Where We Stand

Where We Stand

“I’ll always be above this line.

Here, the water is drenched in some kind of rust but,”

maybe it’ll be treated and if treated I won’t have to say

that being here drains me, but I can live here, and I can taste the water here.

Here, I’ll know where you’ll be, and you’ll always know

the sun bleeds orange onto the pavement. And

splotches of paint, end up where leaves gather on manholes, where

It’s just, sometimes, always, empty, by my side, but that’s okay since

I’ll always be above this line.


Below this line, is where I’ll be.

Here. And I know that

I can see shades of orange, bleeding into the pavement;

loose splotches of paint from the bulbs, coming together,

the stars, the moon,

Every step echoes in a crunch as leaves break. It all molds,

My eyes shut tightly to let it all find me, a soft ebb and flow.

Then I stop. The streetlights flicker, and it leaves an afterimage.

It’s empty. I can almost see you.

I stretch my arms to find you, but when I open my eyes.

Nothing.

And then I remember, where you are and I’ll say,

“Below this line, is where I’ll be.”

Hiding From a Monster

Hiding From a Monster

Pitter patter pitter patter pitter patter

TAP. TAP. TAP. TAP. TAP.

Lub-dub lub-dub lub-dub

Vzzzzzt vzzzzzt

Crash, BOOM…

Shhhhhhhhhh

Shhhhhhhhhh

Shhhhhhhhhh

Sh – pitter patter pitter patter pitter patter…

KRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…..Shhhhhhh

Lub-dublub-dublub-dublub-dublub-dub

….

Phew.

 

In The Ground Where We Lay

In The Ground Where We Lay

None of us can say otherwise that the time we spent together was a lie….Or at least, that’s what I told myself. To fly back to where we all congregated under an open sky was…not something everyone could afford; reasonable, understandable. But…empty. It makes being the only one who stayed behind, just that, the only one who stayed behind.

Our old elementary school was shut down due to lack of attendance. And by association: population. Not many people chose to have children in this area, stained by miles of old homes, with unkempt yards and glaring stares. Every once in a while a car would slowly trudge by the streets, kicking up loose stones. They were there to keep an eye on us. On those small cliques that roamed the streets with echoing laughs. On those men in suits who were just a tad bit too wary. And on those that were just there to live. Finding my way around them was just another day.

Except, on that day in my hands was a sheet creased with the years it was tucked away in my room. Fluttering away sheets of bills and loose clothes led me to find the envelope it was sealed in. Handled by neglect, I opened the letter to find our childhood sprawled on a map.

From my house to the school, it was a few streets away. Enough time to let the sun glare off of the broken glass. Enough time to let the sun fill the space between alleys (to wake those who didn’t know better). Enough time to see that my phone was shaking with a call from a place beyond the sky.

“I didn’t think you would pick up, Tristan. It’s been…a long time, hasn’t it?” Her voice spilled into my ears with a slight reverberation.

“It’s been a long time for everyone, Lili.” Her name slowed my steps. A few bodies came down the streets with loose eyes. Ignoring them, I held the map in one hand, watching as it flapped with the chill winds. In the distance, I heard the laughs of those hanging by the remaining corner shops. Turning into the streets, those laughs flooded over my face.

“So you really are going to go back there? Knowing it’s still there might be nice but…that was a long time ago.” Her words were light as they filled my mind. Light syllables. Light breaths. Light filled the empty corner stores. They always did.  Even as children, running by those shelves of candy and snacks made those lights warm. It was a pointless pastime. But it was our time.

“I’ve made my decision. This is what I want to do. And I’m going to do it, no matter what.”

I listened to her light breath.

“No one’s asked you to. And, no one particularly wants you to. But you’ll do it anyway. I guess that’s just who you are in the end, right?” Her words stung me. Stuck in the middle of the street, I listened as she gave a small chuckle.  A couple came walking down the street, an oddity. But they smiled and laughed, glaring past me.

“That might be so. But, it’s also who you are to call like this. No surprise there. That’s just who you are in the end.” The gates to the school blew into view. They were rusted, peels of brown beginning to fall towards the clawing grass.

“In the end we haven’t changed at all.” I smiled at her words.  Bracing my feet, I steeled myself for a climb, tracing my skin to the rough edges of the iron. Scraping against my hands, I felt small taps litter my palms. Taking in a waft of the material brought my mind out of it until I flipped to the other side.

The building was left all the same; worn bricks and dusted windows faced me as the flag waved gently in its faded pole. The double doors leading to the main entrance had its paint chipped, revealing a soft grey under its blue. Nudging its handles produced a large clash. Trying anymore only puffed up more dust. Leaning towards the glass panels I squinted for a peek but found nothing. Pressing my ears towards the doors I heard a few creaks, and skitters. Must have been rats; the new students. Checking the map, I doubled around the entrance, to where the yard was used for recess.

“Do you still remember what we left in there?” I hummed at her words; five children running around town as if the world revolved around our laughs, our smiles, or our games….It was incredibly, well, childish. Those laughs, and those smiles, and those games still lingered, in those who hung in the streets, in the alleys, and in the empty stores.

“Not in the slightest,” I lied.

“I see. Well, I hope whatever it is that we did leave, makes for a wonderful reunion.”

The yard sprouted an array of dandelions overtaking: the swings, the sandbox, and the slides. In a single gust, puffs of white all swayed as if they were there to fill the missing time. Beyond this was a tiny space where the school used to keep a garden tucked away for study. Drawing the cycle of life as we grew with those flowers and trees made for…something none of us could forget, or at least that’s what I told myself.

“You must be at the garden now. It was in part an excuse to have us experience life as it was to be greener.” She gave a small chuckle. “But it was nice.”

“It really was. Do you think, those drawings might have found their way in?”

“Maybe they did. Would you be happy if they did?”

I turned her words over and forced my feet to move forward.

“I’m not sure,” I lied. The garden itself was a tidy guardian, with towering trees holding lumbering leaves and brandishing branches. Wild flowers and even small animals made their homes here. A tear in the fence might have let them in, an admission to study. The school had always taken up far too much space for its good. But it was our place, our home, when the morning came, and our time, crawling through it all.

“What do you want to be in that time capsule?” I couldn’t help but laugh with her question. In the distance, I could hear the slight drift of a car.

“Maybe a picture would be nice. A picture of our smiles or even just how it used to be before. Maybe a picture of the school, of the streets, anything of that time.” Pushing away gnawing branches and watching my steps, I listened to the small of her breath.

“If there was a picture, would you share it with the others? I’m sure it would make for a nice moment.”

“Yeah. Yeah, if there was a picture, then I think it’d be nice for all of us to see it again,” I lied.

“Do you think we’ve grown up since then?”

I laughed.

“Of course. That’s just how things are. If we’re the same then things would be –” The words that tried to complete my sentence spilled itself to the floor, lumping with the dirt. “Horrible.” Another lie.

With the overgrowth, the map quickly became minute. Just winding paths and sprouting bushes greeted my every step. However, there should have been a clearing in all of that mess. A place where we came together to bury what I came to find. It had always been like that, parted away from the flowers we studied, and even the teachers never stepped foot in that circle.

