Writing Prompt: Day 72

72.jpgDay 72 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a character’s dream.

Shannon: “You were in my dream yesterday,” I mentioned, hoping he’d bite.

“What was it about,” Evan questioned.

“We were running around on roof that we weren’t supposed to be on and there was this random tightrope between the buildings. I walked onto it with no fear because I knew you wouldn’t hop on, so I could distance myself from you. Your eyes went wide and you started begging me to get down, but instead I started messing with you and acted like I was going to fall a few times. For whatever reason I knew I was in complete control, but you didn’t trust me.

That’s when I looked down and suddenly gravity started affecting me again and I tried to walk back, but I fell and I tried to grab your hand but just barely missed. Then I started free falling and about the time I should have made impact with the ground I woke up. So what I’m getting at is that you basically killed me,” I joked.

“No you basically took a stupid risk, and I couldn’t save you,” he corrected.

“And we were parted forever,” I added dramatically.

“And immediately reunited in real life,” he reminded me. “How I’d prefer it, if you ask me.”

Erin: I don’t think that my dreams are unrealistic. I just want life to be easy again. I’m not sure when life became so hard, but I do know who is making it so. Brady is the root cause for my frown most days. My argument with him has become a daily routine. When he touches me, my heart sinks. His smile no longer controls my own. Two years ago, I’d have said he was the start of my dreams coming true. Two years ago, I would have been wrong. So, while my dream includes a husband in most versions. The only consistent is that I am happy, and Brady no longer makes me happy.

They say when you write something down it is more likely for a dream to manifest in life, what should be written down for your character?

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One thought on “Writing Prompt: Day 72

  1. I woke with a start, sweating in the frosty winter air, with my heavy covers wrapped around me tightly. Shivering violently as a breeze whispered through my cloth curtains, I breathed in gratefully and stifled a coughing fit. Calmly waiting for my heartrate to slow to normal after my dream, I turned to sit upright in my tiny room and watched the tattered cloth flutter gently. If I reached out, I could feel the icy, patched stone that made up the four walls of my room; it was barely twenty square feet of semi-private space, but it felt like the world in our shanty town. Outside were the wilds of the bustling, poor city. Inside, I was at home and at peace with what I had.
    Careful not to touch the icy floor, though I slept on a simple foam mattress barely an inch off the ground, I folded my blankets neatly. After checking that no one could see in the gaping holes in my walls, I hid them in a hand-dig fissure beneath my ratty bed for safe-keeping. Nothing was ever safe unless everyone thought they already had better. I reached beneath my clumping pillow and wrenched out my old boots and an extra pair of thermal socks; I wanted to keep those to myself as well.
    When I was finally ready to face the world, I doused the tiny oil lamp providing me with a little light and a smidgen of warmth through the cold and lonesome night; there was an everlasting supply of oil being sent off from the other side of our lake that we greatly appreciated when the temperatures dropped below minus forty Celsius. I stood up in the meager four-foot tall room and hunched under the doorframe in the darkness cast by the outside world.
    Standing in front of my hovel, I looked up at the noontime sun, sucking the warmth and light from anything it could. On a planet with no natural light source, we had to make due with our own ingenuity to keep us alive in the cold months and our resilience in the freezing months. I searched the dim world ahead of me for my little sister, but could barely make out our family’s common area, let alone any faces. Stacked around our shack were kegs of oil, leaching their filth into the icy-coated ground, and a line was beginning to form for shares to be divvied up among the poorest of our congregation.
    I strolled past, my full lantern swinging around, and peeked my head into the dingy room. Inside was my mother painstakingly refilling the lamps and passing them back out the doors, one of my father’s invented light rods radiating enough light for her to see hung from the ceiling. When she turned to see me, her lips parted in surprise, a joyful gleam came to her eyes and the lantern she’d been handing back smashed on the solid ground. Too-late, I reached for the falling beacon, and I felt my cheeks burning as she realized it was just me.
    Stumbling back out, muttering apologies to the first few people in line, I collapsed into a snowbank, letting my light clatter gently to the pavement. Burning tears streamed down my cheeks as I sobbed silently in my fuzzy woolen mittens. But it was only a few moments before the heat of embarrassment and sorrow was replaced with the freezing emptiness of life without my sister. When I began to shiver again, I rose out of the dark snow and retrieved my fallen torch; it would do her no good for me to die of frostbite in the middle of the day.
    Deliberately picking my way down a winding route through the tent and stone huts, I eventually made it to the chapel; a mix of crumbling stonework, once-bright fabrics and metal forms that sat before the infinite fire. This flame was a symbol and meeting place for the entire town. Everyone took a weekly feast of grain and grass soup once a fortnight to remind us that we needed to stick together if we hoped to survive. But this past week, two of our number didn’t make it to the feast, and the fire symbolized the tears forming in our community for some of us.
    For me, this fire reminded me that someone in our ranks was more than they were letting on; someone had killed two young girls in cold blood and left their bodies for us to find. Whoever had done it sat and quietly slurped their mush with the families of their victims. Whoever it was is a monster and I was determined to find them out
    When I rounded a corner and was faced with the icy flames reaching high into the sky, I nearly vomited my non-existent breakfast on a kind woman’s tent. Scattered around the fire pit were sleeping bodies and a few people chatting over hot tea; it was as it always appeared, even though there was a memorial, a few feet away, for two young girls savagely murdered in the dead of night. A shushed silence fell over everyone as I stepped into the light, letting it cast my mourning in vivid colour. Carefully stepping around a man bundled in two coats and no shoes, I dropped to my knees before the candles for Star, my little sister. No one bothered me as I fell to pieces.

