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I woke up shouting in my bed. I woke up from my own scream.
The plane was falling down very rapidly and I got very scared, grabbed Marco’s hand and then my scream traveled from my dream into my waking life.
My room was dark and it smelled different. I wasn’t in my room, and I wasn’t alone in bed. I looked for a lamp and turned the light on.
Shine was sleeping at my side, making those asthmatic breathing noises that I loved so much.
‘Shine?’ I asked him. ‘Are we dreaming?’
He opened his eyes and said:
‘Why were you screaming?’
‘What’s my name, Shine?’
‘Are you okay?’ he asked me.
I already knew by then that I was in the attic of my books, there was no doubt about it. I looked at my arms and breasts and I wasn’t as skinny as I was.
‘Oh, god…’ I said. ‘Here I am again… fine… fine… I can handle this’
Shine had fallen back to sleep as soon as he finished his last sentence. I was looking around the attic, sitting on the bed, not quite knowing what to do.
I had created what was happening, or something very close to it. I hadn’t woken up completely unaware of what was going on, for I had imagined the situation I was in.
I had written it myself.
I just didn’t know exactly who was I supposed to be in this particular dimension. I guessed I was Lara, of course, but was I the twenty-five year old Lara or the thirty-five year old one, for instance?
Well, I would soon find out, anyway. Actually, as I had nothing better to do right at that moment, and I surely wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep, whatever that meant, I got up and went to take a look around at my own attic creation.
And guess what? The first thing I found was the pages of this unfinished book. I read the whole story until Marco and I were in the plane and the lights to fasten seat belts turned on. There were no more pages after that.
Then the morning came and the pale winter sun got in through the tall windows. I could see the naked trees outside along the canal and it was cold. The pale light hit Shine’s pretty face, and he woke up with a smile. I already knew who I was, but Shine didn’t even remember my scream.
‘Shit’ he said. ‘What time is it?’
‘Almost nine’ I told him.
‘Shit!’ he jumped out of bed. ‘I forgot I had this fucking meeting at eight with the guys from the fire department!’
He started getting dressed in a hurry. His underwear was inside out. Actually, the front was to the back. He couldn’t find his socks.
‘Are you gonna go… now?’ I asked him.
‘Yeah, I’m sure they’re still there. Fuck, I’m such an idiot! Why do I have to agree to these meetings so early?’
He put on his jacket and gloves and hat and gave me a hug.
‘See you later, Lara! Sorry I have to leave in a hurry, I couldn’t even make you pancakes!’
‘That’s fine, Shine’ I told him. ‘Don’t forget your mobile’
‘Oh, thanks! Have a good morning, pretty girl!’ he wished.
‘You too’ I replied.
He kissed me and left. I hadn’t kissed him for over a year, maybe more, depending on exactly what month and day I had woken up to.
I got out of my attic and went down the stairs to the floor below. The steps and the walls around were all made of dark wood. I opened the door from my mom’s apartment and Thelma, the old black dog, came trotting in my direction all happy to see me.
‘Hello Thelma, it’s been such a long time!’ I told her.
She had no idea I hadn’t seen her for thirteen years. She probably wanted me to go out with her. The whole house, the floor and the walls, were made of dark wood, just like the staircase. Everything was very quiet and Thelma kind of led me into the kitchen.
She wanted some food but I thought she was probably just pretending to be starving, so I spotted the coffee machine and prepared some. While the water was boiling and the kitchen started smelling of fresh coffee, I went to take a look around the house, which was considerably huge.
Everything looked clean and cozy, and the house reminded me of the houses of Twin Peaks, the TV series, because of all the wood. I felt like in one of those dreams I used to have about going into other people’s houses just for the pleasure of discovering where all the rooms were and the architecture of the flat.
And by this time I remembered I should probably call Marco, so I did.
‘Hey!’ he said, on the other side of the radiations.
‘Hey, babe! Where you at?’ I asked him.
‘Student’s Television… Wanna meet?’
