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You wake up. It seems like you’re in your bedroom. It seems. Everything looks familiar, yet it’s not at the same time. Your yearbook pictures? They’re still hung across the wall from where you lay. Your soccer tournament medals? You check. They’re still there, inside your sock drawer next to your favorite pair of striped knee-highs. What about your algebra homework? Still there, half finished on your desk, x’s and y’s scribbled all over the page. And yet. None of it is there. Your yearbook pictures no longer have acne, just neatly combed hair, your soccer medals are all first place instead of third, and you are pretty certain you didn’t even start your math homework yet. It’s light, yet it’s dark at the same time. Where are you?
You stride across the room to the door. But because of a weird feeling in your stomach, you lean your ear against the door, just to be sure you’re safe. It’s dead quiet outside. But then you hear soft, slow steps on the carpet outside. Too slow to be your father’s, too heavy to be your mom’s, and certainly not energetic enough to entail your younger sister. A chill runs down your spine. You wait for the steps to fade.
When you finally summon up enough courage, you open the door. Just a crack. Nobody’s there. But you’re sure you weren’t imagining the steps.
Cautiously, you tip-toe down the hallway that you thought you knew so well. Where crooked pictures of family nostalgia used to be, now hang pictures of you smiling as you receive awards, certificates of achievements, and autographs from your favorite celebrities. No more brace face, helicopter dad, or annoying little sister. Just you.
You make it to the top of the staircase. Where there used to be a plastic lamp shade, there’s now a glittering chandelier. Beneath, your dusty sofa has been replaced by a fancy chaise longue fit for a king. And a king you are, because next to it is a safe cracked open just enough to reveal more money than you ever could have dreamed.
It’s a daydream. It’s all your wishes come true.
To be one hundred percent certain, you race down the stairs with newfound enthusiasm to the den. And there it is. The latest gaming console with every game you ever wanted stacked into neat piles around the 110 inch flat screen TV. It’s too good to be true.
You explore some more. Where you thought were hall ends and walls are now new rooms. A pool and waterpark for swimming when it’s snowing outside? Where your sister’s room used to be. A zoo for riding giraffes? Behind the skating park. A full sized arcade where you can win real prizes? Across the hall from the mall. It just keeps getting better and better.
You keep sprinting down the halls, waiting to be amazed at every corner, every turn of the floor. This is crazy, this is awesome, this is all your dreams come true.
And this is when you realize where you are.
Everything you ever wanted, thrown into one place. How could you be so naive? This isn’t your house. This is your head.
The steps you heard earlier? The sound of your rational conscious walking away, leaving you in a pool of unaccomplished dreams--lies. You feel cheated. You feel empty. Unsatisfied. Broke.
You look around again. Everything looks familiar, yet it’s not at the same time.
You never won any of those soccer medals, you never earned the money in the vault, you never did chore after chore after chore for your X Box, and you certainly never built that swimming pool.
And just like that, you hear the pop-pop-pop of all your dreams disappearing, one by one by one, just like bubbles bursting under the sun.
And . . . you wake up. It seems like you’re in your bedroom. You are in your bedroom. But . . . everything looks familiar, yet different at the same time.
You yearbook pictures hanging on the wall? You no longer regard them as embarrassing, but funny. Your flimsy soccer participation medals? Well, they’re not first place, but at least you earned them. And your math homework, lying on your desk? You’d better start it, or you’re never going to pass algebra.
And as you sit there, plugging in x for y, pecking at your calculator like there’s no tomorrow, you know, deep down in your mind where your dreams used to be and still are, there’s nothing better than a job well done.