MidReal Story

Twisted Fates: Childhood Friends, Adult Hearts

May 7
Scenario: a little girl of four years old wakes up as a woman of eightteen in the same bed as a young man she's known all his life.
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a little girl of four years old wakes up as a woman of eightteen in the same bed as a young man she's known all his life.
I somehow knew it was a dream.
That doesn’t stop me from waking up in a cold sweat, my heart hammering in my chest.
The first thing I notice is that I can’t breathe, and when I open my eyes, I’m met with the sight of a boy’s face.
His eyes are closed, long eyelashes grazing his cheeks.
His soft, full lips are slightly parted, and his hair is dark and wavy, falling into his face.
Our noses are only inches apart, and his breath is warm against my skin.
I gasp at the feel of his weight on top of me, my chest heavy and strained.
It feels like I’ve been crushed beneath a giant boulder, and I struggle to suck in a breath as I realize I’m pinned to the bed.
Panic grips at my insides, and I can’t think straight as I try to make sense of what’s happening.
The last thing I remember is going to bed in my childhood room, with its pink walls and unicorn posters.
I can almost feel the softness of my favorite stuffed animals, still tucked away in the corner of the room where they’ve been for over a decade.
But this isn’t my room.
The walls are decorated with dark, floral wallpaper that reminds me of something out of an old movie.
There’s an antique armoire against the far wall, with an oval mirror that reflects back at me as I lie there.
The soft light from a nearby lamp casts a warm glow over everything, but it’s still not enough to make me feel like this isn’t a dream.
I blink several times, my mind feeling fuzzy as I try to make sense of everything happening at once.
And then, just as I’m starting to panic again, it hits me like a ton of bricks: the boy on top of me is someone I’ve known all my life.
My best friend Alex is lying on top of me, his weight pressing me down into the bed as if he were a weighted blanket.
He shouldn’t be here.
He shouldn’t be lying on top of me in bed like this.
And yet he is.
My heart races even faster as the panic sets in again, and for a moment, I have trouble thinking straight.
How did he get here?
Why am I here?
What’s going on?
I struggle to sit up, but Alex’s weight keeps me pinned in place, and for a moment, I think he might be dead.
That’s silly, of course—why would he be dead?
I shut my eyes tight and count to three; when nothing changes, I push at his shoulders, trying to move him off of me so I can sit up and get away from him.
“Alex,” I hiss, giving him a shake and trying not to panic any more than I already am.
“What are you doing?
Get off!”
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He groans and shifts slightly at my touch, then finally opens his eyes.
I can’t help my gasp of surprise as they meet mine.
They’re dark and cloudy with sleep and confusion.
The way he says my name makes my heart stutter and skip a beat.
His voice is deep and warm and slightly hoarse with sleep.
It sounds different than it did before.
But it can’t be…the same time it hits me that this is my best friend lying on top of me, it also occurs to me that it isn’t really him at all.
Alex Thompson is a boy.
The Alex Thompson I grew up with is a boy.
But this Alex isn’t a boy at all.
This Alex is a man.
He’s eighteen years old—the same age as me—but he’s not a boy anymore.
He’s a man.
My best friend is a man.
And he…is lying on top of me in bed.
It must have been a dream.
That’s the only explanation for what’s happening right now—it must have been a dream.
But if it was a dream…why does it feel so real?
“Alex,” I say again as he opens his eyes and looks up at me with a frown on his face.
“What are you doing here?”
The words come out of my mouth before I can stop them, and I swallow hard and look down at him as if the answer will somehow materialize out of thin air.
And then something even more shocking occurs to me: he doesn’t look like himself at all.
Not really like himself at all.
The Alex Thompson I knew growing up had shaggy blonde hair that always fell into his face no matter how many times he pushed it back behind his ears.
He had bright blue eyes and freckles on his nose and cheeks that made him look even younger than he was.
But this Alex has dark hair and even darker eyes that are almost black as they search my face for answers.
His skin is tan and clear, without a single freckle on it anywhere.
He is nothing like the Alex I remember.
And he hasn’t been for a long time.
Tears sting my eyes as I finally recognize the person lying next to me, and for a moment, it feels as though I’m seeing him for the very first time.
I don’t understand how this could have happened—how I could have fallen asleep in my bed with my best friend and woken up next to a complete stranger.
It makes no sense.
It’s impossible.
And yet here we are, lying next to each other on this old, rickety bed in my childhood bedroom, just like we always have been.
Only…we’re not.
The boy who used to climb trees with me, play hide and seek, and share secrets is now an eighteen-year-old man with a face more mature and sharp than I’ve ever seen it before.
He’s taller and more muscular too, his chest broad and strong as he lies there beside me.
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The weight of his hand on my thigh is both a comfort and a reminder of just how strange this all is.
