I'll Be A Dreamer Forever

October 11, 2010
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Water vapor billowed from the bottom of the waterfall, cool mist hitting everything within a fifteen feet radius. The water was clear above the rocky pool, with the slightest hint of blue rippling outward towards the muddy shore. With the sun hanging low in the sky, bulbous and glistening with vibrant shades of gold and red, the only clouds seen were the swirls of fog coating the bristly ground.

There was a deer—no, it was a fox. Soft mocha colored fur, a white snout, and shiny black eyes, with a glimmer of something strange riding its face. It was as if it could see right through you, thoughts and all. As it approached, its paws brushing against crackling autumn leaves and wet muddy terrain, I met its gaze cautiously. The fox seemed to smile at me, winding its slim body through low green plants, and it brought its chin and chest to the ground, its eyes staring back at me uncertainly.

“Hey there,” I whispered, pulling myself down slowly from the large stone I sat atop of, kneeling down a few feet away from the animal. With it so close, there was no doubt in my mind it wouldn’t run away in fear. But from the uncontrollable thumping in my chest, there was that constant reminder that it could be untamed, and rip me apart in seconds.

I crept closer to it, extending my trembling hand, but the fox took one glance and bolted back into the brush of the evergreen forest. I sighed, the noise of the waterfall throbbed my ears as I stood up, breathing out all my nervousness and slight relief, and wiped the soft dark soil from my hands and knees. The ripped jeans I had over worn over the years were finally beginning to fall to pieces, and my feet were bare against the moist ground. Turning around, I brought my eyes up to the bright white sky, my gaze instantly shifting to a steady stream of black smoke, rising up from somewhere in the forest.

“It’s scary, isn’t it?” I heard a monotone voice call, and I lowered my eyes back down to see a figure cast in front of the dark cast of on-going forest. His eyes were void of anything I had ever seen before, and his face vaguely familiar. No matter how much I stared, I knew time was wasting away, and I couldn’t quite place him for even a moment.

Instead, I straightened out my shirt, secretly making sure I was still wearing one.

“It could be. But I’m not there, am I?” I responded, returning my stare back to his mockingly familiar face. He was wearing a fully black tuxedo, complete with a black tie. I hadn’t noticed before, but he appeared to be in the perfect funeral outfit. The smell of burning trees and buoyant flames filled my distracted mind, and I stared back at him, his face suddenly inches away, and his lips curving into a sympathetic smile.

I opened my mouth in surprise, but he brought a finger to my lips, and shushed me immediately. The smile faded, and all there was left in his dark eyes was pure belligerence. For only a millisecond, his eyes reminded me of the fox’s, and I flashed back quickly to the sight of the animal, only to find myself staring back at his unreadable daze. The toxicity of the aroma of smoke was beginning to overcome me, but curiosity won the war, and I waited for him to say something. With nothing but sheer debonair and charm, he brought his hand up to my face, resting it on my cheek. I searched his eyes, not completely used to a strangers touch, and he blinked once before nodding.

“Don’t be so sure,” He told me quietly, one last look and the growing lessening of my oxygen content taking an all time high. I closed my eyes, and felt the cool air of the waterfall mist and warming sunshine from the beautiful sky fade into a hot, ashy, atmosphere. As if by a sudden unwanted epiphany, my eyes snapped open to reality.

Smoke? Fire? I thought, my eyesight blurring and fixing on to a piece of broken silver, the starry night sky wedged between the cracks catching my eye. There was a loud beeping, a booming noise invading my ears, with the smell of burning rubber over taking me, and I coughed, feeling the heat burn against my skin. My arms felt warm, but slightly wet and sticky. What happened? I asked myself, my body resisting my undying want for movement. My neck felt wedged backward against something, with my legs pierced by something heavy. The sky looked so vast, even through the cracks, and I was stuck, the intense aroma of fire and blood filling my lungs.

Shoving the checkered object off of my legs with all the force I could exert, I lifted my weightless arms and pulled myself from where I was sitting, my eyes still adjusting to the scene. Silver, black, smoke, red, blood… My mind could only contemplate one thing at once, and at the moment, the only thing I wanted was to be able to see clearly again. Wheezing and coughing on my own breath, I stabilized myself; my body felt so weak. Get out. I ordered myself, shoving past what looked to be seats. My eyes blurred back into a somewhat clear state, and through the smoke, I saw cold and bloody faces sitting in the seats.

