Dara groaned at the sound of her alarm going off somewhere in the vicinity of her head. She hit snooze on her phone and set it aside, letting herself fall asleep for another nine minutes. She had just managed to drift off to sleep again when the alarm sounded for a second time, prompting her to pick up her phone and turn the alarm off altogether. She frowned as she returned to her home screen and saw all of the various notifications that had populated her screen in her sleep: emails, Twitter mentions, Instagram likes, Facebook notifications, text messages, all of it. Bleary eyed and barely conscious, she started to root through the easiest ones. Texts were low-hanging fruit, and she skimmed them to see if any of them needed replies sooner rather than later and briefly debated shooting off a few texts of her own to see if any of her friends wanted to get brunch. She cleared the notifications from the other apps and swiped around to get to her email app.
She thumbed through all of her new emails and deleted most of them, frowning at the lack of news from any of the jobs she had applied to — not that she was expecting to hear from anyone on a Sunday morning. She was done with classes, done with grading, and had no other professional obligations other than finding a job. Her first week of unemployment was meant to start off quietly, if not depressingly so. She was overqualified for most of the jobs that she had found and seemed painfully underqualified for other jobs that she had found to be the most interesting, and though she should have been enjoying her commencement weekend, she was feeling anxious about not having any job prospects and finding nothing else to occupy her time.
And then she saw it, an email from herself. Dara furrowed her brow in confusion, as she had no recollection of sending herself anything, though she supposed she shouldn't have been surprised. She had sent herself many late night emails in the past, mostly things she found online while browsing around on her phone in hopes of lulling herself to sleep. Art exhibits that she might want to check out, new restaurants, concerts, journal articles that were relevant to her research at the time, random ideas for her next secret novel, they were all fair game for those 1AM send to yourself email reminders.
This was different, though. The subject line read, "Congratulations + miscellaneous." Dara could not recall writing a message that could be summed up like that, and she certainly would never have used a plus sign in a form of communication like that. That just wasn't in the Dara Gilmore style guide. Curious and a little confused, she tapped on the message with her thumb and began to read.
Dara did her best to let the words sink in. She stopped reading about a third of the way through and rolled over onto her stomach to get more comfortable. "Was I half asleep when I wrote this?" the young blonde mumbled. The wording and diction sounded like her own writing and felt familiar while feeling completely foreign to her at the same time. And the contents of the message made no sense, though she knew she hadn't gotten very far in reading it yet. She did her best to focus all of her sleepy attention on this email and skimmed the rest of it in its entirety.
"What…?" she wondered aloud, trailing off. It didn't make sense. None of it made sense. She...was sharing a brain with someone? And that someone would switch places with her one week per month, like some sort of orderly, scheduled multiple personality disorder? Dara read through the email once again, this time reading each word deliberately and trying to understand, well, everything.
This was a joke, right? Or maybe this was just another book idea. Some writing exercise she had done to get an idea onto digital paper so that it wasn't floating around freely in her head. She was still bothered by the fact that she couldn't remember writing any of it, though. Dara hardly ever forgot about any notes that she left for herself during the writing process, both for her dissertation and for her more personal writing projects, the latter of which she kept guarded particularly closely and for good reason. She had gone so far as to mention Etta and Reese in the email, and she wondered if they knew about this message or any of its contents, or if it was something that they had joked about at their last cake night.
She set her phone back on her nightstand and let her face sink into her pillow again. Nothing that she had read just now made sense, not a single word of it, but she couldn't deny that it had struck a chord with her. She could hardly remember Hailey's birthday dinner at their parents house. There was no recollection of how the Mother's Day plans she and her sister had worked so hard on had played out, whether their mom was simply just appreciative of their efforts or if she had actually, genuinely enjoyed herself and her time with her family. And then of course, there was the explanation for the sudden changes to her room. New decor, new systems of organization, none of which she could remember doing herself. Dara picked up her head and turned it so that she could flop onto her pillow again, this time resting on her cheek. She let out a loud huff of frustration, half-tempted to reach for her phone to read the email a second time.
And then she remembered it, the blue box that she or Dawn or whoever it was had mentioned in the email. Dara shoved her thick comforter aside and contorted her torso so that she could peek underneath her bed without actually leaving it. There were no surprises there: shoes that had been kicked aside and had yet to be returned to their rightful place, the underbed organizers that she kept stashed away, a couple of Hedwig's dog toys strewn here and there, and finally, a light blue box, just as described. She did her best to reach for the box without falling off the bed, sticking her tongue out of the side of her mouth as if that was giving her extra stretching abilities. Finally, she managed to grab a corner of the box by its matching blue lid and pulled it towards her. Readjusting herself on her bed yet again, Dara scooted further back onto the bed but remained on her stomach so that she could properly rifle through the box. She gingerly took off the lid and set it aside, eager to see its contents, only to be confused when she saw that it held nothing but a stack of comic books.
"Hawk and Dove," she mumbled as she skimmed through the various covers. The illustration styles varied and some of them seemed way more old school than the others. Hawk and Dove eventually gave way to a few titles with the words "Birds of Prey" splashed across the front and soon after that, several copies of different Teen Titans comic books. This was supposed to be research?
Dara replaced the lid of the box and slid it under her bed once more. She hoisted herself back into bed and tried to get comfortable, but how could she be anything but restless after reading all of that? She rolled over onto her side again and promised herself that she would figure this out with the help of her friends. But first, she needed a nap.