Déjà Vu


Photo courtesy of Pixabay, photo credits to Alexas_Fotos

What if your worst fears appeared in your nightmares, or worse, in your real life? (Photo courtesy of Pixabay, photo credits to Alexas_Fotos)

A tall girl in her early twenties with brown hair was strolling through the vivid green, hundred-year-old oak trees that lined the cracked university sidewalks. She took a deep breath, sucking in the sweet summer air. She smiled slightly, her dimple creasing deeply into her cheek. Amber was bouncing to class, her long brown curls and yellow sundress swaying in the early summer heat. She was mumbling lines of her psychology presentation to herself; Amber was a great public speaker, and nerves were unfamiliar to her.

Amber strolled into room 217 and took her usual seat, on the right side of the front row. When the professor called her name, she marched up to the front of the classroom, ready to give her presentation. She spun around to face her peers. Suddenly, Amber’s throat wouldn’t let any air flow down to her lungs. She dropped her perfectly numbered notecards, all of which fluttered down into a mess around her feet. Her classmates burst out laughing at her unexpected spasm, and she felt the bile begin to rise from her stomach. She squeezed her eyes closed, gripping her stomach.

Amber instantly opened them again, but she was no longer in a psychology classroom. Instead, she was sitting up in her bed. The thick gray comforter was on the floor, and her white linen sheets were crumbled from where she had been gripping them to her stomach.

“I must have had a nightmare about something terrible,” Amber thought to herself. She took a few shaky steps into the bathroom to wash the beads of sweat from her forehead, trying to remember what she had dreamt about.

Later that morning, she was walking to class along the old sidewalk. She had walked this path countless times, so she was watching the trees sway around her in the perfect weather. Amber was mindlessly reciting parts of her speech.

“I’m actually surprised that I’m not nervous at all. I think my brain is finally realizing that I never make mistakes,” Amber thought, smiling to herself.

That’s when her déjà vu started. It was like a strange, sticky wave that crashed over Amber. It covered her, and she couldn’t escape it. It clung to her skin and her clothes, impossible to shake, no matter how hard she tried.

“Weird,” she mumbled to herself in confusion. “I’ve never felt déjà vu for more than a few seconds,” said Amber curiously.

She walked into her classroom and took her usual seat on the right side of the front row. Amber was feeling more confident than ever, but she couldn’t seem to shake the constant feeling of familiarity, even though she had never given a presentation in her psychology class before.

When it was her turn to give her speech, she marched confidently up to the podium at the front of the classroom, her organized note cards in hand. When she turned to face her classmates, her cards slipped out of her hands and covered the floor. Shocked, Amber turned to her teacher, the heat rising in her face.

“I-I don’t know…,” she stuttered. “They just slid out of my hands,” she mumbled as she bent down to pick them back up.

“Your time has started,” snapped her teacher. “I would get on with it if I were you.”

Amber stood up and took a deep breath; she knew that she had memorized her presentation and could probably still present it. However, as she began to exhale, she felt her breakfast rising with her breath. She clenched her hands over her mouth, her eyes wide, and ran from the classroom.

As terrified as she was from the embarrassment of failing her final presentation in psychology, she was even more confused about why it happened. Amber had never had trouble with presenting before. She didn’t know why she suddenly freaked out. She started walking back to her apartment, feeling exhausted. She climbed the stairs up to the seventh floor and walked through the door. Amber fell into a deep, restless sleep the second her head touched her bed.

She was surrounded by a vast, endless sea of pitch-black water. The icy waves crashed over her head, sending frozen tremors down her entire body. She was paralyzed, both from fear and the cold. The salt from the ocean water burned her eyes and nose as it filled every part of her body it could creep into. She was drowning. Her lungs burned for air, but each helpless gasp only filled them with more water. Her thrashing limbs were reaching for the surface, but without any oxygen, she was slowly sinking to the bottom of the sea. The only thing piercing through the opaque surface was the moon; which kept getting smaller and smaller as she sank deeper and deeper, helplessly disappearing.

