I collect shattered dreams. I woke up in my room without a single tear of sleep pervading my body. I opened the door to the bathroom, and turned on the faucet. The water that came out was sparkling, and when I brushed my fingers over a spring of coldness washed over my entire being. I splashed some water onto my face and then waited as it dried off instantly. I went to my desk, where a single lamp, a teddy bear, and my notebook sat alongside two jars. The larger jar could hold over a thousand dreams. Though, I’ve never filled it once. Sometimes, I wondered what it was I was exactly doing. But I couldn’t escape my duty. I grabbed the smaller jar, attached it to my waist, and walked over to the door that would lead me out of my room.
Sometimes, on odd days, I would meet people on my job to collect shattered dreams. It wasn’t that I couldn’t be seen by other people, nor that I actively avoided people. I rather liked humans and I pegged myself to be a childish human myself. It was just that only on odd days, would I find the gall to delve into the matters of those who have had their dreams shattered. But, I guess that’s only an excuse. It’s more of a hobby. I like talking to people.
It took me a few moments to adjust myself to the World of the Living. When I did I suddenly noticed a barrage of noise fill the air around me, and my head began to spin in on itself. When it settled, the first thing I focused on was the cars. Once I had gotten used to the cars, I adjusted to the steps of people moving about. It seemed I had entered into the thick of day and had been situated between two buildings where the shade met.
Major cities were usually hot spots for shattered dreams. They would get swept up by the tides of cars and roll around in the thick of the pavement. Or they would congregate at traffic lights and coffee shops. Wherever there was people, there was bound to be dreams that were shattered. Even if the air of the streets would be filled with activity, with bustling dreams filled with youthful discretion tied together by the ideals of adults with inexhaustible expectations, it was just the law of life.
It was on such days that I could really get work done. By the time I was able to find the first coffee shop of the street, I had picked up ten different shattered dreams. They were all beautiful dreams of days past. I entered the coffee shop as soon as the door opened for me. Doors were always tricky for me. The moment I touched a knob, the door would connect back to my room.
It was a rather empty coffee shop in the middle of the day. Of course, the staff didn’t notice me, nor did any of the patrons. I didn’t get asked what I wanted, nor did anyone wonder why a strange woman was taking up the walkway. Instead, I kept an eye under all the tables, watching for that particularly glitter that only dreams gave.
And then without warning as if broken out of my trance of duty I noticed someone staring. It wasn’t the oddest of things that could happen, no it could have been a person behind me, some kind of ornament that beget staring, or just a reverie. Cases like these came often. But, if that was the case then I wouldn’t have felt so uneasy about his eyes as they bore holes within me.
He walked towards the door. Not a single person seemed to care. He stopped a few feet away from me, seeming ready to open his mouth, but then decided to leave. Odd things happened around me all the time. I traced my way to where he sat, and noticed a pendant on his table. I walked over, and placed my finger over its silver lining. It was a shattered dream. The pendant was in an odd shape. It seemed to be composed of two oddly shaped rings interlacing However, the more I held it in my hands, the more I realized that it was a never ending loop. The pendant began one way, and the more I traced that silver metal, the more it came back to its beginning. It wasn’t multiple tubes that created the pendant, but a singular tube that bent in on itself. I felt as if it would entrance me into another world.
I waited until the door opened, and then left. It wasn’t that I had some kind of strange ability to trace the owner of a shattered dream, but, he hadn’t gone far at all. In fact, he held his coffee in his hands as he sat on the bench by the bus stop. But I knew he had no intention to go anywhere. His dream as it shattered, would have prevented him from so.
By the time I walked over to the bus stop, Reed had decided to get up and walked up the street. He disposed of the coffee in a nearby garbage can, which also had quite a few shattered dreams for my picking. Though, I had to hurry along to catch up with him. It may sound hypocritical, or call it nepotism, but I only did have interest in those that interested me. Or perhaps, it was just my childish curiosity.
