"...Hello?"

I heard a voice...just like my father's. It was right here, but so far away...

"Alex?"

I snapped awake, knowing instantly something was wrong. Was I late for class? Did my father come to---? I felt something in my hand, and then everything instantly snapped into place... What happened to her?

I realized I wasn't in bed, and he wasn't my father. I was slumped against the wall in one of the school's vacant rooms...still...and the person was my friend Trevor, squatting a few feet away from me to my right.

"Jenna?" One word said it all...if you were me. He probably wondered what the hell I was talking about, though, as she was nowhere to be found.

"Alex..."

"Where's Jenna at?" I raised my voice a bit, hoping for an answer.

Trevor stood up, doing this weird combination of a wheeze and laugh. He looked around nervously, then looked at me.

"Jenna's fine, man...Are you okay?" I certainly hoped I was.

I nodded silently, and he shook his head once in return. Part of me was relieved that Jenna was okay, but another part knew he was he simply trying to calm me down...but I wasn't in the mood or position to debate it.

Was I okay? I didn't feel okay...I honestly felt completely out of it...not to mention confused, exhausted, tired, hurt...and a bit hungry. Two of those words even meant the exact same thing...which shows how tired I was.

"Can you get up?"

"Definitely." I forced a smile. To me, everything was now perfectly okay, and I'd be damned if I couldn't anyone else to believe so, too. However, I don't know how I was stupid enough to think Trevor was my father...we all make mistakes, I suppose.

"Arright man, let's get'cha up." He offered a helping hand

"Nah, I'm okay." I waved off his literal figure of speech, not needing his help since everything was perfectly okay and nothing was wrong.

I started to stand from the awkward forced sitting-up position I'd apparently passed out in. As I did so, I discovered a prickly dizziness all over, as if my entire body was asleep. That's to say, not like unconsciousness, but like an arm or a leg being asleep; picture that, but all around my entire body.

Everything about me felt really heavy as I stumbled around a few steps before shaking my head, since that was going to make everything better. Straightening myself out, I started walking towards the "drink room" door. Trevor, waiting for me halfway, started out too.

He casually held the door open for me as I passed through with a nod and turned right, after which we silently walked down the east side of the Northwest wing. He walked straight ahead and I merely followed, taking this time trying to re-gather my wits. After a minute or so of awkward silence, the inevitable question cropped up.

"What happened?"

I stopped dead in my tracks. I knew he was going to ask me this, yet here I was with no plan of attack. This was exactly why I sucked at chess.

There was no possible way to tell Trevor what happened, for two reasons. The first was the obvious one: I'm not sure he'd believe my recollection of what had transgressed; in fact, the only thing he probably would believe was that I was completely insane or trying to be funny, neither of which would've been favorable. The second reason...well, I wasn't too sure I believed it myself.

The events lodged themselves in my brain, replaying as I was helplessly subjected to their anti-resolution. It took me a few moments to discover myself doing nothing but staring blankly into space...apparently, I was going to look like I was insane by the day's end whether I wanted to or not.

"I don't know..." I shook my head.

"What do you mean, you don't know?" He stopped, glancing back at me with a genuinely quizzical look.

I realized Jenna's necklace was still clenched in my left hand. I did know what happened, but for some reason I couldn't foresee the story of Jenna running from two men in all white, me chasing after her and kissing her just moments before she ceased to exist...working whatsoever. Unless...

"Did you see a couple of guys earlier wearing white suits?"

"Uhhh...No. No, not at all."

Damnit.

This conversation had diverged into an awkward area long ago, and I seriously wanted to get out of here. Still feeling a little bit peculiar, I took another glance at my watch...12:46. I had class before long but really didn't plan to show up.

"Well anyway, Trevor: I'm gonna head to class now."

"Hmm...You sure? I mean, you doin' okay?" Trevor's manner changed from confused to dead serious, something that wouldn't be too terribly far of a stretch to call his trademark.

I smirked, with a thumbs-up to accompany. "Yeah, I'm feeling...keen." Wait. Keen? Maybe I was going insane after all.

At any rate, he laughed and put up a one-sided smile of his own. "Arright man. If anything happens, you give me a call, aye? You have my number." Actually, I didn't have his number, but it's the thought that counts, right?

"Alrighty..." I extended my arm.