Amber shot up in bed, thrashing her arms and legs, and gasping for air. She looked around in confusion, but she couldn’t remember what she had just had a nightmare about. She was drenched, feeling salty and sticky. Amber pulled herself up from the bed to go wash the sweat from her body.

She turned on the hot water, which started to fill the massive tub that always served as a wonderful source of relaxation after a stressful day in class. She tossed a bath bomb into the water and, as a cloud of black began to fizz into the clear bath water, the unexplainable sense of déjà vu spread through her again. She turned out the lights and lit a few candles, trying to calm herself down and get rid of the strange feeling.

Within minutes, the entire room smelled like fresh lavender and sandalwood. Amber peeled off the dress she had fallen asleep in, and slipped under the dark bath water. She closed her eyes and let her face and hair slide into the comforting warmth. She exhaled, watching the bubbles from her nose rise up to the candle-lit surface from the very bottom of the bathtub.

Amber went to move her arms to push her head back out of the water, but they wouldn’t move. It was as if a powerful magnetic force was holding her body under the black water. Her lungs started to burn, as she craned her neck upwards, reaching for the surface. Amber involuntarily opened her mouth and gasped for air, filling her lungs with sickening, sweet bath water. Her eyes bulged, reaching up towards the flickering surface, but her muscles were frozen solid.

Amber could feel her body fading into the black water, but just before she passed out from lack of oxygen, the invisible force holding her down disappeared and she tore herself towards the surface. She coughed up water until she could breathe normally again. Weary from the sudden near-death experience, Amber lay down on the bathroom floor, the white tiles cooling her trembling body. After some time, she fell asleep right there on the tiled floors.

She opened her eyes, gazing out her bedroom window. The busy street below her was bustling, as always. She touched the glass, warm from the summer sun. Amber clicked the switch on the top of the window and swung it open. She stepped out onto the ledge, breathing in the summer air and car exhaust rising from below. Over the horizon, she could see the old brick buildings she walked past every day for her classes. The city was beautiful in the pre-sunset dusk. Amber shifted her feet to get a better look at the Hollywood movie poster hanging a block down the street. When she picked up her right foot to shift it to the side a little, Amber lost her footing and spun right off the windowsill.

She twisted and turned in the air as windows rushed upwards beside her. Amber swirled through the air, the concrete sidewalk below her coming closer with every instant. She spread her arms and legs in a natural effort to brace herself for the impact. The sidewalk was now close enough to touch, and she reached towards it with her long, slim fingers.

Amber woke up with a jerk, her arms shooting straight out in front of her as if she were bracing herself from something. She stood up, again unsuccessful at trying to figure out what she was dreaming about. She glanced out the bathroom window, and it was almost sunset. Her heart was pounding, and she felt the need to clear her head.

She wandered into her bedroom and threw on a pair of black athletic shorts and an old gray t-shirt, with a faded restaurant logo on the front. Sunlight streamed through her tall window, framed with teal curtains. She walked over to it and placed her fingertips on the warm glass, looking at the view that always helped clear her head. All of a sudden, the déjà vu feeling from earlier that day started seeping into her body from the glass, as if the sun’s warmth was pouring it into her. She clicked open the window, swinging it out and letting the summery air into her room. She inhaled, looking around towards her college buildings in the distance. It seemed that the déjà vu was intensifying everywhere she looked. When she turned to face a poster for a movie she had been waiting to see, her feet seemed to throw her off the building.

Startled, she reached for something to grab onto, but her fingers found nothing. Windows and balconies flew past her, as she fell further. The ground was moving up at her at an alarming rate, and an ear-piercing scream squeezed through her throat. Her arms and legs thrashed toward the sidewalk. It was so close she could see each blade of grass sprouting between the cracks in the concrete. Her body was stretching, searching for an escape, but all that was on her mind was a single feeling…this has happened before.