Community Stories. Get Inspired, Get Underlined


By @SaraAltaf


Sienna and Vanessa had a rough childhood. Their parents split up when they were young. 6 year old Vanessa and 4 year old Sienna lived separately until they were able to move out of their parents homes. Sienna, who up until July 12th, 2014 lived with her father, moved into an apartment with her adult sister. This was a major transition for the both of them. The experiences they went through allowed them to better their relationship as sisters and best friends. They did everything together: grocery shopping, school, work. They were inseparable.


The sisters’ lives were extremely stressful, so on a Saturday morning, Sienna and Vanessa decided to drive towards Santa Cruz for a weekend getaway. They packed the car hurriedly to avoid LA traffic. 

“I’m so excited,” Sienna shouts ecstatically. “ What are we going to do when we get there?”

“Who knows. We’ll figure it out later. We still have a 6 hour drive.” Vanessa replied in such a nonchalant manner that it calmed Sienna’s nerves.

Sienna and Vanessa are polar opposites. Sienna, a paranoid planner and Vanessa, a laid back party goer. When disputes arise, it’s usually regarding Vanessa wanting to do something crazy that Sienna refuses to participate in. 

The girls arrived in Santa Barbara before they reached some car troubles. The brake of their car was loose and Vanessa didn’t notice until it was too late.

A truck, appearing out of thin air, comes to a stop right in front of their car and Vanessa had no choice but to hit the brake. Vanessa pressed her foot on the brake, yet nothing happened. The car continued to roll at the same speed. 

“Vanessa brake!!!!”

“I’m trying!! Nothing’s happening!!” 

Before Sienna could get another word in, their car slammed into the 18-wheeler at 75 mph. 

Charcoal black smoke permeated the air, making it difficult to breathe. Sienna, gasping for breath, abandoned the wreck swiftly, stumbling to the ground. “Vanessa!” Sienna calls out to her sister. Seconds later, an explosion. The car in which her sister lay unconscious erupted into flames. Scraps of metal dispersed across the paved road. Sienna’s vision went in and out, and she struggled to stand straight. All she wanted to do was see if her sister was okay. Did she get out of the car? Is she still alive? The last thing Sienna saw before she lost consciousness was the ambulance rushing to the scene and bringing her sister out on a stretcher. Sienna had no time to process this before she was out cold. 


Sienna slowly gains consciousness. She notices the monitors surrounding her and the IV hooked up to her arm.“Where am I,” she wonders. 

“You’re in the hospital, Sienna,” Vanessa calls out from across the room. Sienna slowly starts to remember the events leading up to this moment.

“I remember being in the car… We were in a car accident. And… and you died” Sienna murmurs incohesively. 

“ Are you okay Sienna? We were never in a car accident. We were in the grocery store and you passed out, so we brought you here. Maybe you had a bad dream.” Vanessa signals the nurse to the room. “We’ll be out of here today and we can go get ice cream at our favorite place!”

Sienna was mortally confused. She had a vivid memory of this tragic event that supposedly never happened. She didn’t think much of it the rest of the day. When Sienna was released from the hospital, her and her sister drove to the ice cream shop. On their way, Sienna noticed a few odd things outside her window. The array of colors painted in the sky, the streets filled with cheerful couples and families, and the smiley faces all reminded her of the pictures she made as a young child.

“Why is everyone happy today? Is it a holiday,” Sienna mutters as she surveyed this peculiar occurrence. She didn’t think twice about it. 

Vanessa parked the car and they both walked inside the ice cream shop. Sienna noticed that the shop’s sign was different. 

“Wait, Vanessa. I thought we were going to Frosty Dream, our favorite place,” Sienna announces.

“ I’ve never heard of Frosty Dreams. Are you sure you’re okay,” Vanessa asked. 

“ What’s this place called?”

“Frank’s Ice Cream Parlor.”

“I thought I made this place up as a child…” Sienna thought to herself. The sisters got their ice cream and drove home

“Mom and Dad will be so excited that you’re home from the hospital,” Vanessa mentioned cheerfully. 

