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I open my eyes and look around. There's the same weeping willow billowing in the same breeze. Always weeping. Always the same. There's the same path, winding away into nothingness. Never leading anywhere. Always the same. I look up to see the same clouded sky, clouds rolling in so quickly I can see them move. Shading the light. Just like always. I start walking toward the path, but it still eludes me; always one step further away. I try to squint into the distance, but the same fog clouds my vision. I take one last step, the same step that always trips me, flattens me on the ground. Then I wake up. It's always the same dream. The dream that represents my life; I try moving forward but am blinded by outside obstacles, and then I fall. I never see it coming and yet I always know it's going to happen. Same as always.

I am startled out of my thoughts when my alarm pops on, insisting I get up. One more day, I tell myself. I drag myself into a scalding shower just to wake myself up, throw on some clothes picked at random, grab a granola bar because I don't do breakfast and then head out the door. I drive the same road to school. Just like always. One last time. This is the last day of school before I graduate; I wouldn't show up if it weren't for finals. I park in my spot about a mile away from the school. The bell rings so I get out of my car, gather my friends, and head inside. Just like always. My friends are ecstatic while talking about the end of school. I listen and laugh, but never vocalize my thoughts. That's the way I've always been. That's why I'm always labeled "the quiet girl." Not that I mind. That's just who I've always been.

The day goes by and the only change is that once it's over, it's over for good. The final bell rings and I head to my car alone leaving my friends to their own devices after a short farewell. There's still graduation. It's not the last time I'll see them. I drive the same road home again and go into the same empty, one-story brick house. My parents are still at work so it's quiet. I don't try to change that. Some might find it odd that I just simply sit down on my bed to think. That's just who I am though, I never have minded the quiet.

I sit there and think about my life and how it has always been the same. It might sound boring, but i have enjoyed it. Now I didn't know what I wanted. It was time for something to change. I would be going to college soon enough and I had no idea how to handle it. At first I was a bit daunted, but then I got to thinking that there were going to be so many opportunities. I could do practically anything my mind could think of doing. This is the subject of my thoughts now as I sit huddled on my bed. The only problem is, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. My goal certainly isn't to fall in love and get married. I'll leave that all to my fantasy and fairytale books. It would be a lost cause if it were my goal. I haven't had one boyfriend my whole high school career. Not that I cared. Not too much anyway. I wouldn't cry if that were one of the new opportunities I got to experience, though. I always think too myself when I get too down about it, if the right guy comes along, then I'll be excited, if not, oh well, I believe I'll live. Aside from that, I don't have any concrete goals for my future. My thoughts start to go in circles, so I pull out one of my "happy ending" books and begin to read. I think to myself , wouldn't it be awesome, though, to live a life like this. To fall in love with a handsome prince, but of course that's not realistic, so I just laugh at myself and finish the book. I sleep and dream the same old dream as always.

Finally, my graduation day arrives. This day is finally a day where everything is new. No more "like always," and when I finally cross the stage, I feel a sort of freedom that is completely new to me. My life seems to suddenly fill with color and so many options. The next months, though,are filled with too much preparation for college that I don't get to appreciate this freedom. I'm so exhausted all the time and I even fall into dreamless sleeps every night. At least I'm not stuck in that same dream, filled with my same longing, and my same failure. I even manage not to wonder what it was in those dreams that I was longing for, and what I kept failing at.

I must use the cliche that the time flies by through the summer, because it does. I am now staring at the week before I head off to college. How did I get here? I am now so nervous, I think I will puke. Like I said, they labeled me "the quiet girl" and that had some truth in it. I'm not one to walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation, no matter how much I'd like to, or how cute he is. So this whole new college idea isn't working out for me, but there's no way to avoid it. I try to gather my wits about me and I try to breath. Just like always. At least some things stay the same. The week goes by and the next thing I know, I'm moving into my dorm with my friend. At least I have my friend with me, and my books. They always help. I didn't think it was possible, but that night I finally fall asleep.

I open my eyes and quickly shut them again, because there to my right, is my weeping willow. Not this dream again, I really did not want to be reminded of failing right before classes started. I don't have any other option, however, so I open my eyes, and proceed to blink several times because right in the spot where my weeping tree stood not two seconds ago is a beautiful cherry blossom tree in full bloom. I look straight ahead of me for the first time and see a perfectly straight and charming little path leading off into a flower garden. This I could get used to dreaming.

After about a minute of looking around in amazement, I can't stop my curiosity from pushing me forward onto the path. I am delighted to find out that each step brings me closer and I reach the path without any face plants. After I get over my shock of this new dream I realize I hear distant music. It's unlike anything I've ever heard, almost intoxicating it's so beautiful. As I advance farther down my path, the music gets louder. It is almost so extravagant and full of life that it's tangible. I can practically feel the music swirling around me, almost see different shades of colors for each verse. It's amazing. Then I reach the end, and what I see is too much to put into words. It's like something out of the books I read. The ones about the dances fairies have where mortals can lose themselves. This is exactly what I plan to do.

In my dream I find that I am not timid or shy. I can do whatever I want and I love it. I step out into the large clearing surrounded by so many different shades of flowering trees that don't even exist. They are so vibrant, they put my cherry blossom to shame. It's like a rainbow wrapped itself around a meadow and blossomed into a field of flowering trees. The trees in fact, seem to be what is producing the glorious music. Then there are the people. I don't even know if I can call them people. They are all so stunningly gorgeous, but surprisingly, I am not nervous around them. This is my dream after all. They are all twirling and drifting in a wonderful waltz. All of the ladies are wearing princess-like gowns that billow out as they dance and are the brilliant colors of the trees. The men are wearing suits that match the color of their partner's dress. It is all so magnificent, and to think, I am the one dreaming this!

