The sound of the Charney boys playing basketball on the road seeped into the slightly cracked window of Sophie Sautereau’s bedroom. What began as a faint echo of a plastic ball against pavement slowly progressed into a fragmented dance of light, shadow, and sound arguing over a moment across her windowsill.
The sound itself was bent somehow as if it were coming from the front of the house, and all Sophie could think was, Thank God their mother had listened to her plea to get the boys to move that damn hoop from under her bedroom window and over onto George Leven which was on the other side of Sophie’s house and where a small patch of woods would muffle the sound a bit. She thought further and imagined that if she could get up and close the window, she wouldn’t be able to hear them at all.
That very thought hung in her mind like the distant echo of young boys playing on the next street over, and like a ball bouncing violently on the road, it became a faint refraction of the day’s last light and shadow, moving further and further across the front lawn and into darker more quieter corners of the afternoon.
The sense of sound became an exaggerated thought and morphed itself into a metaphor. She envisioned the basketball being bounced against the road, while she strained to hear its familiar reverberating “ting” travel away from her window and off into the distance. Sophie imagined that the boys must have stopped shooting hoops, and were walking down the road dribbling the ball as they meandered away from the front of her house. She was positive she hadn’t gotten up to close the window, so logically the boys must be walking away, the direction of sound dictated that logic.
The cacophony of boys at play and a ball bouncing billowed in her mind until the sound itself meshed into a vision of shadow and light fighting for dominance up on her window sill. She concentrated on the swirl of sound and light until it became something more familiar to her, and the violent dance settled into focus from that blur into a shorter more orderly and controlled beat like the pulsating prompt on a blank computer screen.
All Sophie could see was that black screen and short white line pulsating. The thought of a bouncing basketball had almost disappeared from her consciousness and she began to recognize that she must be half asleep and that was why she knew she must not have shut the window. There was a moment of panic in her as if she were experiencing some kind of anxiety attack as she could almost hear herself say without physically mouthing the words, “Why can’t I see or move my body if I’m awake now?”
She now had the ability to see where she was but was somehow stuck on the bridge between her subconscious and reality. Sophie continued to hear the disembodied voice as if she was in two minds and she thought; Why do I know that? Where the hell am I???
She turned back towards the pulsing command prompt on the blank screen and noticed that she seemed to be moving towards it. As it got closer and brighter she noticed that her surroundings had become a large screen that eased into a lighter gray color. She was comforted by the screen now becoming lighter and lighter as if the fight between light and darkness she had envisioned earlier as sound, had found its way into a more controlled resolute interface she immediately recognized.
The spark must have found the connector she thought, and again, she was confused as to how she knew that. She felt herself mesh with the screen and became enveloped by its light as it brightened and warmed her like a favorite blanket.
She found solace in the thought that she must be coming out of this dream state and that she must have turned over and physically pulled her blanket around her. This weird in-between state that she was in, in her mind, must be some sort of an altered state of consciousness brought on by the medication her doctor had prescribed which was exasperated by the unfamiliarity of the boy’s hoop being moved. Sophie likened this weird relief to being lost in an unfamiliar town, speeding along the backroads until you see that familiar green interstate sign, this was her chance now to get back up on the highway she thought.
That thought itself seemed somehow distant to her as if it wasn’t completely her own, yet somehow still extremely familiar and very much like something, she would say.
The sound of the basketball suddenly crashed violently into that moment, and again her fractured attention was directed towards her bedroom window. The echo of a bouncing basketball was less bent, and more distinct now as if it were directly under her window and became louder. Sophie thought I’m back! I’m in my bed, I’m reaching for the phone, I’m calling the Charney boys mother and they are going to stop bouncing that damn ball under my bedroom window Gawd dammit!
She repeated that word a couple of times until she realized that the word was not being spoken in her mind, but actually typed across a computer screen.The prompt all of a sudden returned to the gray screen and was pulsating even brighter this time.
Slowly the screen began to roll up, getting stuck for a second, then resuming upward like a curtain being pulled. The familiar picture of an avatar sitting on a bed of brilliantly colored cupcakes became distinguished and resolute as she panned backward. She began to realize that she had not physically moved backward in order to see the screen, but that she was, in fact, the screen itself. Over to the left bottom of her thoughts was a cell with the word LOGIN and without being fully aware of how she did it she pushed on it.
The next sound she heard had once again become a morphed sense that she experienced as a feeling. It was a distinct and separate sense she knew to be the wrong one to feel but again reminded her that she was in an altered state of consciousness. Sophie was confused as to how both sound and vision, were being accompanied by the awareness of a warm rushing wind exploding across her entire being while she was in her bed and under the covers.
It was the familiar Woosh sound of her avatar teleporting while in game and all she could think was… I did get up. It was me that closed the window.