“Oh. It’s you. I remember you,” Jordy said as she noticed me. I was still standing in the middle of an aisle of pens. The air around us began thawing, a human warmth filled the void that was left by the atmosphere. Jordy was surprised to see me, but even so, she exerted not a single ounce more effort to seem that way nor to speak that way as she held her head in her hands and eyed me.
“You’re–” She paused, seeming to wrack her head around the conception of me as a human, or perhaps, around the conception of me as a being unlike the World of the Living.
“That woman. From before, you had that jar,” and, she was also one of the humans that I had once mingled with in a strange manner. Call it my hobby but, I gave her a taste of the other world in what meager way I could. She knew of what I did, at least, in whatever way she chose to understand what I did. It wasn’t that she necessarily knew about the fact that I wasn’t human and that I was off every day collecting shattered dreams in the manner I did. There was no way that she could have completely grasped who I was or what I did. In fact, it was probably more prudent for her to believe that our exchange was all but a fickle dream in of its own, a simple delusion. The truth of the matter was much more than the lie I hoped she had.
“Right. I’m the one who collects shattered dreams. I’m surprised you remember.”
“Wait, she knows about that?” Lottie said sprouting back up from wherever it was she went.
“I see. So you’re back,” Jordy started, her expression still tired and her voice sounded as if it was a bother even attempting to speak. It wasn’t that she was showing contempt or that she was especially bothered to see me, but, it was more like she couldn’t really afford to care in the end.
“Does that mean you’re here to collect another dream of mine? Like a Grim Reaper, you’ll come to those who’re ready to let their lives go. Is it something like that?” But, in the end, she was more sad and crestfallen than anything. Losing your family has to have that kind of effect, right? I couldn’t tell how long it was since I last saw Jordy. I didn’t know whether a month, a year, or ten years had passed, but, no matter the time, it would have still swallowed Jordy whole. I told myself that.
“I’m afraid what I am is nothing like that,” I answered, though, it wasn’t that there didn’t exist the Grim Reaper.
“I don’t even know if there is another dream to collect here. That is entirely up to you.”
“If she can handle knowing about you, then she must be pretty special,” Lottie said, of course, Jordy couldn’t hear a word she said, nor did I bother answering her yet as I didn’t want to appear too insane in front of her.
“Right, you collect things that are– What did you call them? An amalgamation, was it? The last one you got from me was–” Jordy stopped, and closed her eyes, seeming to lose herself in a place I couldn’t hope to enter. The air around us was sharp. The sun from behind me began to recede, the light that showered me left me in the shade. I didn’t budge from my spot. I didn’t think I could. Jordy then lifted herself, put both of her hands on the counter, and then looked up. Her eyes locked onto mine.
“Why are you here?” She didn’t continue her last thought.
“If you aren’t some kind of reaper here to take me away, then why?” She added. I thought to lie to her, to say something like I was passing by on my duties and so happened to spot her. But somehow, it seemed that she would see right through me, that despite being so inhuman, she would know exactly how the abyss lied.
“I figured something interesting might happen in following you,” I told her. It was, entirely, what I wanted. That was it, I just wanted something interesting to happen. There was no grand revelation for me, it’s who I am, I’m a being who wanted interesting things to happen. That’s why I have such a hobby. Isn’t that the right answer? Wasn’t that the answer I came to that day? I wanted interesting things to happen to my life filled with so much of the same that when the opportunity arose of the potential to meet a past patron, it filled me with joy. Was it really just an interesting situation for me?
“Something interesting?” She asked.
“And here we go,” Lottie added.
“I see, so that’s how it is to you,” Jordy continued without giving me room to breathe. Her expression didn’t change. She sighed, and then got up from the counter. She walked over to the aisle of notebooks beside mine, and began checking the stock of items in her shop. Her movements were sluggish, and yet, still somehow able to hold a certain eloquence in having owned the shop for as long as she did. As she spoke, it seemed her voice cut into the air between the shelves. I turned my body towards her, watching through the small cracks between shelves as she moved down the aisle.
