Chapter 1: Unsteady Dreams
I lost a World - the other day! by Emily Dickinson
I lost a World - the other day!Has Anybody found?You'll know it by the Row of StarsAround its forehead bound.
A Rich man - might not notice it -Yet - to my frugal Eye,Of more Esteem than Ducats -Oh find it - Sir - for me!
The city was dark as Aria stumbled through it, the chilly air raising goose bumps on her bare arms and legs as she passed buildings that seemed too tall to be real. Confused, she clumsily rubbed at her arms as she slowly shuffled one foot in front of the other. "Why is it so cold?" She managed to ask herself through the pounding in her head. "It's the middle of summer. Isn't it? Or was that all a dream?"
Then Aria gave a little laugh as she thought, "Or maybe I'm still in the dream."
If she was, it certainly was an odd, scary dream. First she and her sister had been driving to the movies for some big summer action flick, arguing about the music Aria was playing (classical of course). That had seemed normal enough to Aria at the time – she and her nine year old sister were always fighting over music – but then this blindingly bright light, whiter than bleached snow, had suddenly appeared out of nowhere, hitting their car with an almost physical force.
Aria remembered throwing her arms over her eyes as she screamed, giving up on steering the car entirely as the light engulfed them. She remembered Serafina screaming too as the terror struck them both. And then the car had disappeared, and both girls had landed, quite forcefully, on the hard, hard ground. Aria remembered feeling like her bones were trying to crawl out of her skin as she lay there trying to think past the horrifying pain that was running up and down and around her trembling body. Even now, as she forced herself to walk, sharp echoes of that torturing pain snapped down her legs, making her wince and gasp even though it had dulled considerably compared to before.
Aria had lain there long enough for the light to go away, panting and heaving against the pain and the sudden chill. Eventually, her vision cleared enough that she saw her little sister lying in front of her, shivering against the cold and the misery just like her. Aria remembered crying then, at the sight of her frightened little sister.
"Don't worry Sera, it'll be alright," she tried to say, but all that came out was a raspy croak, as if her throat had been scoured out by sand.
Seeing Serafina's small, pale face had chased away most of the numbing haze in Aria's mind. "Help," she remembered thinking, "I've got to get help!"
So she had struggled to her feet, somehow managing not to shriek as the pain doubled, then faded to something that felt tolerable after the vicious attack on her nervous system. Not sure where she was going, Aria had crept forward, her vision still patchy and dim from the overexposure to whatever light had eaten them.
She dimly remembered passing some sort of low metal wall, like a kind of fence almost, when she heard the noise. It was high and discordant, grating across her ears like a cheese grater sliding across a chalkboard. She had gasped, trying to cover her ears, and had fallen over with the sudden movement behind the strange metal wall-fence, staring up at the night sky as she prayed for nothing more than the mind crushing noise to stop scraping against her ears.
But then she must have forgotten the rest of her dream, or maybe it had just skipped along randomly like most of her dreams did, because the next thing Aria remembered was stumbling along this street, wondering how she had gotten here, and thinking on her peculiar dream.
A rise in the sidewalk tripped her and Aria fell, scraping her palms and knees against the rough ground.
"This hurts an awful lot for just a dream," she thought vaguely as she pushed herself up into a more or less upright position.
Seeing the blood on her hands reminded Aria of something and she made a small, "oh," sound as she stood there, wobbling on her shaky legs. It all made perfect sense now, she thought with a woozy smile.
"M'blood sugar's low," she slurred to no one in particular.
That must be it, she slowly realized. She felt shaky, weak, weary, all symptoms she had felt before when her blood sugar had dropped below 80. Dimly she remembered her first doctor even telling her that diabetics could start acting funny when their sugars dropped dangerously low. She must be hallucinating! Not dreaming. All she needed was some candy and some rest – and maybe an ambulance – and she'd be just fine. Relieved that she was just temporarily losing her mind, Aria laughed, a giddy, unstable sound that no one else heard.
Looking around Aria wondered if there was a place to sit nearby until she was back to normal, a bench or a swing set or something. Off to her right, a small archway caught her attention and, thinking that she could at least get out of the slight wind that was making her shiver, she hobbled over and flopped down almost bonelessly on the floor once she was inside.
Looking down at herself she realized her purse was gone, probably left somewhere in her unbalanced state. That meant no candy.
Aria made a face. That left the glucose tablets. They were small and dusty and tasted like medicinal strawberry, but they were all that she had. So she dug into her pants pocket and pulled the little nasties out. Aria stuck her tongue out at them before dropping four into her palm, looking more like she was ten years old rather then eighteen. Then with a practiced, if not unsteady, motion, she flung them into her mouth.
Her eyelids started to close heavily as she chewed and swallowed the pink sugar tablets. Tired beyond belief and not thinking straight, Aria mumbled a prayer that her blood sugar wouldn't kill her in her sleep and then curled up on the floor, unable to keep her eyes open a second longer.