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I rose slowly from my seat on the porch, propelled by a sudden nervousness I couldn’t quite define.

“Monday we’re having a picnic,” they discussed cheerily as I slipped through the kitchen like a ghost, around the edge of the room and out the door, unnoticed.

Everything in me began to sink like cement to the pit of my stomach, and a senseless collage of images poured through my head like a puzzle spilled about and missing pieces. Suddenly the floor dropped out in my mind, and I was swimming in it. I felt sick, as if my reality had melted away and I was left misted in its thin veneer.

The catalytic moment echoed in my ears long after it had passed. “Maybe if her imaginary boyfriend shows up again tonight,” someone commented coyly from the other side of the screened door. “Oh, stop that,” a kinder, gentler voice hushed sternly, implying shame. In an instant I was overcome by a fragmented mirage of scenes from the previous night’s sleep. “Do they know about the dream?” I asked myself quietly from beneath an avalanche of confusion and nausea. “How could they?”

I’d partially remembered a dream in which I had been overcome by a strange gentleman in an unfamiliar and unromantic location. I could feel him behind my hips as I stared down at my own knees with dissociation. I felt drunk and unsure of my state of consciousness, dancing between the waking and sleeping realms like a sheet in the wind. All the while questioning whether or not the events that were unfolding within me were in fact a dream, until I awoke the next morning. The solid and familiar room I found myself in provided some certain evidence that the memory had been a dream, that it had not been an experience of this waking world. I considered for a moment the possibility of having been poisoned by something, succumbed to the likes of chloroform, but put the thought away without a second look as being unrealistic for the setting.

Now I sat perched before a window on the second floor, looking down on the others who sat gossiping on the front porch below. My body seemed to be an odd extension of something, protruding out before me. These strange limbs operating in an organized fashion before my eyes, while behind them I was coming undone. A thread caught on some invisible nail that just kept pulling…

I hid in my room, and any time I heard footsteps creaking through the wooden floorboards in the hallway I wanted to crawl under the bed and lay there as if it would make me disappear completely.

All the broken pieces amplified. I recognized a name that appeared dimly on the phone screen, but it seemed unfamiliar now, as if from a past life. “Happy Birthday,” it chimed, a day late. I wasn’t sure where or who I was anymore. To others, or to myself.

It seemed some thin strings were at work connecting everything, directing it all like some kind of marionette dangling lifelessly, haunted by the movement of some hidden hand. I’d forgotten how to act the part of myself I’d been scripted, and I just kept missing my cues.

“Perhaps,” I thought slyly, “I could unravel the roles of others by embracing the lack of my own and see what can't be rewritten”.