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(Prose) Sleepwalking

Ophelia sleepwalks. This is a known fact if you are close with Ophelia or her family. In fact, sometimes her siblings take turns making sure she didn’t sleepwalk into the middle of the street and get plowed down by a drunk driver. Tonight, however, she isn’t sleepwalking.

It is 2:54 in the morning when Ophelia gets in her bright blue Jeep and speeds off into the dark night. It’s freezing outside and the streets are empty, but Ophelia is nice and warm in her Jeep. Her nightgown gets in the way of the pedals a little bit, but not enough for Ophelia to get angry. At any other time of day, Ophelia would probably have cursed the nightgown out and ripped it into a million pieces, but alas it was 2:54 in the morning. Ophelia was too jittery to be angry.

Ophelia speeds on the freeway until she reaches the 24 hour department store. The employees are grumpy and tired, angry that someone would come visit them so early in the morning.

“Welcome,” grumbles an overworked teenager from the front desk.

“Hello,” says a cheery Ophelia as she skips past him to the dress section of the store.

After scanning the crowded shelves for a little bit, she finally finds what she is looking for. A silk pink dress that she has been eyeing for months. She has never had the courage to buy it, as it is almost $300, but tonight she is going to take that step.

After a particularly rough month, Ophelia thinks she deserves some joy. She doesn’t like to think about it too much, but in the past month both her grandfather and her dog passed away. With all the weight of loss and bitterness on her shoulders, Ophelia takes her dress to the counter and gets ready to pay for it.

Someone enters the store and catches her eye. A man with a gleaming gold chain around his neck and a dark bowler hat on his head enters the store, swarmed by bodyguards in tight black suits. Ophelia can’t quite make out everything about him from where she stands but she can see sharp features and brilliant blue eyes.

“Buy me something,” he says, handing a wad of cash to a nearby bodyguard, who apparently waits on him hand and foot.

The bodyguard says something obscene under his breath and walks off into the store. The flashy man catches sight of Ophelia and walks suavely over to the counter.

“Another late night shopper?” he says slyly.

Ophelia smiles politely. “Just doing some er… emotional shopping.”

“$304.05,” mutters the poor employee.

Slightly embarrassed, Ophelia pulls out her credit card and pays for the dress.

“I’m doing some emotional shopping as well,” says the flashy man. “My girlfriend broke up with me.” “I’m sorry to hear that,” Ophelia says, curtly. “I best be going now.”

And so, Ophelia does just that. She takes her pink silk dress home in her bright blue jeep and has a peaceful night's sleep, feeling much better than she did before. It is important to note that after buying that dress, Ophelia has yet to sleepwalk again. It was expensive, but Ophelia knows she made the right choice.

What she will never know, however, is that the flashy man in the department store had a name. His name was Bill and he too struggled with sleepwalking. Bill came into the store that night afraid that if he fell asleep he would sleepwalk out into the middle of the street and get plowed down by a car. His bodyguards claim to stay by his side when he falls asleep, but he knows that the second his eyes close, they leave him all by himself.

Feeling stressed about his upcoming SAT test and the fact his girlfriend just broke up with him, Bill thought he deserved some joy. Using his Dad’s credit card he hit up an ATM and went as the pretty girl in the store put it, ‘emotional shopping’.

Ophelia and Bill would forever go their separate ways, never to see each other again. Ophelia would wear her expensive dress wherever she could and she always looked glamorous and elegant in pink silk.

About a week later, his father asked Bill where his new chain was and he shrugged a simple, “I don’t know,” and went on with the rest of his day.

The two both felt that perhaps they deserved some joy in their lives that night, but it is quite obvious that only one of them ended up feeling better.

ash reynolds is a junior in high school. they have always loved writing and have been doing it since they were a little kid, as well as other forms of art like drawing, photography and music. ash is the social media co-runner and prose co-editor at love letters magazine.

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