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Time Out

I have to sleep on the hour. If I see the clock any later, even a minute past, I’ll have to wait till the next one.

When I dream I don’t see faces, I just know who they are. Sometimes they’re people I’ve never met but I can still imagine what it would feel like, to be in their presence.

Unless I wake up in the night, I forget my dreams. I just remember the way they make me feel. I’ll get up in the morning and feel anxious, not quite knowing why.

I swim in the mornings; it makes my mind feel clearer. I breathe every three stokes. Every three strokes I change my count: 1, 2, 3 . . . 2, 2, 3 . . . 3, 2, 3 . . . and so on. It helps me forget.

Trauma: a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

I swim front crawl. They say there are two types of people: those that prefer breaststroke and those that prefer freestyle. Despite being the fastest, most regular stroke, crawl is more efficient in energy expenditure.

I cut the water with my fingers, down and back, down and back, down and back. It’s unstoppable, relentless. I see the water turning red, like cordial through a glass. It’s dark, like blood.

17, 2, 3 . . . 18, 2, 3 . . . 19, 2, 3 . . . but it’s still there, deeper, thicker, pulling me back. It was my choice, my fault, my mistake. Like a dream it lingers on the edge of my perception, teasing me, taunting me, tormenting me. Wake up! Wake up! But I know I’m already awake.

Flash Fiction by Francesca Andrews

Published in Spring 2017


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