“What about you Lili? What do you want in a time capsule?”

“Candy.” Her declaration stung my body, though not enough to hold it in place. I held in my laughter.

“I see. Yeah, that might be nice.”

The vegetation began to thin. My body slowed, catching itself in the strutting rocks. I held onto a tree for support, before my legs began tapping. It was close. Edging on further I met with the sun, filtering through the leaves. Even further, the leaves stopped, and the sun met my eyes. A circle stained only by grass presented itself. Near the edges of the clearing, small petals gathered. None made it to the center, but they all grasped with every breath of wind that came. Breaking into that sunlight, I stepped over the petals.

“What do you think the others would have wished for in our time capsule?”

My body ached the more I moved forward. Holding my sweat, I gave a light breath. Landing at the center of the clearing made my arms shake. Leaning over, I let my arms rest over the soil, until they began to dig, the motions finding themselves.

“The others? Maybe…money? Though would we really have had that kind of foresight?”

She gave a slight laugh.

“In that case, maybe a favorite book?”  Every handful came with hardened breaths. The only rest I had was in my words. “I’m not sure any of us were big readers. But maybe a picture book. Though the box wasn’t that big I think. As children, did we really have anything to treasure? Maybe it really is just candy.” Soon enough my hands became numb. Thinking about the sensation halted my body.

“I think you might be right about that. But, would you really think we went through all that effort just to stow away some candy? We must have been an ambitious group then.” Repeating her words let my hands continue.

“Ambitious?”

“How would you describe us? After all these years…I wonder what you would say.”

Soon enough, a hard clank stopped my digging. Rooting it out, I was thrown back. Stained in dirt and glimmering lightly underneath its veil, I laughed.

“We were really great friends back then, at least. And now?” I let my eyes rest on the fading metal. “I’m not sure.” Another lie. We didn’t keep a key. But my hands shook as they held onto its top. An airplane above shattered the air as I closed my eyes.

“How would you describe us? With someone like me, I’m not sure my answer would be very viable.” Striding over its top, I let the rust singe my skin.

“Do you really want to know?” Trying to answer her made my words scramble across my mouth. The only thing I could do was trace the metal box, tracing the path our young fingers must have took to bring it underground. Tracing the words we must have said as we buried it together. Tracing the laughs we had…the laughs we must have had.

“I don’t.” Letting my fingers over the cover, I lifted our capsule open. She laughed.

“You’ve finally become honest.”

I strode my hand against its empty bottom.

Lilith was gone.

So was everyone else.

I stayed.

Though, surely the time we spent together had happened, and the smiles and the laughs and the games and the warmth of the light we let each other have surely had to have happened.

 

A City In The Clouds

A City In The Clouds

We lived in a city in the clouds. In the same way that birds flutter and make
their nests in a sky where no humans can hope to see; this was a place where only some can breathe. Migration or desperation, people stormed to this city in droves. Money flowed from one pocket to another, and the blood of the city became entrenched in… No. None of it was true. We were just trying to live. In the same way that I could walk down the streets and see the same panhandlers, and the same students. Students who go downtown are brave. Either that or goddamn rich.

Walking past all of it I only had one place in mind. It was neither here nor there (just some place in the city where things seemed to stop). In the migrant trains or the bustle of coffee stained shoes, breathing was a sport. I fiddled my dirt riddled pockets, chugging change between my fingers. Enough for a ride on the streetcars or a small meal at the bakery, it was all a beggar’s wish. Except, I didn’t beg for my coins.

Blaring in my ears, the horns of cars and the rush of feet along with distant cries of… Exams. Exams were up. It was that time again. Just like always. I began humming. No tune in particular. Letting it all sink into my mind. My feet began to float. My arms drooped like hanging clouds. Everyone was rushing, pushing me back to where I came. But I kept forward. There was some place I needed to be. I had to get there. And it had to exist. Or else…Or else I wouldn’t have a story to tell.

If being on the streets taught me anything, it’d have to be – my phone was shaking. It was shaking for the entirety of the morning. Humming my silent tune allowed it to disperse in the winds. It would be lost in the veins of the city…At least, on any other day it would have. But that day my hands reached over, and before I could finish my song I was already engulfed with a call from my little sister.

“What is it?” My voice cut into my ears as much as it did the phone. I swallowed a lump. Was it really my voice? Hadn’t spoken in a while, but still, it was harrowing.

“Brother, you have not been home in such a long time that our parents are worried for you. I am with them now, and they wish to speak to you. Do you mind?” Her words were gentle, landing in my ears like the soft touch of rain. Concise, every breath created a well versed syllable. Was this really my sister? I tried to run her name in my head but drew blanks.

At the intersection cars ran by, flooding my phone. I smiled, listening to her breath, letting her hear the city in the clouds. When the lights flashed on, I noticed a bike. Further and further, and I would be on the highway.

“If they really wanted to hear me, they’d call themselves. That’s their job, isn’t it?”

My sister sighed. She had…Long hair? No, she must have cut it by then. Always nagging. To me no less. Always used to be there. Beginning on the next sidewalk, I looked over to see a row of shops lining the streets. One last stretch, one last hook before the clouds were gone. And then, my humming would turn into a nice little song. Inspired by…Nothing much. That’s just how things were.

“Brother. Please. They are worried for you. We…Are worried for you,” she said. Her ‘we’ was soft; drifting off of her mouth as if the word had only found itself in her sentence. I stopped at one of the largest fast food chains in the world. Its windows glistened, the printed letters more bright than stones on the street. Staring at those lining up for a quick meal swept away the city’s pulse. And then, it was just the quiet sun, the hanging clouds, and rolling wheels.

“Where are you? You must come home. They do not mean to intrude in your life anymore. They just want to see you. Please, brother,” she said. Every word came with its own weight. Anymore and it would outdo her own…That kind of weight was unwanted (she should know, not that it mattered to me, just our parents, and their own…Way of making her their lovely little daughter…Or some similar drivel).

“Can you step outside for a moment?” I asked. In the end, it never amounted to much. Not when she went with them, to a place beyond the clouds. The city lost a little bit of blood that day. And I had to stay, to make sure it didn’t bleed out. My legs kept a steady pace the more I stood. There was some place they wanted to be as well. The same place as mine? Yeah. It had to be. That’s the moral of this story.

“Pardon?”

“I mean, out of the house. You said you were there, right?” Walking past the stores I let my free hand rustle the coins in my pocket. Their stains and my skin melded into one.

“Brother, I do not know what you mean to imply but they are worried about you. This is no joke. Please, even for a brief moment, if you can tell me that you’ll be on your way then –”

“Caroline.” Her name, I remembered, as my eyes traced the shoulders of the people walking by me. Caroline. One of the women walking by must have been named that, as it sparked my mind tracing the flow of her hair. Caroline. It sounded like sweet candy.

“I understand. Please excuse me for a moment,” she said. The call was on mute. My feet began to slow. My legs knew. My body knew. And so I began to slow.

