The Dreamer Part 2

 

The Dreamer

Part 2

By John Andreula

Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
*Originally published on 5280Geek.com

(If you haven’t read Part 1 check it out here)

dreamer castle

Few people have figured out how to harness the vast potential of dreams. Those who have, have done so by controlling their consciousness as they enter dream-state. This process is called lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreaming is when dreamers find an anchor somewhere within the story of their dream as it is unfolding. This anchor signals that they are inside of a dream and not in the real world. They then use that signal to take control of the events and happenings within their dream-state.

The most well-know example of this is when someone pinches their arm in their dream to wake themself up.

A man once decided he was going to master the skill of lucid dreaming. Every time he found himself inside a doorway he would reach out his arms and push outward against the door frame. Most of the time he felt the cold, solid rigidity of the door.

When he didn’t receive a realistic level of resistance from the frame he would immediately recognize he was dreaming. Then, regardless of the story that was unfolding in his dream, he would go on any amazing adventure that he desired, instead of the one born of pure chance.

That fellow sure must have looked quite awkward to others as he pushed against all those door frames in the real world.


Sierra used her left hand to gently sweep the stiff remains of the tiny ladybug into her right.

She peered at it for a moment before opening the top drawer of her flower-painted  nightstand. Inside was the small wooden box where Sierra kept a few things that she had randomly found intriguing. She placed the ladybug lightly on the leaves of a four leaf clover she had discovered in the grass near her house.

Afterwards she went downstairs and ate dinner quietly with her parents. Stephen spoke of small, seemingly superficial details of his day. He recounted his interactions with friendly coworkers from his office at his large technology firm. He went on to spend extra time complaining and condemning his boss for not appreciating his efforts.

Janice chewed her food and nodded occasionally. Every now and again she would speak directions to Sierra between bites. “Swallow what’s in your mouth before you take another bite…Please use your napkin to wipe your hands and not the tablecloth, sweetie.”

Sierra’s typical response was to not respond. Once in awhile she would look up for a moment at whoever was speaking before returning her attention inward. The same scene replayed itself nightly. Some nights, like tonight, Stephen was there. Other nights he wouldn’t be, due to the many work projects that required his presence in the lab late into the night.

Tonight she was especially distracted by her thoughts. It wouldn’t be evident on her emotionless face, but the ladybug and her dream had her quite unsettled.

Sierra finished her cauliflower, potatoes, and the chicken Janice had cut down into bite-size chunks. She rose from her seat at the table without a glance at either parent. Janice and Stephen shared an uneasy look as their daughter left the dining room.

Sierra went down the stairs to the house’s furnished basement. She rounded the corner at the bottom of the stairs and made her way over to the cheaply stained wooden bookshelf. She could hear her parents’ voices up the stairs, coming out from the door that she didn’t close behind her. The voices began to raise as respective responses became more and more sharp. Sierra did her best to ignore her parents bickering.

The bookshelf was large compared to the five year old. The bottom two shelves held the books that were purchased for Sierra as gifts. There was Dr. Seuss, The Berenstain Bears, and a large selection of pop-up and board books. Sierra wasn’t interested in any of these. They were useful when she had rapidly learned her letters, her reading, and her writing; but she never formed an attachment to the stories held within. She was long past such juvenile choices. What she was after was on the top shelf.

Sierra dragged over one of the spare dining room chairs that were stored downstairs, awaiting guests that came over less and less frequently these days. She clambered onto the chair and grabbed the middle shelf to brace herself as she stood on her tiptoes.

Her eyes fixed on the row of reference books situated on the topmost shelf. Before Sierra was born, Janice had toyed with the idea of a career in psychology or personal therapy. She had long since abandoned that idea.

Still, every now and again, Janice purchased or acquired tomes relevant to the science of the human brain and relationships. Occasionally she felt the need to scratch that old itch, especially now that she had a daughter that she could not understand or connect with. This fact seemed to becoming increasingly more evident.

Sierra had never been interested in these reference books before, but now she was experiencing an unfamiliar drive. It was a need she had not previously felt.

She located two books in the stack that she thought may be relevant to her current predicament. One was TRAIN YOUR MIND, CHANGE YOUR BRAIN; the other, EXPLORING THE WORLD OF LUCID DREAMING.

