My room looked like a doghouse. Thousands of crumpled and torn pages were strewn across the little space which I could call my own. I knew I looked like an insomniac in the dull, pale yellow light emitting from the old study lamp. I couldn’t muster up even a single small idea as to what I should write in my essay for tomorrow’s submission. Our professor had given some pretty boring topics but the last one really caught my eye.

I searched the net for the meaning of "Parallel Universe". It said, "A parallel universe, also known as a parallel dimension, alternate universe, or alternate reality, is a hypothetical self-contained plane of existence, co-existing with one’s own. The sum of all potential parallel universes that constitute reality is often called a multiverse." Well, it sounded pretty interesting a while ago but now I felt like my brain had become an empty, useless box. I needed something to start with for the ideas to start flowing through my hand effortlessly. I paced around my room anxiously, trying to be as quiet as possible so I didn’t wake up my parents and brother.

I finally thought that I’d just give some lame excuse and hope that my professor would buy it. I gave up and so did my body. Soon, my eyelids were drooping and I was fast asleep, drowning in the dark, ruthless and suffocating dreams.

I was running across a vast expanse of nothingness, the background seething in pitch black. I ran and ran and ran till I fell, exhausted and profusely sweating. I don’t know if I was running from something or running towards. I could hear my own harsh breathing and my heart beating a thousand miles a second. I cried out for help but my voice just echoed back to me.

I wished for someone to help me, to tell me that I was safe; and suddenly I heard an angelic voice singing out my name in it’s sweet and enchanting voice. I couldn’t wait for whoever that was to find me as I was already struggling on the brink of unconsciousness, when I gave in and fell and fell and fell.

"Ugh. How is it even morning already, I’m so tired!", I groaned as I groggily got out of bed with utmost reluctance. I couldn’t remember anything about my dream but that was a secondary worry for me at the moment. The time on my alarm clock flashed at 7:30 and school started at 8!

"Oh no what am I gonna do. The professor will be mad at me for being late, and now I have to face his horrific wrath for not being able to submit the essay too!", I mumbled as I quickly took a shower and simultaneously brushed my teeth.

I hurried down the stairs, grabbed my breakfast and rushed out of the house, slamming the door hard behind me. I was worried that I won’t get through this boring day (in addition to the long lecture by my professor of course) and might just faint. Unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what happened.

I woke up in the hospital wing and was soon sent home. I rubbed my head and drank cold water while my mom drove me home.

"What’s up with you? Why do you look like that? Were you up at night? What were you doing?",my mom pestered me with numbers questions.

"Chill mom, I was just trying to complete my English assignment. What’s the big deal in that?", I said.

My mom just glared at me for a second before averting her eyes back to the road.

"Go up to your room and get some rest, okay sweetie? I’ll be in my room if you need me."

She kissed me on my forehead and I went upstairs, taking care to not fall off them. I laid down on my bed and tried to get a good nap but my mind wouldn’t let me. It wandered with the remembrance of the dream which came back to me when I was unconscious.

I finally gave up and went downstairs to watch the news to see if something good came up.

There was a reporter saying something about the recent discovery of a planet, kind of like a second Earth. The rocket had just come back. Well, that was certainly interesting. I couldn’t wait for them to obtain more information about our planet’s twin.

I had finally managed to get through the stressful week. It was Saturday today and I was in a mood of watching some Netflix and spending time with friends and family. After completing an episode of Stranger Things, I decided to make some macaroni and cheese for my brother and I. I was in the middle of cooking when the doorbell rang.

I hurried to open the door and as soon as I did, I felt nauseous. My mouth dropped open. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I blinked once or twice and even rubbed my eyes to be sure.

I never recalled my mother telling me that I had a twin. She looked exactly like me, the same features and all. But there was something ethereal about her. She had an air of supreme confidence and looked more graceful than was even possible.

After finding me a minute to regain my senses, she pulled me out of the house into the garden so that no one could see us. They’d obviously freak out.

"Are you my twin? Mom never mentioned you. What’s your name", I blabbered looking at her suspiciously.

"I’m Serena", she said with a twinkle in her eyes.

"No. That’s my name. It can’t be yours too, it’s mine!" I was really starting to hyperventilate now.

"We are the same person. The only difference between us is that I’m from a different planet than you are."

I stared at her in shock. After a moment, understanding dawned on me as I started to fit the puzzle pieces together. The new planet. The same as Earth. The rocket coming back from there. My essay topic! That really was a parallel universe. And if that was indeed true, then she really WAS me!! She was my parallel self from another universe.

Chapter 7: Story of my life
"I came here by accident, but now I don’t think it was one. I was destined to meet you and now, I want to show you my universe but I can’t take you there without a rocket. I would only be able to go alone when I want to. I want to know how this parallel universe hypothesis works as much as you do. We are the same person anyway. Tell me all about you", she said.

"Yes of course I will. And you will too, won’t you? Come in. I’ll take you to my room directly so that we go unnoticed and then we’ll talk", said I.

I took her to my room stealthily and fortunately, everyone else was in their own room.

We got settled on my bed and I decided to start first. "I’m not a really confident person unlike you. I’ve been living in this house since the day I was born and I live with my parents and brother in this small house. Everyone loves me dearly at home but it’s different outside the house. Everyone thinks I’m a loner, an introvert and that I don’t even have a strong personality. I sometimes get bullied at school but I don’t tell my parents about it because I fear they might not understand me properly. Teachers think I’m not good at studies and I actually am just an average achiever. I get bored now and then and I also suffer from frequent anxiety attacks. I wish I would be able to switch lives with someone like you."

"Hey, everyone’s life is not as alluring as it seems. I have become one of the biggest pop singers in the world and I’m really famous. I am confident but I suffer from mental problems and the attention is too much for me to handle. I just really wish I could live a life as simple as yours."

"I have an idea. Why don’t we exchange our worlds if we love each other’s? It will be real fun. I’d love to experience your life and watch the astonishment on everyone’s faces", I laughed.

"Yes I bet it’s gonna be a wonderful experience. Let me just transfer the power that you need to get to my universe. Then come back after a year and we’ll see if our perceptions have changed till then or not."

Then, she gave me her powers and told me how to use it to go to her planet while she stays here in my place. I was immensely excited for what lies ahead of me. As soon as we said our goodbyes, I took off and awaited a wonderful adventure.

-Parthvi Bhanushali