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It was a serene summer evening as I ran down the verdant hill. The breezy, cotton clouds floated in the glowing sky. I arrived at a crystal river bank, as my family rested under a cool willow tree. They sat surrounded by a vivid bed of flowers swaying in the wind. A small, wooden bridge cut through the river, reflecting the dim dusk sunlight. The willow waved to me in the gentle wind, asking me to sit under its cozy branches.
I saw my Dad, resting his head peacefully on my Mom’s lap. I watched little baby Ike; he took his first steps picking colorful flowers while Mom tenderly watches him. They all sat on a scarlet checkered blanket, carelessly idling away the evening.
“Come sit down kiddo,” my Dad yelled. “We have a whole barbeque planned today and a picnic too.”
It felt like a dream; a dream where I spent the day with my family, just lazing around under the sun. I quickly ran across the bridge and joined my family under the shady willow. Soon after, all my relatives had arrived at the tree. Uncle Fred (the jokester fond of whoopee cushions), Aunt Mary (who was a real neat freak), Grandpa Joe (who really liked to play sports at 74 years of age), Cousin Charlie (who was Grandpa’s archrival) were some of the more wacky relatives present.
Cousin Charlie and the others asked me if I wanted to play baseball. It was his team against Grandpa Joe and the rest of the family. I eagerly agreed and we played some great innings. Grandpa Joe and his team were up 4-0 in the top of the 5th. However, we were able to rally against them, thanks to a grand slam by Cousin Bradley. Charlie then drove in two runs to end it at 6-4. Soon after, Cousin Charlie got the bragging rights and Grandpa Joe spent the evening moping in his shame.
After the game, Dad gave me an empty plate. “You look hungry after winning. Why not grab some grub?”
I anxiously snatched the plate, thinking about what to eat first. Should I go for the hot, steamy burgers’? Or maybe the juicy basket of fruits on the table? No wait. The soft, fresh apple pie was the winner. My mouth watered just thinking about it as the smell curled up to my nose. Darn it. I guess I’ll eat all of them.
Just as I was about to dig in, I heard a loud ring in the distance. I turned to face a group of bikers, stopping at the hilltop. The tall guy was probably their leader, as he motioned them to stay back. He had wavy blond hair, a strong, muscular build, and a warm smile flashed right across his face. He waved and shouted, “Hey! You busy? I need to talk to you.”
I knew him. Andrew Jackson - the hottest guy at my school - just talked to me. That’s right. Me. I didn’t know what to say. Andrew never paid attention to me. So why now?
He slid down the green hill, landing straight on his knees, and onto his bottom. I hurried across the bridge, where we finally met. His perfect smile captures my eyes as I tried to find something to say to him. My heart kept beating and beating, as I waited for him to say something.
“So I heard you were around here,” he said, “I… uh… I just wanted to talk to you.” His cheeks turned bright red. “I’m not sure how to say this, but will you go to the prom with me?”
My heart stopped and I felt as if I were going to go into a coma. The hottest guy in the school, asked a girl like me to the prom? This was unreal.
“Well… if you don’t want to that’s fine – “
“Wait! I … uh… I think I can go. How does 7:00 sound?
“Yeah… great. That’d be fine,” he replied.
The first few minutes in, there was a long, awkward pause. The rings of the bikes signaled Andrew’s buddies were getting impatient.
“Say? Would you and your friends like to stay for food?” I asked.
Andrew turned around to face a gang of dogs, eagerly waiting for a ‘yes’.
He grinned. “Sure. That’d be great.”
Literally jumping off their feet, the gang sprinted across the bridge, and onto the picnic table, hungry as horses.
Andrew and I held hands as we sprinted to the bridge against the cool evening breeze. The sun was setting, and the crickets chirped their way into the night. My Mom, Dad, uncles, nieces, cousins, everyone anxiously waited for me under the tree. Andrew’s friends were smiling gleefully from the picnic table, slobbering in food. I had a great day with my family; I got to play ball, nabbed a date to the prom, had an awesome barbeque, and Andrew Jackson was holding my hands. It all felt like a dream. I was living in a dream.
As I crossed the bridge halfway, time stopped. My whole body froze as the bridge underneath broke apart. I fell into the river, struggling to keep afloat. Andrew vanished in a whiff of darkness. The willow tree wilted and died; plunging into the river. One by one, my family disappeared right before my eyes. What was happening?
Cousin Charlie? Uncle Fred? Mom? Dad? Where are you all going? I thought.
Fear and loneliness crept through my body. I looked around for Andrew’s friends, but even they were gone. I missed his smile and those comforting eyes. I missed the love of my family. I missed my life.
I looked up at the darkened sky. I watched as the world around me crumpled into a dark abyss. The glowing sun was swallowed up by darkness and the flowers and trees rot into dust. The clear river thickened into black, murky ooze. The lush hill was now dark and dead as it molted into a sea of ooze. I fought against a thick wave coming my way; some of it went into my mouth. The world around me broke into a world I never knew. It was a nightmare within a dream.
Where did they all go? Why was I alone? What happened to my dream? Then, I remembered that I had died, that this was a stupid reality. A reality created for my own selfish needs. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to spend time with my family; I wanted to go to the prom with Andrew, but at what cost? I was already dead, so there was no point living in a dream.
My body stiffened, as I fell deeper and deeper into the black ooze. I couldn’t move my arms or legs. A huge wave of sludge swallowed me whole as the dream starts to blur.
I reached out to the blackened sky; pieces of it fell into the inky river. My dream was coming to an end. It was a dream I would never forget. I regretted not saying goodbye to everyone. I closed my eyes, as I sank into the darkness. My soul drifted away, as my limp body sunk into a forgotten dream.