Before I know it I am dancing across the ground laughing, carefree, heedless to the world. This is when I notice that I too am wearing a dress like the others, but mine is not just one color, it is all of them. This makes me laugh louder and I continued my dance into the middle of the crowd. Of course, I think, my fairytale dream is not complete yet. Just as I finish this thought, I twirl one last time and am caught up in the arms of my handsome prince. I have been reading too many fantasy books, I think but with no real conviction. My dance partner, I note, matches me, but of course he does, because this is my dream.

It seems like hours that I dance with this handsome figment of my imagination, but then suddenly, the music stops. I look around and realize I'm alone, except for my imaginary prince. He still has my hand and he leads me to a fancy bench I never noticed beside a beautiful fountain I hadn't noticed either. We sit, and surprisingly, have a conversation. Since when do I have conversations with dream men? I find this crazy, but that's exactly what happens. It's surprisingly comforting. I tell him about all my fears and troubles in life and he in turn tells me of his life. Of course, his is how I dreamed it to be, but for the moment I don't care. I don't think about how crazy this whole thing is turning out to be, because I actually enjoy it.

Too soon he stands up and pulls me with him. He turns to me and tells me I must go. I ask what he means, but he just repeats himself. I'm confused because this is my dream and I can stay as long as I like. Then, the path starts lengthening between us. I don't know what's happening, but I don't want to go back and face reality. I start running and realize too soon that it's happening again. I run, but the path gets no closer, always one step away. My dream prince has already disappeared into the fog.

Well that sucks. Back to square one, well dream one. So I take one more step and i feel something tug my foot and suddenly it's released and I fall. I realize I'm wearing my black converse under my dress and the shoe string got stuck on a rock as I ran. It eventually pulled my whole shoe off and that's what tripped me. I laugh cynically when I realize this is what tripped me every other dream; I just woke up before I found out. Why was I wearing my shoes in my dream anyway? Pushing my confusion aside I stand up and at the same moment here a loud shrieking sound. Dang. I hit my snooze button on my first day of college classes.

"Oh it's not going to be that bad." My friend tries to pep talk me as I dig in my closet. First day and my closet has already made a snack of my shoe.

"Sure," I say, "easy for you to say. You actually enjoy meeting strangers. Have you seen my shoe? The converse, I can only find...one...." I trail off when I remember my dream last night. I shake my head quickly because it's just a stupid coincidence. "Never mind, I'll wear these," and I pull out a pair of flats I forgot I even owned. I look at the clock and it's past time for me to leave. I don't know why, but I grab my one converse and shove it in my backpack as I head out the door. Maybe so my closest doesn't decided eat it also.

I get to my class about ten minutes before it starts and find a seat in the back corner. This way I'll only have to sit near two strangers; one in front, one on the side. The class quickly fills and I try to fill my lungs with air but they're not cooperating. Theirs only one seat left, and it's the one beside me. Good, I think, maybe there's nobody else, but of course, just as I think this, someone else walks in. My eyes about pop right out of my head. Seriously, the guy looks almost exactly like the guy in my dream. Is this some kind of huge joke? It's like the books I read; dream about a cute guy and Poof! he appears. I try to settle my whirling thoughts when I realize the only seat left is beside me. I'm almost under control when he sits down and swings his bag around to set it under his desk. Then I swear I almost pass out. On the side of his backpack, there is a pair of shoes, so he likes to run or something, that's fine, but tied beside them is one black converse exactly my size.

He sees me staring and a grins breaks across his handsome face. "Would you happen to be missing a black converse?" He proceeds to lean down and untie it from it's spot on his bag. I can only manage a nod. Then he gets this thoughtful look on his face. "How do I know you are telling the truth and not just trying to trick me out of this one-of-a-kind shoe?"

I fumble around blindly in my own backpack and produce the matching pair. He quirks an eyebrow at me. "And why would you be carrying around one lone shoe...never mind, but I think I need payment first nevertheless. It's not every person who would pick up a stray shoe on the sidewalk and vow to find it's owner. I propose dinner over which you can relate the fascinating tale about how one of your shoes ended up on a random path through campus."

At this I start to think that it's probably not my shoe, because how in the world would my shoe end up on a random sidewalk in the middle of campus. There's only one way to find out, and it is very out of my character.

"I will think about it if you let me see my shoe." I say it in such a small voice I'm surprised he heard me, but I hold out my hand and after contemplating he hands it to me. Sure enough, there in the tongue are my initials that my mother insisted I put in all my shoes. Who knew it would come in handy? I then notice he is still looking at me expectantly and I realize I never gave him an answer. Alright, dream prince, sounds like I'm going on my first date. Out loud I just say, "okay, when and where?"

At this he grins, a gorgeous one-dimpled grin, and, since class has started, pulls out pencil and paper. He passes me a note and I feel like I'm in grade school again. On the note is a time and place along with a cell phone number. I get butterflies in my stomach because this is the first time a guy has ever given me his number. Under his number is a note that said to text him if it wouldn't work, but that is scratched out and he asks if I would text him some time just so we could talk. This was turning out to be the craziest/best day of my life. I feel like I could grow wings and fly I'm so giddy. Instead I pull out my phone, since phones are allowed in this class, and quickly type "hey," enter his number, and send it before I can chicken out. I see him reach into his pocket and pull out his phone. I can't look because I've never done something like this before and, well, I'm nervous. My phone vibrates and I open the message. It's just a simple "hey, back" and a dorky smiley face. It's the best message I've ever got. It's my first day of college and I'm feeling great. Who needs fairytales and dreams? My life is good, no, it's awesome, just like always.




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