Ever have an experience that felt surreal, as though you’d been suddenly transported into the twilight zone, where time seemed to warp, perhaps slowing down or speeding up? Tell us all about it. If you haven’t had an experience in real life that you can draw from, write a fictional account of a surreal experience.
In Grade 11, we had our first Parent-Teacher-Student meeting for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, an academically enriched course of studies that had us as its pilot students. The meeting was held in a wing of the library on a school day evening. The library was a familiar and comfortable setting; I’d spent the majority of my time after school in there, reading whatever I could get my hands (usually sci fi, fantasy, or horror novels, but the odd pop culture magazine as well) on while waiting for dad to come and to pick us up at 5:00 pm. Our school hours ran from 7:00 pm to 3:00 pm — a full work day without pay, and plenty of homework (even over Christmas, Easter and the Spring break holidays).
No more than 50 people were scheduled to arrive at the meeting that night, but as they gradually cascaded in, I became aware of a very strange phenomenon that I can only describe as “talking in a fog.” This happened in the 15-20 minutes before our teachers were to take to the microphone to give an overview of the IB program (as it stood, going into our second and third (final) years), to our parents, and field any questions.
It was as if white clouds had suddenly and physically obscured everyone in my line of vision, and made the very act of conversation on my part seem surreal. It was not an out-of-body experience, but I could almost feel trapped in my body as I observed myself talking very lucidly to one of my teachers. People around me seemed to be talking in a slow-motion, dream-like state. I mentally pinched myself and shook my head, but the fog stayed there. What the devil was going on?
At first, I thought it was textbook stage fright, but dismissed the idea; I have sat in auditoriums with hundreds of students before, and I was much younger then, too. For another reason, none of the symptions of stage fright afflicted me: my palms were not sweaty, my extremities were not tingling, my heart was not racing, and my mouth was not dry. I appeared on the outside to everyone else as a calm and composed person.
The ultimate irony was that, as a small (17-20) student body of an elite educational program, we were rather (i.e. too) well acquainted with each other (having spent every single class with each other over the previous preparatory year!)–some of us even knew the parents of our fellow students (a few who were teachers or professors themselves, too).
It took a few more minutes before the less-than-metaphorical fog disappeared. I have never experienced that phenomenon again (knock on wood), nor would I care to.
- Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone (dailypost.wordpress.com)