It was dark; probably very early in the morning, I guessed. I had woken up to the feeling of my dog's rough tongue licking my face vigorously, and yawned sleepily.
"Lila, stop it," I protested, gently pushing the eager German Shepherd off of my chest. I glanced at the digital clock that glowed dimly on my bedside table.
"It's nine o'clock? Really?" I looked towards the window across the room from my bed. Only a small sliver of light from the street lamps outside shone through my blue, satin curtains.
I shrugged, figuring that it was probably just really cloudy again, and climbed out of bed.
I shuffled to the tiny kitchen of my apartment and blearily poured myself a bowl of cereal as Lila pranced around the tile floor.
I sat down on my little couch and turned on my television to the news channel as I ate my breakfast. I nearly fell back to sleep again but caught myself before I could faceplant into my bowl.
The news was quite boring, but there was never anything else on when I got up.
Just the same old boring newscaster droning on about the same boring criminals, boring politics, and other boring stories every single boring morning.
While my life was not the most exciting one, it wasn't bad either. I had a job as a waitress at a local diner, and the people there were always nice.
Mostly because when I had my shift, all the regulars were in for their lunch. The people there got so predictable that I had memorized their favorite dishes to order, but I didn't mind.
It just made my job easier. I quite enjoyed my conversations with the customers. They weren't very in-depth conversations, but they were always so friendly to me.
I would go to work every afternoon at 1 o'clock, and not leave to drive home until 10.
I was always so exhausted from my shift that I was practically asleep already in the car, so I could never remember going to bed the night before.
After breakfast, I went to take my daily shower. I gathered up my white towels which I never seemed to remember washing from the small linen closet and headed down the hall.
Then suddenly, as I was walking to the bathroom, I heard an odd sound. I stopped and listened closely. It was the faint sound of a beep that sounded like it was matching my heartbeat.
Or maybe it was the other way around...
I peeked into all of my rooms, searching around for the source of the noise, but it never got any louder or softer and it didn't seem to be coming from any one direction.
Now quite anxious from the incessant sound, I went back to my original plan of taking a shower and tried to ignore it.
As I was drying my long, brown hair in front of the mirror in my bathroom, I looked at the calendar that hung next to the mirror. The date was April 20th.
It was my 32nd birthday! I gazed at my reflection and beamed.
I still looked like I was 18! Well... actually that was a bit odd. I never used moisturizer or anything. Just good genes, I supposed.
I looked down at Lila who was sitting next to me and wagging her tail so hard that it made a thudding sound against the wall every time it swung,
her tongue lolling out of her mouth like it had done since my 14th birthday when I adopted her. I smiled as I looked at her excited face, then paused.
Lila was 20 years old and still this energetic? Most dogs don't live past fifteen. I frowned. Something was odd about this, but I tried to brush it off. She was always a very healthy dog.
Maybe it was just paying off.
I attempted to distract myself from the beeping and the thoughts crowding my mind with plans for what I should do with my birthday, but it didn't work.
My mind always managed to drag me back to thinking about all the strange things I had been noticing. I kept pushing them away, but they would come back more forcefully every time.
So, finally, I gave in.
Questions that had never occurred to me began rushing into my head as I let the thoughts take over, and the sound gradually began to grow louder and louder.
How was it that I looked like I hadn't aged a day in fourteen years? Why was every day exactly the same as the day before? Why could I never remember what I did the night before?
I stumbled, overwhelmed by the thoughts crowding their way into my mind, and caught myself on the edge of the sink.
Am I going mad? I wondered as I stared at my reflection. I ran my shaky hands through my damp hair and grabbed a bottle of aspirin from the cabinet.
After swallowing a couple of pills that seemed to dull the beeping sound,
I quickly got dressed and walked to the cafe where I would meet my best friend every morning for coffee and conversation.
I sat at our usual table and as soon as she arrived, before she could even put down her purse, I asked, "Emma, don't you find it strange that nothing ever changes around here?"
"Of course not, Zoe," she replied, laughing slightly at the question and settling into her seat.
I rubbed my temples as the beeping began to increase in volume again, the sound pounding in my head and making my ears ring. "What do you mean?" I asked as a waiter delivered our coffee.
"You're in a coma, of course," replied Emma, casually sipping her iced mocha as if her reply was completely normal. The beeping was now as loud as a freight train. I felt faint.
"You've been reliving the day you got into that freak car accident over and over for two weeks."
My eyes flickered open. Sunlight streamed through a large window draped with thin, white curtains. A heart monitor beeped quietly beside me.