The rambley beginnings of something. A novel I have started but have not committed to finishing. A possibility. We will see where this little dream takes me.
kind of inspired by a recent post I made. I guess you could say I expanded on my own concept.
A dream is the purest, silliest kind of drug there is…a dream can easily bring you up or down, and will drive or discourage your entire being as much as any substance will. There are many who must dream to survive, and there are many who have lost themselves to a dream. There are others who do not dream enough, and have become thin. Do not get fat on the sweetness of your mind, but do not neglect it and grow too frail. Instead dream and work to fulfill your dreams, and your cheeks will stay radiant and your mind fresh.
This story is for those who feel alone, for those who haven’t gotten the chance to dream, or those who only know how to dream. I no longer write for myself, but for wandering souls who long for something magical. Here is your little fix of magic, friend. Consume it with caution. Do not get too high.
Before I begin this strange tale filled with grim thoughts and sour faces, I just warn you that there is also something quite magical up ahead. You may even encounter a spattering of smiles and fairy dust. You know that place where your subconscious is just a little more awake than you are? Where your deepest desires begin to unwind in front of your eyes. You are floating through blankets and sheets, eye lids flickering, body collapsing into sleep. You are beginning to dream. It is a rare place to be, not because it is hard to go to, but because it is hard to remember. It is only real for a few short seconds after you wake up, and then it fades. It fades as you yawn and sit up, reality crashing over your head as the sun blinds you through your curtains. It’s all so hazy now, the concept slipping out of your fingers like sand in an hour glass. It’s there for a second and you think you know but it’s so unclear. Your mind is muddled and too logical for such ideas, so it forgets this other reality. Or perhaps now it is just unable to understand. But all is not lost. Until you awaken, you are alive in the most deathly way. Your body mimics death, your mind mimics life. Perhaps something beyond life. What a whimsical place.
Some call it dreamland, or the subconscious. In reality, this place is not just a chemical reaction in the mind. In school they teach children that everything they experience involves hormones and chemicals and signals in the body- every emotion felt, every figment imagined. I’m afraid to tell you that is a dreadful lie, at least pertaining to sleep. You see, there are other worlds besides our own. As I mentioned, some call it dreamland. They use this term lightly, but it is an accurate description of this realm.
This is the story of a little girl called Winifred, though she refuses to answer to that name. She prefers you call her Winnie, though prefers might be a bit meek of a word to describe how she feels about this name. No, Winnifred does not prefer to be called Winnie, she absolutely demands it. She will not answer to any other name. Anyhow, this is the story of how Winnie discovers this so called dreamland in the heat of an odd moment. Our story begins one chilly autumn afternoon, as a peculiar little girl runs down the sidewalk in her battered up tights. Peeking through the holey tights are numerous band aids that are peeling off crimson scabs. Winnie is not one to take very good care of her legs.
It is the end of any other school day, all the elementary schoolers have been let out and are walking home with glee at the chance to escape the classroom. Winnie does not walk down the street- she strut. She struts down the sidewalk in all her scabby kneed, chubby cheeked glory. A ragged bang falls into her face and she blows it out with one
sloppy gasp of air. Her hands stay in the pockets of her oversized plaid coat. She is on top of the world.
The other children take the bus, or take another route home. Winnie takes the same route home every day. The one that goes by old Mr. Hubert Metropolis’s house. No one else under the age of sixteen would dare set foot on his street, for that man is known to be a notorious child hater. He hates children more than most children hate broccoli. Still, she strut down his street every day in all her weirdness.
Today is no different. The crisp air tickles her round chin as she turns and crosses the street. As she passes the house, she thinks she sees a little body in Mr. Metropolis’s yard. She blinks, swinging her head over her shoulder in a rapid motion. There’s a kid in his yard.
Panic is the first emotion. That wretched old man who fascinated her so, is keeping a child hostage! Before she has time to form a rational thought she is clutching the spiraling black bars of the fence and staring at the kid.
Calling to the him softly, trying to motion for him to hop over the bars. The boy blinks at her in his rusty striped shirt. He must have thought she was a lunatic. He stares at her. She gazes through the bars. He clears his throat.
“What are you doing?
She presses her finger to her lips in a shushing motion. She narrows her eyebrows.
“Be quiet. We can get you out of there…”
She steps to the side.
The boy looks absolutely bewildered. He walks closer to the gate.
“What are you talking about?”
