As promised, here is Alyssa Susanna's winning entry for the False Memory contest:
Fantastic, I think to myself, as I bend down and set my latte on the sidewalk, inspecting the side of my shoes. To top off my already disastrous morning, a wad of pink gum is wedged tightly onto the left sole of my favorite pair of Nike’s.
Sighing, I grab my latte and straighten up. I stab the button at the crosswalk and look around. The Terminal Tower looms above the bustling city of Cleveland, standing out against the cloudy overcast. I crane my neck to see the top of one the tallest buildings in the city. I wish I were there, looking out at the urban expanse with my arms stretched out, my long black hair blowing in the breeze, instead of here, waiting to cross the street.
My gloomy mood began in the early hours of the morning, when I realized that I would be late to class for the first time in my academic history. Growing up in Brooklyn, I know about insane traffic, so I left my apartment early to catch the bus to Cleveland State University – as usual. But somehow, the bus had been stalled for over an hour, so I was late to Physics by over an hour. I missed a pop quiz, a lab intro, and the lab itself. Majoring in environmental engineering is hard enough without missing core classes, especially since I’m the only girl in most of those classes. Now, I’m behind in Physics, and in danger of losing precious points towards my grade. There goes my 4.0 GPA. Good-bye, valedictorian speech. Hello, miserable life for the next four years.
I sigh again, sip my latte, and try to stand still as I wait for the light to change. Now is no time for an anxiety attack. I need to get to my apartment, review yesterday’s material in rotational motion, and start on the pre-lab work so that I can go back to CSU later today and do the lab. I can do this, I tell myself. No need to freak out after missing one class.
The light changes. I hurry across the street and continue my brisk pace up the sidewalk’s path towards the apartment complex. All I want to do is pop open a carton of Ben and Jerry’s, pull the covers up, and watch a Star Wars marathon. Nothing like hours of galactic adventure to help me forget today’s catastrophes. But I can’t – the lab. Stupid lab. Stupid Physics.
I walk past a girl about my age sitting on a park bench, and almost do a double take. She looks confused. There’s a vacant look in her eyes. I wonder if she’s lost. Even though I’ve already past her, I stop and turn around. I start towards her. The girl stands up and walks up to someone. I stop. Oh, well. She’ll get help from that person. I turn and resume walking.
Then it hits me. A wave of nothing, yet something, coming from behind me, bringing me to my knees. My latte slips through my fingers and splashes onto the sidewalk, the cup rolling into the street. People around me are shrieking, running, in a frenzy of motion. Pure terror surges through me. I can’t move. I can’t think. I can’t breathe. Hysteria and panic bubble inside of me. I try to open my mouth, but I am paralyzed. I can feel my insides trembling in fear. A sense of dread fills me. Is this a fight-or-flight response? Because I’m neither fighting nor taking flight. My panic renders me motionless.
An elderly woman collapses in front of me. Alarm joins fear within me as somehow, in the back of my head, I realize that she’s dead. I am overcome with the inexplicable urge to run, to escape. My heart beats faster. Adrenaline flows through me. I need to get up. I need to get away. I need to go, go now, go far. My thoughts run together, at a furious pace. I can’t think. I can’t focus. I can’t get out. That girl, I think. It’s...her. What did she...
Someone sprints past me, the wind of their speed blowing across my face. I jerk, as if I am coming out of my frozen, panicked state. Without thinking, I haul myself up, swaying to the right. I can’t stop shaking. I can’t stop gasping. So I do the only thing my body finally obeys: I run.
Congratulations Again & Happy Scribing!