra lessons. By the way, I haven't really explained my dream world, have I?
My dreams always take me to the same place. It's a very tall tower--which I've affectionately nicknamed "The Museum" due to the ground floor--with countless floors, seeming to grow each fantasy. An elevator with dozens of buttons is located at the back of each room and is the only form of vertical transportation; from what I understand there is no stairwell. The ground floor is the only one that really rings true to a modern museum, with some oddities. It is furnished with beige marble tiles and deep blue velvet curtains adorned with gold trim. A small gift shop is located on the eastern wall. There's virtually no exhibits, just a fossilized fish whose name I can never seem to remember. Oddly enough, there is also a small arcade in the back corner. It isn't much, just a platform of cheap black carpeting with a few racing games, but it still sticks out noticeably against the otherwise classy atmosphere.
If something happens to go wrong in a dream, I simply kiss the steampunk pendant that hangs off my neck and I awake instantly. A ninth birthday gift from my late grandmother, it is a heavy, brass plated circle with exposed gears and an old fashioned analog clock. A delicate copper swallow and a small topaz decorate the smooth surface. I don't know if it's the cold metal against my lips or the sentimental value, but it's the only way I can manually snap myself out of it. I only take it off to shower.
I yawn quietly, momentarily muting Mr. Robert's lesson on persuasion, which, incidentally, isn't persuasive enough to capture anyone's attention. I raise my hand to go to the bathroom when the bell rings for dismissal.
I walk slowly to my distant locker on the third floor, staring down at my shuffling feet as everyone around me rushes to pack their things up and head home...or, wherever teenagers go after school. Once I finally get to my locker, the corridor is pretty much deserted. I first twist my lock clockwise.
"Hey bitch," Rebecca Hyland startles me from behind, waving a full bottle of Diet Coke around. "Didn't have time to go puke in the bathroom today? You poor, ugly thing."
Addison Ford approaches from the left. "Stupid whore probably cuts class 'cause the lessons make her head hurt!" she mocks savagely, poking at my sleeve with a pencil.
Elizabeth Trent saunters over. "Look at those rags...dig those out a dumpster, slut?"
"Here, let me help with your hair," Rebecca shakes the bottle vigorously. I close my eyes and brace myself for impact.
I fruitlessly wring out my sticky, matted hair on the sidewalk, only accomplishing the task of coating my hands with even more sugar. I continue down the dimming horizon, quickly becoming chilled by the frigid winter air. My wet hair freezes me to the bone, instant motivation to sprint towards my visible home. The driveway is empty--the first good thing to happen all day. I fumble with the front door lock for a few moments before stepping inside to the warm embrace of my living room. I throw my backpack to the side, hastily strip, and take a rushed but revitalizing hot shower. It takes a while to wash the soda out.
As soon as I get out, I immediately fasten the clasp of my necklace around my neck and plod up the stairs. Tying the belt on my favorite bath robe, I heave a weighted sigh and collapse on my bed. I bury myself in the soft sea of sheets and yawn audibly as the day fades. The last thing I hear before my departure into slumber is Mom's car door slamming shut outside...
I arrive at the ground floor of the Museum, relishing in the relaxing atmosphere. A family of five--correct, I'm not alone in this realm--gathers in front of the gift shop, seeming rather disoriented. A tiny, orange spark appears in my perphreal vision. At the southwestern corner is what appears to be another small room, only visible thanks to an illuminated wooden torch on the wall. No door, either, just a granite threshold marking the boundary between itself and everything else. It reminds me of hackneyed fairytales of medieval times. I debate entering it, ultimately deciding to pass on the defense that it gives me the "skeeves".
Instead, I slide over the polished floor to the elevator, which upon sensing my familiar presence, opens warmly. As the doors silently shut within the carpeted enclosure, I scan the vast array of buttons on the wall. Only a few are marked, such as the nightmarish Red Eye Room and the delectable Pastry Shop, the rest are blank silver. Undefined explorations. I press a randomly selected unmarked button, near the top left. As the elevator climbs, it shutters slightly. Most likely Mom trying to wake me up. I ignore it.
A cheerful ding indicates my arrival and the doors part to reveal a room made entirely of mirrors. I don't mean a bunch of little mirrors, either, but the floor, walls, and ceiling was just one gigantic plate of reflections. This is a new one for me. I slowly skate along the delicate floor to the sleek northern wall. Face to face with my reflection, I immediately discover that not even dream mirrors lie.
My dark brown hair falls unevenly just above my shoulders, apparently the ideal length for the slur "faggot". My pale complexion compliments my dull, cement gray eyes and thin lips. I look like a disheveled homeless girl in a faded green robe and pink plaid pants that reach just above my ankles. I gently unite my fingers with the other girl's and cloud her face over momentarily with a long exhalation. I close my eyes.
"Dirty whore...fucking bitch...ugly faggot...fat skank..."
My emotions flare and I score down the mirror with my nails before connecting a punch with the silvery surface. The tiny, fist shaped hole shatters into millions of fragments, slicing my hand open in the process. As to be expected in a dream world, the physics are highly exaggerated, and this small, seemingly insignificant gape branches out along every plane, every corner, even impossibly across the elevator. In one large collapse, the room completely shatters and the microscopic, reflective slivers fall around me to reveal an endless black abyss. A steady stream of scarlet runs down my arm. The stinging is so real. It actually hurts. The pain jolts me back into reality.
I wake up sweating and hyperventilating. I sit upright and try to calm down and in doing so, notice a small dent in my wall. The skin on my right hand knuckles is bruised and split.