Sunday, May 8, 2016
1st 5 Pages May Workshop - Konyak
Name: Sharyn Konyak
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Title: These Pieces of Me
It's the same dream every time.
The bottom of a lush ravine envelops me, dense and suffocating like a wave crashing over me pinning me to the ocean bottom. For that split second, that moment of intense panic, I have no idea which way is up. I thrash at the air hoping to find something to grab on to, something that may give me purchase on solid ground. A heaviness in my chest weighs me down, trapped and helpless. I am suspended, a puppet on a string tethered to some invisible anchor, arms pinwheeling free, unable to rid myself of the harness.
There are trees but they obscure my vision, a heavy velvet curtain blocking out the light. It is impossible to know whether it is day or night, for what must be green appears black swallowing the light, collapsing into the void. My eyes struggle to focus, to catch a glimpse, to make sense of the blackness. They search for a glint of light, catching flashes, fleeting and inconsistent. Perhaps a trick of the mind, an attempt to see what can't be seen. I wait for the flashes to deliver me, safe from the confusion but there's never enough to make sense of things. A panic continues to rise in me, threatening to choke me out, to collapse onto me.
The smell of earth has settled in my nostrils, damp and musty. It mingles with a chill that has, likewise, taken a hold of my bones. My body perpetually aches. I feel nothing and everything. A sharp twinge of pain at my temple, a phantom ache in my knee resonate in my consciousness.
I have the strange sensation that I am not alone in this dream, though I pray that I am. The feeling of isolation coupled with a sense of familiarity. The thought gives me comfort, a momentary sense of peace. I try to turn my head to locate my silent partner but it's no use. All I see is more blackness, an unfilled void.
I can hear someone calling out, a voice across the distance. It is a sound both familiar and foreign. It's origin unclear. For a moment, I think the voice may be my own. I can't be sure. I doubt I can make a sound. My lips are dry, my throat thick. My tongue sits heavy in my mouth, leathery and parched. I swallow hard trying to rid myself of the acrid metallic taste, the feeling I have been sucking on a paper clip.
I feel powerless, a prisoner of some invisible force. This place I'm trapped in threatens to cave in on me, bury me alive. I feel the voice must belong to another. Someone other than me. Someone in control. For it searches, with purpose, with authority.
In a moment of clarity, I realize it's my name I hear, because, for a brief moment, there is a sense of recognition, a comforting anchor in the chaos. I can't make out the voice yet an intense urgency pushes me toward it. I struggle to utter a sound, to will this mute tongue to issue more than a grunt. A word.
I can't tell how long I've been here or why I'm here at all. Time seems to stand still and spin out of control, simultaneously.
Have they heard me?
Will they find me?
Can I be saved?
An intense sense of panic comes over me yet there is an odd serenity in it. I feel someone reach out and grab my hand, attempting to pull me back from the edge just before I careen over into the blackness. But the anchor is temporary for I feel myself slipping away.
And then, it all goes black and it's over.
Until the next time.
I feel my heart racing, trying to escape my chest. Opening my eyes now, I realize that experience, the one I've been living over and over again, with no resolution, is only a dream.
I can't remember the first time I had the dream, or how often, but I know it like my heartbeat, grounded in every fiber of my being. It is the one thing that is familiar in all of this.
I am Olivia Callahan. That I know for certain.
But, here. This place I find myself in. This is not the tortured dream. This is something else, somewhere else.
My mind comes into focus shortly after my eyes, surveying the scene around me trying desperately to make sense of the images. Heart-shaped "Sweet 16" balloons fill the room. Swollen globes of purple and white bobbing all around, adrift on a silent sea. Their strings dancing just above the floor. Oh, my God! Did I have a birthday? I can't recall. Did I miss it? But how? It's only August. I've got a full month to go. Wait, that can't be right either. 16. I'm only 13. School just started. Freshman orientation. Locker set up with Joss and Maura. That weird chat with Kirsty.
My mind struggles to make a connection. This is a bedroom. My bedroom. Yes, the room is mine, familiar yet somehow different. Everywhere vases are bursting with flowers, big yellow sunflowers. They are my favorite and the reason I painted my room this sunny never turned off color.
"Geez, Liv," my best friend, Maura, had joked. "It looks like a highlighter exploded all over your walls."
Our first attempt at painting had left us both covered in the stuff but I couldn't have cared less. Even though everyone's reaction was the same slightly uncomfortable 'WOW?!', I remember thinking no matter what happened, I could never have a bad day waking up in this room.
Get well soon cards line the ledge of the sill around the window seat. Someone has taken the time to line them up by size, just like I would have. Their encouraging words and cheerful pictures create their own little cheering section. I love that window seat. It's my favorite place to curl up with a book or just stare out onto the backyard and daydream. There have been days I never wanted to leave that window seat.
Having taken inventory of my surroundings, I turn my focus inward. Secure in the moment and the idea that I am neither tethered nor suspended, but rather stable and secure, comfortably perched on a soft mattress enveloped in blankets.
The chill has left me and I feel better. If this fogginess is what you can call feeling better. I've felt it before, the fogginess, but not quite this way. A hazy half-consciousness. Like the way Dad seems to have this uncanny knack for waking me up right in the middle of a dream and telling me some crazy thing he just read on the Internet. I've gotten good at faking interest. He thinks I'm awake, mumbles on about this or that and, satisfied that he's just imparted some important knowledge I just couldn't survive without, finally gives up and goes back to his computer.
This time is different though. No dad.