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The Sneeze

Emilia Hulson 2005 (St. Paul)



Have you ever had a sneeze so powerful your body shakes by itself? So forceful that you get chills without realizing it?
Where you open your eyes afterward and suddenly you are in the middle of a body of water, you see the distant shore and start swimming towards it when you realize that you are wearing a giant elmo suit, skin tight and also three sizes too big.
You shiver from the cold and you’re sitting in the backseat of your grandmother’s car, with your other grandma driving down the highway. You are in a toddler’s car seat that somehow fits your normal-sized body, although maybe you aren’t normal-sized at all. You look out the window and see some weirdo in a bright red suit, swimming in the middle of the lake.
The song on the radio switches and you look up, mid jump from an airplane, parachute strapped to your back as you hear John yell “better than the pictures!”.
You look back down and see the countryside wheezing past as you bike down the roads, crying out of contentedness, and feel a sneeze coming on.
You hold it back and then pull the blanket off your face, hearing Jackie laugh because you always hide your face at the jumpscares don't you?
You look into the water from the dock and watch the rock you just threw bounce off the surface. You realize that this is probably a dream when you turn into the rock and jump as high as you can, shooting off the water.
You then realize that this isn’t your dream, but it belongs to a man named Carl. You don’t know how you know this but you pass it off, looking out the plane window as the intercom bell rings and you run through the school hallways, already late but much too early as you turn the corner and Carl says “How funny, I think this isn’t my dream, but Harriet’s”
But you know that’s actually not true, because this is definitely Willow’s dream, you can tell because her least favorite color is blue, and the couch you're sitting on is white, and Willow is the only person you don’t think exists who doesn’t like the color blue.
You feel a sneeze coming on but instead it’s a hiccup, the violent kind, so powerful your body shakes by itself, so forceful that you get chills without realizing it. You taste the non-cream cheese from your bagel you didn’t eat earlier, because this isn’t your dream, although maybe it’s Chelsea’s. That would make sense because she never has bagels in the morning, so no cream cheese.
You hiccup again, because hiccups are one of the only bodily functions that can NOT be left alone, and watch from your 2nd row seat as the dancer jumps into the air and lands gracefully into the water. You realize that you were not, in fact, watching a Ballet, but were sitting in the middle of a swamp, watching a frog leap after a fly. You can see how you got it confused, as the frog has a leotard, tutu and is currently getting their makeup redone.
You take over from the other makeup artist and help the actor get into costume, almost time for their monologue. You tell the tech crew guy next to you that it’s nice that 5 weeks in and the house is still packed.
They remark that it would be nice, except that this party at Nick’s has been going for 5 weeks and the house is still packed. You tell them that you think that you're going to watch from the audience, and walk away as they marvel at how you somehow managed to escape.
You return to your seat as the second act ends and they realize you only just sat down, so they begin the show again. You leave and walk 23.05 miles back home, beating your previous time by 2 minutes. You sit down on the blue couch, meaning it was Willow's, because it isn’t, and that’s exactly what they want you to think. Your nose starts twitching and you look into the light, giving in to the sneeze.
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Submitted on March 24, 2021

3:31 min read
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Emilia Hulson

Emilia Hulson is a 15 year old Minnesotan poet, who often explores the deeper and darker sides of her life, focusing on struggles that affect her. more…

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