“Shhh! Keep your voice down or he’ll hear you!”
“Who? What? What?”
Winnie looks very determined. She has a plan and she’s not going to let fear get in the way of saving this poor boy. She raises her voice slightly.
“Do you think you can climb over the fence? I’ll catch you, you look like you weigh less than me so it should be easy.”
He backs away, heading over to a lone, gnarled tree standing in the middle of the yard. It looks like death itself.
“I’m just trying to save you from-”
Suddenly the door starts to rattle. She is about to bolt when she sees old Mr. Hubert Metropolis rip through the door and glide down the steps on his skinny, skyscraper legs. Winnie jumps back from the fence. The boy blinks at the man, unmoving.
“I’m calling police!” Winnie hollers.
“She’s crazy!” The boy yells, pointing at her.
Mr. Metropolis huffs like an old, angry dragon. Eyebrows like scraps of grey felt sink down farther on his face.
“Get away from my nephew hag!”
Winnie is so shocked she almost falls backward on the cement. Nephew? Nephew? Nephew?
He’s moving towards her rapidly. He sure is fast for an old man. Winnie clutches her backpack straps and runs down the street. She turns her head to watch the house disappear, the old man glaring at her by the gate, shaking his fist. She smiles. She will have a great new story to tell the gang tomorrow, though none of them will believe it. None of them had ever seen Mr. Metropolis before. Now apparently he has a nephew who is staying there, maybe even by his own free will. What a strange world. She thought that the wretched old man was completely alone in the world. She never would imagine him sharing blood with someone else, nonetheless a child.
This encounter would have embarrassed, frightened, exhausted most children. Winnie is not most children, and feels inspired and even more curious than ever before. She plans to pass by the house again, this time to talk to the strange nephew and suck information out of him. What fun that will be.
She enters her house, an old twin house tall and crusty, connected to the neighbors house but separated inside by walls. Sometimes she can hear their TV if she presses her ear against the wall. They never watch anything she likes, except some nights when they watch things she would be spanked if she was caught watching. These nights she camps down next to the wall and listens, coming up with imagery for everything she hears. It is one of many guilty pleasures. Her mother may be controlling, but Winnie has her ways.
She drops her bag on the kitchen table and runs into the living room, practically tripping over the rug. She is so excited. She’s flaming with happiness. She watches educational cartoons until dinner time.
Around five o’clock she starts her homework, after being threatened by her far less free spirited mother.
Finally her favorite time has arrived. Night. She showers long and hot, hops into bed in her nightgown and stares at the ceiling. When she was five or six, her father took her off to the planetarium where she marveled at the heavens for the first time. Afterwards they had gone to the gift shop where he bought her her own plastic galaxy. Glow in the dark stars. She spent that evening standing on chairs, teetering on her tippy toes as she attempted to plaster them to the ceiling.
Now she lays in cool, dry clothes and wet skin. Now she stares at the faint green galaxy above her. This is her favorite place in the whole world. This moment, this room, this air. She is about to descend into dreamland, a place she has decided she likes just a bit more. Blinking, she lets her mind roam, destroying all things logical. Slowly the thoughts, the images fade and she is asleep.
She finds herself standing in the middle of a pastel colored bakery. The dream centers around gorging on sweets she would never get her hands on otherwise. Her health obsessed mother would never allow such a thing. She sits on the baby pink tiled floor, eating as if her life was about to end and this was the last thing she would ever taste. The dream goes on like this, in different restaurants with different foods. Ever since she was four years old, her mother had been worried about her thick calves and chubby cheeks would become “a problem” as she grew up. This resulted in an altered diet and a stricter schedule. Winnie wasn’t thrilled about any of it, the constant spinach shakes, the “healthy” sugarless cookies. The only place she was able to eat as she wished was her dream world. This was the only way she was about to stay so cheery about the whole ordeal.
Anyways, back to our young dreamer. She is ripping through the largest burger she has ever dreamed up when suddenly the scene changes. She is no longer in a fast food restaurant, but an urban neighborhood. Wait, this is her neighborhood. She gazes up and down. Something isn’t right. Something about this place is off. There are no weeds popping up through the sidewalk cracks. Actually, the usually partially demolished walkway looks smooth and freshly paved. All the windows have this strange greenish tint. It looks so familiar, but it feels so alien. While she is thinking about this, she sees the rickety old house that does not belong with the rest of the discolored twin houses. The usually ink colored shingles are now a swampy green. Weird. She blinks. She doesn’t like this.She tries to zap herself back into her more gluttonous fantasies. She roams into the street in her robin nightgown, scratching her head as she tries to figure out how to get out. She has always had pretty good control of her dreams.
