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Fiction Fantasy Adventure

The heart monitor beeped rhythmically. Trish did not hear it. She did not know her parents stood crying, holding her hand. She did not sense the needles and tubes in her. She did not know the car accident had left her in a coma. She was simply a plain-looking, seventeen-year-old girl who lay dreaming in a hospital bed whilst the Waking World turned around her.

….

Prom night was supposed to have been fun. It was supposed to have been a time of discovery. For Trish, though, it had been the nightmare. Its glittering lights and beautiful gowns only highlighted everything she was not. 

‘Such a loser.’

‘Who let you out of the house?’ 

‘Did you get lost? The snacks are over there, fatty.’

They laughed and taunted. They always did, and she took it with a smile. It wasn’t their fault for pointing out the obvious. That’s what Trish had learned to believe. There was no reason to fight back. There was no reason to tell them a different story. Trish fingered her keys in the green silk bag. The stupid bag her mother chose to match her beautiful eyes. Beautiful was an adjective Trish had never seen as a descriptor of any part of herself. Leaving and driving around for a few hours was a better option than this torment.

A splash of cold liquid ran down the front of Trish’s velvet dress. 

‘Oh, so sorry. You didn’t have your wide load sign on.’ The jock grinned as he squeezed the plastic cup in his hand before letting out a roar of laughter. His buddies joined in. 

            Trish smiled, but her eyes told the truth. Feeling the cold drink soak through her gown, she grappled for her keys and bolted to the parking lot. I don’t wanna do this anymore. The country road was long and straight save for one hill. One quick downward slope. The speed limit sign stated 55. Trish looked at her speedometer. 57. She then looked at her face in the rearview mirror. The lights of town reflected in her eyes. Mascara and eyeliner ran down her face. 70. The hill drew nearer.  She grabbed at her chest as she let out a scream. A scream so loud it shook worlds beyond her knowledge. 90.  Someone or Something save me from ME! The hill was just feet away. 110. Her car’s wheels lifted off the ground as she came to the peak of the hill. Flying into the air, she recalled her nightmares of driving off the road uncontrollably. But unlike the dream, the crash was real. The tires came down but not how they left the pavement. From one side to the other, the car rolled. The last thing Trish thought before dust, glass and smoke enveloped her was It’s just a dream.

….

A golden dust swirled endlessly, collected from the dreams which spilled into the double-layered glass bobbles. They were the source of energy in the Dreaming world. Bobble after bobble was mounted on oxidized copper bars. Rows upon rows rose toward an obsidian ceiling that was too high for the eye to see. Stars in the black floated down, and in the Dust Storm Room, you could occasionally hold one in your hand.  The golden dust stormed in the bobbles, creating a constant stream of life-giving imagination, the heart of Dreaming World. It was a circular process which fed both worlds; one could not survive without the other. A human could not survive without hopes and dreams, and the Dreaming World could not survive without their imagination.

Neemu, King of the Dreaming World, on this day visited the Dust Storm. He peered into the banal bobbles, seeking to spy fragments of the dreams swirling in the dust. The more   imaginative the dream, the more golden dust they created.  He found himself uninspired with the production of very little. Others swirled opaquely; these were difficult to catch a glimpse of what was inside. They belonged to humans who no longer wished to dream. Like them, Neemu, more and more, found his role as King tedious and wished it wasn’t his to command. He had given up truly seeing the depth of mankind’s curiosities; he no longer appreciated that they were more than mundane.

It began with a slight sound of a tink, then another--then a longer hiss erupted. It was at this Neemu straightened himself and spun nimbly around, his starlight grey hair swishing around his youthful face. His striking lilac eyes pierced the source of the interruption. He hastened his step toward the bobble that was disturbing his visit. It had become engorged with dust. The storm within it could not be contained. Directly, Neemu covered his eyes as the bobble burst open; its contents spilled forth like a tornado into the Dust Storm. This was not unheard of; it had happened before. But what was new was the consciousness of a seventeen-year-old Trish that came out too.