Neither book was age appropriate for the typical five year old, but Sierra Stewart was very much not a typical five year old. No one understood the inner-workings of her mind or her development, much less her own self.

Sierra was sharp, but people had to look really closely to notice it. Upon first glance, strangers, even some neighbors and family members, perceived her as dull or slow. Her parents felt the looks, often becoming offended by others’ murmurs and whispers. At times even they succumbed to the idea that something was wrong with their beautiful, beloved, but unusual daughter.

It wasn’t uncommon for others to think the girl had problems or an intellectual disability. This wasn’t the case though.

On the whole, Sierra’s parents knew the truth. Sierra Stewart was special. She was perceived as different from other children her age because she was different. She just wasn’t the different that other people had assumed she was.

Sierra never complained, even when being hungry, cold, or frustrated; behavior common to most young children. She did occasionally feel these things. She just never showed it and definitely didn’t communicate it to either of the primary adults in her life.

Stephen and Janice believed they could feel Sierra communicating with them once in awhile, despite the girl’s general casual coldness. They told themselves that they felt her speaking to them in their hearts and minds. They were mostly telling themselves these things to ease the unenviable disappointment built up from the lack of response to their love and efforts.

Sierra laid the books on the floor just in front of the chair and old wooden bookshelf. She settled herself prone and proceeded to read the books to gain insight on the inner-workings of her mind and subconscious.

Her father came down the stairs fifteen minutes later. He discovered his little girl with her eyes transfixed inside the book on dreaming. He thought to himself how cute it was that his five year old was looking at the pictures inside of one of mommy’s books. He had no idea that she was easily absorbing the book’s concepts and teachings.

So Stephen left his silent and stoic daughter to her “play” and went off into his basement office. He would continue some private business project that consumed the majority of his time at home.

A few hours later Janice came down the stairs looking groggy. She had fallen asleep on the couch again, reading some novel. She knocked on the office door and informed Stephen of the late hour.

She then went over to Sierra who was entrenched in her old book on lucid dreams. In her sleepy state, Janice thought to herself, What an odd child.

She stood and watched her beautiful daughter for a moment before informing her, “Sierra, baby, it’s late. Time to get ready for bed.” Sierra remained reading, again ignoring another command and request from one of her progenitors.

Janice bent down and said, “Let’s go, hon.” She lifted the girl with ease and placed her on her left hip. The girl kept the book in front of her, not even slightly averting her gaze from the pages.

Janice carried Sierra up the first flight stairs, and again up the second, to their destination on the top level of their home. She took Sierra to the girl’s room, which was in the front of the house. Janice gently pulled the book away from Sierra and placed it on the nightstand before drawing the blinds closed.

She helped Sierra undress, and then into her pajamas. It was the light gray set with cartoon alligators wearing sunglasses and pearl necklaces patterned throughout. These pj’s always made Janice smile.

The two girls retreated to the bathroom. Janice brushed out the day’s knots from Sierra’s beautiful golden hair. Then she brushed her teeth before taking her back into the bedroom.

Janice laid Sierra in her bed and pulled the blankets up snugly to the girl’s sides. She kissed her three times lightly on her forehead before walking to the door. Janice flipped the light switch off and said “Goodnight, baby,” and closed the door almost fully.

Sierra lay there in the dark for some time before the silence throughout the house was total and complete. Then she sat up in her bed and exited the warm security of her soft covers. She padded over to the door and closed it completely, careful not to let it click when the handle latched. She flipped the light back on, pulled the book from her nightstand, and placed it onto her bed. She sat down to read more.

Two hours later she had completed reading the textbook. She had not arrived at an answer as to what had happened earlier that night within her nap’s dream. Nor had she begun to understand the unlikely circumstance of the ladybug and her reach between the two worlds. But she was feeling somewhat empowered to approach the next dream differently.

She placed the closed book back on her nightstand and laid back against her pillows. She lay still for a while with her eyes open. They were affixed on the nothing on the ceiling above her.

Tiredness arrived and she did not resist it. Her eyes closed and Sierra let her dream come.


Again Sierra had become the heightened, ringlet-curled version of herself. And again she stood on the path in the mirage-like forest.