She remembers the incident with Mr. Metropolis and gets excited. She will be famous tomorrow when she tells the whole school. She wonders about the weird little boy who called her crazy. A normal child may have been offended by this, or may even shoot it right back. Winnie was not offended and did not care because he was correct. She had heard this statement too many times before, in the most loving way possible. Her mother may not have meant it in the most loving way possible, as she raised her voice and told Winnie to stop smashing eggs in the backyard. The other kids did though, giggling, shrieking, “You’re crazy!”
She likes this title. It is much more exciting than being the kid who fell asleep in class or who joked about things nobody understood her.
She always told stories, which were mostly true…most of the times. People seemed to think she made them up, which she could never quite fathom. How could an eight year old child come up with such a story? It occurs to her now that they may not believe her encounter. Whatever, she doesn’t want to worry about that now or it will take a physical form in her dreams. She takes a deep breath and clears her mind. Wait, if this is a dream, she can go explore Mr. Metropolis’s house without consequence. She grins evilly, making her way back up the imaginary street. She approaches the old house and walks across the leaf cluttered walkway, staring up at an immense door. Is it this large in real life? Or has she grown smaller due to fear?
She turns the doorknob, surprised as the door rolls open with ease. She peers down a musty, dimly lit hallway. There is no sound, no speck of light. Not even a small sunbeam trailing in from a window. She shudders.
Anxiously, she scoots herself inside, looking back and forth several times. There is a foreboding staircase above her to the right. It spirals up into some unknown realm. Her dreams hardly ever surprise her. She lifts a foot to the first step, startled by the creak it makes. She regains herself. Up and up she goes. Spiraling further into the mystery. She notices particles of dust drifting in the air up here. It looks like loneliness. Also oldness.
She steps up onto the wooden platform of the loft, a place where she is able to look down on the lower level of the house. The first thing she sees up there is a cello, coated in dust. It hasn’t been played in years, but there is a drum set that looks freshly used. There are actually quite a few instruments. What would cause her to imagine such a thing? Mr. Metropolis was hardly the musical type. The loft was a cute place, furnished with a beigy-pink rug and an antique couch printed with ladies from another era. There is a little coffee table with a lamp on top, but the bulb seems to be missing. An old book sits on top, but she has no idea what it is because the cover and the first few pages are torn out.
She finds a viola in the corner and a barbie pink guitar. How strange. When she is done scanning the loft, she walks over to the wooden railing and looks over the edge. She sees the rectangle of light coming from the empty doorframe, and the strange paintings on the walls of women swallowed in petticoats. She has never seen a house like this in her humble little city, yet somehow she has dreamed it all up. It’s not even comparable to the haunted houses she has seen on TV- she is sure that is how she would imagine this place to be, yet here she is. In an old, eccentric musicians lair.
She explores the other floors of the house, down all the dim hallways and creepy corridors filled with trinkets from other times. Everything is so old, older than anything she has ever imagined before. She finds a music box that no longer plays a song along with pressed, brown roses thinner than tissue paper. It’s all so curious.
While she digs around an ancient desk in a room that smells like ink, she detects a small movement in the corner of the room. She ignores it because she is so fascinated with a pair of black ballet slippers. They look to be a child’s size, so she slips them on and stares at her feet. Pointing her toes, she prances around the room. She extends a calf gracefully, hopping back and forth. She can’t dance, but she’s able to now. She is so distracted with the magical, satiny slippers. They are tight, but she doesn’t notice. It’s just a dream.
Out of the corner of her eye she sees a shadow lurking among the stacks of cardboard boxes. She spins, she sees it again. She stops. She stares at the corner. She sees nothing.
The dancing continues, the fantasy increases. Suddenly she is drowning in rose petals, there is an audience of beautiful people cheering her on. Her mind has a much stronger grip now. That can only mean… she is waking up. She fights to stay asleep, to keep this magical dance in this forbidden house.
She swears she sees a pair of eyes in the corner, gleaming through a hole in the cardboard. She gasps, the eyes enlargen. Her alarm clock rings. She yells in protest, but it is too late. Her eyes blink open to see pasty ceiling and plastic stars in early morning light.
She is awake.