I know that hand.
I’ve held it a thousand times.
I’ve traced its lines with my own fingers, feeling its warmth and strength.
I’ve done it so many times that I can still tell you exactly what it feels like, even now that he’s older.
He has long fingers, unlike my own short ones, and his nails are always perfectly trimmed.
The color of his skin is darker than mine, something about growing up in the sweltering heat of Texas, and his veins stand out in stark contrast against the surface of his skin.
His hands are almost as familiar to me as my own.
It feels wrong in some ways, but also not wrong at all.
My heart is racing as I try to make sense of this, and my head is swimming with a thousand questions that I don’t know how to answer.
As I look around the room, it takes me a moment to realize where we are.
This is my childhood bedroom.
I haven’t been in this room in years, but it takes me no time at all to recognize it: the pink walls, the old twin-sized bed, the unicorn wallpaper that my mother picked out when I was seven years old.
It’s all exactly the way I left it, down to the old teddy bear sitting on my dresser, but there is something strange about this room that I can’t quite put my finger on.
It feels different somehow, although I can’t say exactly why.
Nothing about this is right, but I don’t know how to fix it.
I’m not sure I even want to.
My stomach is turning over on itself as I try to sit up, the motion making me even dizzier than before.
I squeeze my eyes shut as the room spins around me, but the feeling only grows worse as I turn to him again, trying to make sense of this situation.
“Alex,” I say again, shaking his shoulders more urgently this time, “wake up.”
He doesn’t move, not even when I shake him again, more vigorously this time.
“Alex,” I say, louder this time, but he doesn’t budge.
His hand is still on my thigh, the weight of it pressing me into the mattress, anchoring me in place as the room spins around me.
“Alex,” I say for the third time, desperation creeping into my voice.
He stirs then, groaning softly as he rolls onto his back and flings his arm over his face to shield himself from the light pouring in through the window above my bed.
He stretches his long legs out in front of him, his toes peeking out from beneath the end of the sheets, and groans again as he sits up next to me.
I watch him through blurry eyes, my vision still swimming in front of me, so it takes me a moment to realize what he’s doing: staring down at his chest in disbelief.
I follow his gaze but see nothing out of the ordinary at first—just the same tan skin and broad shoulders that have been there since we were kids—but then my breath catches in my throat as I see it too: the smattering of dark hair on his chest has grown in throughout the night, thick and wild as it covers every inch of his skin from his collarbone down to his waistband.
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I’m filled with a sudden sense of panic as I realize what this means: I’m not four years old anymore.
I’m eighteen now, but that doesn’t make any sense.
I was just four years old last night, when my mother tucked me in and kissed me goodnight, and how could that possibly change overnight?
And why is Alex here?
And what am I going to do if he doesn’t wake up?
My heart is pounding in my chest as panic threatens to overwhelm me, but there is no time for that now.
I have to keep it together.
I need to think this through.
Something is wrong here, but I don’t know what it is.
Nothing about this makes any sense, and my head is swimming with questions that I can’t answer.
Alex groans again, sitting up next to me as he rubs his eyes and looks around the room.
At first, he doesn’t seem to notice me at all, but then his gaze lands on mine and his eyes go wide with shock.
He blinks at me in disbelief, and then he seems to remember what is happening as he rolls onto his side and grabs my shoulders in both hands.
He shakes me back and forth, harder and faster each time, but I can’t seem to string two coherent thoughts together.
My head is still swimming as I try to make sense of this, trying to remember how we got here, but nothing makes any sense.
I was just four years old last night, and now I’m eighteen and Alex is right here next to me and I don’t know what to do about any of it.
I squint at him through blurry eyes, my vision still swimming in front of me as I try to make sense of this situation.
He’s so close that I can see every detail of his face: the way his eyes crinkle up when he smiles, the way his long lashes fan out against his cheeks when he closes them, and even the way that his dark hair falls across his forehead in loose waves that have always driven me crazy.
My breath catches in my throat as I think about how different everything is now, and I can feel a blush creeping up my neck as I realize just how close our faces are.
We’ve never been this close before, not really, and I’m not sure what to do about this new proximity between us.
I’ve always known that Alex was good-looking—how could I not?
—but I’ve never really thought about him this way before.
It seems kind of silly now that I’m eighteen years old and he’s been gone for so long, but it’s impossible to ignore how much he’s changed in the past four years.
He was always tall and athletic, even when we were kids, but he’s only grown more since then: waist broader and shoulders stronger than ever before.
His chest is more muscular too, something that fills me with an embarrassing sense of awareness that I can’t quite shake.
I’ve never really thought about Alex like this before, but I can’t seem to tear my eyes away from his body either, no matter how hard I try.
