Junglescape, Meagan Dwyer
You wake up.
You don’t know how long you’ve slept, but it’s time to get ready for school. Oddly enough, you rolled over onto your stomach at some point in the night. Open your eyes with the expectation of cotton candy walls with butterfly borders, because at eleven years old you adore pink. Look up into the face of Steven Matsko, who you’re not even friends with.
Something is very wrong.
Cold tile presses into your cheek. The gray ceiling swoops somewhere high above you, and for a brief, bizarre second you think of a dungeon. You see no pink, only yellow: Steven Matsko’s canary shirt, rows and rows of mustard lockers. You realize he’s staring at you. You realize everyone’s staring at you.
Well this is embarrassing—you don’t understand why you would fall asleep on the school floor. Nothing hurts, which is why you register too late the taste of blood in your mouth.
Static. You can’t remember how you got here.
You can’t remember how you got here.
Your tooth lays a couple of inches away from your face. Someone peels you from the linoleum—the tooth is wrenched from your vision. You fall into the snap of an extendable wheelchair. You watch someone else pluck your tooth from the ground, securing it within a small container. Your shoe has slipped from your foot, but before you can reach for it a faceless lady from administration whisks you away. The ends of your red plaid shirt flap with the force of the woman’s driving, and she bangs you into the doorframe in her haste to meet the ambulance. Suddenly your mom appears, a face of calm in the storm of movement. Hands transport you from the wheelchair to the stretcher to the ambulance to the hospital.
In the ER, they will shove your tooth back into your mouth.
The rumors will run rampant for weeks to come: that you wore a white shirt to school that day and left with it soaked red from your own blood, how you fell on your pencil and it stabbed you through the eye.
Your friends will break down in tears during class, to the point where their teachers will have to take them out to the hall and calm them down—you never realized before how much they cared about you.
You will try to eat more, attempt to get better rest; you will watch for signs that it may happen again. It doesn’t. You can’t make sense of any of it, though your teeth continue to give you trouble for years. Random, out-of-the-blue, no-rhyme-or-reason, you say.
You throw your hands up as you again consider the unpredictability of it all, and I think of my boyfriend hitting an eight-point buck while going 50 mph down the highway, totaling his car but walking away with only minor back pains. Of my grandfather enduring a stroke in a country across the ocean from his daughters, and how he now wins golf tournaments single-handedly. I think of, years ago, my family’s white Chrysler minivan sliding into a snow drift the day after Christmas, on the side of what must have been Interstate 80. How I fell asleep in the front seat of my uncle’s dusty, red pickup while my parents waited for a tow truck. I think about all the times I have tried to convince myself that the events of my life are completely under my control.
I ask about what you remember most from that day, what still stands out amid the grogginess and chaos. You pause to think; your hands are still.
You remember your mother’s composure juxtaposed against the blurred movement of film. She rides with you in the ambulance; trying to diagnose you, she asks if you got enough sleep last night. You focus on her stillness. For once they don’t turn on the wailing sirens.
About the Artist
Meagan Dwyer · Rice University
Meagan Dwyer is a recent graduate from Rice University. Her artwork focuses on abstracting landscapes, and environmental issues. Her piece “Junglescape” was published in Rice University’s literary magazine: R2 the Rice Review. More of her art can be viewed on her instagram: @meagasaurus