“Brother?” She said.

“Alright. Enough of that crap. Carrie, what the hell do they want?”

Silence.

But then she spoke. Thank god.

“Sorry. You know how it is around them, Laurence. I just can’t help but–”

“I know, Carrie. I know and I’m sorry for being an ass. Just hearing you be like that is… It’s not something I want. I’m the one who’s sorry. Why are you over there anyway? Don’t tell me you –”

“Yeah. It’s – Exactly, what you’re thinking…Yeah.” Her words were gentle. But they were spoken in broken breaths.

“You never learn Carrie. You never will. But that’s why we’re related. We’ll always be two idiots in the end.”

“Right.”

My feet eventually stopped. There it was. If it wasn’t, then I wouldn’t have a story to tell. But it wasn’t there. In front of where our old apartment used to be was an empty lot. Demolished, detained, deteriorating as the soil kept retaining rain running through its veins. Beside this empty lot, was a corner store, no longer in a corner.

“How long has it actually been since I’ve been there? Those…Parents, must think it’s been a decade. It hasn’t been that long has it?” I ruffled through the coins, pulling out a penny. Ancient. Illegal? Nonexistent. But in my pocket nonetheless.

“How long for you? Or how long for them?” Her words kept my body from moving.

“I see. Yeah. You’re right. You’re always right Carrie. But I’m not coming home.”

I turned the penny in my hands before tossing it into the plot of land where my childhood was buried. Like that, stunned in the earth, for as long as I kept coming back, for as long as my body memorized its path, it was there. It had to exist. I made sure it did. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have a story to tell.

“I know. But, I just hoped you might change your mind,” Carrie said. It wouldn’t be the first time. It wouldn’t be the last either. Though it had definitely been a while. “It’s not too late, I don’t think. But, you have your life. And–”

“You have your life too, by the way. You shouldn’t… I’ve been telling you the same thing for so long, is there any point to it? Just know I’m rooting for you.”

Silence.

Silence always followed.

Never with me. But, whenever they were involved, she would go silent. Watching with eyes unable to cry out that she was also a person, she stayed silent. And I watched. Silent as well.

“I’m trying. Okay. I’m trying,” she said, her breaths growing rough.  I smiled.

“I know.”

Leaning down, I threaded the dirt with my fingers, ignoring the passing cars. An airplane crashed through the sky, and the few who still came by gave me half a glance.

“How long has it been since you’ve been to the city?” Carrie asked.

“Me? Do you think I’ve actually left?” I could feel her smile.

“You’re right. You’re right. No. You’re exactly right.”

The empty plot kneaded its way into my palms, and before I knew it my nails were stained. I dug through my pockets for another coin, producing another penny. In a single motion, my fingers sank into the dirt, and as I extracted my hand, I laughed.

“Stay strong, Carrie. I’ll be rooting for you. Even if you’re not here. And even if you may never be here. I’ll always be there. Okay?”

“Okay.”

I began wiping dirt over my jeans. An act of habit. Leaning back on the sidewalk, I traced my fingers over the dirt, making small lines. We used to make lines all the time. Lines in the sand. Lines in our room. And lines in our words so that we knew who we were talking to (that way, we’d always be together).

“So, how’re things over there?” I asked. “Beyond just having to deal with them all day, I’m sure your life has been quite fruitful. Why don’t you tell me about it?”

My body was aching. My arms and legs twitched the more I sat, and my pulse grew. Watching over the empty plot of our lives together in the city made it grow. Her words started to flow into my ears, gently, with rough syllables. I listened to her for a little while longer as I let myself drift on by. In the end, that’s just how my story goes.

Starlight

Revisited this piece with some new edits that hopefully makes it a better read. Hope you enjoy.

BrianDWriting

We thought we were immortal. The air surrounded us, winter creeping into our arms. Our steps echoed in the low light of the stairs. Her pulse grew the closer we got. I turned once to see her eyes in a brilliant glean. The air’s ballad mixed with our steps as we stood in front of the rusted door.  Winter slept in the steel platform draining itself into the soles of our feet as our bodies converged in irregular panting. I tightened my grip. She winced, and her pulse lowered. The cracks of the doors exhaled ash and fuel. Everything came together in the sky. I remember how we first met. We were both trying to fly. We thought we were immortal.

Her dress fluttered in the wind. A thousand frills accompanied a thousand sirens as we came to the edge of the roof. It was barren save for our naive…

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Shattered Dreams, Chapter 7: Dream to Meet a Ghost

3

We left the hospital as soon as we patched Connie’s leg. Lottie managed to find an old medic kit that was untouched by the rubble of the hospital. She was on my shoulder as we walked out of the hospital. I asked her to take a read of  Connie’s dream. I wanted her to know. It’d only be appropriate as she was my partner. All Connie wanted to do was to find the ghost of her parents. Except what she found was a being who collected shattered dreams, and a human turned into her disciple. I couldn’t understand why her dream had to be so specific, but at the same time, so was being human.

“I really appreciate you guys doing this,” Connie said as we walked up the street. There was nothing more in this town. Perhaps if Lottie took a read of the area she could find some mementos hiding in the rubble. But Connie wasn’t here for heirlooms.

“No need to thank us. It’s probably our fault you were so giddy in the first place.” She laughed. I could hardly imagine her without laughing. But she was also a Ghost Hunter. Divines saw humans like her as an easy source of influence or an afternoon meal. Maybe even both.

“I never asked,” Connie began,  her eyes beaming with fire. She was walking with a limp, her hand slightly reaching down towards the cut. Her face strained with each step, though she still smiled.

“How did you guys come here anyway?” Lottie was tapping against my back with her legs, and without needing to see her I knew her face was raised as well.

“Coincidence?” I said, hoping she’d take that for some kind of answer. Lottie almost tipped over. She was snickering.

“Coincidence?” Connie stopped and tapped her foot.

“Right, we were just passing the area.” She gave me a hard stare, then continued walking. I sighed.

“You said you collect shattered dreams, right?” Our voices seemed to hang in the air before being muddled by the distant ocean. Our steps bled into the ground, and the grasp of rot lingered on my nose.

“Right.”

“I guess a place as dead as this would house plenty.” She shrugged and brought her hands behind her head. I was glad she understood.

“So now what are you going to do? Your buddies must be worried about you. And you didn’t come here to get what you need done. If you still want to ghost hunt, its best to do it while you’re safe.” A part of me hoped that she would just go back to being a human, to being blissfully ignorant about the world she saw. And a part of me knew that she would never forget. Lottie was leaning further back than usual.

“I must really be lucky to have a bunch of– For that matter, what are you guys? If not ghosts, then some kind of phantom?” I wondered that myself.

“We’re not human, that much is  sure. But you shouldn’t worry yourself over us.” I somehow felt Lottie’s weight press down on me. She was lightly humming to herself.

“Well, whatever you guys are, you’re worrying over me. That’s well–That’s something you don’t need to do. After all–” She stopped, and put up a peace sign, “I’m a bonafide Ghost Hunter!” Her smile was bright, and I found it alluring. I couldn’t help but to smile along.

