The world loves a man who doesn't dare to dream. And so it made perfect sense that the world had harbored deepest enmity for a man who once dreamed of the stratosphere with his fate bound to Earth.??Exit light. And enter night. It had been two decades, twenty years, 7,305 days, 175,320 hours, 10,519,200 minutes, and however many seconds since the Dreamer had seen the sun. Two decades since he had ever regarded his dreams as anything more than the s*** and sawdust which caked the forever half-remodeled floor of what was once supposed to be his master bathroom. Twenty years since he had first moved into the house where it had began and simultaneously ended. And it had began with aplomb, with dynamic fervor and unconditional optimism. Twenty years ago, anything was possible to the Dreamer. He fantasized of the impossible made probable at every conceivable hour, from the abstruse depths of his nighttime wanderings to the twilight hours separating sleep from consciousness. In his fantastic world, it was never supposed to happen like this. ??He had seen it all, from his meteoric rise to his catastrophic fall. He had graduated from high school in a blaze of glory, his heart ignited with aspiration, his soul alight with inspiration. Success had then been a sound as sweet and pure as the amazing grace from his favorite song, and had entailed for him a limitless goal marked only by the reaches of the stratosphere. He had had a scholarship, a free ride to Stanford, on the force of his athleticism and the weight of his accomplishments. Life was to be scripted, with the world as his Hollywood backdrop.??And everything had gone to s***. The Dreamer could deal with injuring his left wrist beyond repair and having to give up the game he adored. The Dreamer could deal with failing out of pre-med and dropping out of college. But the Dreamer had never been equipped to deal with tragedy infinitely closer to his heart. His father died, unexpectedly and almost impossibly. He had moved his life back to where it began, to be near his family, but far from his dreams. It was there that he had revisited an old friend. A less successful friend who had lived in the Dreamer's shadow, discontent in the darkness and lackluster in the light. It was there that he had, with much pushing and prodding, consented to get high, just once. And it was there where he had permitted crack cocaine to consume him from the inside out.??It began innocently enough, as a mild addiction. It continued inauspiciously enough, as a considerable distraction. It had extended horrifically enough, as he had begun to push his family and friends away from him, as obstacles impeding his path to coke. It had snowballed into an avalanche when he disregarded all that was once important to him. It had gone beyond ridiculous when he had missed his mother's funeral to capitalize on a hot opportunity for purchasing coke. By that time, coke was all he had, his Pepsi to his inner diabetic. All the time, he was an excuse for a man, a person who had been a failure at everything he had ever attempted. But for those brief, isolated moments, he was in the stratosphere again, stooped over a toilet seat snorting lines of lightning which sent electricity coursing through his otherwise catatonic soul. Every time he got high, he became himself again. Every time he touched the lines of lightning, he was once again the dreamer from high school, the dreamer who could touch the sky and kiss the rain and always believe in the unbelievable.