I collect shattered dreams. In my room, I hold a jar where every shattered dream I find is stored. I find these dreams in the world outside my room. It is my duty to go into the world beyond my door and collect on the shattered dreams of those I so come across. If they are left to the world to their own devices for too long, they may become forgotten. If such a thing were to happen, I may not know, but my conscious still aches for those who will never remember their shattered dreams. If I were to find their dreams, one day, they may remember their dreams. They may even choose to relive their dreams, hoping to one day achieve their dreams, or laugh in the wake of them. Or, they may take their shattered dreams, and live a life knowing that their dreams had not come to fruition.
Dreams take many forms. It is my duty to be able to spot them, but, as if a tick in my mind, I know a dream when I see one. Even so, sometimes, I do lose sight of what is a dream and what isn’t, and so, they remain in the world for anyone to take. For those I miss, I pray that they end up where they belong.
On odd days, I can interact with those in the World of the Living. It’s not as if they can’t normally see me, but, it’s that they choose not to. In other words, it’s as if my presence is minute, simply a gust in the wind. But, if I were to interact with those in the living, or, if they so happened to give enough attention, even I would be seen.
It was an arid day, sometime in spring, when the door I opened led me to a wave of fresh air siphoned from the town’s quiet demeanor. I looked around quickly to make sure that no one had noticed me opening the door connecting the house behind me. I didn’t know where I would end up when I opened the door from my room, but, it was usually the notion of seeing someone suddenly open a door that caught their attention. I wasn’t much for making others notice me as long as I got my job done, but, it wasn’t that I particularly hated the people I worked for. I just felt that I couldn’t be bothered.
Except, that day, I met someone. I was walking up the road of the town, my eyes glued to the sidewalk, to the crevices between garbage bins and at the small of the telephone poles and bus stops in search for shattered dreams. Then, suddenly, I saw her. A tiny girl was skipping her away across the street. The town was quiet, and not a single notion of noise filled the air, and so, I wondered if the girl’s stampeding feet had felt louder because of that.
Her bright golden hair fluttered in the swirls of spring, and it seemed to fit just in place with the beating of the sun above. Even from where I stood, I could tell that she was a child of exceptional youth, a child of brimming, bustling, energy. I ignored her at first, continuing my way forward, but then, from the corner of my eyes, I saw it.
From the hem of the white summer dress she wore, a shining, shimmering object begun spinning onto the ground, and clasped its way onto the pavement beneath her. The girl was still skipping along, and so, if it was an object she had, it might have fallen off in the rattling. But, upon her unknowing of the clasp it had made, I was certain that I had just witnessed the shattering of a dream.
I crossed the street without looking both ways. It wasn’t that I could phase through a stampeding car, if I could do that it might make my job a little easier, but, with the silence of the town sifting through the air, I knew I didn’t need to look. I was sure, that somewhere in there, somewhere in that child’s mind, she also knew.
She was halfway up the pavement when I had crossed. She didn’t stop for a second to pause her skipping, and it seemed if no one stopped her that she would continue skipping for as long as she could. It wasn’t in my jurisdiction to stop her either, but, when I went over to pick up her shattered dream, the mechanical bird with two wings that soared across the sky, what they call an airplane, I saw everything about her. Lily was a young child, a child of untapped imagination, untapped potential. And yet, there she was, a dream, shattered. It made me curious.
I opened the lid of the jar I held tied to my waist like a belt. It could fit any dream into it, no matter how large they may have appeared in my hands. I let the airplane I held slowly descend into the jar, and, as it got closer to breaking apart, it suddenly turned, in the blink of an eye, to a tiny marble, glittering between the glass and the sun’s rays. My jar always started empty, and so, I didn’t need to worry about confusing it with any other dreams. Upon picking up the marble, it would turn back to its more tangible appearance.
I then ran up after Lily. Of course, when I had caught up to her, she didn’t notice. It wasn’t as if she was ignoring me, but, as usual, it was as if I was never there in the first place. Before I spoke, I noticed that she was humming. She was skipping along and humming to herself on a lone spring morning. I wasn’t one for the world, but I knew this wasn’t how most children spent their days. I estimated that she was probably somewhere in elementary school. An interesting place to be, I surmised, but not interesting enough where one’s youth would be shattered on such a day.
