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In Your Dreams
Liza woke up with the blurring image of her dream slipping from her mind. This was unfortunate, as forgetting your dreams in the New World was a sign of madness, and the older you got without forgetting a dream, the more esteemed you became in the New World society. And Liza could tell that this was an important dream. She woke up with goose bumps on her neck, and a foul taste in her mouth. Something bad was going to happen. She searched her mind, feeling out for the dream. Could thinking of something random bring it back?
Liza thought about how tell her family as she trudged down to the kitchen. She was only 16, far too young to be forgetting her dreams. What would her parents say? She could picture the two small creases between her mother’s eyebrows, her father’s wrinkled nose. Old age wasn’t obvious in the New World, in fact most citizens went out of their way to get rid of age-signs, but worry wasn’t age, and these lines of concern were how Liza could read her parents.
By the time she got her daily breakfast of banana oatmeal, Liza had decided not to tell her parents that she had forgotten her dream. After all, there would be no worries on their part if she told them she simply hadn’t dreamt. No small tensions to break the peace that ruled over their house. Their house would continue to be just like any other on their street in the New World; a cookie cut out of the ideal family baked to perfection. One of the New World’s goals was to eliminate differences, and while they didn’t exactly take physical appearances into account, behaving differently was definitely discouraged.
Liza’s younger brother walked into the kitchen already chattering about the exciting dream he’d had about their family getting a puppy. This just meant that he was happy. Liza’s father had had a dream as well, but his was much more serious than her brother’s. Her father’s dream represented his worries about work; he had a new boss to adjust to.
Liza had read about her father’s boss in yesterday’s newspaper, in her proud role as editor-in-chief of the e-blog at school she was always on the lookout for ideas. The article stated that her father’s ex-boss told his wife a dream in which he stabbed the New World leader. His wife supposedly ended up reporting him to authorities. Liza found this to be very pro-society not to mention violent, so neglected to include it in the e-blog. There was a rumor around school (at least if you knew who to ask and as one of the top reporters, Liza did) that the society killed those who dreamed badly about it.
At school, Liza ran over to her friend Reuben; the only person who was always able to make her look on the bright side. Reuben and Liza had been inseparable since they both joined the e-blog. The only thing that Liza didn’t like about her recent promotion was that it provoked their first argument, Reuben had wanted the position just as much; he had even dreamed about it. Luckily they hadn’t let it get between them for long, and were now as close as ever.
“I forgot my dream this morning,” she whispered to him, checking that no one was close enough to hear them.
Reuben’s shocked face expressed his thoughts, “Did you tell your family?”
“No, I knew they would worry. But Reuben you can’t tell!” Liza pleaded, “And I woke up knowing it was important.”
Liza looked around again, suddenly noticing the dark figure hunched over nearby. He hadn’t been there before. It didn’t seem as though he was listening, but you could never be sure.
“Hey, do you know that kid?” She muttered to Reuben. He nodded, but then tilted his head. Before he had time to explain, Mr. Pine sent them off to their separate classes.
By the time Liza caught up to Reuben, she’d noticed the kid twice, each time at the back of her vision. Her reporter’s instincts begged to know what his deal was. Who was he? Why did something about him seem so eerily familiar? She just couldn’t put her finger on it.
“So who is that kid?” She asked Reuben as they hunched over their lunch. Liza checked, and sure enough he was leaning against the wall at the back of the cafeteria.
“He’s new. He’s in my AP history class and knows a lot about the Old World. Rumor has it that he just came in on the Old World shuttle.” Liza didn’t think that the New World was still accepting settlers. Besides, everyone who was stuck on the Old World had a criminal history, or was against the New Generation leader. The only reason the shuttle still ran was to import resources and keep an absent eye on the Old World, or so Liza thought. Another of the many rumors about the New World opined that government opponents were being sent back. Could this have happened to her father’s boss?
“So how did he get here?” She asked. Reuben shrugged. This all felt like something she had heard before. Liza probed her mind for anything that felt familiar. She turned to see where the kid was again, but he had disappeared.
Liza walked down the hall, but she was lost in questions. It couldn’t all be coincidental, could it? The kid turning up on the same day as her dream? She began putting in her locker combination and was shocked find that it was already unlocked. Liza checked the hallway, and spotted a familiar figure hurrying into a classroom. With a puzzled expression, she pulled her locker open to find an envelope on the inside of the door. There were two words written on the outside of the envelope, Your Dream.
Liza knew she needed to talk to the kid. She also needed to figure out what was going on. Now she knew that it wasn’t all coincidental, and that she might not be crazy! After school was let out, Liza stood outside watching as each student got on their busses to go home. The letter had told her to wait right in that spot, below the last window on the school building. Liza absently looked at the ground and noticed a paper wedged in a crack of cement.
Meet me tonight. Outside the community center. We need to talk. James.
The only information that Liza got from the new note was a familiar sounding name, the only thing she knew for sure about the mystery kid. It had to be him, he was the only one near when Liza got the first note, and he had been following her today, Liza could feel it. The handwriting on this new note was also the same as that of the first one. Liza reluctantly climbed onto her bus, tucking both notes in her pocket.
The whole way home, her mind ran over what this James character could want with her. He knew about her dream, but how? Even if he’d overheard her brief conversation with Reuben, how could he know her forgotten dream? All Liza wanted was to get this whole day over with, or go back to this morning and never have forgotten her dream. Maybe that was the key, to remember the dream. As Liza got off at her stop she got an odd feeling of nostalgia. What was going to happen tonight? She wondered if she would ever see her family again.
Before Liza knew it the sun was on the horizon. She walked the short distance to the community center, looking furtively around the whole way. It felt as though someone was following her, as though a cold breeze ran down her arms each time she turned her head forward.
Liza spotted James sitting on a bench, the sun setting behind him. He had changed out of his school clothes and he looked less menacing. In fact, he was handsome. His black hair fell to just above his eyes, and though he sat hunched over, it wasn’t because of bad posture but because a gust of cold wind had just caused him to shiver. The fact that he’d lost the hoodie which had been hiding his face helped make him less frightening.
Liza strode up confidently to him, questions on the surface of her mind. She wondered who really cared about dreams? Why did the government track their thoughts through them? She wasn’t crazy, and this boy, this James would tell her that she wasn’t.
When she reached him she stood above him. She studied his fingers, which were gripped tightly together. At first she was nervous about what he might say but then his blue eyes met hers, and she felt all her questions drift away. What was she worried about again?
“Hi.” Liza felt like an idiot. A second ago she had been ready to punch this boy in the face and all she could come up with was hi? James grinned. He quickly grabbed her hand, and Liza knew that there was something weird about that. His touch was too familiar, though they had just met. Suddenly he glanced over her shoulder looking horrified.
Liza spun and saw three men wearing the New World insignias around their upper arm. They nodded at James, and then one stuck a black cloth over Liza’s mouth before she could scream. Liza’s vision began to blur. The last thing she saw before she passed out was James’ eyes. Was that a tear running down his cheek? His lips were moving. He mouthed, I’m sorry.
Liza woke up. She woke up with the blurring image of her dream slipping from her mind. This was unfortunate, as forgetting your dreams in the New World was a sign of madness, and the older you got without forgetting a dream, the more esteemed you became in the New World society. And Liza could tell that this was an important dream. She woke up with goose bumps on her neck, and a foul taste in her mouth. Something bad was going to happen.