Once Upon a Dream – a Short Story

No home. No going home. Cannot reach.

I am but a dream. Dreams aren’t real, so I don’t kiss her goodbye.

Found her when we were young, when I was young and she was younger, when I’d known hundreds and she’d known none. Dreams intoxicating, color-full, singing petals and dancing birds and all the medieval world ablaze with bright its dirtiness could never hide. Her dreams, so tasty, so divine; I joined, and why leave after that?

No home. No going home. Cannot reach.

Drugs put her under, too far under, where dreams can’t go.

I am old, said the Walrus – no, that’s wrong. Two poems, mashed and mixed, but allowed because of dreams. I am old; she is old. She belongs to Death now, or very nearly.

I don’t know where to go after.

When did I see others last? My kind? When did I? I don’t recall. My own kind seem gone from this world. Living in her dreams, I lost track.  Did I take her with me through time? Everyone knows dreams go through time like hands through spider webs, except we try not to break it.

I think I took her with me. This isn’t Medieval anymore, is it? No, there are IVs and hospital beds and beeps and awful smells, and she isn’t that old.

I’m sorry, Sarah. I took you away with me. I didn’t mean to do it.

No home. No going home. Cannot reach.

I wonder if her family thought she died. Humans assume it, when one disappears. She would have been young, now that I strain to remember. I loved her baby-heart and soul, her bubbles and happy dreams with singing and joy. I slipped inside when she wasn’t even fully there, when she couldn’t speak, and curled in the corner of her mind.

How old did she grow before I took her away?

At least twelve. She dreamed of marrying, dreamed of the wealthy landowners who passed her father’s farm on their horses, who never looked her way because all they saw was brown (dirt mud skin hair filth wool), and their worlds only knew bright color.

She dreamed of being taken away. I took her away, but dreams aren’t real, so she never thanked me.

I think we went to Central Park. Yes. In the fall? No. When winter had come with blankets of white.

“You are old, father William,” the young man said, “And your hair has become very white.”

That’s it. That’s the poem.

They found her in the park, and they took her to a place. The convent of quiet and many women and safety, for a while. And I took her out of it when it became too hard.

The time has come to talk of many things.

Her eyelids flutter. The machines beep. She’s there, almost – I can find her again, just for a moment.

I slip in, and we’re together again at last. The richness of purple fields and white skies and giggling lilies, of flying free from the body wracked with oldness and aches, free from smog and smut and bills and billets. But pain sneaks through, finding her ankles and ringing her wrists and fingers, throbbing so she can’t ignore it, and the dream fades away.

Color bleeds. Shapes melt, joining together to form nothing, and then the machine beeps and gives her more drugs and it’s all gone again. Gone. I am spat out, ejected from the mind suddenly too small for my skin.

No home. No going home. Cannot reach.

I took her from her home. Now the drugs take me from mine.

Her brain finally stops.

I don’t need to stay. Soul’s gone; no more dreams. I need dreams, so I leave.

Can dreams cry? My heart sounds like breaking glass, splintering and coming apart in sparkle-sharp showers.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?”
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

Time parts for me like curtains, and I see so many children everywhere, but none of them are her. Time splashes off me like waterfalls of rocks, but nobody I find dreams like her. Time grates my skin like rough bark at midnight, but I can’t find a child with her beautiful whim.

I am a whimless dream.

Dreams never really end.

This dream wishes he could.

You likely already know this, but the poetry quotations are from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.