“Hello?” I said, waving my hand in front of her. It took a while, as it usually did, but then, she stopped in her tracks. Her gold hair stopped just short of flying off, and upon closer inspection she seemed unlike the town she was in, as if she belonged to another continent.
“Hi!” Without warning, as if a switch had turned on inside her, she beamed with enthusiasm. Her eyes smiled along and for a second I wondered if this really was the same girl who just had her dream shattered a few moments ago.
“I’m Summer,” I began, “I just noticed you out here playing by yourself, so I wanted to ask why.” Upon finishing my sentence, I began to wonder if children would really talk to a stranger so quickly. I made sure that my voice was level, calming, and not so overbearing. I understood that in this world, I looked as if I was someplace in post-secondary education. Quite an age to be, an adult. Though, I didn’t know if I could live up to that standard. I was just out in the world to collect shattered dreams. I pegged myself more of a child than anything. I adored their endless youth.
“Summer?” Was what she had apparently latched onto. It was my name. That was one of the few things I really knew about myself. I was glad that Lily didn’t seem frightened. Perhaps, it was also the fact that I was of the same gender as her.
“Your name is Summer?” She repeated, her energy beaming as it ever could in the late of spring.
“That’s amazing!” She was truly in awe.
“My name is Lily!” I knew that much. She smiled from one end of her face to the other.
“I guess that means you like summer?” I asked in jest.
“It’s my favorite season!” And it also seemed that if she could, she would end every sentence with an exclamation mark. Though, it wasn’t as if she was yelling at me. Rather, her voice was naturally loud, and naturally cheery. Such is a child.
“What’s your favorite season, Summer?” I honestly wondered that.
“I don’t know. ”
“You don’t know?” She tilted her head in confusion.
“Yeah. Sorry, never really thought about it. Why do you like summer?” I was hoping we could get to the topic at hand. Though, it was a topic only in my hands at this point. I had all the time in the world, and so, I happily indulged.
“Why do I like summer!? Well…” She made a big notion to indicate her thinking, then, without warning, jumped up, as if all her energy had burst. She suddenly began skipping along, though, it wasn’t fast enough that I couldn’t walk and keep up.
“I don’t know!” She happily exclaimed. “I just do!” Her toothy grin was slowly becoming contagious.
“Do you like to skip?”
“Do you like to hum?”
“Do you like to fly?” I decided to drop the ball. Was that right of me? I can’t tell.
“Fly?” She seemed downcast by that. All her energy drained in a single word, but, she did look up at me with a beaming expression.
“I used to!” I didn’t need any sort of confirmation to know that the shattered dream I picked up was hers, but, if any, that was it, a dream to fly.
“You used to?”
“Yeah! Like how my mommy always picked me up from school, or how my daddy always played with me on Sundays!” I simply smiled at her. Past tense, huh.
“It must be nice to fly,” I said as we continued walking and skipping up a sidewalk that lead to a place I didn’t know about, “you know, being up there and free. Birds must have the easy life.”
“Do you want to fly Summer?” Even if it was her shattered dream, she’s still a kid, I thought, and, having that boundless energy, was what being a kid was all about. Right?
“If I could, I would. It might be nice, being up there, in the sky, just drifting along with the clouds. Don’t you think that would be nice, Lily?”
“I don’t think so,” like a switch of a beat, her tone turned.
“Flying is scary.”
“You could fall.” She was still skipping along, and yet, her tone was nothing of the happiness she once exuded.
“But if you could fly, would you really fall?” I rebutted.
“Hmm…” She seriously took time to consider my question. I appreciated that.
“I guess not. But you could still fall!” She was insistent on that.
“Like…” She was on ends trying to think of an example, when suddenly, in front of us, the streets opened up. I didn’t notice, but we were at the top of a hill now, a hill made of sidewalk. Looking down to where the sidewalk led to made me wonder if such a town was really safe or not. All it took was a boundless kid to run down the hill and something irreplaceable would happen. As soon as I thought that, Lily burst down the sidewalk, running down a slope that I couldn’t quite think was safe for anyone to run down. She turned halfway down her sprint and waved me over. I could hear the ringing of wind chimes blowing in the distance, the sounds of the grass whistling away, and, I began to follow her down the slope, still wondering what exactly it was that made this precious girl’s dream shatter before such a day.