    Hours, or minutes, or days later, I rose and straightened my jacket in the pitch darkness. Above me, the sun had barely moved in the sky, though my watch said the first star would rise in a few minutes. Scrambling away from the fire, gaining the ire of everything clustered around, I sprinted for the hill at full speed. I’d been so despondent while spending time with Star’s memorial that I nearly forgot about our tradition; we watched the first star rise every afternoon and let the true light into our very souls. Without her, I knew I had to make it there every day until I joined her.
    I arrived just as the star rose in the sky, bringing stunning light to the normally obscured landscape. All around the lake, which shimmered like a reflecting glass, were burnt tree trunks, sticking straight out of the snowy land like corpses gasping for one last breath. Everything was so startlingly desolate and devoid of colour, of life. Somewhere in the dense forest, a horrible yowl echoed and died away. But as I stood there, I watched the shadows fall around the trees before the sun devoured the light and everything was thrown into the same eerie darkness we experienced every day.
    Calmly breathing in the cold, I could almost make out the rippling from the middle of the lake; some say it was a lake monster, others say some kind of toxic material was just bubbling up. Either way, it was known that if you disturbed the surface, you wouldn’t make it across the water. Some say it was just a tale told to scare the young ones, but no one much trusted the lake.
    As I wandered back to the fire, having made up my mind to confront the man I knew killed my sister, I ran into Carla, the cousin of the other murder victim, “Stella, I have to talk to you. Privately right this minute,” she yanked my arm toward her tent, muttering under her breath in gibberish. When we were safely in her abode, she extinguished my lantern and we were in the same soul-sucking darkness the rest of our world resided in. “Stella, it was the bargeman. You were absolutely right. Don’t confront him. I can’t lose you,” she whispered, before disappearing back outside without letting me reply.
    I flicked my oil lamp back on as my stomache growled viciously, reminding me that I couldn’t starve if I wanted to get Star the justice she deserved. When I was back on the street I glanced around in an attempt to find Carla, but gave up on the flighty girl. Instead, I picked my way home for supper with my parents; I was lucky enough to have two left, so I couldn’t complain too much.

    The next morning, I was awakened by sustained screaming coming from right across town; I’d been having nightmares of that exact scenario ever since we lost Star, and was outside with my beacon within a minute. Bolting down the walkway, I ignored the concerned shouts from my parents and nearly rand over several neighbours who were lazily stepping out of their dwellings. My lungs were on fire but I couldn’t stop until I found the crime scene; it was as though I was in a trance, as though I were about to come upon Star’s body all over again.
    But when I finally arrived and could see who it was, the bloated corpse of Carla was being dredged from the water’s edge, caught up in some weeds. All around, spectators were sobbing and gaping at the dead girl with horror in their glazed eyes. A new pit was forming in my hollow stomache where Carla’s image and soul would forever dwell within me. After seeing her like that, I had to confront the bargeman if I could; he was going to pay for what he’d done.

    After another day of moving around on zombified legs and Carla’s death weighing on my heart, I was ready to talk with the bargeman. He was responsible for carting meager goods across to the city for grain and a few vegetables here and there. In a stupor, I traded a new pair of socks for a butcher’s knife, with the shop keep being under the impression that the pastor needed a new blade for a special meat-like ingredient for the week’s soup. Without thinking, I gave the ferryman a whole oil lantern if he would look the other way and allow me access to his raft.
    But as I was about to push of, the pastor called me back, “Stella? May I join you please? I need a few things from the gleaming city.” His sincerity hit me hard, and I nodded forlornly, letting him hop on board. When he offered to take over the bow, I didn’t hesitate to let him steer; my plan was ruined either way.
    All too suddenly, we were in the middle of the lake, gazing back at the speck that was our bonfire. We began to drift dangerously close to the floating island on the right, but I didn’t think much of it until I realized we were headed for the strait. This tiny strip of stagnant water between the island and mainland was strictly forbidden because it was shallow. “Hey, pastor, I don’t think-” partway through my sentence it dawned on me that I’d been wrong in my assumption of the bargeman; that I had no real proof and that the pastor had just as much access to the girls’ rooms as he had.
    When we slowed to a crawl, my watch dinged and the sky was full of the first star light. High up in the forest to the right, fierce animals bolted through the tree stand, screeching in the light. Shifting my position to be more defensive against the pastor, I shivered as the calls came ever closer to the boat and we tilted dangerously to one side. Standing above me, wild eyes and rusty knife shining in the dying starlight, was a man I’d trusted. But as soon as the light died away, he turned back to grab the oil lamp, thirsting for the kill like a predator.
    Footfalls caught my attention, as the raft drifted nearer to the open lake, coming closer down the mountain along with heavy animals’ breathing. When they leapt across the strait, their claws catching the warm light from the lantern, I ducked instinctively. Fortunately, our pastor wasn’t in the same defensive mindset, and the creatures snatched at his solid figure in passing. He lost his footing as the third made the jump, and the forth gripped him with its strong claws.
    Though our only light source was dumped into the murky depths of the water, I could still hear his screaming as the beasts ripped him to shreds. I thank my lucky stars, though, that I couldn’t see the monster that slithered its way onto the raft and pulled me into the inky, frozen depths of the lake.

    I woke up gasping for air in our tiny stone room with my little sister, Star, fast asleep in the freezing bed beside me.

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