An Invitation

Cat Nelson, C’21

I realized I was dreaming when the key fell out of the envelope. It was old, dark metal, and it should have made a satisfying thud when it hit the flesh of my hand. Instead, it felt the same as the air. The paper slid out behind it like a whisper, and I didn’t bother looking at it as it floated down to the floor. I could already see the next step, clear in my mind. So I walked up to my bedroom door and—just as I realized there wasn’t a lock—I finished turning the key. Clink. I opened the door and I stepped out into the inviting water. It was cool against my skin, or at least I thought it should be cool, and I forged ahead with a surge of delight. Soon enough, I’d forgotten about my bedroom, and the key, and the envelope, and my dreaming state. It was just me and the water, all the way down. Reality trickled back in slow drips, but at least I managed to wake up before my lungs filled with fluid. Sitting up with a jolt, I shot out of bed and turned the light on. My heart—the heart I’d just remembered existed—was beating wildly, like it didn’t realize it wasn’t supposed to. In that long moment, I could see what I looked like clearly in my mind: one hand resting against the bedroom wall, its presence supporting my shaky weight. The other hand tight around a worn iron key that wasn’t heavy at all. I knew what I had to do.

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