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She coughed. He turned on the fan.

Somehow, the two sunk into their shared space.

Her sickness circulated. His idea to cool off the room wasn’t worth spreading the contagious virus or expanding the possibilities of becoming ill.

She’d grow shame from her inability to suppress.

He’d build a home of resentment in the lungs.

However, the siblings bypassed the altercation and bitter beginning, passiveness, and end. They’d fallen into a hole of sorts. The carpet they were on rose. The thickness consumed all the space.

Had they shrunk in size?

Had the devil clawed and yanked them below?

Was there a sinkhole?

Was there a wormhole?

No blood. No change in physics.

“Where are we?” he asked the sister.

She didn’t answer, because she hadn’t heard him.

The brother was alone, swimming deep under her consciousness.

Had he fallen asleep?

Had the sister nodded off?

No, their eyes were open. They were in the bedroom.

A dream doesn’t replay or start where the brain leaves off. Not to this extent, with the exact details and awareness of the room.

The bedroom was one for the two ten-year olds. Brilliant, clashing colors poking beauty holes through the white walls. Toys played on their own, everywhere, because of their shapes, shininess, and purpose to raise fun.

The boy said, “I don’t like this story.”

The sister made no reply or movement of her head.

“Can’t you hear me?” he asked.

And she realized, without any aid from her sibling, that she was frozen. The air had thinned no cooler than before or after the fan had turned on and blown about the room’s oxygen. Ice hadn’t formed. Neither were cold.

The sister was breathing, alive, aware, but stuck in position. Still as prey.

“Why can’t I speak?” she asked herself.

But could she? Did speaking require sound? Language did not.

Through their eyes, their gaze, their contact through pupil responses, statements, addressing, panic, calmness, they had never made a key. There was no code to follow.

They’d lowered below their bellies, both of them to write, to draw, to create tales.

Both had vanished somewhere inside – he in his, she in hers.

“I want out,” cried the boy.

And she thought she’d die this way.

“Blank,” he thought. “My mind could go blank.”

Perhaps, their history of playtime and protection for one another linked their panic and escape, for after the brother’s idea came the sister’s to close her eyes.

Together, yet, inside a cocoon of separate spaces, they expanded and exploded through walls of clear syrup.

“What is this?” asked the brother.

The sister felt, cringed, and opened her mouth to cry or shout or both. The slime entered past her teeth, tongue, and uvula.

She coughed.

He heard it.

She felt it.

He laughed.

So did she.

So did she!

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said before she knew of the statement’s truth. “I think I have writer’s block.”

He nodded, knowing the feeling.

[NOTE: I recently wrote this in a notebook I’ve been writing 500 word stories in since I was 17. The rule is to write as well as I can, without rewriting or rushing, and ending the story by the 500th word. I wrote this one next to my daughter as she wrote her own story.]


Dan Jones

Author Dan Jones

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