“And,” Her voice took a dip, “If you guys are here, and if there really were ghosts of those who once lived here, we probably would have saw them by now, right?” She was right to an extent. I could feel them, and I’m sure Lottie could as well. They were everywhere and nowhere. There was a  golden rule that all divines know by nature, those afflicted by the divine will never be the same. They’ll be tainted. Despite my hobby to talk to humans, I have to make sure that I never appear more than what I am, lest I curse them forever.

“A place like this is perfect for a ghost hunt. But not a single one has made a peep, except for you guys! But you aren’t ghosts– Unless, I can’t see them, like with Lottie!” She took Lottie off of my shoulder. We were both wide eyed as she was spun from above. Connie didn’t move from her spot though her leg jittered in want to console her energy. I was glad she didn’t force herself.

“So, does that mean that the ghosts are hiding themselves from me?” I smiled as gently as I could and shrugged. Lottie held her mouth together, her eyes wide, and blinking at me in miles.

“If you really want to know, you could always come back–” It wasn’t that the divines couldn’t be tracked through human technology, it surprised us so much that we once thought of hunting down the humans, “But, all I can tell you is that it’ll be dangerous.”

“And,” Lottie added, stopping Connie from spinning her, “If any ghost really did want to talk to you, they would have already made themselves known.  No matter what attachment you have to a place like this, you have to understand that there might be reasons why they’d want you to stay away.” Connie lowered Lottie. She was holding her by the shoulders and I could see her eyes glitter beyond the world around us. Connie’s dream was never destined to be made. No divine who had an attachment to a human would ever wish to bring them to this side. Except for inane divines who collected shattered dreams.

“I see. I guess I should call off the hunt then. If it’s that dangerous, then we really shouldn’t be hanging around here.” Connie let off Lottie onto the dirt road. She seemed to swirl on the spot but then flew back onto my shoulder. Her face was scrunched, but then relaxed.

We managed to find our way to the entrance of the port town. Looking back, I could imagine how bustling the place must have been. I could imagine all the noise, of the people, of the ships, and of the ocean. The ocean without a town was hollow. When it rang through us, I felt Lottie tighten her grip on me. Connie didn’t flinch.

“Though–” I started. I felt bad for dissuading Connie’s simple dream in the way I did. It wasn’t that I could fault myself for a mere coincidence but I wasn’t completely heartless. I felt a human urge to say something to Connie, “You know, I’m sure that your parents are happy.” Connie turned to look at me, her eyes were wide, and so was Lottie’s. No divines had allowed their presence to be known. And although I couldn’t tell the exact name of the divines that could have wandered here,  it wasn’t too far off to assume that her parents may have been watching.

“Call it my ghastly intuition,” I started with a chuckle, “But they’re probably happy to see you, and you shouldn’t worry about them.” Connie looked up at me, her eyes strong, unwavering.

“You came back, that’s what matters, right?” She nodded, and I looked over to see Lottie smiling.

“Though if I really wanted to I could always check the bunkers,” Connie said in jest. Lottie let out a breath. She felt weightless again.

“But if they died in that bunker, they’d be mixed in with a bunch of other corpses, I wouldn’t want to see that,” she finished with a chuckle.

“I appreciate your coming to me like this. But maybe I will come back. I don’t really know why but I feel like I have to. Despite all of your warnings, I still have to.” Her eyes peered into mine. I couldn’t do anything but to shrug and nod.

“You’re still human,” I said.

“Maybe I’ll even find my old home. It’ll just be wreckage but we used to have old photos. The only ones in the family. It’d be great to have them.” Connie smiled as she peered back into the town.

“Yeah, I’ll be back. Not as a Ghost Hunter. But as me, Connie.” Lottie flew up and smiled.

“I really do wish I could talk with you guys more, to learn more about– Well, you’ve been keeping quiet about a lot of things, right?” She was surprisingly sharp.

“It’s probably to protect me,” she continued, clutching onto her camera, “But, I’m fine now. And when I come back I’ll try not to stir up any trouble. It’s a shame, we probably can’t meet again, that’s usually how these ghost encounters work.” She laughed and stuck her hand out.

“Is that so?” I asked as I shook her hand.

“Yeah. As a Ghost Hunter I have a duty to always be on the hunt,” she let go of my hand and then saluted on the spot.

“And besides, you probably have work to do too, right? Shattered dreams–I’ll remember that.”  She smiled, and nodded, “Sounds like a great topic for research. I wonder if any ghosts deal in dreams. I’ve never heard about anything remotely similar to what you guys are. Must be what they mean when they say times change. Even our legends change.” She laughed lightly to herself.

“I really am no good with farewells. I should be going now. Thank you for your time.” She began up the road, to where she came from.

” Another job well done?” Lottie asked with her mouth pursed to the side.

“That one ended rather quickly, don’t you think?” She asked again. She flew in front of me with her hands to her hips.

“To the great duo of Summer and Lottie!” She began with a booming voice, as booming as she could make it with her size, “They have now accomplished–” Then she lowered her voice to a sweet trill, “Helping another human with their shattered dream. You really are like an angel, you know that?”

“Not you too. Don’t even joke about that.”

“And it’s that kind of modesty–” She pointed at me, “That goes unappreciated.”

“I’m not doing any of this to be appreciated. I just–”

“Want to do something interesting?” Lottie shrugged.

“Well, want to head back now? We can follow Connie back and see if we hit another trove of shattered dreams. But I’m sure you wouldn’t want to afflict her anymore than you have.”

“Right. When it comes to these things, you’re surprisingly sharp.”

“Surprisingly!?” And, just as it were, as I turned back towards the town, I noticed something. To be more prudent, I noticed a divine. Lottie was floating about beside me, and I was sure she noticed as well.

“How long has it been following us?” She asked.

“Probably since Connie cut her leg.” They’re everywhere, and nowhere. But with a human gone, they can shed off their skin for a moment’s respite. That’s when they’re the most vulnerable.

“Should we be worried?” Lottie asked. I recognized the divine. He was heading to a part of the port town that we didn’t visit. It was probably the source of the rotting bodies in the air.

“She’ll be back, even if she’s coming with no intention of tracing the divine, we marked her. It won’t hurt to see what’s roaming here.”

“Just like an angel.” I didn’t bother to retort.

Part 4

Shattered Dreams, Chapter 6: On a Day Without a Dream

When I close my eyes everything slowly simmers to black. I can’t feel tired, but everything disappears nonetheless. And as if on a queue I wake up aptly. Somewhere in the distance of my mind I can feel Lottie wake up as well. Lottie is a part of my being, a part of my existence. On that day that I took her shattered dream, I gave her a new life. I stole her humanity and brought her over to the World of the Divine. I felt Lottie stretch and yawn.

“By the way,” Lottie began that morning, “Where are we, anyway? I mean, I know we’re in your room, but where exactly is this?”

“I wish I could tell you.” I really couldn’t answer that question. I hadn’t a single idea where my room existed. There was the theory that I simply existed in the plane between the two worlds. That was the most probable answer, and if I could meet with my Landlord that would have been my first question. Though even if I did ask I probably wouldn’t receive an answer.