Their eyes were staring off into the distance, empty with drawn away expressions. I gasped, smoke filling my lungs and I fell to my knees coughing, blood trickling quickly down my arms. Choking on ash and dust, I reached up slowly to my collarbone, feeling around for the center of the pain and blood dripping from my skin. A tear rolled down my cheek, and I remembered the dream I had before I had awoken. There were no more moments I would ever have, there were words I would never speak, and it had all come down to this one moment, as I stared down at the thin sword of shrapnel piercing fully to the other side of my body, underneath my collarbone.

I curled up around my self, falling forward to the floor, tracing my finger along the entrance of the shrapnel, blood oozing out instantly. Eventually I had to remember what I was doing here, I knew it, but there was so much smoke, which meant that within moments I would be either unconscious, or more likely, dead. I turned, feeling someone touch my arm. My eyes widened, the tears abandoning my eyes, and I smiled, reaching my arms up to him.

“Kat! Are you okay?” he asked, pulling me up. His eyes glowed with discontent when he saw the piece of material going through my body, but he picked me up nonetheless. I had dreamt about him, and now here he was, back in reality. Why couldn’t I remember him before? I laced my arms around his neck, and he began walking through the aisles, ignoring my silence. “We’re almost out, all right?”

I nodded, and felt the brush of his skin against mine, realizing it was clear of any blood or injury. Why wasn’t he hurt? I chalked it up to insanity, and as the air cleared and the smoke was gone, he placed me down to a rocky ground, the stars shining brightly in an expanding sky, and I felt another tear fall. It was a train. I was on a train. Jimmy wasn’t. The last time I had saw him, he was handing me my checkered suitcase, and he gave me a hug goodbye as I boarded the train. Yet there he stood hovered above me. He suddenly seemed so far away, maybe because he truly was, and he just kept stretching from my reach into the stars.

Stop, I thought, squeezing my eyes shut. Just stop. For once in your life, just stop.

When I opened my eyes, I stared back down at the cold dark floor of the train, smoke still encasing my lungs disobediently, and I pulled myself into a sitting position, my back against the edge of a seat. Stop dreaming. I thought, the world dimming, the red of fire outside of shattered glass windows the only thing I could bear to look at. I lay my hands next to me, and watched the train burn.

Maybe rescue would come. Maybe I would make it. Maybe those people weren’t dead, just sleeping, like I was. If the fire would just die out, and maybe if that loud alarm would stop sounding, everything would be under control. Help would come.

Be realistic. I told myself, my throat scratchy. We were somewhere in the mountains, far from any main road. There wasn’t going to be help for a long time. I coughed once more, bringing myself to stare at the shrapnel. In a split second, I swallowed, and reached up, pulling the material as quickly as I could from my body. As quickly as I could turned out to be painfully slow, and my body lurched forward as it came out. It was about a foot long, soaking in my blood, and completely fatal. I tossed it to the floor, and covered my shoulder as it proceeded to gush out blood. At least now they would know.

Now they would know I was still alive. If only for a few minutes, I survived.

My eyes followed the flames as they danced around the walls of the train, enveloping everything in its path. There was no more loud beeping, no more rushing of fire. All I could hear was the waterfall. The way the cold mist felt against my skin, and the endless feeling of contentment from the clear nature air. My body drained as I thought this, but it was better than acknowledging the pounding pain as I lost large amounts of blood. There was a moving spot of light jumping around the inside of the train now, and I couldn’t help but wonder…

“Stop dreaming.” I finally said out loud, blinking away tears.

But when I raised my eyes to the crack in the ceiling, I saw a light. It wasn’t from the stars. A loud and cryptic noise raged from beneath the noise of the impervious flames, and I squinted through the thick gray smoke. It was a helicopter. Is it really there? I wondered. The light waved around the train some more, and I laughed silently, realizing it was. I was safe now. Rescued. Saved.

I clutched my ribs tightly, choking on the tight atmosphere, and rest my head against the seat. I’m safe now. I thought, feeling the wetness of blood drip onto my arm and soak through my shirt. I knew it was a lie, but at least it was a good one. And through the smoke, I could’ve sworn I saw Jimmy sitting across from me, smiling sympathetically, and I smiled in return. “It’s a nice tuxedo.” I mumbled, sure I had gone insane, but it had made perfect sense at the time. There wasn’t much time left, I knew, so I wanted to spend these last moments right. Dreaming. Imagining. Feeling something other than pain and hopelessness. With him there, I knew I had nothing to fear. Jimmy nodded understandingly, reaching out towards me. He touched my face, the voice of a man on an intercom type device calling from the helicopter, and I closed my eyes, blocking the voice out.

It was too late; at least I could have the dream over reality.

I preferred it.

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