Once Upon a Dream MAG

By Luna Ruan, Pittsburgh, PA

Once upon a dream, I was at summer camp, apprehensive, my book bag clutched tightly in my pale arms, trying to soften the thump-thumping of my heart.

The ground was hard, a mixture of brown and green fading beneath my feet. Half grass, half cement. Half beauty, half reality. I sighed, the sound carried by the wind, drifting away into the sky. There was a day, long ago, when I stood between grass and cement, between beauty and reality, and she smiled and told me, shamelessly, that I was no longer her best friend. Beauty blinded by reality. Tears streamed down my face. Left alone on the mud and grass, feeling hollow inside.

Once upon a nightmare, I had a fair-weather friend.

I looked up. The dormitories were a mud-brown stone separated by cracked cement, heated by the scorching sun. My castle, my prison – which one, I didn’t know.

The sky was blue with dots of fluffy white littering the edges. A speckled egg. It was beautiful. I heard chattering and turned my head, my black hair whipping around. It was a group of people, goths, friends. Evidently they had known each other for a long time. I looked longingly. They seemed so happy. I wished I could be that carefree.

Suddenly, a hand reached out and tapped me on the shoulder and I turned, interrupted from my wistful daydream. It was Mom. She saw where I was looking and shook her head, her eyes flashing.

“I don’t want you to hang out with those people, you hear? They dress strangely. I don’t want you to be like them.”

I sighed in resignation but nodded, walking slowly into my mud-colored dorm, away from the fears and hopes of the real world and into the sheltered one of summer camp.


Once upon a dream, I smiled genuinely for the first time in a year. It was something she had said, my new friend at camp. I clutched my book bag tightly, afraid that I’d drop it in the midst of our laughter.

She was from Washington, a blond, blue-eyed girl who hung out with the in-crowd, the preps. My friends from school would have hated her; the wicked stepsisters wouldn’t be able to see past her appearance, but I was different.

She was one of my close friends, even closer than those at school. We sat on the steps of the college campus during breaks, laughing and joking with teachers, making new friends.

Once upon a sea of memories, I had a true friend.

The joke was stupid, just one of the perverted comments we – everyone in our dorm – would make. Yet it set us howling. The RA looked at us, eyebrow cocked, eliciting more peals of laughter.

We sang Disney songs until one in the morning, laughing. Our scratchy voices bellowed, “Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?” until we collapsed, exhausted, into our twin beds and fell asleep grinning.

It was heaven, a break from my depression. I could relate to everyone in my dorm. They all had been through what I had, loved what I lived for. It was a beautiful dream, and I never wanted to wake up.


Once upon a dream, I felt safe, loved on the dark dance floor, my head on his shoulder, his arms around me protectively. I held him tightly, and he hugged me back, afraid that if we let go, we’d slip from each other’s grasp, never to meet again.

I’d liked him for one week and he’d liked me for two. We didn’t find out until the second to last day of camp, the second to last day of that unbelievable dream that I wished could be reality. Light brown hair nearly covered eyes the color of milk chocolate, sweet, loving. He was Prince Charming. My Prince Charming.

Once upon a summer camp, I found my first love.

The dance was slow and we swayed to the beat, darkness enveloping us. Behind me, I could hear my friends chatting about us. My dress swished around my body and I felt loved, carefree.

“I like your dress. It’s purple,” he whispered, and I smiled, the code name I had used for him, purple, singing softly, mingling with “Stairway to Heaven.” I hugged him tighter, wishing this song, this unbelievable dream, would go on forever.


The alarm clock rings and my eyes slowly open, leaving me with only wisps of the events. A dream. It was just a dream, and dreams can’t last forever … can they?

A fairy tale. A field of flowers. A fantasy. I close my eyes and when I open them, I’m left with nothing but memories. Life is normal again, the dream has faded, just a vague thought to reflect upon when the English teacher asks for another essay.

My heart is empty again.

My world, though, seems just a bit fuller.


Once upon a dream, I lived and died again. Yet even in my death, I still clutch that book bag of memories tightly, fearing that I will lose it if I loosen my grip.

Once upon a dream, I went to summer camp. Once upon a dream, I forgot about the problems in my life. Once upon a dream … Once upon a blissful memory … Once upon my life …

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This article has 5 comments.

alice w. said...
on Jun. 10 2009 at 5:05 am
that is a great story .i love it .it was amesome

jj said...
on Dec. 20 2008 at 9:52 pm
oh my god.. best story i have read in a while.... it is a lot like me

on Oct. 1 2008 at 3:53 pm
i think that your story is great i really enjoyed it. I think it was fantastic

mirra13 said...
on Sep. 17 2008 at 8:43 pm
Awesome, I loved it.

on Aug. 9 2008 at 11:59 am
Wow!!!This is amazing!Very well written!


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