“Do you think we’re somewhere in the World of the Living?” Lottie asked. Lottie was still speaking from the space she dwelled inside of me.  I couldn’t help but to smile. I began to imagine Lottie in the space in front of me. And in a blink, Lottie appeared. She was floating in the air between us, her long light brown hair wrapping onto her body like a blanket. She hadn’t changed much from the time she was still a human.

“That’s better,” I said in jest of her appearance, “The World of the Living?”

“Yeah. Couldn’t that be the case?” She flew over to the jars on my desk and began picking at them.

“That would be the case for the majority of divines who were born from the whispers of humans. But I’m a special case.” Lottie nodded.

“You weren’t born from any myths, legends, or rumors. Instead, you were cast into this world by another divine.” I nodded. Lottie raised her eyes as she turned towards me.

“Right. Before I knew it I was here in this room,” I answered.

“And I haven’t really found any details on any supernatural ghost or creature that could match your description,” Lottie added. She shrugged and flew over to my arm. Her hand as they touched my skin felt like a smooth waterfall. She made me stretch my arm. In a breath, her feet planted onto my arm, weightless.

“If we aren’t in the World of the Living then it’s quite amazing how your door can link to it at will,” she played a balancing act but at the edge of my hands jumped off and dived towards the floor. Influence is the kind of word of mouth that made divine beings. Those who’ve had their stories passed down from generations are born as beings powerful enough to sustain themselves. Those who’ve only been talked about in passing for a few days would be born as lesser beings. I found that fact to be oddly human.

“My room is a divine all of its own, so it isn’t that surprising in that regard.” Lottie shot to the sky just as she was about to hit the floor. Her laugh filled the room.

“So that just leaves the possibility that your room is situated somewhere in the World of the Divine. However, even as I siphon information from outside of your room to learn of the World of the Divine, I can tell that it’s a very weak link. ” Lottie went for another dive.

“If the link isn’t strong, then that means we’re much farther from the World of the Divine than we think,” I answered. Lottie nodded as she continued for the floor, stopping before she planted.

“That’s right it’s not strong but it’s still there. So, the most probable answer has to be–” She rocketed again, pulling all of her energy, breaking the wind around us.

“That we’re somewhere in between.” Lottie faltered just as she was about to hit the ceiling. She spun out in the air, landing onto the wall, shaking my table. I laughed.

“Exactly.” Lottie shook her head and begun meditating. I smiled for her.

“Not a very fun topic for an old day like today.” She stopped and looked at me with her head tilted to the side. She puffed her cheeks in and sighed.

“I’m still learning about this world. I have to ask questions. Especially when it comes to issues concerning you,” she said with a light smile.

“Even if you can just siphon me?” She shook her head.

“That wouldn’t be fun.”  Lottie flew over to my bed and lowered herself onto the sheets. Upon touching them she cringed, “This thing’s cold.”

“Much like you?” She scowled with a chuckle. Her eyes then moved to the marbles in my jar.

“I wonder how many that makes,” she said under her breath.

“Enough to know that dreams have been shattered.”

“And you’re their last resort.” I smiled and sought my mind to see if I could pull out a memory I’ve had with the humans who I’ve talked to. My mind could barely climb a mountain.

“I guess that would be pretty overbearing. I can’t even think how stressful that would be, holding the burden of all those shattered dreams,” Lottie said as she flew in front of me arcing to and fro in a light pendulum.

“And what about you? What about the burden of having been human?” The question rolled out of my mouth before I could realize I said anything.

“It’s nothing compared to a thousand humans.” She came to a stop. Her smile was light, it flashed with her eyes. Her breathing stilted. The air in my room filtered through her hair. We remained like that until her words broke my pulse.

“We should do something for your day off. It’s not like staying here would help us.”

“And going out there would?” She shrugged.

“You work six days a week collecting shattered dreams and talking to all sorts of people. But today you get to do whatever you want. This is supposed to be a relaxing time, a break. Have some fun.” I would usually sleep. That was plenty fun. And if I had to derive pleasure from anything, it would be talking to humans.

“You got to learn to live a little Summer,” Lottie flew over and picked up my hand, trying to drag me over to my door.

“I could do any amount of living in the lifespan I have as a divine,” I said as she used all she could to propel herself forward.

“But you have a life all together. Use it!” I couldn’t help but smile for her as her voice cracked.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re human or divine. In fact, being a divine who’s so human-like should merit you some degree of humanity.” A sigh erupted from my mouth.

“I was a human once. I take pride in that despite the kind of life I led. If I were you, I’d take every opportunity I have to go and have fun!” I wanted to dispute her point. To tell her that I was a being who was created to collect shattered dreams. I wanted to tell her that there wasn’t a point in my being able to be free. But the words that I sought to spill out of my mouth stood stilted in the air.

And so on that day, I let Lottie carry me to my door.

“Come on, let’s go into the World of the Living!” With my hand in tow, she flew to my door.

“In the end, we’re going back to the World of the Living?”

“Of course! Unless you want to have our play date in the World of the Divine.” I wouldn’t. I would never subject any human to that cesspit.

As we made our way to my door, I couldn’t help but smile at Lottie’s blazing eyes and face-wide smile.

Next Part

Shattered Dreams, Chapter 3: Dream to Stay Up All Night

4

            “You want to be an adult?”

“That’s right, I want to be an adult.” Her voice was unwavering, and she stared at me without emotion. Her eyes told no lies. She took a cracker from her bag, and began to chew. I knew her feet her back couldn’t have been comfortable with the way she sat, though she didn’t seem to mind.

“You think staying up all night will help you become an adult?”

“If I can stay up all night, I’ll be that much more of an adult than any of the other kids. Besides, my parents always tell me to sleep early but I know that they’re staying up all night. If I can be like the, then I can do whatever I want, and no one will treat me like a kid.” She finished her snack, and got up. She nearly tipped as I got up to support her. I smiled as she was in my arms. Although the church didn’t have any particularly dangerous debris hanging about, her every step began to worry me. Though at the same time, I couldn’t quite figure out why I was worried.

“Why do you want to be an adult?” She didn’t answer, but I felt her flinch. She then escaped my arms and began to skip. Her every step sunk as the boards warped in her weight.

“You want to be an adult so you don’t have an excuse to play with other kids? So that you can go off and do your own things on your own time. Because you want to be alone?” She still didn’t answer. I found some validity in my inquiry as with how much humans I’ve encountered. And at the same time, I figured I at least had an inkling to Lottie’s character. The day wasn’t growing any older, and our conversations couldn’t have gotten any more inane. But, that was how humans were. That was what made them beautiful.

“Why do you want to be an adult?” I asked again. She smiled to herself as she skipped about, ringing the air around us with her indiscretion.

“I can always leave you know.” She stopped and shook her head.

“You want to get away from your parents?” My words seemed to linger in the air for stopping Lottie in her place.