"Kay, take it easy Alex." And we shook on it. I continued walking in the same direction, away from the English complex, whereas he doubled back into the mess of classrooms, doubtlessly toward...an English class.

Once again, I was by myself. I opened my hand, the pendant and thin chain gathered up in my open palm. The necklace was my proof of reality, allowing me to rest easy on the subject of my sanity...or at least what semblance I could retain after my previous episode.

But with my mind off my mind, thoughts only gravitated towards fear of her safety. Even if she hadn't passed through me then dissipated into spiritual nothingness...then what? I don't know where she was at or how she was doing...and I felt completely responsible for whatever trouble she'd gotten into.

I needed to get away from everything; even with the necklace, nothing at all would add up at all, let alone right...Not in my mind, and definitely not in real life. Still a bit woozy, I found that my best ideas right now all going home. As thrilling as "Introduction to Drawing" certainly was, it would take a backseat today to a far more urgent matter: hours of sleep followed by cerebral relaxation.

So began the walk across campus, from the north-by-north-west-by-English building to the southern parking lot. I scurried down the main walkway, which stretched from the north to south end of campus.

"Good afternoon, Alex." I stopped my strides...heck, I nearly jumped at the voice behind me as the world around me zoned in and existed again...unfortunately. The past few minutes' worth of walking whisked me away to my own world of useless thought.

I let out a nervous laugh---just one, as I turned around. "Hey Miss Nishimura." She rose up from the wiry bench I'd obliviously just passed (or to be more precise, failed to avoid) a few seconds prior. I blame the headache.

"Where are you going?" She eyed me up and down; not in the good, desirous way, mind you; I felt like she was about to start shooting beams out of her eyes, which would really be kind of cool until you remember who she's shooting them at.

"I have to head home real quick."

"So you arrre...not coming to class?" Her eyes stopped scanning me and fixated on my left hand, the contents of which I quickly, finally deposited into my jeans' pocket.

"Nope."

"Can I ask why?" Her right eyebrow arched, yet the left didn't budge; I thought it was cool she could do that.

"Mmm..." my eyes panned upward, because the answer must have been hiding in the top of my brain, "Family business." 'Miss N' was making me very nervous...that's not to say I wasn't already shaking, what, being completely flanked by a teacher whose class I was about to cut and all. The fact she was intermittently staring at my pants for some reason wasn't helping either...Maybe she was concerned that my jeans were laser proof...which was a moot point since she could probably just bite my head off, then shoot lasers at my torso.

But out of nowhere, her cold leg-bound stare suddenly morphed into a warm smile. "Okay then...I'll see you on Thursday?" I humbly nodded as she looked me in the eyes, "Get some rest."

"I will!" I smacked myself with both hands over the eyes. Why did I say that? Wait, why did she say that? Fingers probed at the span of skin underneath my eyes, myself unable to help but wonder how screwed up they must look.

With that strange encounter out of the way, the only thing left was to head home. Swerving through the mobs of random people partaking in the...12:51 rush to class, I made it to my car and started on the awesome journey to a place simply known as my home, or something like that anyway. My head still felt a bit weird, and sleep was starting to sound better by the minute...that, and food.

As I walked through the door to my home, I noticed an eerie silence. My mother was nowhere to be found…odd, given that her car was still parked in the driveway. In her inherent place across the way stood a note taped to the refrigerator like some kind of paper mother substitute. Well, there went my "talking to mom and seeing a doctor" stage of the ultimate master plan of eating and sleeping.

…My heart started racing, and to be honest I didn't have a clue why. Maybe it was just bad experiences, but I always had this underlying pessimism that mysterious messages left for me, from subject-less e-mails to voicemails to, yeah, even ordinary pen-written notes, only led to bad news. Sure, it wasn't the most realistic of assumptions, but pessimism was awesome in that you were always either right or pleasantly surprised…er, relieved.

Fearing the worst the world of longhand could possibly offer to me, I cautiously shuffled my way to the refrigerator's…weird-black-reflective-window-thingy-where-one-would-keep-the-milk-for-quick-access. Not content to read the note where it was, I had to tear it off for the comfort of reading it in my own hand.

Alex

Had to go on a last-minute trip

Will be gone for 3 weeks

Keep the house nice for me

No parties

Mom

Rolling my eyes, I let out an annoyed sigh. This was just too convenient, sarcasm intended. I had to read it again…then stare at it...to try and believe it. I read it once more. I still couldn't believe it.

