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Living Backwards by Tracy Sweeney

CHAPTER 3 - Jillian

Before I opened my eyes, I was struck by two things: the scratchy fabric underneath my cheek did not feel like my pillow and my head was throbbing like hell. Neither one of those realizations was boding well for me. I didn’t recall being drunk, but that didn’t mean much.

I slowly rolled onto my back almost expecting my head to fall right the hell off. I blinked trying to get my eyes to adjust, but no matter how many times I blinked them, the scene in front of me still made no sense. There were a few possible explanations, but honestly, none of them were good.

The walls were purple. There was a small desk in the corner with a beat up old computer. A few CDs were stacked on the corner—Third Eye Blind, Korn, Lauryn Hill. The bookcase next to it was full of worn paperbacks. Memoirs of a Geisha sat on top. There was a messenger bag on the floor filled with textbooks. A few flyers were poking out from the inside. The alarm clock said it was midnight. I knew what station it would be set to.

This is so messed up.

I had to be dreaming and in this dream I was in my old bedroom back in Reynolds. Normally, I didn’t have ridiculously bad headaches in my dreams, but it was the only explanation I was willing to accept. As I rubbed my head, trying to alleviate the dull ache, everything came flooding back. The reunion. The skinny jeans. My lack of coordination. The black out.

I hit my head. Hard.

There were two other possible options: I could either be dead or in a coma. If I was dead and this was heaven, someone had a lot of explaining to do. My old bedroom in my parents’ house was not where I wanted to spend eternity. Suddenly I felt like I was in an episode of Lost because I didn’t even know when this was. I needed to find a calendar.

I moved very slowly to get out of bed not knowing what the rules were when you were dreaming/dead/in a coma and waking up back in your parents’ house. Maybe my legs wouldn’t work right. I wasn’t taking any chances.

On the corner of my desk was a calendar. It was one of those “Word of the Day” calendars and it was open to April 29, 1999. Less than a month to graduation. In June, I would be leaving for New York. The Word of the Day was ephemeral.

Ephemeral: 1. Beginning and ending in a day; existing only, or no longer than, a day; as, an ephemeral flower. 2. Short-lived; existing or continuing for a short time only.

It was clear to me that this was a message from my brilliant subconscious. I felt better instantly knowing that I was definitely dreaming. This visit was going to be short-lived, and I would wake up with a wicked headache tomorrow in my comfy little room back in Seattle.

Must remember to dig out that Korn CD, though. Forgot how good they were.

My curiosity got the better of me so I grabbed the messenger bag to inspect its contents. A number of vaguely familiar textbooks were inside: Spanish IV, trigonometry and chemistry. Someone should tell these kids that no one ever needs trig in real life. Proven fact. I’d vouch for it. One of the flyers fell to the ground.

Join the Senior Class on Thursday, May 20th for the Senior Prom and bid farewell to Reynolds High. Prom tickets on sale now in the cafeteria.

My mind suddenly flashed back to the prom posters littering the walls of Reynolds High. The prom committee chose Mariah Carey’s I Still Believe for a prom song which I felt was pretty cheesy especially since Brenda K. Starr sang it better. But the prom song didn’t really concern me. On prom night, I was not at the “I Still Believe” prom. I was at the dentist. Unfortunately, when you spend your entire high school career in the library or at home with your nose in a book, you don’t meet many members of the opposite sex. So instead of sitting at home sulking because I was missing my prom, I decided to try and distract myself….by getting my teeth cleaned. My prom date gave me a spit bib instead of a corsage.

Thank you, Dr. Grayson, D.D.S. It was a magical evening.

I suddenly felt very sad looking at the flyer. Was this my subconscious’ way of reminding me of how stupid I was in high school? Because I was pretty sure I knew this already.

While I was tempted to snoop around my room and visit with my seventeen-year-old self, I decided that I shouldn’t prolong this trip. I should get back in bed, pull the covers over my eyes, forget that I knew what four-hundred thread-count felt like and go to sleep. As I climbed in, I felt a familiar jab in my side. I was still wearing the skinny jeans that got me into this mess. Fishing into my back pocket, I found my good old buddy Joan. I gave her a quick shake and heard the wonderful sound of liquid sloshing around inside.

I slowly unscrewed the cap and took a sniff. Vodka. Normally I wouldn’t drink it straight and would mix it with something else, but desperate times called for desperate measures. I took a gulp and felt the burn on my tongue and down my throat.

Much better.

The shot of vodka along with the trauma of waking up in my depressing seventeen-year-old life made me sleepy very quickly. I closed my eyes and bid farewell to that Jillian—the Jillian I left behind in Reynolds. Ephemeral. That’s what she was. And I was glad.

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Genre – Chick Lit

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.tracysweeney.net/

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