art by Melissa Mead
by Jeremy Erman
She was depressed. There was darkness everywhere in her life, and pain she could not express. At school the other girls treated her with contempt, and the boys seemed not to notice her. But home was the worst: her mother was so wrapped in her own pain that she had no time for Melissa. If Melissa had been braver she might have called her father, but he was so far away he might as well have been on another planet. It was easier and safer to do nothing, to let the pain consume her.
Three weeks into the school year the dreams began. She walked on soft grass under a dark purple sky, and the grass and trees around her shimmered and quivered with light. It was no place she had ever been, no place that could be in the world she knew, but she was calm there, and content. And one night a young man joined her, dressed in bright clothes and laughing gaily--and for the first time in ages she did not feel alone.