The Runner Up In The Second Annual Eliza Gale’s Elizashead Flash Fiction Contest

Strawberry Fields

By Dana Lee

I had just gotten out of a hot shower. The bathroom filled up with so much steam that I could write “Can you feel it?” on the mirror. Sitting on a comfy king-sized bed in a luxurious modern five-star hotel room, I wait. The room rests on the 75th floor of an 80-story building. The windows stand floor to ceiling and I left the shades open to watch the stars.

    The mattress is covered in beige satin sheets. The pillows are soft, fluffy and smell like laundry detergent. I decided to eat a small piece of dark chocolate I had placed on the night stand. The housekeeper had left it on my pillow. After tossing the cold smooth cocoa in my mouth I jumped out of bed and ran to the window. Suddenly, I started feeling a change.

    It was a colorful kind of change. My senses slowly started altering themselves. The chocolate in my mouth had melted and I craved more. As I looked out the window for a bit longer the stars seemed brighter. The moon seemed so low to the ground that if I stepped out on the balcony and reached my arm out, I’d be able to touch it and it would feel like velvet.

     It hit me like a rough slap to the face that I had to leave this hotel room to satisfy my craving. While struggling to pull my tight jeans up, I tripped over my feet and fell on the bed at least five times. After finally getting them on and fastening the zipper, the color contrast of the room started to appear brighter and brighter.

     My red jacket that hung on the coat rack was sparkling; I put it on. The champagne glass chilled on the night stand across the room but I could hear the bubbles popping as if they were fizzing right next to my ear. White paint on the walls made the room glow as if it was empty. I smelled roses in the air but I couldn’t figure out where the scent was coming from. I started sniffing everything in sight until I became face to face with the door. Opening it I tried to pull my mentality together as I walked down the hallway, but it was impossible. I thought, “Well, I hope I look sober.”

    I took the elevator down to the main lobby. I headed towards the door happily waving goodbye to the man standing beside it. I was in the best mood I could ever dream of, but after stepping outside, the world didn’t seem so pleasant anymore.

    I was in New York City. The world was turning upside down. Civilized life began to walk backwards instead of forward. I stood in the middle of the sidewalk with people on their cell phones passing by me talking like Yoda. “Business deal you have not.”

“OK,” I thought to myself. “I was in a good mood; why is it rapidly declining into extreme anxiety?”

    I ended up in Times Square not remembering how I got there. All of the television screens on the buildings had gone blank and then started flashing psychedelic colors. As I lost myself in the radiance, buildings started to melt. I was on an actively animated apprehensive trip and it wasn’t a mental vacation anymore.


    In my head I was questioning what was real and what imitation was. Fear and panic succumbed me. I turned around and witnessed people’s heads floating off their shoulders as they strutted down 42nd Street. Each head switching torsos as they drifted into midair. I bolted down the street as fast as I could and hit the ground running. I felt no pain so I got up quicker than I started. I felt like eyes were piercing through me. Everyone, the whole public state of New York was staring at me, even if I was just a blur in their tracks.

    I slowed down and darted through the entrance of Central Park. Oddly enough when I started to recuperate the air felt cleansing. Sunlight peaked through the bright green trees in the surrounding atmosphere and although colors were still intense, I wasn’t panicking anymore. I had no uneasiness of anything. I was at peace. I noticed the path I stood on led to a monument. I followed it to the vestige and was taken aback by what I saw.

    Unaware that I had left my hotel room on a quest for dark chocolate, ignoring my hallucinations of people walking backwards, their words jumbled as their heads floated from one body to someone else’s; I was on the grounds of “Strawberry Fields.” A black-and-white mosaic that read the word, “Imagine,” dedicated to the late John Lennon and named after the popular song, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” was decorated in flowers and candles.

    I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out my iPod touch not knowing it was there to begin with. I placed the earphones inside my ear and played the song loud enough so I could feel the rhythm flowing through my bloodstream and pulsing in my veins. I looked beyond the memorial and my mind painted another optical image. I saw a field of green leaves standing tall, with luminous red strawberries hanging on the tip of each leaf.

    I was having an out-of-body experience, watching myself frolic through the garden with the biggest smile I have ever seen on my face. As the lyric “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see” played, I felt tranquil and inanimate. I concluded with confidence that everything in my life was going to make sense from here on out. I looked up at the magnificent blue sky and got the impression that God and all of my relatives who have passed on were laying in the clouds watching me smile and dance freely.

    When the song ended, I closed my eyes and recollected my hallucination on the cement bench. When I opened them, I was back in my lavish hotel room. Everything was still placed just where I left it. The chocolate wrapper lay unwrapped on the pillow next to me. I sat up in bed, baffled pushing the pillows down and touching them excessively to see if they were really there.

    I crawled out of bed and walked towards the balcony. I opened the door and stood outside for a breath of fresh air. When I came back inside I noticed the champagne glass was empty on the night stand. Something was in it that wasn’t there before. A strawberry stem was at the bottom of the glass, and next to it on the hotel stationary pad was written, “In strawberry fields, nothing is real.”  


Here is an interview with Dana:

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