Almost Too Real

… or “How Many Snakes on that Plane?”
First posted 09/23/10

It’s time to get up and feed my cats. They’re pawing at the sheets and meowing softly in my face. They don’t like waking my husband up because he grumbles and pushes them off the bed, so they come to me.

I get up and they run like little gray blurs toward the kitchen. Gravity seems to hardly keep them down. I haven’t put my glasses on so when I reach the living room there are some blurry squiggles but I think nothing of them. There are even more in the kitchen but what bothers me is that someone has moved the food bowl and now it’s wet. Seems there was a leak during the night. Someone woke up and put the food dish under it to catch the water. It makes me very angry. I know my mother-in-law did it.

As I feed the cats I hear my husband. “Ah!” Hearing his shocked voice I realize what the squiggles are… There are garden snakes in the house! That’s why the cats seemed to run with extra energy, they’re very excited about the new little “toys” that are in the house. I can see now that not all of them are dead, some still move a little.

I know it will all work out eventually though… I have to leave for school. There’s some important paperwork for me to turn in with the Education Department. I grab my bag and go to school, completely skipping over the part where I drive there and find a parking spot.

I’m walking across the street and my bag is steadily getting heavier. It was light enough to put across my shoulder, but now it’s too heavy. I know I should take it off my shoulder, it’s not good for me to carry so much due to some problem with the placement of my collar bones. But I’m beginning to feel the faint possibility that this is a dream, so I don’t mess with it.

I arrive and see that the building layout has changed dramatically. There are no walls between the hallways and the classrooms, though here and there I can see walled in areas which are most likely personal offices. I see a large square desk, the kind with a hole in the middle where the people working stay. I know there’s something changed about me but I can’t put my finger on it. I do notice that I feel taller.

As I approach the desk I can see that one section has an immensely long line. I groan, hopefully this is not the line I need to be in. I follow the line to its ending and see a sign which says… words that leave my mind too quickly. But they don’t apply to me. I take a seat for a while to double check that I have all my paper work and it looks like I only have half of it. But then I remember that half is the proper amount.

I’m sitting with my legs crossed during this, bobbing one foot up and down. I can see skin through the straps of my sandals. It looks strange… Two women sit on their side of me and their skin looks like mine. Then I remember! While crossing the street I became dark of skin. It doesn’t bother me though, I remind myself that some days my skin just gets darker. So dark that like now I look black. White people usually can’t tell that I’m not black, but somehow black people always know I’m not really supposed to look like this.

I go to the desk and there are two people who are not part of helping the long line, they help people with other tasks. There’s only one person at the desk so I stand behind her to wait. Someone says, “Newbie! Help the next person!” The second worker notices that I’ve gotten in line and waves me over to see him. I hand him my paperwork and wake up.

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