I woke up to the screaming of my phone’s alarm. My fingers groped around for the vibrating device while trying hard to pry open my heavy eyelids. Like clockwork, my index finger found the snooze button, mercifully halting the incessant ringing. That was when I felt it.
A moment before I opened my eyes, I felt that there was something wrong. Lying flat on my back, my sleepy eyes staring at the singular iron nail embedded in the ceiling. My brain tried to reach out and sense the irregularity, but could not pinpoint exactly what it was. I shrugged it all off as a dream and closed my eyes again.
But when I woke up for good 10 minutes later, the weird sensation prevailed. In the end, I gave up and went downstairs.
My dad was sitting on the sofa, watching the early morning news. He nodded at me for a second before returning his focus on the news about the weather. My towel was already hanging by the bathroom door, but the odd thing was…
It was pink. yet for some reason, I was a hundred percent sure it was my towel.
I must be going paranoid.
The hands of Morpheus were moving around in my head again, lulling me back into his embrace, so I ignored the sense of foreboding and stepped in the bathroom. I didn’t look straight in the mirror, as I would usually do. Perhaps if I did, I would have caused a lot of problems. But I didn’t look at my reflection. Instead, I took off my clothes first. And that was when I saw it.
My eyes grew wide and my heart rate went off the charts.
A split second before a scream escaped my open mouth, my hand instinctively flew up to cover it. I forced my baffled brain to work and sorted out my jarred thoughts in a heartbeat.
If I scream, my parents will panic. They’ll come running and ask what’s wrong. Then I’ll say… no, they’ll understand once they see me. But… my dad already saw me, and yet he didn’t seem shocked. This is a drag… maybe I should act normally first and find out what happened to me.
In those few seconds, I formulated a plan.
It took me 10 minutes longer than usual to take a bath. I wasn’t used to this body. I went straight upstairs, careful in tying my towel around me like how they do it. Once I was upstairs, I hastily checked my cabinet. I didn’t know why I wasn’t surprised.
What are these? I don’t remember having this. What’s this? How do you wear this?
Even though I was completely disoriented, I did my best to know which one I was supposed to wear and in what order. It took me some time to get the clothes straight, and the uniform felt weird. I’m not supposed to be wearing this.
Even my bag and things were completely different. I knew I had to find out which one is which, but I was running late. I had to leave.
“Bye, dad.” I called out in the new voice I wasn’t used to.
“Bye, Jo-” I couldn’t hear my name over the noise the door beside our unit made as it slammed shut. But somehow, I felt that my name must be concealed from me… until the right time.
While walking through the street, I couldn’t help but notice the collective eyes of boys on me. I’ve never felt this watched before. Eyes, staring straight at me. Or at some other point on my body. I tried to ignore them, but even as I stepped within the walls of my school, I still felt watched. I forcefully pushed away the unpleasant feeling and busied myself by studying the other students entering. None of them seemed to look at me weirdly. But I expected that; I knew none of them.
The chilly and noisy atmosphere of the Amadome greeted me. Automatically, my eyes found Nico, Jay and Frank, huddled together. Andrew and Joan were talking together with Terry. I walked towards them, checking if they would react to seeing me.
“Oh, hey look, it’s our playtoy!” Andrew laughed and clapped me across the back. Nico whistled and raised his brows. I tried hard not to show the confusion growing in me. Jay seemed held back, but he smiled at me. Behind him, I saw Jet smiling at me too, but it seemed forced.
It’s him. I had a hunch that he’d know. He is my best friend, is he not?
“What happened to you?” Shin’s eyes were full of surprise. But there was another glint in his eyes, something I’ve seen before.
“What? She’s always been like this.” Nico raised an eyebrow.
“And her name isn’t Joshua.” Joan chimed in.
For the first time, I looked at my ID. It showed a girl, shockingly beautiful, with long, wavy hair, with large glasses. She was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. And below the picture, was her name.
Joshina A. Inopiquez.