“I guess you really aren’t human,” Jordy continued, “or, if you are, you’re playing one dangerous game of house.” It didn’t really matter what Jordy thought of me, but, if she were to delve into the World of the Divine earnestly, she could be in danger. Those who stood to trifle with information that were made of a different plane of existence were special indeed.
“But, you probably aren’t a bad person. No, even I can tell that much.” Jordy finished checking her aisle and then moved on to another. Not a single person came through her doors. Perhaps, it was just the time.
“I’m sorry to say, there really isn’t anything interesting about me. I’m not so much an interesting person that I would satisfy whatever crazy notions you had. I’m just Jordy. I just own this little store here, and, I just live day by day like this. That’s all you’re getting.”
“And I’m Lottie!” Though, Jordy still couldn’t hear her.
“And,” I continued, “I didn’t come here expecting something extravagant,” it was the truth, “I just wanted to talk.”
“You wanted to talk?”
“Right. That’s what I do. I talk, and, sometimes, I collect shattered dreams. But, I don’t know if you even have a dream right now, let alone one to be shattered. Dreams are–” But, I decided to lie a little, “Precious and strong things that we have, right?”
“Depends on what you mean as a dream.”
“Well,” I began to humor the lie, “A dream is a goal to be met, right? It can be something big, or something small. But, it’s something you want to do. You hold onto that goal in your life in hopes of achieving it one day. It’s something you hold strong and dear to your heart.” I couldn’t ever come to really say that about the fickle emotional currency of humans.
“That might be one way to define a dream, but dreams are scary things as well.”
“Scary?” Suddenly, Jordy stopped and laughed.
“I see. I guess this is what you mean by wanting to talk.”
“I’m beginning to like this Jordy. She deals with you like cards,” Lottie laughed and pranced about.
“Yeah,” Jordy started, “dreams are scary. I tell you, there’s nothing more scary than having a dream.” I’d never come to think of a dream to be scary. Going by my mantra, it was the fickle emotional currency, and, how could currency ever be scary? Was that a human sentiment?
“What’s so scary about them?”
“Absolutely everything. Have you ever had a dream?” I hadn’t. I couldn’t. But, sometimes, in all honesty, I wondered what it was like to dream. I asked Lottie about it once, but, she didn’t take kindly to the fact that I stripped her away from ever being able to have those kinds of feelings. But, she told me anyway. To her, to Lottie, who used to be human, a dream was like a carousel. You’d see where you want to be with bright lights and a glow of hope, but, you’d only be riding in a circle, forever and ever. I asked her how she would ever be able to reach a dream like that. She told me, that you couldn’t.
“I didn’t,” I ended up answering honestly.
“You’ve never had a dream before?”
“That’s right.” I heard Jordy laugh.
“And yet, you seem so adamant on collecting others. It’s a mystery how you’re able to know what is and what isn’t a dream then. ” Jordy came over to the aisle I was still standing in. It was then that I moved out of her way such that she could check the inventory of the shelves I was blocking. I then moved to the counter where I watched her from the front. The streets were still quiet, and, if I focused long enough I could hear the soft ticking of the clock in the room behind me.
“It’s my own interpretation for sure, but, dreams are scary. You wake up every day in hopes of being able to move closer to your dream. Even if that progress is only a small fraction. Even if in that day you’re only 0.001% closer to your dream, it still helps you up in the morning. And you know what?” Jordy turned towards me holding a pen in her hand that seemed to be out of ink. She twirled the pen in her fingers, putting all of her concentration into allowing the pen in her hands to spin freely. But, her fingers bumped, and the pen went flying towards the ground. Her face didn’t flinch at needing to pick the pen back up and to resume her spinning.
“Making that 0.001% become a day where you’re 0.002% closer to your dream is absolutely dreadful,” Jordy continued, “You wonder when it’ll come, but, it’s very hard to make that leap.”