“No matter what you do,” I continued, “You’ll always be a kid. You haven’t lived long enough to be able to call yourself an adult. I don’t think anything can change that. No matter who you are, as long as you’re like this, you’ll always be a kid.”  I could only garner what was appropriate, and what was not. Being an adult for me was all in the age. And in age, comes experience and wisdom. Was that not how it went?

“Even a child can stay up all night, right?” I wasn’t able to see what someone’s dream was through just looking at them or interacting with them. I didn’t think I’d ever get to that point. My hobby doesn’t dictate something as important as that. It was just conversation. Though if someone had shattered their dreams, I would glean something entirely different from that person. If someone had their dreams shattered, I would be able to know exactly what it was that availed them. I wanted that from Lottie. Though, I didn’t want to shatter her break of my own volition. That wasn’t my duty.

“It’s frustrating,” Lottie started, her hands curled into fists, “It’s frustrating, it’s frustrating… It’s frustrating– It’s frustrating,” then she stopped. She took a breath, before continuing, “Being treated like a kid all the time, it’s frustrating!” Her voice boomed back to her. She noticed this, and then simmered. She lowered herself and began picking at the wood with her finger.

“No one takes me seriously, everyone treats me like a child, like I can’t do anything, so that’s why–”

“That’s why you have to do things by yourself?” She chipped away at the floor and nodded.

“You think your parents don’t want you home because you’ll do something to make them look bad in front of their guests?” She nodded.

“Has it always been like that?”

“It has.” She was tracing her finger on the grain of the wood. Upon lifting her hand, a trickle of blood came down. It began to pool on the wood beneath her.

“And what about your friends?” She didn’t answer.

“They make fun of you for always playing alone?” She stared at the wound on her finger without moving an inch. I sighed and walked over to her, grabbing her hand, and pressing onto her wound.

“You don’t have any friends?” I asked as I looked at her averted eyes. As I brought my finger away, I watched as her blood evaporated from the surface of my skin in an instant. I was glad she wasn’t watching.

“So they told you to go out today and you want to stay up all night to prove you can handle yourself?” She shook my hand and then stood. She curled her finger to hold the wound and then nodded.

“And you’re not worried that you’ll make them panic once they realize you’re staying up all night in abandoned homes and churches?” I chuckled.

“How long have you been thinking of staying up all night?” Though she said it was her dream, I had to be wary of a child’s paradigm. Any single moment in her life could have caused her to dream. After all, it was only human to dream, and so I couldn’t blame her. The World of the Living  is always filled with such mysticism that erupted in the formation of dreams. I could only hope that they one day shattered.

“Just today,” she answered meekly. She paced about with light steps. I walked over to the altar and looked at the statue of the man that still somehow remained standing. A religious fanatic would have accustomed that to some kind of Christian miracle. I pegged it was due to the material. I turned and asked, “But you were thinking of other ways to show your parents that you’re capable, right? I mean, on other weekends.” She nodded.

I couldn’t help but to smile. Dreams are a human’s fickle emotional currency. There are dreams that last a lifetime, and there are dreams that have just been conceived. My hobby consisted of the latter, and my duty consists of a range of the two. It may have been inane to call Lottie’s want to be an adult a dream, but if she so wished it, then it was so. That was human inevitability. That was the pragmatic logic she implored. It didn’t surprise me at all though I wondered if that was really what she wanted. An important part of dreams after all was the reason for conception. That was what interested me most.

“So I guess this was one of the easier ways to show to your parents that you were capable?” She nodded with her steps.

“It was something that I could actually do without much help or attention,” she added.

“Right, but doing so out of the comfort of your own home already attracts attention.” She stopped and looked at me with a pout. I laughed. She sighed. I wondered if it was healthy for a child to sigh. Surely, they shouldn’t.

“That’s why I wanted to ask you.”

“I see. Is it something like even if your parents found you, you can say that there was nothing to worry about because you had an adult with you?” She nodded.

“It’s not like I can’t stay up all night,” it was just that my room would probably not take it kindly for me to spend the day out and about. The last time I did didn’t end very well. But I couldn’t tell her any of that. If the time came, it came.

“But  you should go home when you get the chance,” I continued, “It’s better to listen to your parents. They’re not doing this because they don’t trust you or that they hate you. They’re your parents, and they love you.” At least, that was my perception of the human relations. Parents love their children. They just often had horrible methods expressing that love.

“I won’t,” she declared. She held her hands to her hips, her wound pressing onto her sides.

“Look, Lottie–”

“I won’t, because they don’t want me there,” she stamped her feet on the ground. Her hands were shaking.

“What makes you say that?” She lowered her arms and looked towards the crumbling ceiling of the church.

“The guest that they’ve been bringing over is someone here to take me away.” I’d heard about it before. Only briefly, and never with my own eyes, but the world was an unlawful place. I perhaps thought she meant trafficking.

“Take you away?”

“This isn’t where I belong.” I had dug into a rabbit hole I wasn’t ready to discover. Though  despite what I may have been getting myself into, I was still daftly interested. It wasn’t that I could particularly feel joy or curiosity. But I was interested. I couldn’t quite say I was empathic to her cause, but, I wanted to know more about her situation. I wasn’t so sure if I could help.

“The parents I have now aren’t mine. They bought me.” Her voice distilled in the air that surrounded us. It shook the ground, and it stung the walls. It was incredibly clear, and her eyes were barren.

“You’re adopted?” I said out loud as I remembered the word.

“I don’t know who my real parents are, but before them I was in another town with a bunch of other kids. I never got along with them, but one day I came here. They didn’t want to talk about it, but I knew from the other kids that I was someone who was bought. I was with fake parents.” She began to scum off the dust from the floorboards with her foot. She didn’t falter once in her words, nor did she shake or show any signs of being afflicted with any hardships. Her life was just that.

“So you’ve been dealing with this for… How long?”

“A year now.” Her wound had stopped bleeding as she pressed it towards her top.

“You’ve been alone for so long, and here you are trying to be alone again.” She gave a light smile, the winds seeping in through the cracks between the walls, and her hair began to dance. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought the wind was trying to wisp her away.

“My parents don’t want to admit it but they’re trying to sell me back. I looked at the papers when I snuck into their rooms.”

“Do you know why?”

“They’re selling me for more than they bought me. So maybe they want the money.” It was possible. There were all kinds of people in the World of the Living. I didn’t know Lottie’s circumstances, nor did I know whether what she was seeing wasn’t something she’d misconstrued. No matter how mature, she’s still a child, a child with a dream to become an adult by staying up all night. To force a child into such conviction was something I found quite inhuman.

“So you think they wouldn’t sell you if you became an adult?” She nodded. I held my breath before  continuing.

“It almost makes sense,” I started, “But if their intention was to sell you for more later, being an adult would only increase your price, don’t you think?” I didn’t know how human trafficking worked, but I figured it was something to that effect.

“Instead of trying to do something as dangerous as going against your parents, shouldn’t you have called the police?” I understood how the human justice system worked, and although they couldn’t always be trusted, it was a great place to start.