Neemu stared silently at her as she wobbled to her feet. Scrupulously observing her, he found her to be perfectly curved, with long blonde hair, strong features and the most striking green eyes. Her dress would have been a beautiful green silk had it not been in shambles and covered in dust.

‘Where am I?’ she coughed, clearing out the dust from her imagined lungs and brushing it off her gown. 

‘You are in the Dust Storm of the Dream World.’ Neemu silently registered the trembling of the other bobbles in the room. They seemed to be reacting to her presence.

Trish blinked and rubbed her eyes in disbelief as she gazed around the room. The stars drifted up and down gently, giving off a bluish glow. She reached up, allowing one to lazily float down to her like a feather.

“And you are? Oooo…ouch!” Her hand burned where the star had touched her porcelain fingertips. 

‘What did you expect? They are stars. You know fire.’ 

Neemu swatted the star away. It bounced back at him with vengeance, singeing a bit of his hair before returning toward the ceiling and out of reach. ‘I am King Neemu of the Dreaming World, and I fear we must hurry you out of here. It will only bring more trouble if you stay…’ the rattling of the bobbles grew louder, ‘…in such a delicate place.’

He ushered Trish to the door with a gesture. She followed, still bewildered by the enchantment of her surroundings. Neemu paused briefly, noticing that Trish had stopped again along the corridor. This time her jaw had fallen open with glee as she stared at the granite blocks of the ceiling hanging loosely in position, bobbing in place like ice floating on water. Streams of light poured down between the shifting gaps, and the purist of blue dazzled the eye as spaces opened and closed between the stones.. 

‘What are you staring at now?’ He bemused.  

‘I was imagining fish swimming between the stones in the ceiling.’ Trish dreamed out loud with her eyes wide open, joy reflected in them.

  ‘There are no fish in the sky above the stones.’ Yet as Neemu chastised Trish for her ludicrous imagination, great koi with long silk-like fins began to weave themselves in and out of the open spaces in the sky. Dancing flashes of oranges, yellows and whites swam like bird tussling through waves of clouds.

 ‘There are too, see?’ She reached out to Neemu, gently directing his gaze toward the ceiling. ‘Just as I imagined.’ Her green eyes crinkled with joy at the corners. 

‘Yes, indeed,’ Neemu considered in a serious tone before clearing his throat and removing himself from her touch. He did not know which surprised him more, the power of her imagination to change his world or the change he felt in himself at her touch. Either way, he was no longer without curiosity.

 Eventually, they came to a huge garden with an expansive Loch beginning at the far end of it. Trish walked side-by-side with Neemu. They had been in step for as long as a dream can hold time. He began to follow the path around, but Trish protested. ‘I need to sit and enjoy this view.’  

 He opened his mouth to protest, but Trish put a finger to his lips, closed her eyes, and breathed deeply. A rose bush nearby began to grow and twist. Knotting itself into braids and loops, it finally formed a smooth bench for two and a pergola of dense peach and yellow roses. Neemu’s gaze didn’t know where to fix. His lilac stare kept darting back and forth between Trish and the magic her mind had created. 

‘Have a seat, my King.’ She professed with a happiness that had not her filled in years. She could not remember the last time she had truly found within herself inspiration to see the beauty and potential the world around her could offer. Her bench was a mirror of the beautiful and exotic landscape around. From the larger landscape to the petal of one flower, her magic was not out of place and equal in quality. Possibilities and hopes were overflowing from Trish as she quietly peered out-with and within. 

‘Why are you here? Why have you come to our world?’ Neemu inquired gently as he sat beside her. 

 ‘I don’t know. The last thing I remember is no longer wanting to be part of my world. I was in so much pain. I don’t want to go back. My life is so horrible and ugly. Not like this beautiful dream.’

‘You cannot stay here.’ Neemu looked at her with despair. He knew too well that when one dreamed too long, too deep, and too powerfully, nightmares followed, and Trish was dreaming as if all her dreams had been compounded into this one very moment. 