Eventually the cityscape began thinning. It seemed I hadn’t come to such a deep part of the city despite all the bustle. The buildings opened up into a walkway filled with greenery. It was a park. A strange edition to any city, I thought, but a welcome change of pace nonetheless. I noticed then in the thick of the park walkway filled with dirt and the shades of trees that our steps filled the air more than the ensuing city behind us. Reed stopped short from the clearing of the park’s entrance to where the main section existed. He ruffled around in his jacket pocket and pulled out a lighter. Using his other hand, he ruffled out a small white cylindrical object and placed it in his mouth. Before lighting it, he turned and stared at me.
“You’re not from around here, right?” He spoke first. He had gruff, messy hair almost as if he hadn’t realized he had hair. Some of it was even graying but I didn’t peg him to be an old man. He was quite youthful, for what he was worth. He still had his whole life ahead of him, though I only counted that in terms of biological years. It would have been imprudent of me to tell him that. His build was quite staggering, as if he had worked out but not enough for it to sustain. Nevertheless, I didn’t peg him to be one to hold flowers to his name.
“I’m not,” I replied. He nodded his head forward and then proceeded to light his cigarette. Once I was walking by his side, he continued along until the shade of the trees disappeared and the only thing that remained was the quiet shrill of the inbound nature. The park was quite large, a boulder laid in the center surrounded by benches and an assortment of flowers in bloom. There wasn’t a single other person around, but the sun that painted the park made it feel alive. The wind as it came around us swayed the grass into a dance and whistled through the trunks of trees.
“So, why you here then?” Upon closer hearing, his voice sounded like it had been cut through sand. And his gait was relaxed. He kept himself slightly slouched as his legs almost dragged through the path. I wondered at all how he managed to walk.
“I was just out in the city,” I answered with as natural a voice I could muster. Fortunately for me, I was of the rare breed of divines that could actively mimic humans.
“Just enjoying my time,” I added with a smile. The power of a human smile was breathtaking.
“And you explored your way all to me?” He turned his head with raised eyes. He shrugged before turning back towards the path. He seemed to be going towards the benches near the fountain.
“Just coincidence is all.”
“Really now?” He took a puff out of his cigarette and balanced it between his fingers. He let it sit in his hand before placing it back into his mouth. He then sat on one of the benches, and lifted one of his legs to rest on his lap.
“If you were anyone else, I would have minded, but with a young lady such as yourself following me– Well, maybe I shouldn’t account my life for that much. Still, it’s a welcome gift. It’s funny how these things go.” He took another puff before turning towards me and pointed to the seat beside him. As I sat he leaned back towards the cloudless sky. The sun was burning his face. It seemed that at any moment, with the lightest touch, he would leave this world.
“Be real with me, what’s your angle? I mean, come on you’re not out here trying to walk the city. What’s there to see?” He took out his lighter and begun fidgeting with the trigger. The flame would alight only to be met with a strong wind. He would let go of the trigger just as the wind was about to snuff out his flame.
“I don’t have an angle. I really am just here on a walk. ” He looked at me with his cigarette halfway out of his mouth, and then shrugged. He put his lighter onto the space between us, and then leaned forward.
“Whatever. I’m not here to play detective. But, if you’re trying to sell me something or–”
“I just wanted to talk. How about that?” His eyes widened. Somehow, the cigarette in his mouth hadn’t fallen.
“You just– You just wanted to talk?” His expression remained until a bird perched on the bench opposite us. His eyes wandered.
“Yeah. I want to talk. Is that okay with you?” He sighed as the bird left, and then got up, stretching his arms towards the sky.
“You want to talk to me?” He shook his head lightly. I smiled as he gave me an unwavering stare. He picked his cigarette and stamped it underneath his feet before lighting another in his mouth.
“Alright then young lady. I’ll have to think that either I’m crazy or you are. But maybe that isn’t so bad a thing,” he laughed, then added, “Funny how these things work.”
“I’m Summer.” He leaned forward, balancing his cigarette in his mouth, then extended his hand.
“Okay crazy. I’m Reed. Let’s talk.” I shook his hand. His grip was nonexistent, and his skin was rough. His dream was a dream I didn’t know whether to categorize as childish, wishful, or incredibly inane. Perhaps that’s too harsh. But that was my hobby. I talked to those who have had their dreams shattered. It wasn’t that I wanted to criticize him, but, I was interested. His dream was to belong.