My mother had this habit of disappearing on "business trips" whenever it was convenient…in this case, right when I needed to pay off my class dues in full for the semester, a staggering $372 for my full-time status. This was doubtlessly chump change to her…but I guess it's more beneficial when the student without a job is forced to pay for it and fails to see the money ever again because his mother is a greedy---ugh. But, I digress.

I felt completely sick now, between my physical state of being, the emotional and mental trauma this day so kindly brought, and the fact that the master eating plan with sleeping,or whatever I'd called it back in the car, pretty much collapsed in on itself.

The fridge doors swung open…nothing looked good whatsoever. In fact, the thought of eating only made me more sick, so I was opting for something that couldn't fail: I grabbed a tall cup, filled it with sink water and forced it down the hatch. Of course, it's not like straight water or even tainted sulfur-water was the cure to stomach illness…it just diluted my stomach's contents lest I found myself violently throwing up later.

Too sick to eat, too tired to do something, and really too frustrated to care, I meandered into the bedroom to retire for a few hours…maybe the rest of the day, it really wasn't important. Falling forward onto the bed, I gave up.

I felt absolutely miserable…like crying. One of the people I cared about most in the whole world completely vanished as far as I knew, and the responsibility found itself tacked onto me. I tried to save her, when I underwent what I honestly wouldn't doubt to be a psychotic episode, and then blacked out. When I came to, she was nowhere to be found…I wondered if I would see her ever again. I definitely wanted to; every fiber in my body hoped for it, but the underlying fears still rooted firmly in my mind. Those white-suit guys could have kidnapped her and then who knows what. She could be dead…And everything I thought about doing to try and find her…to help her…went on the back burner because my state of being conked out.

I stared at the ceiling until I retired to some, with any luck, restful sleep. I forced both eyes shut as my vision, darkened out and tucked underneath my eyelids, started to spin. I rolled onto my right side. My stomach was only getting worse by the minute and I felt like I was being jabbed in the kidneys with a sharp stick, praying motionlessly to myself for something to happen…bodily self-rectification…divine intervention…even alien abduction would suffice. But no such luck; the pain only became more intense, pushing me into what seemed like another, colder plane of being.

My heart throttled…Was I going to die? If I was, I wish they'd hurry up and kill me.

Then…I finally lost consciousness.

Shaking, my eyelids coaxed open by the sunlight and heat beating in. I looked around. To my left, the boring wooden door stood wide open exactly as I'd left it. On the other side, the curtains blew peacefully in front of the open window, rays of light reflected by dust mites flickering with the wind and the curtains' shade.

Everything seemed so…different. So perfect. Was I dreaming? I reached over to pinch myself and had some odd issues. Lazily, the arm surrendered, flopping effortlessly onto my stomach. It hurt, so good enough…well, one question down.

My stomach and head didn't really hurt anymore…Wait. Was I dead? For all I knew, I could have been, but honestly didn't think heaven would resemble my room…Wait, crap…Or was this hell…Which still looked just like my room. Maybe this was symbolic. Or maybe this was some other location altogether? Or maybe…I wasn't dead. After what I'd witnessed today, believing anything didn't sound so tough.

I tried to casually get up, but my body slipped awkwardly…A certain numbness protruded over me. When I tried to focus my vision farther back in my room toward the closet, I only came to a shocking discovery: I couldn't. All my senses seemed out of whack; I couldn't hear, but that was no surprise since the room was dead quiet. But my smell and taste seemed…different; almost…flowery. Was it outside? The breeze picking up the flowerbed, per chance?

I tried my hardest to roll out of bed. Landing on my feet, I stumbled, falling onto my feet much quicker than I expected. I couldn't keep my balance, and weird sensations kept washing over me; if I suddenly learned I was made out of rubber it'd make perfect sense. At least my brain was still intact. The furniture seemed larger, higher-up. Something was definitely amiss here.

I fought across the room, ready to fall over just as I caught myself on my large wooden dresser…Something caught the top of my eye and I glanced up at the mirror.

My vision suddenly snapped into place...And I think my heart stopped too.

I gazed right through the mirror. I looked in…and a composite of unworldly brown eyes, long, dark chestnut hair, and delicate but shocked facial features looked back out at me.

I…this reflection…no, I…

I was Jenna.

So this was how insanity felt…and looked, for that matter.