“I did. But my parents said that I was agitated and scared. They believed them right away.” Considering her lineage, perhaps that would come off as believable. An orphan of her age, for so long, would especially be distrusting. I wondered why she opened up to me. Was it just because I had talked to her, or perhaps there was something more? I often thought that the success of my hobby was somehow related to my ability to seem harmless to other humans. Humans sense danger from other humans and animals after all But I was a strange being. From an evolutionary standpoint, I shouldn’t have set off a human’s danger receptors. Was that how it worked? Either way, I was glad I could have her open up to me.

“Have your current parents done anything particularly bad to you?” She shook her head. Her feet grew tired as she plopped onto the floor. She made a notion to hide her wound from the rot that surrounded the church.

“But your new parents might,” my words seem to hang in the air.

“What do you mean?”

“You were right about trying to stay up late,” something in me burst. It rarely ever happened but to put it simply it was when my hobby became personal. I didn’t know if I had a right to make things personal, but I couldn’t help myself. When my hobby became duty, it was all I could ever think of.  When dealing with the fickle emotional currency of dreams, I’ve always found it prudent to put my trust in people. They often trusted me as well. Someday, that’ll be my undoing. I knew it from the bottom of my non-existent heart, but I trusted Lottie with everything I had. And so, I sought to give her some kind of way out.

It’s been far too long since something this interesting presented itself to me. I wasn’t about to let that chance flutter.

“Staying up late led you to want to go to a place that allowed you to do that. A place that’s far from your parents, a place they wouldn’t think to go, right?” She nodded.

“That led you to find me. And, this is going to sound crazy but I want you to run away.”

“Runaway?”

“Do you have anyone in this town that might help you out in this situation?” I turned to see her shake her head.

“You’re about to be sold. Maybe to someone bad, maybe to someone good. But do you really want that? You might want to be an adult but they’ll never grant you that as long as you keep being exchanged through hands. Of course, I can’t say for sure what’ll happen but this offer only lasts now.” To be honest, I didn’t actually have much of a plan to begin with. I just wanted to run away with her, to have this odd scenario play out.  And, I also knew that my room would catch up with me if I meddled for too long. That’s why I usually only stuck with people for a day at most. I didn’t want to anger he who resided in my room, and those who would take advantage of my staying in the World of the Living. My life was a lot more complicated than I could ever hope it wouldn’t be. But this made it somewhat worth it.

“I don’t know,” she answered, “I don’t know what to do.” She flung herself onto the floorboards, her entire body splayed across the church like a sacrifice. She closed her eyes.

“Well, what we can do is think, maybe even think all night. But you have to do something. Either way, if you decided to run away you can stay up all night and be an adult. Or you can stay here, stay up all night, and go back to whatever will happen. Of course, by that time, I’ll be long gone.” She scrunched her face, her hands growing red from the pressure of maintaining a fist, though her body was relaxed all the same.

Next Part

One Day, Somewhere In The Future

I always found it hard not to think about the future. My mind just flutters about, wondering about what the next day could bring. However, deep down I know that there’s no point in doing so. Deep down I know that the best thing to do is to let the future play itself out. I should just wait and see where I could be and not worry about my uncertainties. But deep down, I get excited about that kind of stuff. How can I not? It’s my future after all.

When I get like that I get scared. It’s fine to be scared, right? We’re all scared sometimes. But when I get scared, I get really scared, and when that happens, I tend to go out.

It was a brisk morning, the break of dawn, when I opened the curtains. The orange sunlight bled into my room and washed over my eyes. When my vision finally adjusted, I peered my face over the glass, and noticed how dark the skies were. The clouds were just on their way.

That day I had a dream. My head was still spinning, and the air in my room was stifling. If I had stayed any longer, I thought I would have been dragged into another world, soulless. In reality, I had just woken up to a bad headache.

When I got up towards the bathroom, I couldn’t help but to stare at the papers on my desk. Each one had a different path for me. And I stayed up all till the late of night reading those papers. They made me sick.

I put on something light, tied my hair and quietly made my way to the door. Each step I took made a slight creak in the floorboards. I pretend to be a spy, and lifted my weight as much as possible. Somehow, my parents hadn’t noticed. I slowly turned the knob, opening the door just so that I could fit, and when I was out I slowly closed the door. Once out, a gust of morning air came rushing. I sighed, and then looked towards the sun. It’s morning glory was peeking through the running clouds. I began my walk.

Around where I lived the mornings were always peaceful. No one was up and about. The streets were silent and if I stood still I could imagine myself as the last person on Earth. The morning breeze would wrap itself around me, and I would feel my face flushing in the cool airs of fall. I would open my eyes to see the orange leaves bleed the pavement, and the orange breech of sunlight above, coloring the world in a strange blood. I eventually found myself in front of my old school. It’s bricks would be illuminated by the slight glow of the sun, and it’s name would shimmer in weak gold.

“You’re here awfully early, and for that matter, incorrectly as well.” I turned to see one of my old school teachers coming up beside me. He never did look like much of the part. He always dressed so sloppily that we first confused him for some kind of older student just messing around. But he was our teacher nonetheless.

“I can say the same for you. Teachers don’t have to come in this early, right?” He shook his head. His hair was incredibly messy, and his hands were attached to his pockets.

“We don’t but I live near here anyway. The mornings are nice around these parts, I’m sure you’ve noticed.” He smiled like a child.

“So why are you here, Eve?” We stared at the school,  the dawn of the sun glowing behind us, and the slow airs of fall swirling in our wake.

“You said you were going to take a year off, right?” I nodded.

“Did you ever tell me why?”

“I didn’t.” I smiled. I didn’t tell a single person why. I couldn’t even tell myself why.

“I suppose it’s something personal, huh?”

“Maybe.” He looked at me with a raised face and then shrugged.

“Whatever your reason, it’s still yours, right?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” he gave out a hearty sigh, and then continued, “If you wanted a year off to goof around or if you seriously just wanted the time to figure yourself out then both are valid reasons.” The morning birds sang.

“Whatever it is that you want to do is up to you. No one can tell you otherwise, okay, Eve?” I nodded.

“And that also means that if you got kicked out of your house that you shouldn’t feel too bad,” he said with a playful smile.

“I didn’t get kicked out! Not this early in the morning. I was just out on a walk.”

“Oh? You don’t look the type?” His teasing smile made him seem all the more young.

“Assuming you even knew me that well.” He gave off a pained look on his face, and then chuckled.

“Give me some credit here Eve, I respect all my students.”

“So you’ll remember a student five years ago?”

“Now you’re making me sound old. I’ve only been teaching three years.”

“Then three years?”

“Every single one of them.” His eyes were unwavering as he stood smiling over the buildings glow. Somehow I believed him.

“But going out on walks in the morning? At your age? You must be awfully mature  Eve.” I was just about done with his teasing. However, I appreciated his company. It stopped my mind from wandering.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Shoot.”

“Did you always want to be a teacher?” A car went on beyond us, its engine whirring in and its smoke gathered in the air. The sun’s gentle glow began riding up the school’s building and I began losing sense of where the sun was. And where I was.