‘Yeah, I got things to tell you’
‘Cool! Come and tell me things, babe…’
‘All right, see you soon’
‘See you sooner’
I put on some trousers and a jumper, I found my army boots, and I also found a tight gray-green army jacket. I put on a black scarf and a pair of black gloves, and my brown hat with the orange fluff all around it. I looked groovy.
My keys were hanging by the door, there was some money on my kitchen table, and all I needed now was to find my bike. I did, on the ground floor, in the bike room. It was all black, and it had a sticker with an umbrella drawing that I knew was made by Midas. That could only be my bike.
It was cold outside, but I felt very young and strong. I had forgotten how it felt to be that young. I guess you just don’t realize how fit and full of energy you are when you’re in your twenties. I guess you’re just not conscious of it. How could you, anyway, when you have only childhood to compare, and then you had even more energy?
The day had become cold and gray, the trees were naked. The last I remembered from my dimension it was summer, and now it was winter. So I cycled as fast as I could towards the university canteen and the Student’s Television. Not only was I freezing, I was also very anxious to see Marco.
‘Hi, babe!’ I said as he opened the door from the studio, across the road from the canteen terrace. I jumped to his neck and hugged him, and he was as warm and soft as ever, and sexy, all dressed in jeans and wearing his cute and usual winter fat.
‘Hi, Lara!’ he said, and kissed my lips three times. He helped me to park my bike in the hall, and took me into the studio. Mars and Bernadette, Marco’s best friends, were also there, apparently waiting for me together with him. They all wanted to go for a drink somewhere.
The four of us got out, Mars and Bernadette holding hands, and Marco and I hug walking. We crossed the bridge over the Klovenersburgwal, and went into the bar at the corner just as it started raining heavily.
‘Great!’ said Marco, as we sat by the window and the cat from the bar lazily stretched and got off the table. And then Marco kind of shouted, as usual: ‘What do you want to drink?’, looking at us.
‘White wine’ I said.
‘Beer’ replied Mars and Bernadette.
‘Great!’ shouted Marco again, and off he went to the bar. He brought back three beers and one glass of white wine.
‘Guys… I’m not Lara’ I said, and the three of them looked at me in silence, waiting for a conclusion.
‘I’m Alice’ I told them. ‘From Lara’s books’
‘Well, Alice’ said Marco. ‘Cheers!’
And we all raised our glasses in the air and cheered.
‘Now would you care to explain what you mean?’ he asked.
‘Well, I woke up today as Lara, but I’ve been Alice all my life, I’m thirty six years old, I created Lara, and I don’t know what happened in this dimension ever since I went to Lisbon with Marco, because Lara’s notes only got that far’
‘Lara’s notes?’ Marco asked.
‘Yeah, Lara was writing a new book’
‘And what the hell happened to Lara, then?’ asked Mars.
‘I have no idea’ I told him.
‘Fuck, I want Lara back’ he said. ‘I don’t know you!’
‘Don’t be prejudice’ I told him. ‘Just because I’m from another dimension that doesn’t mean I’m not a good person’
‘Yeah’ interrupted Bernadette. ‘But I think right now you’re not Alice either’
‘Why not?’ I asked her.
‘Because you’re most definitely in Lara’s body…’ she told me.
‘Oh… I didn’t even think of that’ I said.
‘Yeah, you’re now a mix of the two!’ shouted Marco.
‘Well, I guess she always was’ continued Bernadette. ‘Since she was the one who imagined and created Lara… am I right?’
Bernadette was grasping the whole situation.
‘I prefer to believe that Lara created Alice, if you don’t mind’ insisted Mars.
‘We created each other, I suppose’ I said. ‘Who’s to say that this dimension is any more real than mine, or the other way around?’
‘So, did you write all the books?’ Marco asked.
‘Yeah, I did’ I told him.
‘So all we have to do is turn everything around and we get you?’
‘Great!’ he exclaimed. ‘Great story!’