The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Flash Fiction
Erica J. Thinesen
can you turn down the heat?" Matilde asked, not opening her
eyes. She had been dreaming about a red ball floating in the sky.
She was running, barefoot through a desert. Troy, the first boy
who lied about loving her, told her she needed to follow the ball.
It was very important, he said. When she tried to ask why, he disappeared.
"Man, that was weird."
Courtney asked. She shut the heat off. She turned on the windshield
wipers to keep the snow from blocking her view. It was 7:00pm. Led Zepplins
"Ramble On" ranked number thirty on the classic rock countdown.
The back of Courtneys blue Grand Am was stuffed with duffle bags
of clothing and shoes. Courtney didnt want to leave her computer
in the dorm over break. It was in a white box that blocked her rear
"I had a dream about Troy. Remember him? God, that was like, three
"Isnt he in jail?"
"Yeah. He robbed a Wal-Mart or something. He was telling me to
keep following this red ball around. Did I say anything stupid?"
Courtney laughed. "Yeah. You did mumble something about being the
governor of the United States. What kind of medication are you on?"
"I just took two Ambien. Man, my head feels fuzzy. Damn doctor
told me to try this stuff. I cant sleep anymore."
"Well, you slept for a while. Were almost back. Good old
V.U. How Ive missed pink chicken. And fire alarms at three in
the morning. I hate Indiana. Remind me again why we decided to stay
"Troy robbed a K-Mart." Matildes head was spinning.
She wasnt allowed to take anything for the migraines after
the Ambien. She tried to focus on the road. But that only made her head
hurt worse. The road was straight and flat, but would sometimes curve
because road safety engineers wanted to keep drivers from falling asleep
at the wheel.
Snow was uncommon in southern Indiana. This year had been the worst
in forty years. When snow blew around on the flat plain, it made it
very difficult for drivers to stay on the road. Once when Matildes
dad was driving her mother to work, he drove off the road and into a
corn field. No one was injured and the only evidence they had that the
car was no longer on the road were dead stalks hitting the windshield.
"Yeah?" The wind was making the snow hard to see through.
The Grand Ams headlights shown on the whiteness and the glare
made it harder for Courtney to see the yellow or white lines. "What?"
"I went to see Doctor Evans again. I didnt want to tell you.
You cant say anything, okay?"
"What did he tell you this time?" Courtney said, half listening.
She turned down the radio.
"He thinks Im Bi -polar."
"What the hell is that?"
"Like mood swings or something? Duh," Courtney said and laughed.
"Everyones moody, but come on, Mat, manic depressive? I dont
"No. Its more than that."
"Thats just part of your charm." Courtney didnt
know what else to say. She remembered Matildes mother pulling
her out of school four or five times a month to visit one doctor or
another, always insisting Matilde had the chicken pox or chronic fatigue
syndrome or hypertension, or strep throat; all sorts of imagined illnesses.
In the ninth grade, Matilde was home-schooled because she had started
to believe she was really ill all the time. The girls rarely saw each
other until college.
But Matilde would constantly accuse Courtney of lying and ruining her
other friendships. Courtney planned on telling Matilde on the way back
to school that they had grown apart and it would be best if they didnt
socialize with each other anymore. Courtney was tired of trying to shelter
Matilde from the gossip and tired of defending herself over things she
Courtney cleared her throat. The flat countryside offered nothing for
the snow to cling to so it was blowing around freely. "Are you
going to run for Miss V.U.?"
"That should keep your mind occupied. I think you just need more
to do. Why dont you try out for the play? Theyre doing Pride
and Prejudice. You should just do it to piss Jessica Baugher off."
"I like Jessica. Youre going to tell people, arent
"No. I just dont believe youre depressed, thats
"You think Im lying?"
"No. I think youre being lied to. Why do you like Jessica?
Shes a slut. You knew she slept with Brian, didnt you?"
"He never told me that!" The back of Matildes head was
throbbing. She reached for her cigarettes. She opened the window. A
cold gust of air hit her head making it throb more. She had only been
seeing Brian since break, but he never told her he slept with Jessica.
Why didnt Courtney say anything? Courtneys always doing
this, ruining my relationships. Well, she can go to hell, she thought.
She took a deep drag, held it, and let the smoke seep from her mouth
"Are you angry?" Courtney asked. She realized she shouldnt
have said anything. The ride was going so smoothly. She thought she
should wait until they arrived back on campus to end the friendship.
They were coming to a curve. Two ancient trees and a farm house stood
on the left. The trees appeared out of place in the empty field. One
of the trees hung low, almost touching the road. "Someone needs
to cut this bad boy down. Hey, can I bum a smoke?"
Matilde leaned over and turned the radio up. The flute player opened
"Cant You See" by the Marshall Tucker Band. "You
liar!" Matilde elbowed Courtneys face and shoved her against
the drivers side window. "I hate you!"
Courtney lost control of the Grand Am. She hit the breaks and skidded
into the tree. Her head hit the windshield and her chest crashed into
the steering wheel. She was pushed back into the seat. Blood escaped
slowly from her scalp, nose, and mouth. The headlights illuminated the
tree. The radio was still playing.
"Oh, my God! Im sorry! Im so sorry!" Matilde said.
She was unharmed but her headache increased. She started to shake.
"Get help. Please." Courtney whispered. "I cant
move my head."
"You cant tell anyone... about my problem."
"I wont. Get help."
Matilde sat there. And Listened. "...Gonna take a freight train
down at the station, Lord, I dont care where it goes..."
© Erica J Thinesen June 2004
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