‘You’re King. Surely you can allow it?’ She pleaded as the petals of the roses above began to fall.

‘I cannot allow more than I have control…’ Thunder crashed in the distance as a black cloud of malintent sought the pair. ‘We must continue on.’ Neemu said, catching a peach petal in his hands and watching it fade as a villainous storm erupted in the distance.  He beckoned her toward the path. 

‘Why don’t we just cross over the lake?’ Trish said, pointing toward the opposite direction without a care of notice of the danger approaching.

‘Because we do not have a boat,’ Neemu grimaced rationally.

‘For the King of the Dreaming World, you sure don’t have much of an imagination, do you?’ Trish looked at the lake like she had looked at the ceiling and roses before wishing for life, manifesting joy. Playfully, she summoned her words, ‘I’m imagining rubber ducks with saddles, large enough to ride across the lake. Isn’t that fun?’ 

“Seems rather silly and undignified to me,” Neemu scoffed as he examined the clouds becoming even more fierce and close. 

‘Fair enough. Yours will match your royal occupation. It will wear a dignified coronet and a velvet robe.’ Trish concentrated, and as if they had always been there, two larger than life rubber ducks floated near a dock, one with a crown and purple cloak.  

  Neemu looked at her with bewilderment and wonder. He was struck by her in that moment. With intent, he took her hand and aided her kindly onto the saddled rubber duck. She was beautiful, and her mind was fascinating. Was this what he had searched for behind the thick golden dust all these years? Was this girl the depth in mankind he had not been able to find? The storm raged closer.

The journey over the Loch began smooth and playful. Trish kicked up the warm water with her feet. Splashing and taunting the King, a challenge to let go and release his own inhibitions. The winds of the storm made the pleasant boat trip too short. 

As they dismounted, he waved his hands across the rubber ducks, and they became the most elegant lilac peacocks. He handed her a feather which they had donated in the transformation. 

‘This is how we get you back.’ Neemu reached out to Trish.

‘I think I’d rather stay in the Dream World with you. Couldn’t we have a few more adventures?’ She smiled with the same mournful eyes she’d had at the prom.

Neemu brushed the hair from her cheek and kissed it with a comforting tenderness. ‘I wish you could. But dreams held too long turn into nightmares, and the storm is chasing us.’ 

‘And what do nightmares turn into? Because that’s what I’ll be going back to.’

‘Humans wake from nightmares to find in the world’s morning a new adventure ahead.’

The lightning crashed mere feet from where they stood on the shore of the loch opposite bank. Neemu knew the nightmare here would devour the most beautiful of dreamers he’d ever known, and she would dream no more. 

Yet, instead of frightening her with this knowledge, he simply took her hand and smiled, ‘You will be with me and I with you every time you dream.’ It was in the mere blink of an eye that he guided her back through the golden dust storm, floating together on the feather they’d created.

….

 Trish could hear the beeping of the heart monitor. She heard her parents crying over her body. She sensed the pain of the needles and tubes. She saw the once plain-looking girl lying on the bed with her eyes closed. She observed her tousled and dirty blond hair. She could see all that she had been, her curves, her strong features. She saw everything she had been told to hate by her peers and society. But standing next to Neemu, her dreams, she no longer wished to believe the ideas she’d accepted for so long.

‘I will never forget the beautiful creations you brought to life in the Dreaming World. Beauty there can only come from beauty, and you are the brightest and most pleasing of all the stars.’ Neemu kissed her forehead and pulled her close, ‘Always remember that dreams are a mirror of ourselves.’

‘Thank you, Neemu. I think, I will try to see myself as you see me.’ She stared at the girl on the bed for a while and watched her mother crying over her. She also sees the good in me; I won’t be alone. Squeezing her mother’s shoulder, Trish gathered all her grit to will her return to the Waking World; she woke from the nightmare of her past, telling herself with kindness, you are all that you dream.

She opened her emerald green eyes and for the first time, Trish knew that she had only ever been plain because she had kept them closed.   

