The girl loved reading. Even today, she finished a novel and fell asleep. The book was such a compelling story that she needed a nap. Now it is her time to go off to dreamland and not wake up for a long time.
When she finally got up, her surroundings have changed. Before the nap was a quiet afternoon with warm summer breeze and thick strips of sun rays delicately entering her room where she pleasantly fell asleep. But now she is on an old couch that she has never seen before. What happened to her? Overwhelmed with curiosity, she quickly stepped outside to get rid of her fatigue. It was dusk and the cold evening air surrounded her bare face. The evening was full of chilly vibe, perhaps because it was so foggy. Outside the house was this busy-looking station full of speed-walkers in different directions. No one really looked at her. She was unsure if this was her dream or reality. She punched herself as hard as she could, but she only had to bear so much pain and almost yelped in the middle of the station. No success.
Among the busy square, she found a cluster of students. "Are they my age?" she asked herself, and followed them as if she was possessed by someone. After some walking, they arrived at an old school.
The clock pointed 8pm. Most teachers have gone home, and Ms.B was the only remaining one. She desperately wanted to leave, for she had a date night, but there was a club meeting she had to supervise. The students needed to get something from the market and left the school. She assumed they'd come back soon and waited, sighing her heart out, but they wouldn't come back! Her frustration raised its peak and she stormed off to look for them. Surprisingly, she found them right away eating fries and burgers at a nearby fast-food place.
With infuriated rage, Ms.B stormed inside and shouted, "Once you're done that dinner, off you go home! All of you!" and hurried off. The students gazed at Ms.B walking away, and there was a creepy grin in each of their faces.
The girl followed the students inside the school. Despite the strangeness about this whole situation, she couldn't resist her curiosity. Everything was unfamiliar and familiar at the same time. So many deja vu's were bugging her.
Once they entered an empty classroom, their eyes have changed. Their smiles have turned into maleficent laughters and they surrounded the girl and started throwing awful words at her.
"Why are your eyes so puffy? Did you really cry?" one of them asked pointing at the girl's puffy eyes from her nap.
"Wow you're such a cry-baby. Were we that mean to you?" another one said sarcastically.
"You need to be more cool to be one of us. How are we gonna get along like this? You're so embarrassing."
The girl was in shock. "Uh. I think there is a bit of a misunderstand-" She was slapped. They each slapped her, punched her, and kicked her. As she was getting hit, she figured out her deja vu's. The situation was a scene in the thriller novel she just finished reading. The protagonist was bullied at school. The air, vibe, school, and neighbourhood were all part of the world in that thriller novel. These students were villains. She knew that Ms.B was gone for her date night.
Despite the pain she was not afraid, but rather calm because she knew exactly what was going to happen. But mostly, she knew that this was merely part of a ‘tale.’ She doesn’t remember how exactly the story unfolds, but there was certainly a resolution.
Although she was in pain, she was thrilled. She was the star of the novel. “That’s what it is!” she exclaimed as she realized the whole situation. She laughed for joy of finally satisfying her curiosity. Then the pain had stopped. The students started backing away as she chuckled.
“Why are you laughing? Is she insane?” one asked. As her laughter grew louder, the students mumbled to one another and urgently left the room.
The clock pointed 11pm. She was alone in the school. Being a lover of reading, she wondered what novels exist inside this 'novel world'. So she entered the school library and saw countless books neatly displayed in every shelf. She skimmed through them and when she found the right one, she sat on a couch and indulged into the story. As she read on, the story slowly put her to sleep.
When she woke up, this time she was in her own house. The cold evening air was gone and a bright morning sunshine lit up her whole room instead. The thriller novel was still by her side. She thought, “Was this all a dream?” But she still had bruises from the violence. Stunned by the odd phenomena, she took the book and ran to the library where she got it from. “Hi there! There’s something wrong with this book!” she shouted and she explained everything that happened last night.
Then the librarian, Mr.K, smiled and told her, “Sounds like you really enjoyed the book! To the point where it even appears in your dream!” The girl was frustrated.
“It wasn’t a dream, it was real! I still have bruises, can’t you see?” she insisted.
Mr.K gave her an ice-pack after seeing her wounds and said, “Hmm, if that was real, that’s very interesting. There’s a lot of spooky scenes in that book, you must've been terrified. But...what matters is you’re back now. The novel is just a novel, y'know?”
Just a novel. Few moments ago the world she saw felt too real to think of it as just a novel. But if she didn’t know that her situation was just a novel, she really would’ve been terrified. She wouldn’t have known there'd be a resolution, she’d think the struggle would last forever.
“So are you returning this?” he asked pointing the thriller novel.
“Oh, yes.”she answered.
“Alright, thanks. Maybe next time you wanna get a romance novel instead? It’d be a lot more calm and-”
“What!? No! I’m gonna have a boyfriend soon!” she blushed.
“Haha. Okay then, see you next time,” he giggled.
“Goodbye.” She exited the library and trudged along the path back home. Millions of thoughts rushed her brain. How did this all happen? The ‘novel world’ felt so realistic yet it was only a novel to her ‘real world.’Perhaps her ‘real world’ could also be just a story to someone else's world. Perhaps all the hardships she's going through at the moment has its own resolutions. Just like how the novel had a resolution to all the conflicts by the end of it.
She was excited that she was a protagonist and was fearless even in the scariest moments while she was in the 'novel world.' Maybe her ‘real world’ doesn’t have to be too different. She is the star of her own tale and there is no need for fear because conflicts will resolve itself like any other tales. Last night, she had experienced a story within a story. Now that she is back to her 'real world,' it is her turn to unfold her own.
The girl, who was trudging along, returned home with a brisk energetic walk.
With a fearless, excited heart.