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Dare to Dream MAG
It had been a long time since I set foot in the library. And yet everything looked the same. The books were still held on old, metal shelves, and the unsettling silence still hung in the air. Even Ms. Palmer was still around, handling the counter and judging quietly behind her thick-rimmed glasses.
This hour, near the end of the day, was dull, and I was feeling bored and sorry for myself. In fact, I was feeling old in the way only a 26-year-old can after a rough night of poor judgment and trying, without success, to win back the good graces of Sara Allen. We spent half the evening fighting, and now I couldn't even remember what we were fighting about.
My head was still throbbing.
I knew my way to the children's section. I pushed open the door and entered the room painted in a yellow that had once been a bright shade but had dulled with age. The same books were on display, Clifford, the Big Red Dog standing open with Oh, The Places You'll Go fallen over. Stuffed Cat in the Hat and Madeline dolls smiled at me as I strolled through the room.
I peeked in through the window at the classroom full of kids coloring. I noticed Jack in the corner coloring fiercely, even though he was missing the page most of the time, resulting in strange hieroglyphics on the table.
I went to take a seat and wait for him, but to my dismay, the only seat available was a tiny chair with a table set for tea. I squeezed myself into it and looked at the tea set and the stuffed animals in the other chairs with an arched brow of cynicism.
I pulled out my iPhone to check for messages. There was a game tonight; surely I'd get a call to watch it with the guys. We'd lounge in Brad's garage, watching the game and reminiscing about the days when we played ball.
Funny how when you stay in the same town all your life, everyone just wants to talk about the good old days.
But the sound of my phone drew Ms. Palmer's attention. With a sour face and a finger pressed to her lips, she let out a hiss demanding silence.
I slipped the phone back into my pocket and gave her a nod. It may have been fifteen years since I'd seen her, but that woman still scared the hell out of me.
Marking the seconds with a tap of my finger against my knee, I felt that I was going mad. I was trapped inside this small room in this tiny chair with nothing to calm my nerves.
I stood abruptly, having to pull the chair off me as I did. I had to move, to do something. I strolled over to the shelves and scanned the titles. One caught my eye. A worn copy of Peter Pan. Rosie, my younger sister, used to tote that around with her everywhere. She always wanted to leave the window open in the room we shared, hoping Peter would drop in and take her away to Neverland.
We were such kids. All these old titles started coming back to me: The Time Machine, The Chronicles of Narnia, Treasure Island, The Hardy Boys, James and the Giant Peach, and so on, all along the shelf. All the fond memories of protecting Camelot alongside King Arthur, following Charles Wallace through the fifth dimension, exploring the depths of the sea with Captain Nemo, stealing from the rich like Robin Hood, and traveling around the world with Phileas Fogg, came flooding back.
These stories shaped my youth and formed all my childhood dreams. I was going to take the world by storm and walk in the footsteps of Marco Polo and fight for justice and passion like Edmond Dantes. But, those were just dreams.
I looked back at Jack who was still working hard at his table, his face set with determination and focus. He only looked up when everyone began to file out of the room. His head was full of wondrous ideas and incredible faith.
Oh, well, he'd learn. I put the book back without a second thought, because that's all it was – a book. They evoke emotions, which is why people feel a connection with them. But they have no emotions themselves. They're just paper and string and glue.
“Uncle Tom!” Jack ran out, showing his picture with pride. “Look what I drew. It's one of the Wild Things,” he explained, showing me the book under his arm, Where the Wild Things Are.
“I bet I could find the island, just like Max,” he told me eagerly, watching my face for approval. “Can I get it?”
“Yeah,” I muttered glancing back at the shelf. I picked up the book I had held in my hands a moment before. “Try this one too.”
“Thanks,” He smiled a toothy grin before going to the counter, sure to receive a stern lecture from Ms. Palmer about his behavior. I shook my head. Let him dream. It's too late for me, but everyone always wants the next generation to have it better.
I pulled out my phone to check for messages, and sure enough there were some about the game tonight. I let out a sigh. When you live life in the moment, you feel truly alive. Invincible to everything that's thrown at you. A participant in life. But when the moment's over, you must step back and reflect. Your mortality returns and you must watch life as it passes you by.