The floor was always lava

I wake up in a room by myself, propped up in a bed. 

My neck can move more easily, and my body is numb. I am scared to move too much though, for I fear the pain will return.

It’s hard to believe all of this has happened in one day. Lava, crash, death, ambulance, surgery.

I glance down at the lava-covered floor. I’ve only been seeing it for less than 24 hours, but it doesn’t seem strange anymore. I’ve grown accustomed to the orange, seemingly deadly thing that has come out of the floor. I’ve grown to ignore the spurts that shoot up onto my bed—this day has been so insane already that I might as well go take a swim in the lava. 

But I can’t—for if I move, I might be taken back to the car. If I move, I might not fall asleep at five. If I move, I might not have woken up only seconds ago. I might have to watch my best friend die over and over again—all because of one person who couldn’t mind to look at the color of the traffic light. 

The amber of the floor is comforting. It reminds me of when my best friend was alive. It reminds me of my childhood and hopping around on furniture as if my life depended on it, and it did. 

As I reminisce about the imagination of my childhood and apparently my college self, the lava cools in some places, and I realize pain has slowly started to creep back into my body. The black ash floats on the lake of lava, and the pain scratches at me.

The hospital room door creaks open. 

I look up at the nurse and then back down at the pattern of black. How long has that been there?

The nurse starts checking the clipboard at my table and the charts by my head. 

Through the stabbing feeling in my chest and the suffocation of my seemingly crushed lungs, I choke out a cough. 

I cough up blood. 

The black in the lava is forming words.

“The young and old see the truth.”

The nurse frantically reaches the call button for more help.

The lava is communicating with me.

“You have to die today. You see the truth.”

The nurses come rushing in, scrambling around my bed. 

What truth?

“The floor has always been lava.”

More blood leaves my body, and the pain in my chest deepens. 

The entire time. My entire life the floor has been lava. I’ve been manipulated by society to believe lava couldn’t be the ground. 

Scarlet died thinking we were insane, but we weren’t. 

The house on the hill, the PhD, the family, the neighbors, that perfect life we planned was never meant for us. The dorm was to be our last home. We were supposed to go on adventures together and travel the world before we made our way back to this college. 

But we lived a good life. We met each other and made memories. We had loving families that will miss us and wish they had the chance to say goodbye—and I wish I had the chance, too. 

It was never a dream.

The floor was always lava. 

I cough one last time, and I take a last look at the amber, orange volcano ready to erupt.

As the nurses are rushing around me and machines are being attached, I close my eyes and let the pain take over me.