When they got home, Sienna’s mom and dad rushed to the door to greet them. 

“We are so glad you’re okay,” her parents exasperated in unison. 

“Mom… Dad… what are you both doing here,” Sienna asked dubiously. Her parents live separately and don’t ever stay in a room together for more than ten minutes. Seeing them together was a peculiar sight for Sienna. 

As Sienna’s dad guided her towards the living room, their mom whispered to Vanessa.

“Is Sienna okay? She’s acting strange,” Mom concernedly asked.

“Yeah, I don’t know. She’s been muttering to herself all day.” 

Once their conversation was over, Sienna and Vanessa went to get lunch.

As Vanessa was getting the food, a random man approached Sienna. The man pulled Sienna aside discreetly.

“ Are you aware that you are in a coma right now,” the man asked.

“What are you talking about?”

“ Your body is in a coma and this is all a dream. Your mind came up with this world as a coping mechanism. Haven’t you noticed that everything seems perfect?”

Sienna stood there in silence, disoriented.

“ If you want to wake up, all you have to do is say one word.”

“What’s the word?”


Sienna reflected on everything she experienced that day. The perfect sky. The perfect ice cream. The perfect family. She realized that she had not one negative emotion the entire day. Now that she thought about it, this world made her very nostalgic. It was the world she fabricated as a child. She had flashbacks of 3 year old Sienna drawing pictures of a perfect world, of a perfect family, while her parents were fighting again in the living room. 

The man noticed Sienna’s perplexed expression and spoke again. 

“Take your time… but I gotta tell you that if you don’t decide by tomorrow night, you will die. Good luck.”

The man walked away as if he didn’t just drop a bomb on Sienna. 

Suddenly, it hit her. The memories and emotions flooded her mind like a tsunami, crashing the shore and destroying everything in its path.

There was a road trip. A car crash. Her sister was there.

Sienna gasped. 

“Vanessa died,” she muttered in shock. 

Vanessa walked back towards their table and noticed that Sienna seemed upset.

“ Are you good Sienna,” Vanessa asked as she sat down and distributed the food.

Sienna couldn’t tell her sister about anything that happened. She had to act as normal as possible.

“Yup I’m fine.” She smiled, nodded her head, and started to eat. 

The next day, Sienna and Vanessa had breakfast together, discussing the plethora of events that happened the day before. 

As Sienna packed up her things and started walking back towards her home, she noticed something unusual happening around her.

“I could have sworn that car was red.” 

This wasn’t the only unusual occurrence. Throughout the rest of the day, it was like the color was being sucked out of the world object by object. The sky was dark and gray, the buildings and vehicles were all shades of black and white, and the air was forbidding. The strange man’s words kept echoing in her head.

That was tonight. She had a few hours to decide what to do. She didn’t even know if she believed him fully. Was it all a dream? Did the car accident ever happen? Sienna doubted everything. 

Sienna noticed that her happiness had slowly decreased since she first got there. She didn’t feel as calm and serene. Quite frankly, she felt very anxious. The fleeting colors and emotions increased the exigence of the situation. She knew she had to leave. But how could she leave her sister behind? Her parents? This life… Sienna didn’t want to have to face the fact that she wouldn’t see her sister again. This life seemed perfect, until it wasn’t. Sienna realized that this was a lesson for her to learn. Life is never perfect and she just had to accept the flaws and live the best life possible. This meant living without her sister, without her perfect parents, and without this perfect town. 

“I have to face my reality. No matter what it is,” Sienna courageously thought.

Sienna made her decision. She walked up to her sister and explained the situation. At first, her sister didn’t believe it.

“There’s no way any of this is true. Are you pulling a prank or something?” Vanessa was skeptical of Sienna’s confession.

“I’m serious. I have chosen to go back to my life. I have to say the code word, but I have something to do before I leave.”

Sienna ran up to her sister and held her in a warm embrace. She held on like her life depended on it and she did not want to let go.

“I love you and I will see you soon.” 


And she was gone.

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  1. elizabeth campbell

    Dec 12, 2022

    that s a really good story

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    0 Replies Dec 12, 2022
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