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art by Melissa Mead

In Dreams

Jeremy Erman lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he music directs theater productions for schools and community groups. He has written nonfiction for Black Gate. Visit jeremyerman.com for more information.
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.
She met other people there, and small, gentle creatures that spoke in high, piping voices, but always the boy returned to her, night after night, and she began to live for her dreams, enduring waking only as necessary interludes away from the reality of her heart.
Her time in the other world increased, but even when she spent days there, she woke up in her own bed after a night's sleep. And then, several days after her passion with her young man had reached its height, the dreams stopped. She found she could endure the waking world without pain now, but it was dull and colorless after months of walking and laughing under purple skies. She wondered if she would ever return.
She told no one of her experiences, but knew she would have to say something eventually. When her child was born, there would be questions.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, August 15th, 2013

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