August 04, 2023 17:27

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21 comments

Serena Riche
23:07 Aug 11, 2023

Charlea, I enjoyed reading this story and the message. I can imagine the world you created and want to learn more about the characters.

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Charlea Jefts
00:50 Aug 12, 2023

Thank you Serena! It’s nice to see these comments here! Cheers

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Kimberly Schramm
16:30 Aug 11, 2023

Charlea, I really enjoyed your story. You do a great job in using language to create a world. An interesting "near-death experience" tale!

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Charlea Jefts
22:46 Aug 11, 2023

Thank you for your comment! Very much looking forward to creating more new worlds to take readers on a journey in! Cheers

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Mary Bendickson
22:38 Aug 09, 2023

Welcome to Reedsy. Plain to see you are a very adept writer. Wonderful story and Great message. Others have already expressed the same. Thanks for liking my 'Are we There Yet'

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Charlea Jefts
13:40 Aug 10, 2023

Thank you Mary for you kind words and welcome! I’m looking forward to future challenges. And you very welcome for the like! 😊

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Kendall Defoe
00:55 Aug 09, 2023

My prom sucked, too (my date - a girl who asked me to take her - dumped me there), but I love the beauty you found here. Amazing work!

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Charlea Jefts
07:08 Aug 09, 2023

I’m so glad you enjoyed! Prom is absolutely one of those events in life that was a hit or miss! Very few found it neutral. I still cringe at the awkward photos from mine. 😂

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Chelsey B
22:52 Aug 08, 2023

I loved this story, and I think it’s relatable for a lot of people.

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Charlea Jefts
22:53 Aug 08, 2023

Thank you Chelsey. Its fun to create worlds and characters that reflect a larger population of readers. We all have insecurities and finding the good within us sometimes does seem to need a bit of a magical push so to speak

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Seah Kim
20:09 Aug 08, 2023

This is such a beautiful story! I love how the "journey" wasn't a journey taken literally - but a journey where Trish discovers herself in a special and unique way. Such an awesome first submission!

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Charlea Jefts
22:51 Aug 08, 2023

Thank you. I have always love Robert Frost poem “the road not taken” I always find the best paths are the ones we are least likely to explore because they are a bit worn or narrow. I really wanted Trish to shift from the easy roads to a new and unexpected one that she needed but also wasn’t likely to have been able to travel on her own. The road within.

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Seah Kim
00:23 Aug 09, 2023

Robert Frost is a great poet. I too love "the road not taken" and I loved how you incorporated that idea and how Trish discovered herself through "the road within". :D

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Charlea Jefts
18:13 Aug 09, 2023

Many thanks again!

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Lee Mesford
22:52 Aug 10, 2023

Absolutely magical. Is it flash fiction? I read this post about Robert Frost, is this "dream world" his? I love it.

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Myranda Marie
19:00 Aug 08, 2023

Well Done! I can relate. I began writing at a very young age, creating worlds that were far better than my reality as the fat girl. I'm older now, and still prefer my stories to the world at large; no pun intended. Thank you for sharing.

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Charlea Jefts
22:48 Aug 08, 2023

Thank you for your comment. I really wanted the story to resonate that there is so much more to a person regardless of the faults they find in their physical form but also the importance of having other around us who can see the beauty within even when we can’t.

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11:35 Aug 08, 2023

This is beautiful! It leaves me absolutely speechless. I'm going to show it to my parents, my brother, all my friends. Other people need to see this. :) Can't wait for your next story! Please keep going! (Thanks for liking my stories. I'm happy to return the favour!)

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Charlea Jefts
18:29 Aug 08, 2023

Thank you very much Khadija! 😊

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S. P. K.
08:25 Aug 07, 2023

I love this story! It's very creative and I love the atmosphere you build, I can clearly imagine everything that is going on. I think this could make an interesting longer story too, you have such interesting characters that make me want to learn more about them. Good job!

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Charlea Jefts
20:37 Aug 05, 2023

Hey All. Thanks for reading! I’d really appreciate any feedback you have to offer!

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