It’s Hump Day!
How goes it? It’s around this point in the week when I start getting restless for the weekend. It’s not like I actually *do* much on weekends other than not work, but it’s still nice to know that in a couple of days I won’t have to do much. So yay!
Anyway, don’t expect Hump Day posts to be super regular things. I happened to not to be sleeping and came across an interesting prompt that put me in an introspective mood last night, so here we are. The piece you’re about to read is, of course, fiction, but there’s a lot of (very obvious) me in it. It’s not my best work – I found myself ranting in it a lot – and it’s kind of lengthy (for something I’m posting here) so bear with me. Or don’t, it’s up to you!
The prompt in question is part of a series of weekly prompts from the awesome peeps over at OurWriteSide.com. I mentioned the launch of their new site in my last #WOW555 post. As part of their quest to help us all be better writers, they have Master Class Monday, in which they provide weekly prompts for our enjoyment and inspiration. Check it out! I’ll keep going back to it each week and write responses when I can/am inspired.
From this week’s prompts, I chose “Scattered dreams” as my inspiration. It serves both as the theme and title of the piece below.
TW: I’m not entirely sure this needs one, but better safe than sorry – warning for themes of depression.
I don’t remember when I decided to try lucid dreaming. One day, I was just sitting at my computer doing a bit of research and ended up going down the inevitable rabbit holes that are Wikipedia article hyperlinks. They say that if you click through enough of them, you’ll eventually get to something about Nazis or Hitler. I’m not sure who came up with that, but that wasn’t what I was trying to do – I don’t even remember what that was, either, only that I eventually stumbled onto the page about lucid dreaming, which then led me to other pages (outside Wikipedia) on the subject.
That night I found myself attempting to lucid dream despite my skepticism. One moment I was lying in bed, the next I was standing in the middle of nowhere – at least, if felt like nowhere. The night sky went on above me in every direction, cloudless but also moonless. I remember my first thought: So many stars…but no moon? But other than the singular question, I didn’t pay it too much mind. My feet started moving one in front of the other, but I hadn’t commanded them to move. Aware of this, I willed myself to stop. Getting my body to do as I asked felt like trying to break the surface of a thick sludge. When my legs stopped, I gasped, as if taking my first breath of fresh air.
This new awareness was strange – my own body felt more unfamiliar than my imaginary surroundings. I couldn’t help but stare at my own hands, flexing my fingers to ensure that I really did have control. After a few blinks to clear my muddled thoughts, I looked around – other than the grassy plain beneath my feet and the star-filled sky above, there was nothing.
“Hello?” It’s not like anyone could hear me, right? And yet I couldn’t help but expect a response.
“Hola.” The small voice came from behind me, prompting me to turn around. She was a little girl – exactly three years old. I knew this because she was me, or at least a perfect image of what I looked like as a three year old, wearing an outfit I only remember ever seeing in pictures. Her – my? – hair was in pigtails, the ends barely brushing her ears. She wore a long-sleeve, white button-up with a blue overall dress. “Hablas Español?” Do you speak Spanish?
I was too stunned to respond. Was she a figment of my imagination, or an actual subconscious manifestation of my three year old self? “I…”
“Juega conmigo!” Play with me! Did she actually know who I was? Her question suggested she didn’t, but I don’t remember being very friendly as a kid. She was more than eager to grab me by the hand and pull me after her as she started running. “Como te llamas?” What’s your name? She called behind her as she led me apparently nowhere, her boundless energy propelling us both forward.
“Deveras?! Yo me llamo Kathi!” Really?! My name’s Kathi!
“Donde me llevas?” Where are you taking me?
She simply turned to smile at me, before speeding up and jumping, taking off into the sky, dragging me behind her. The plains beneath us disappeared, and we were soaring through the starry night, a warm breeze lifting us. I barely had a chance to react before she released my hand.
“Wait!” But she was gone as quick as her touch. This brought me to a screeching halt, and I hovered in the air, more lost than I was moments before. “What the hell am I supposed to do now?”
As if in response to my question, a door materialized in front of me. Usually, I’d be more wary about going through random doors – especially when it seemed like I was exploring my own psyche – but any kind of progress was better than floating around aimlessly. I wasn’t expecting the doorknob to be warm to the touch, or to turn as easily as it did. On the other side, I saw my childhood home, fifteen year old me sitting on the front steps with a phone in her hand. She fiddled with it, occasionally looking down at the screwdriver on her lap.
I thought I was observing a memory then – the time I came home to find our apartment ransacked after a break-in. It was hard to believe I’d been brave enough to go into the kitchen and grab a screwdriver to defend myself, if I needed to. Why I didn’t think to grab a knife, I have no idea. Looking back on it, it’s a terrifying thought.
“You should have grabbed a knife.” I didn’t think she’d respond, but at the sound of my voice, her head snapped up, and she smiled.
“Maybe. But there wasn’t anyone there anyway. My mom said I shouldn’t have gone inside at all.” Younger me shrugged. “Did Kathi bring you here?”
“Yeah. Don’t suppose you can tell me where ‘here’ is?” I sat beside her on the step as our surroundings started to break away. The house behind us was breaking apart like shattered glass.
“It’s when and where you want it to be.” She leaned back, her posture relaxing.
“Am I really talking to myself?” I wasn’t sure if I asked the question to myself or if I expected younger me to respond. Either way, she did.
“Yes, you are.” She laughed. “So what’s it like? Being an adult?” She looked at me with boundless curiosity.
“Surreal. Much like this is.” I gestured to my surroundings. Apparently, I wanted it to be my college campus. Why high school me was still there was a mystery, though. Of all the places on campus to land, though, why was I in the gazebo? I’d hardly ever gone there – maybe only once or twice – so it hardly seemed significant. It looked like early morning, the sky still gray from the coming dawn. I knew it was supposed to be chilly – dry leaves littered the ground, telling me it was fall.
“Is it any better – than it is now?” The voice was the same but when I looked over at her, the high school version was gone, replaced by one that reflected my years in college. “Am I – are you – better?”
She was dressed in a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie, sitting with her legs up and crossed, her hands in her lap as she looked at them. Looking at her brought back a wave of emotion I did a poor job of burying. Was it really such a short time ago? Such a long time ago? It felt like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once. Betrayal, anger, frustration – I could see them all in her, as clear as when the feelings resurfaced when I wasn’t paying enough attention.
“Yes. Nothing can ever be quite the same, but yes – we’re better. Much better than I thought we could be.” My hair was so much shorted back then, slipping over her eyes, prompting me to attempt to brush it away, though I knew it was in vain. At the contact, she looked up at me, her eyes hard, guarded, the beginnings of tears welling up inside them. I reached for her hand, half expecting her not to let me take it. When she did, the angry sorrow in her eyes melted away to something closer to acceptance, or relief.
She almost smiled. “Not what you had in mind for a lucid dream?”
“That’s an understatement.”
“I’ll leave you to it, then.” This time she completely smiled, though the edge of emotion never left her eyes. In the blink of an eye, she was gone and I was left alone in the gazebo with the oddest mixture of nostalgia and contentment I’d ever felt.
Hope I didn’t bore you! It’s weird putting something up here without a word limit on it. Anyway, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments! I always love feedback 🙂
Friendly reminder: #TuesFlashFicTrain is open for submissions until 10PM EST tonight!
As always, think happy thoughts!
Image Credit: Image found via Google Image Search on quotesgram.com