Daydream Believer (Short Story)

When my daydream manifested as reality, I was 13 years old. Sitting in English class, nose buried in A Wrinkle in Time, I began sniffling uncontrollably. That wasn’t the daydream…but that was the unfortunate backdrop against which my daydream came true.

The classroom was a graveyard and my classmates appeared dead. They were, in fact, snoozing behind open books. For all but me and Mr. Nakamura, silent reading time equaled nap time. I strived to take dainty kitten breaths, but that proved ineffective. Now a rivulet of mucous trailed down from my nostril, settling on my upper lip with a salty tang. Gross.

I peeked out from behind my book. The box of Kleenex sat on Mr. Nakamura’s desk, perpendicular to the student desk of Kavith Sirisena, with whom I was, of course, in love. Not that he had a clue.

I performed some quick calculations. To reach the tissue box, I’d have to endure several minor humiliations. One: Pushing my chair back from my desk with an obnoxious screech, alerting the entire class to my movement. Two: Walking across the room, displaying the holes in my sweatshirt and the too-short bangs my dad had cut last night. Three: Fumbling for the tissue in front of Kavith, who would surely spot the snot glistening on my lip. Four: Repeat number two.

Burning with shame at this vision, I opted for Plan B: wiping my nose with my sleeve. But this induced a deluge of backed-up mucus to saturate the fabric. Mortified, I pressed sleeve to nose behind my book, praying for invisibility. Why did this happen to me? Why didn’t my parents buy me those mini tissue packets? Because we had no money? How much could a stupid tissue packet cost? Even the cheap ones where the rough paper chafed your nose would suffice. Crimety. I’d have to start hoarding toilet paper from the school bathrooms.

Finally, after a lifetime, I moved my arm away from my face—slowly, so as not to attract the zombies. Voices murmured across the room, but I didn’t look up. In measured movements, I set my book down and rolled my sleeve up, concealing the stain. Now my ashy gray elbow jutted out. I frowned, agonizing over whether or not this was an improvement. Meanwhile, the voices had ceased. And then—

“Hey, Michelle. Do you have an extra book I can borrow?”

I froze. Before even looking up, I recognized Kavith’s rich, musical voice. And when I did raise my eyes, there he was in all his glory: golden brown like freshly baked cookies, with laughing eyes and a jaunty wave of black hair.

Struck dumb, I merely gawked.

Kavith smiled. “Mr. Nakamura caught me dozing,” he whispered. “I told him I finished my book, so he said to ask you for one.”

“Why me?” I squeaked. But I already knew the answer. I knew this dialogue as though it were an ancient text, pored over and analyzed and retold for centuries. Biblical.

“Because you always carry an extra.”

Oh god. It was just as I had imagined it in my daydream. Down to the last detail.

Ever since childhood, I’d been a chronic daydreamer. My visions ranged from mundane interactions with cute boys to fantasies of falling through puddles into different worlds. This particular daydream—where Kavith crosses our English class to borrow a book, and I ask why me, and he says…well…exactly what he said in real life—this daydream has replayed in my head for the past two weeks.

I originally conjured the vision in English class, fine-tuning it over the next several imaginings. There are different variations. In each daydream, I reach into my backpack and retrieve a book. What varies is the title. Each time, he exclaims, “That’s my favorite book!” Witty banter ensues. Then Mr. Nakamura says, “That’s enough talking—Kavith, take the book and return to your seat.” But Kavith whispers to me, “Let’s talk at lunch.”

The present moment marks the point in my daydream where I’m supposed to reach into my backpack and pull out my extra book. Instead, I remain dazzled by the fact that my daydream has materialized.

How is this possible? Well, if there is a multiverse, perhaps one measly daydream could manifest in at least one of infinite universes and alternate realities. Maybe even this very universe, this reality of my life. But the odds must be astronomical.

I wasn’t ready for this. I’d never prepared myself for the possibility of manifestation. My living daydream, now scheduled to flow into the witty banter stage, was stuck. I was stuck.

Kavith, taking my profound silence as a nix on the extra book, shrugged. Digging into his pocket, he tossed a packet of tissues on my desk with an amused glance, then walked away.

My hand darted to my nose. While I’d been pondering the mysteries of the multiverse, my treacherous beak had begun to run again. My face blazed iron-hot. Grabbing a tissue, I trumpeted my nose—no longer caring if anyone heard—then snatched a second tissue, ostensibly to wipe my nose, but truly to wipe the tears.

I had been granted a golden opportunity; why hadn’t I seized it? Instead of staring like an idiot, letting my nose leak, why couldn’t I muster up some confidence and fulfill my part of the fantasy?

My failure churned within me, real and raw. I ducked behind my book. Would my parents let me go to another school? I could start a new life, go by a nickname. Micky, perhaps.

Just as I lost myself in this new reverie, a warm presence loomed. I lowered my book in disbelief. This couldn’t be happening. Was this some cosmic joke? Was it because I planned to steal the toilet paper? Well played, Multiverse.

“You’re almost done,” Kavith whispered, taking my book and replacing it with another. “Try mine.”

I looked down. It was my favorite book.

Your move, Mickey.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note: This fictional story was inspired by my real-life daydream-manifestation experience, which you can find here: Daydream Believer (True Story).


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