Dare to Dream This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 29, 2011
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.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 13 comments. Post your own now!

Paradisaically This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm
I love the setting of this story.  It was extremely relatable, especially with the part about the madeline dolls poking out.  
Deej6595 said...
Nov. 16, 2013 at 7:06 pm
I love how you expressed the hopelessness and depression of these "Young adults" but, captured and refected on the innocence of children. This is a very beautiful story.
SavannaCumbee This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 30, 2013 at 11:49 am
This was a good way to express how the world is today. I loved how simple it was, yet at times it was very complex. It took place for only a few moments in the main character's life, but he reflected back on his childhood; back when he could believe in dreams. I also liked the reality of the ending. That you'll have to wake up and face life, just like everyone else. This was a wonderful story...good job!
grey_jeans99 said...
Feb. 4, 2013 at 7:29 am
Lovely article.....very refreshing!
booklover13 said...
Jan. 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm
This is lovely!! How true, that we spend so much of childhood dreaming of being something else. then when we step back, very few of us are happy with ourselves. I think that is the key; to be happy with ourselves, but still be able to dream of what we can become!
dancing.inthe.rain said...
Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:46 am
It is trully amazing! I love it how your words just come to life and I just connect to it in some way. Love your style :D
LB1021 said...
Jan. 21, 2013 at 1:51 am
Very well written! I'm dying to know who exactly the other characters were etc. 
Jan. 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm
this is a very realistic piece. very well written. thank you for sharing you talent
Ellabell said...
Jan. 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm
simple and beautiful. an elegant piece of work!
Ali L. said...
Jan. 12, 2013 at 2:15 am
I like this article even I don't get much of it.
chrissie said...
Jan. 10, 2013 at 7:45 pm
very nice! i liked the writing style and the obervance of natural speech, behavior and thinking patterns. it's got a thought provoking theme as well. plus i'v read and enjoyed all the books titles mentioned :)
Mtrench7809 said...
Jan. 3, 2013 at 2:56 am
I don't enjoy many posts on here but this one impressed me, good job.
Flashlevitation This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm
what a precious story with a realistic point. Thank you for sharing!
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