From Someone Else's Dream



Scene Title From Someone Else's Dream
Synopsis The stranger sang a theme…
Date October 24, 2020

The world is a blur beyond darkened windows reflecting fluorescent lights.

The stranger sang a theme

Heavy headphones rest atop Asami Tetsuzan’s head, reflected in that muted mirror-like surface of the car’s windows. The late-night subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan is mostly unpopulated, with only two other people in the same car as her. One, a burly old man in a winter jacket slouched in a corner sound asleep, another a middle aged woman looking despondently at her phone.

From someone else's dream

The song playing over Asami’s headphones has a pulsing electronic beat to it, the singer’s voice melodic and haunting in one. The subway car jostles and sways from side to side, lights flicker and for a moment Asami can see the concrete walls outside of the car’s windows more clearly. But when the lights come back on she’s greeted with her reflection again.

The leaves began to fall

It's the reflection that catches her off-guard. Looking into a mirror— you expect, to some extent, what you see. The more candid version of herself seen somewhat unexpectedly when the lights come back on…

And no one spoke at all

It looks so little like herself, the self she imagines herself to be, that it takes her by surprise. She lifts a hand to adjust the headphones more snugly over her ear, posture righting just a little from the slump she'd settled into.

But I can't seem to recall

She'd been out, tonight, to see a live show. She hadn't even been working, and yet— the woman that stares back is one a slave to the grind nonetheless. One who is bound by the capitalist claws of the 8-5 haul, one whose small acts of rebellion against the cyclical progression of weeks grow ever more insignificant.

When you came along

Just who had she become while she wasn't looking?


The lights flicker again with a second jostling sway of the subway cars. The burly man asleep at the back of the car shifts and grunts, pressing his face up against the window in an undignified way. The woman staring at her phone does so with a hand over her mouth. It’s hard to tell if she’s received bad news, or is waiting for it. The beat of the song goes on to the rhythm of life on the train, until the lights flicker again and then don’t come back on.


The light above vanished, the tiny glow from the woman's phone draws Asami's eyes next. She waits a beat. Another. She counts the heavy seconds that pass in the screeching dark of the underground, waiting in that limbo for the period of darkness to end. Eyes closing to embrace the moment for what it is, she looks forward again, releasing a slow exhale when her eyes open again.

I just don't know what to do

The lights sputter, coming back on in a sudden flicker. The fact that there is someone else in the subway car now sends an involuntary chill of fright down Asami’s spine. Seated directly across from her is a child — maybe eleven or twelve years old — on the precipice of becoming a teenager. Japanese, disaffected, dressed in a carnation red hoodie and dark jeans, black headphones over her ears. She’s looking directly at Asami.

The tree-lined avenue

For a moment, she no longer hears the sound of the song at all. Then, she pulls the headphones down from her ear entirely, expression unguarded at the start the child has given her. The hum of the music continues to play from around her neck as she studies the girl across from her warily. Where had she come from? It's a question she holds in her mind alone, too tense to speak.

Begins to fade from view

The girl watches Asami with an unblinking stare, her chin up and brows furrowed. Pursing her lips, it looks as though the teen would say something, even as the subway car whips past a station visible as a barely recognizable blur at the kid’s back. The digital sign that indicates what stop they’re at hasn’t come back on, reflecting a matte black void. “Where is the host?” she asks, her stare unblinking.

Drowning past regrets

Asami's brow knits together with even more suspicion than before. She'd been on the verge of asking the child what she was doing traveling alone this late at night, but this— this strange appearance, this strange line of questioning, it was something out of a ghost story. "«What did you say?»" she replies cautious, careful. "What host?"

In tea and cigarettes

The lights flicker again, but only briefly. One second or perhaps two of darkness, and just like a ghost story the girl in front of Asami is gone. In her place, she can only see her own reflection in the dark glass. The electronic sign flickers back on, and Asami is left to wonder if the shudder of the train roused her from a dream, or if she had only just now fallen asleep.

But I can't seem to forget

Her breath catches, anyway, on seeing the child is gone. Quickly, she touches the headphones around her neck again to confirm— no, they weren't still on her head. She really had lowered them. She hadn't…. No, she hadn't imagined all of that. But if she hadn't, then how to explain what had just happened? What she'd seen? Asami takes a beat, watching and waiting to see if perhaps the next flicker of light will reveal something else entirely. There's a long moment where she simply holds her breath in anticipation, waiting for something that doesn't happen. And when she finally exhales, she struggles to make sense of the child's flash of a presence, and the question she'd asked.

When you came along

No one else on the subway car seems to have noticed the happening. The woman on her cell phone looks disgusted now, her brows knit together with anger or frustration. She looks up from her phone and exhales a breathless curse and stares up at the digital sign indicating that the platform for Chelsea is approaching. The burly man sleeping at the back of the train is still asleep, unaware of the red-hooded existential phantom that briefly occupied the space near to him.


Who had she been? And just what had she meant?

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