I know that he’s my best friend and that nothing between us has changed like that, but he’s still a boy and I’m still a girl and there’s still a part of me that can’t help but notice just how much he’s grown into himself over the years.
It doesn’t make any sense for me to be thinking about him like this right now, but everything is wrong right now and nothing makes any sense anymore.
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"Alex," I say breathlessly as I shake him harder, unable to think about anything else other than waking him up right now. And with a mumble, he stirs and moans as his eyes flutter open.
His voice is low and rough as he groans, his gaze still swimming in front of him as I shake him harder than before.
"Alex," I say again, louder this time, but he just moans in response and tries to turn away from me instead.
"Alex," I say desperately as I grab onto his shoulder with both hands and shake him harder than ever before.
"Wake up!" But no matter how hard I shake him or how loudly I call his name, he just lays there on the bed next to me, looking half-asleep and only half-aware of what’s going on around us.
"Stop," he grumbles as he grabs my wrist in one hand to stop me from shaking him so hard.
But if anything else has happened since then—if anyone has come into the room or if anything has changed in any way—then he doesn’t show any sign of noticing it himself.
His eyes remain closed as he lays there on the bed next to me, lost in the depths of sleep without any idea of what’s happening around us.
"Alex," I say desperately as I shake him harder than ever before, trying to wake him up regardless of what he says.
I’m not sure why it’s so important for me to wake him up right now—why I’m so desperate for him to open his eyes and look at me—but it feels like the most important thing in the world.
I know that something has happened, that things have changed between us in some way that I don’t understand, but I don’t know how to fix any of it.
I don’t know how any of this happened or why, or even if we can do anything about it at all.
All I know is that everything is wrong right now, that nothing is the way it should be, that Alex is right here next to me looking more handsome than ever before, and that I have no idea what I’m supposed to do about any of it.
"Alex," I say again with tears streaming down my face, but he doesn’t respond at all.
"Alex," I say desperately as I shake him again, looking at his face through blurry eyes as I try to wake him up once and for all.
But even if I can’t quite see his expression through the tears that have welled up in my eyes, I can tell that it hasn’t changed at all: his jaw remains slack against his chest as he continues to snore next to me, completely unaware of what’s going on around us.
He doesn’t seem to realize how much has changed between us now, how different things are between us now than they were when we were children.
With each passing second, I can feel a sense of panic creeping up inside of me, and it’s getting harder and harder to breathe through the fear that threatens to overwhelm me.
And then, when I break out into a fresh wave of sobs, something inside of me snaps—and before I even stop to think about it, I raise one hand and slap Alex across the face as hard as I can.
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He jolts awake with a gasp, his eyes flying open and his hands automatically rising to his face to cradle his cheek against the pain of my blow.
He stares at me with wide eyes in the darkness, and I can see the confusion dawning on his face as he tries to figure out what’s happening and why he’s here with me of all people.
But when he finally registers the look of distress on my face and the tears streaming down my cheeks, his expression softens into one of concern and he reaches out to touch my shoulder with one hand.
"Em," he says softly.
"Are you all right?"
I want to say no—that nothing is all right right now and that I have no idea what’s happening or why or even if it’s real or not.
But instead I only nod my head against the pillow and try to focus on the sound of his voice to keep from crying again.
"Yeah," I say hoarsely after a moment.
"I’m okay."
Alex looks at me quietly for another moment or two, but when it becomes clear that he isn’t going to get any more of an explanation out of me, his gaze softens even further and he leans in to press a gentle kiss on my forehead.
"Get some sleep, okay?" he says quietly as he settles back down next to me.
"We’ll talk about it in the morning."
I don’t know why he’s being so understanding right now, but his words make me feel at least a little bit better as I close my eyes and let the darkness take me back over once again.
But even though I’m able to fall asleep once more, the darkness is anything but peaceful, and when I finally do wake up again, it’s only to find that I’m even more confused than I was before.
The first thing I notice is the weight resting on top of me, and the fact that it’s still there, even though Alex has rolled over at some point during the night and is now lying on his stomach next to me instead of sprawled out on top of me.
The second thing I notice is that he’s still sleeping—deeply enough that he hasn’t even woken up from the fact that I’m trying to shake him awake.
I try to tell myself that that must be a good thing—that maybe it means we’re just dreaming or something and that everything will go back to normal as soon as we wake up from all of this—but even if that was true, it wouldn’t change the fact that I have no idea what’s going on right now, or what happened between us last night, or how we’re supposed to move forward from here.
Before I even realize what I’m doing, I’ve started shaking Alex as hard as I possibly can, trying to wake him up before it’s too late—but all my attempts do is make him mumble something completely incoherent against his pillow and reach out to pull me closer.
I try not to think about what that means—that even in his dreams he wants me close to him—and instead just focus on the fact that he must be able to wake up at some point, if only I’m able to shake him hard enough.
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