If naps were supposed to be refreshing, then Sarah wasn’t refreshed.  Instead, she felt like her skull had caved in above her eyes.  Her right arm was slow to join the rest of her body in waking up.  In the evening twilight, she laid there, feeling the pain and letting her mind inventory the tasks she would have to do shortly.  Get out of bed.  Change clothes.  Shower.  Put on make-up.  Walk to the parking lot and find her car.

Slowly, deliberately, she roused herself from the surprising softness of the dorm bed and peeled off her clothes.  Living alone in a dorm room had its advantages.  She replaced them with a purple bathrobe, draped two towels over her arm, and grabbed the basket of shampoos and soaps.

Twenty minutes later, and cleaner, Sarah felt somewhat better.  Her headache persisted, but that was nothing Tylenol and caffeine wouldn’t fix.  Back in her room, she walked around nude, laying out her favorite date outfit, rubbing moisturizer into her face to make a better base for her make-up, letting the air dry her wavy hair.  Sarah didn’t waste a lot of time in beauty unless she though it was necessary.  A date was half a reason.  She was confident in her looks, so she didn’t see the point in subduing her natural beauty.  A little blush, some eye shadow, run a bit of lavender oil through her hair to give off a subtle scent.  That was just Sarah’s way.

As she readied herself, her phone buzzed as texts from her date poured in.  She was off work and couldn’t wait.  She didn’t know what Sarah had planned for tonight, but she was sure she would enjoy it.  A smile curled the right corner of Sarah’s lip as cuter text messages came in.  She liked this girl.  She was about as geeky as Sarah was.

The beauty routine finished, she grabbed a jacket and began the walk to the parking lot halfway across campus.  Usually she would scold herself for bring her car as she walked down the hill and up the other side, crossed the busy street, and then searched for her car because she could never remember where she parked.  But tonight she smiled, thinking this was a good reason to have a car.

A jogger ran past Sarah just as she began to make her ascent up the hill.  Sarah liked female joggers; their boobs bounce nicely as they run.

“Wake up.”

Sarah stopped for a moment and looked back.  No.  She couldn’t have said that.  I must have heard her breathing or something.

She kept walking, pushing the event from her mind.  Tonight would be fun.  She’d take Jessica to her favorite sushi place, then they’d go to her favorite hookah bar, just outside the university, and talk and talk.  It was going to be a great night.

And the walk and the nap were forgotten as she knocked on the apartment door and was welcomed in by a still unready Jessica.  As Jessica talked about her day at work, Sarah scanned the books on her many bookshelves.  It was literature that had brought the two women together.  At an open mic poetry night at an art gallery near campus, the two women read original poems, and then dove into a long discussion about their favorite poets and why.  When the gallery closed, they didn’t want to cut their night short.  So they went to a twenty-four hour diner and burned the night away.

And now they were about to go on their first date.  Sarah’s smile spread as she moved away from Jessica’s poetry collection and into her spirituality side.  She saw a well-rounded individual that had many interests.  Sarah plucked an interesting title from the shelf and flopped onto Jessica’s couch, opening the introduction.

“Oh, that’s one of my favorites.”  Jessica’s hair was still a bit damp from her own shower.  She sat down next to Sarah and began to pull on her socks.  “He talks about using Tarot cards as props in spells, which is quite interesting.”

“So that’s why I’m here?”  Sarah looked up at her and they laughed.

Jessica got up to walk into the kitchen.  She kept the conversation going as she turned her back on Sarah and left her vision.  Sarah looked back to the book.

“You’re in a coma.”

“What?”  Sarah couldn’t have heard her right.  Why would she even say that?

“I said I could read your palm tonight.  I study that too.”  Sarah hadn’t seen those books.  They must be stored somewhere else.  But by then Jessica was ready to go, so she put the book on the table and they walked to her car.

Jessica loved sushi just about as much as Sarah did.  They picked at a small, but nonetheless impressive selection, talking about things that didn’t come up the night they had med.  Favorite authors, movies, and other shared details peppered the air around their dinner.  And when they had their fill, Sarah drove to the hookah lounge and they picked an appetizing shisha flavor.  Not wanting to make a bad impression (which was not possible at this establishment), Sarah ordered a more ornate hookah set-up.  As the first drags of tobacco entered their blood, she explained to Jessica all the intricacies that went into making a good hookah experience.

“You know a lot about hookah,” Jessica said, a hand brushing Sarah’s as she transferred the hose to her.

“I’ve got one at home I can’t use in my room.”  She inhaled the cold smoke, and then opened her mouth to let it spiral up in front of her face.

“This isn’t real.”

“Oh, but it—” Sarah stopped there.  Deafness seemed to fill her ears.  The music faded away.  The voices of other customers became muted visions.  Then another noise substituted itself for the absent ones; a quick beeping.

Sarah felt like she fell backwards.  The pain that she had felt after her nap now flooded her entire body.  She closed her eyes, dropping the hose, but noticing the sight of the lounge fade away.

“Sarah… Sarah, you’re in the hospital…”

The voice didn’t seem right.  It was too concerned to ease Sarah.

She opened her eyes.  Blue blurs, broken only to show a set of eyes, moved around her.

“Sarah… can you hear me?”  She wasn’t sure where the voice came from.  She began to roll her head, to feel the soft stiffness of a hospital pillow behind her.

This isn’t real.

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