“From that question, I can guess why you’re out here, Eve.” He looked at me with a caring smile, the kind of smile I would have expected from my father.

“Your future huh? That’s a loaded thing to be up about in the morning.” It felt appropriate that he would pat my head now but of course, he didn’t. I felt a little lonely.

“Being a teacher wasn’t always my thing.”

“Really?” He laughed.

“No. It was never my intention to be a teacher, but it just sort of happened. I wanted to be a social worker.”

“A social worker?” I couldn’t imagine it, no matter how much I tried.

“That’s right. Someone out there, doing whatever it is they do. It’s a long story, and I won’t bore you with it Eve, but in the end this was my next option.”

“Does it really work like that?” Another car drove on by behind us.

“Things happen for a reason. You ever hear about that?”

“Isn’t that just an aphorism?”

“Just an aphorism?” He sighed with a lowered look on his face as he shook his head.

“That’s exactly the point of an aphorism Eve. Things happen for a reason, believe it?” I couldn’t answer.

“Whether or not you do, things really do happen for a reason. Whether that reason is good or bad, well… It doesn’t matter.” A few more cars came buzzing by behind us. He looked into the street with a tired expression.

“I became a teacher because that was the only other option I would stomach. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. If you have something you want to do, then do it, and if not, just keep living, and keep exploring. That’s the best thing you can do, Eve, to just keep moving forward.” He looked at me with a warm smile, and while lost in his words, I didn’t notice my phone buzzing in my pocket.

“That’s what you’re worried about, aren’t you?” I nodded.

“You’ve got the world ahead of you. Do with it what you will, but, don’t go on depressing walks in the morning. You’re still too young for that.” With that, he began walking  towards the plaza. I noticed the sun burning on my skin, and when I turned, it was above me, the clouds had escaped, and I was left in front of my school with only my mind for company. His words began tearing into me. I still couldn’t grasp what he fully meant, nor, did I really do so as I began thinking of the day after tomorrow. Even then, with the quiet of my mind left to its own devices, I was still left prisoner to the uncertain. As I got home, ignoring the text from my parents to tell them where I was, I smiled and laughed and wondered if one day, somewhere in the future, I could really find myself somewhere. I still had a long time to go, but for the first time that day I wondered what I would do for lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shattered Dreams, Chapter 3: Dream to Stay Up All Night

If I was ever asked to define a dream, I’d have to say that a dream is something to look forward to. I collect shattered dreams so I should know. Those who dream usually put themselves out into the world to achieve their goals. But what happens when a dream is achieved? Would their days thereafter always be filled with complete happiness, or boredom? Might that be why people often make impossible dreams? Despite my duty to collect shattered dreams, there were still many mysteries for me to discover. That was what made living day by day tolerable.

I woke up as quickly as I slept. There wasn’t a single ache or tear in my body as I propped myself onto the floor of my room. I walked over to the bathroom to wash my face. The water that came out of the tap was crystal and upon impact to my skin washed over me like a wave of summer. Once I was done, I went to the table, grabbed my jar and proceeded out. My morning rituals as it were, were quite barren, at least, compared to a human. Though it was simple enough to allow me to start my days collecting shattered dreams. In the end, that was all I was good for. I’m a divine created for a purpose, and so, I shall seek to it that my purpose be met. Lest I run and find myself swallowed by my room.

Usually my door would lead me into a city or town. I would be met with the bustle of life. But as my senses cleared I quickly realized the oddity of my location. I stepped out of a closet to what appeared to be an abandoned home. The bed itself was barely standing on its rusted wooden stands. The closet I had come out of was tearing at every limb and every step I took filled the home with my presence.  The nightstand seemed to want to crumble at a touch, and the door leading to the hallway was discolored beyond recognition. Everything smelled of a dead forest.

I opened the door leading to the hallway and stepped out. The entire home seemed ready to return to Earth. I was careful in not exerting too much pressure in my steps lest the home crumble. It wasn’t that I could be hurt by anything man made, but I didn’t want to trouble the World of the Living. I was to collect shattered dreams, that was my duty. I had no time to mingle about. Though, that was also a lie.

I made my way to a set of stairs leading towards the main floor. Every step was an ordeal all of its own as their creaks filled the musty air. As I got to the base of the stairs, I noticed the front door.  The glass was still intact, but  it was muddled and rendered worthless. There was a doorway to my right and my left, and behind the stairs was another door. I wondered if such an abode would hold a shattered dream. Though perhaps it may have been more prudent to wonder if the furniture also produced dreams.

I peered over the doorway to my right which led to a kitchen. It was worn beyond time and yet, somehow still felt lively.

I then walked to the doorway to my left which led into a living room. It was worn beyond time and yet, somehow still felt lively.

As I stepped towards the main door, I heard the skitter of a child behind me. I turned towards the door behind the stairs. I wondered if anyone was brazen enough to set up residence in such a place. It wasn’t that I was concerned for the wellbeing of any human that would be so desperate. But it seemed interesting. However, the thought also occurred that it might have been a divine. The World of the Living was no stranger to my kind roaming about, and if they wanted me to recognize their presence, they would surely open up to the idea. Though, most divines played by their own rules. I proceeded with caution.

I pressed my hands towards the door and slowly peered it open. If someone had taken residence they surely would have noticed the noise I produced. As I swung the door open, producing another air filled creak, I stepped into the back hallway. No one was waiting for me. I looked around the barren hallway. There was only a single door that presented itself to me.

I listened to my footsteps ring throughout the rot of the wood. However, by the time I reached the end of the hallway, no one had responded to my presence. I felt more than a little disappointed, but as I was about to turn and leave on the notion that perhaps I was mistaken, I heard the skitter again. It seemed someone was skipping as the floorboards creaked down before popping back up.

I opened the door, producing a creak enough to wake the dead, and entered into a large backroom. A window faced me as I stepped in. A cascade of sunlight filtered into the room exposing the dust in the air. And not too far from the doorway was a tiny girl skipping along on a pathway drawn by chalk. She was halfway through a skip, landed onto the tile labeled with the number four and looked over towards me. She had long hazelnut hair that seemed to stick to her body. Her expression as she looked at me was clear. Other than the chalk on the floor, the room was devoid of any furniture.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, trying to be as gentle as possible. I didn’t have a chance to see what kind of appearance the door gave me as I entered into the World of the Living. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust, my room’s discretion, but I hoped that I was wearing something befitting a kind woman who just so happened to collect shattered dreams.

“I’m playing,” she answered after a long bout of hesitation. I figured she would have some resistant towards a stranger. Despite this, her voice was resolute, and came out like a storm.

“Why are you here?” She asked in response. It was an appropriate question for an appropriate situation. But I was something of a chain liar.

“I was interested in this home and walked in.” I smiled for her. Though, she only raised her eyes. It didn’t take her long before answering.

“Interested?” She turned her entire body over, placed both her hands onto her hips, and with a haughty tone, continued, “This place is empty, there’s nothing here, what could you be interested in?” She was still a child in elementary school and yet she had berated me for inquiry.

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