She was dreaming of the road. The way it winds and whittles into the distance. She saw the road, but she wasn't moving. The road was moving under her, but she floated above it. It was if the road and she were both movies, but she was moving at a different frame rate. She felt hot and lost and empty.
She saw her apartment. Her car. Her cat. Her dead ferns. Her friends. Her Friend. They were all moving along the road, but at different speeds. Occasionally it would seem like one was going to collide into the other, but instead they would just melt together. Except for the one. She never ran into anything. Things just seemed to get out of her way before a collision was even imminent. She couldn't figure out how she was doing it, but she knew she was dreaming because she could see her clearly, without relying on catching the light or ambient air. As soon as she realized she was dreaming, the dream came to an end.
When she woke up it was dark. She could tell she was in a hospital room though, because of the smell. Hospitals always smell like sanitized illness. Like the way menthol cough drops halfheartedly cover the smell of sinus drainage. “Gross,” she thought. Only she would think about it that way.
She stirred in the bed and it made a crinkling sound. “It must have a plastic cover under the sheets,” she reasoned. She made a mental note to intentionally wet the bed to punish the people that put her here, but then she thought that wouldn't help her get out sooner.
She stumbled out of bed and lost her footing briefly. Immediately, a young woman ran into the room.
“Are you ok? Do you need to use the bathroom?” She reached out and Joan thought she was going to grab her, but instead her hands hovered inches away from Joan’s shoulders.
“No. I just—I was just tired of sleeping. Am I allowed to walk around?”
“Of course. We just don’t want you to fall, you know? So maybe lets take it easy for the first few minutes. You've been asleep a long time. Why don’t I walk you to the bathroom and then I can get you something to drink?”
Joan nodded. The hands that had been hovering rested on her arms lightly and guided her into the bathroom stall. She really had been asleep for a long time. Her mouth was dry and she felt like she was empting the all the possible liquid she had in her body into the toilet stall. When she got up, she saw that the there was a strange film over the water.
“What is that in the toilet?”
“Oh, it is probably the drug screen. It is easier than having you go in a cup. Did it light up?”
“Like, glow? No.”
“No. Like, did it change colors?”
“Um. I guess not.”
“Well, that’s good news, right? At least you weren't drugged.”
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