Kali Reymond had no idea how long she’d been asleep. If she could have seen herself, she would have felt ridiculous – head slumped over the back, mouth wide open, hands still on the keyboard. The screen of her laptop still showed a blinking cursor on a blank white screen where her psychology paper should be, so it wasn’t as if she had nothing to do. The chair she was sleeping in wasn’t comfortable in the slightest. It rocked back a bit, but that was more terrifying than it was helpful. It was a relatively simple wooden chair with almost no padding under the scratchy red polyester blend that covered the seat and the back. It certainly hadn’t lulled her to sleep with its plushy warm comfort.
No, Kali was just tired, and not just from fruitlessly working on her paper for hours. The semester was almost over, and her twin bed had hardly been slept in. Since welcome week, she hadn’t gotten more than an hour or two of consecutive sleep. Each time, as soon as she fell into REM sleep, a dream flooded into her head. Except it wasn’t a dream – it was a memory – and Kali’s dreams had been replaying it over and over again for months now.
More than two years had passed since she’d lost Joel, and in those two years a lot had changed. Kali had left Tennessee for good, taking an acceptance to NYU that she might have otherwise ignored as an escape hatch from everything she had been through. No one in New York knew her, no one had expectations for her, and no one looked at her like a wounded pup. She was free to be whoever she wanted to be, even if she wasn’t getting any sleep.
No, Kali had no idea how long she’d been asleep, but she knew it couldn’t have been long because it was something almost as terrifying as the nightmares that woke her. It was her roommate, Phoebe.
It wasn’t the way Phoebe slammed the front door that woke her up, although Kali knew instinctively that Phoebe did because she always did. Nor was it the sound of her throwing her keys into the ceramic bowl by the door. It was her shrill voice echoing through the apartment when she stopped outside Kali’s door and saw her asleep in that horrible, uncomfortable red chair.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Phoebe exclaimed. The sound woke Kali so abruptly that the chair hardly had time rock forward before her feet hit the floor. She mumbled some intelligible string of sounds in response as she rubbed her face, trying desperately to wake up before Phoebe got even more annoyed.