XV

I am standing somewhere I do not recognize with two guys I barely know. We are in what feels like a dorm building, or somewhere on a college campus. We are talking but I do not follow the conversation. I start to walk around on my own. As I walk through this unfamiliar building, I seem to know my way around. However, I notice a hole in space that I have never seen before.

I hop down into the hole. It does not take me to a place that is underground. Well, maybe it is underground, but it does not look like what you think of when you picture underground. It is like a collection of rooms from a huge house that have been put together. I some how work my way down into new rooms and new places.

It does not make much sense but I do not think. I walk around. I see what looks like a large lobby with couches and a fireplace. The ceiling there is very low but the ceilings here are very high. The relationships in size and space are awkward. Things just fit together, how does not really make sense. In this lobby, I find another opening that takes me down to a new setting. There is a staircase that seems removed from a hotel leading down to a beach. The beach is by a man-made river that lies in a bed of steel. The sand is pale and feels unnatural.

There are many people down here. Some I recognize, some I do not. I hear a friend call my name. I walk over to him. He is up to his head in the sand with his lover. There are many on this beach that are up to their heads in sand. My friend introduces me to her. When she turns around I see that she has a very ugly face. It is scarred and mashed, very unnatural. I say hello but she does not respond. She scowls.

Next thing I know I am walking by a different friend. I feel like he is a friend, but I do not know. He is telling me how I can be up to my head in sand like the others. All you have to do is step down hard and you will sink. The sand will come up to your head but never suffocate you. It feels weird but strangely comforting.

Once I have done it a couple of times, I separate from this friend. I look around. There is no sky but no ceiling, really. Everybody down is here stays down here. There are staircases and buildings above but nobody even tries to get up there. They have created lives on this beach. I see homes and buildings and amusement parks. I see a lot on this long stretch of land.

I become depressed. I want out. I cannot accept this beach as my home. These are not my people. I make for the staircase I came down. It does not take me to where I came from. I end up in an upward maze of staircases and war torn parts of buildings. I see light and I make for it. I climb through a crack that is oddly placed above and diagonal to a staircase. I get through it and into a small room with a window.

Suddenly I hear my mom’s voice calling out to me. She is around the corner below me, from the place I just climbed. I can just see her. She cannot see me. She is telling me things I do not really hear. It seems like she is pleading with me or something. I try to listen but nothing registers. I only hear her say that she cannot make it up to where I am. She is not able. She says goodbye and disappears down a staircase.

I can feel my other body pulling at me, trying to escape this madness. I feel an intense pressure and insane pain. I feel panic from all angles. I am pulled back down into this world.

I feel like something or someone is chasing me. I scurry up dark alleys towards a sky I cannot see. I move up and up. Staircase after staircase, building after building, I climb. I make it to what feels like the top of this world. Maybe it is not the top of the world, but it is the top of this world.

My other body makes another fight to regain itself. It fails.

I continue at the top. I am in some sort of house. The floors are rough carpet and the walls are high and white. There are household objects around but I do not notice any specifically. I push through them, turning on every light I can, but the place stays dark. Random low lighting appears here and there, but never where I need it. I feel like whatever is chasing me is going to catch me. It is terrifying.

I am afraid this is real. I am afraid this is my final reality. I smack myself in the face and it stings. I stop.

All of a sudden I am pulled back into my other body. I am in bed, physically shaken and confused. I see a hotel room surrounding me. I am alone. I feel dazed and confused. I look around. This is the hotel I stayed at with Julia, but she is gone. I sit there in bed, sheets everywhere, and light up a cigarette.

I sit there smoking for a little bit. The TV is on. It has probably been on all night. I go to the bathroom and shower up. I see a half-full bottle of whiskey on the counter. I take a big swig to wake me up. Then I walk out to the balcony.

I look out to the beach and see Julia. She is swimming around in the water. It is just her out there. I go back in the room. I throw on some skinny jeans and head down to where she is.

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