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Something small glints at the edge of her eye. She hastens her small feet and runs, unstable. She’s not aware of what it is, but it’s alluring. She sits down on the ground, and picks up the marble. It gleams in her hands, so magical. Every night she sleeps with her hands cupped around the marble, never letting go. And every morning, she shoves the marble down her small, overflowing backpack.
Years pass by and I’m soon in my last year of middle school. I wake up at the sound of an obnoxious alarm. It was odd. I’ve set alarms and always managed to wake up for school without help. I sit up in my bed, groggy. I look around to find myself in a dark room, a stray of sunlight casting on my face. It was unremarkably quiet. No cars honking, no sounds of busy streets, no nothing. I figure I’m dreaming. I stand up to see myself half naked, and quickly cover my body with my bedsheet. I scurry outside, finding an unfamiliar house I’ve never seen. I reach for the doorknob that leads to a room, and turn on the lights. Screaming silently, I find myself looking nothing like a female that I was. Carefully turning off the lights, I tiptoe back into the room, and search for something to put on. I climb down the dim-lighted staircase, and find a small, brown-haired women smiling as a plate of delightful breakfast gets laid onto the table.
That’s all I remember when I wake up from an unbelievably vivid dream, and even the tiny bits and pieces from my dream are fading away quickly. Every few days of the week, randomly, I have similar dreams over and over.
One night after a bath, I’m hit with a thought and I break down anxiously. I sit up all night to make sense of what was happening to me. I quickly stand up and start shuffling uneasily around my room, trying to understand. I pick up a pencil and a piece of paper, then start jotting things down. When everything vaguely sorts out, I flip the paper over, and in big bold letters, I write, ‘Who r u?’ Finally relaxing, I go to sleep.
I wake up at the sound of the familiar alarm and darts downstairs.
“Hey? What’s my name?”
The woman looks at me, baffled.
“Han, sweetheart, hurry up and get ready and come down to eat breakfast.”
I finally know the name of the body that I’m switching into, and I delightfully dart upstairs to let Han, currently in my own body, my own name.
‘my name’s KEI’ I write down in Han’s notebook, wanting Han to recognize my name. I attend Han’s school, meet Han’s friends, and breathe in fresh air that’s never available in my busy city.
Then that was it. I wake up once again as myself. I look down, making sure I held on to the vague memories of the boy. I check the paper, my heart thumping like a bass. ‘Han’ it said on the paper with messy handwriting, definitely the clumsy boy that I remembered Han as.
A few months pass as nothing too unusual happened. Winter was starting, and it was getting cold. I go to sleep in chilliness, and wake up in the sound of an alarm. I sigh and get up, sitting back down immediately at the cold that dug into my body. I wrap myself in a blanket and drag myself to the closet. Shivering, I search for the thickest jacket I could find. Deep in a pile of clothes I find a big brown jacket the cover my knees. I smile at the warmth, and shove my hands down the enormous pockets. Something cold pushes against my fingernails. Slight shivers grow on my arms as I roll it around my palm.
I’m walking, fidgeting with the marble in Han’s jacket. I’m wondering how and when Han and I would stop switching bodies, but I try not worrying about it too much. As long as I knew, we wouldn’t stop soon. I pull out the marble, examining it up close. It was exactly like the one that I had. It felt just as powerful and alluring.
Han’s friend, Chen, runs up from the behind and locked his arms around my neck. Stumbling forward, I let go of the marble, and it rolls into a field of crops. I sigh, wishing I left the marble in the pocket. The next day I wake up again in the sound of an alarm. It was rare for me to wake up in Han’s body two days in a row, and it had only happened to me twice since the time we started switching bodies. I get up, and I walk to the bathroom in extreme drowsiness. It feels too familiar now, Han’s house, his family, Han himself. I chuckle at the fantasy, and brush my teeth. I think about living as Han, never switching back. It doesn’t seem too bad at first, because I liked the countryside better than the big city. I daydream until reality hits me. I would never see my family again, and Han would never see his.
Next day I wake up, and walk to the bathroom to check myself in the mirror. I stand there timeless, my brain emptied. This whole fantasy is messing with my brain, and I can barely recognize myself. I slowly lower my head to gently feel the numbing cold water on her face, and then I’m wide awake. I take a deep breath and squint at the mirror to see the exact same figure I saw yesterday. As the humid air of the small bathroom enters her body, I calm myself; and pray to go back to my original self.
One more day passes, and I hear the alarm. Refusing to look around, I lay in my bed shutting down my senses of my surroundings. I wait. A few minutes pass when the alarm rings again. In dismay, I start my day. The following weeks, months, and years have no difference, and awfully I’m adjusting to my new life. I try to contact my family, but all I get back is silence. I’m depressed, and I want to kill myself. I pass out, and I briefly feel my old body come back to me but it’s long gone by the time I reach for it.
Decades passed and I was in my eighties, and remembered absolutely nothing about my old self. It had completely disappeared a few years ago. I, Kei, was Han, and Han was me. I was ill, and was in the hospital surrounded by all my family. My youngest grandchild wobbled into the hospital room. He laid down a small marble onto my hands, and his joyous expression made me smile.
“I found this on the way grandpa!” He said.
I struggled to hold on to my life, and the cries muffled to silence. I was gone.