“Oh yeah. That tiny change in progress, to someone with a dream, is monumental. It’s extraordinary. You live in that moment. You wish to always be in that moment. It’s amazing. I wish I could share that feeling with you in words.” She dropped her pen again. Not a single flinch. She went down, picked it back up and resumed spinning.
“But no matter how amazing that feeling is, no matter how thrilling it is to see yourself be closer to your dream, it eats at you. It consumes you. It becomes your life.”
“And you can’t escape?”
“Exactly.” The pen fell to the floor, but, instead of picking it up, Jordy kicked the inkless pen towards the counter. I went down to pick it up. It’s body was cold despite only having been on the ground for a few moments.
“Your dream becomes your life. Whatever it is, small, or big, it stops just being something to help you wake up. It is who you are. And, what do you think happens when you realize that your life is lived 0.001% at a time?”
“You’ll feel small, insignificant.”
“Right. And, that’s when the doubt starts to seep. That’s when everything about your dream starts becoming like a pipe dream. That’s when you become impatient. You’ll think that there isn’t a point in doing it anymore as you can never breach that 0.002% and you delve into a state of fear.”
“Despair, or fear. Some may say despair, but I say fear. After all, it’s scary to see yourself never being able to move forward no matter how hard you try.”
“It’s still progress though, right? Even if you can only move an inch a day, you’ll still reach a meter given enough time.” Jordy laughed. She came behind the counter, and began rummaging around. I placed the pen down.
“If people could honestly say that to themselves, Summer, everyone would be pursuing their dreams. But the truth of the matter is, there are people who can’t. There are people who know about how hard it is before even trying, and are afraid that they’ll waste their time. And there are people already in pursuit of their dream, see how much they’ve scarified for no gain, and be afraid.”
“Even if that dream was right in front of them?”
“Even if they had a dream right in front of them. It’s still scary. You know what my dream was?” Before I could answer, she chuckled.
“Of course you do. You picked it up last time, right?” I couldn’t help but to smile.
“You wanted a family.”
“Right. If someone heard that, they’d laugh.”
“It’s not something to laugh at. It’s your dream,” in the end, no matter how much I would say that the dream was a human’s fickle emotional currency, I still held those who had them in high regards. It wasn’t that I was obsessed with the idea of collecting shattered dreams. It was just that I had respect to those who produced a dream in the first place. Sometimes, I was even jealous.
“In the end, even while I had my dream right in my hands, I was still afraid. And when it finally happened, the pain of losing that dream wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Isn’t that terrible?”
“There was nothing you could do if it was out of your control. Even if you may have your dreams in front of you, there are a plethora of things that could happen,” I said this not out of any sort of pity or empathy. No, rather, I was speaking pragmatically. The World of the Living was a flawed place not only in due to the flawed humans but due to the divines who worked against them. I serviced humans only so far. I couldn’t stop another being who existed to disservice them.
“There are things out of your reach as well, Jordy. Isn’t that what they call–”
“Fate?” Though, the Weaver of Fate, Lydia, wasn’t that bad a person. She almost never interfered anyway.
“You’re right Summer. There is fate. And, to add in fate to your dreams, is another thing to be afraid of. There are just too many damn things to be afraid of in this world. And to have your own dream be one of them is really messed up.”
“But, even so, you dreamed, right?” Jordy stopped rummaging. I looked over to see her smile. She then sat back at her seat behind the counter, and placed a notebook beside the register. She flipped the cover over, and on the page, were scribbles and writing.
“I did,” Jordy started, “I did dream. Despite all that. Despite all the things I just said. I dreamed. You know what, Summer? Even if every person in the world was born with that knowledge. We’d still dream. It’s because we’re human that we dream.” Jordy smiled again, she smiled and hung onto the words and scribbles on the page in front of her. Her face, for the first time since I saw her, was gentle. She wasn’t absentminded when she traced the page with her eyes, and, it seemed that she was focused on whatever it was she had in front of her. She was right. Humans dream because they’re human.