There were, however, subtle differences this time. The prismatic white hue of the trees and her long dress had shifted into a light, bright blue, with tinges of green and yellows sparkling here and there.

At the foot of the trees, bunnies stood en masse on the roots and the small spaces between each trunk. Each bunny had fuzzy wings tucked to either side. They stood very still, staring with their beady eyes at Sierra. It was as if they were appraising her.

One bunny’s nose twitched. The other bunnies’ noses did the same, all in unison. Sierra tipped her head ever-so slightly to the left. The bunnies simultaneously matched the girl’s head movement. They tensed up their rear legs as if preparing to flee if they detected any threat from this strange interloper in their world.

A slight rustling came from just up the path. Sierra looked in the direction of the sound. The bunnies did as well. A lone chipmunk was jaunting towards the small clearing where Sierra now stood. The many bunny eyes followed in unison as the chipmunk halted just in front of Sierra.

The chipmunk rested for a moment before rearing up on its hind legs. “It’s good you’ve returned,” a voice addressed Sierra. It seemed to have come from the chipmunk, but it’s mouth did not move. It was using its mind to communicate with the currently elongated girl.

“That wasn’t a good thing you did to the red shell though. Not at all. Not at all.”

Sierra and the bunnies stared on. She did not know what to think, but she felt a sadness to the small rodent’s voice. She waited for the chipmunk to speak again.

“Why did you end the red shell?”

The girl’s eyebrows raised. She strained for a moment as if deciding whether she could speak to the chipmunk. She took another moment to decide if she would.

Then a soft voice seemed to come from between the trees. “I…”

It wasn’t obvious where the second voice was coming from, but when the chipmunk or the bunny horde turned to focus on it it seemed as if it were coming from somewhere else hidden in the wood.

“I…I was scared. It lunged at me,” the voice strained to project, “It…it was trying to hurt me.”

The chipmunk rounded its head back toward Sierra. The bunnies did as well. The chipmunk’s voice returned, “It knew you were dangerous. It sensed you were here to harm us. It assumed correctly.”

“I never meant to…to…I didn’t mean to kill it,” the voice in the trees responded. ” I just wanted to stop it from hurting me.”

The chipmunk pondered the girl for a moment before coming to a determination. “Come with me.”

The chipmunk turned and dropped back down on all fours. It returned down the path from whence it had come. It stopped at the crest of the hill and stood up again to look back at Sierra. She was bewildered by the current events. She hadn’t moved yet.

“Come along,” it called out. Sierra felt the small rodent’s mind-voice as if it still stood just in front of her.

She decided to trust the chipmunk, or at least to see where it would lead her. After all, her need and curiosity were still yet unanswered.

Sierra glided off after the chipmunk, her long dress flowing on the ground behind. A pack of the bunnies followed a few meters behind Sierra, hopping along in near unison. Others stayed in their places and continued to watch Sierra move back in the familiar direction she had traveled earlier.

The path was the one she had traversed in her nap dream, but at the same time,  it wasn’t. Some trees had budded at the ends of their branches. The buds were pink, golden yellow, and orange. Others trees had wilted, appearing sick. Many had dropped polychromatic leaves to the ground around their bases.

The unlikely pack climbed the familiar hill Sierra had passed over earlier. They arrived just beyond the summit, where she had downed the ladybug man. She could see its corpse laid out across a bed of clovers.

The chipmunk approached its body. The bunnies fell in just past. They took up their positions as winged sentries of this most unusual scene.

Sierra hesitated. Her voice penetrated the air once more, “What is it you want from me?”

The chipmunk trembled for a brief moment as it looked upon the large fallen body of the insect. It stood up and strode over to Sierra. “We want you to make this right. We want you to do what you have undone.”

Sierra’s lengthened face betrayed a rare glimpse of feeling. It showed mild bewilderment. “I can’t…I don’t… I don’t know what you want me to do.”

“You have power within you, girl. Look what you did to this poor it. Humans–you take and ravage so much of your world. You have no right to come into this and start destroying and taking here as well. You fix this.”

Sierra slowly floated over until she was next to the chipmunk looking down upon the insect. She knelt beside it and spoke with her mind-voice, mouth still as ever, “I’m sorry you were threatened by me. I’m sorry I hurt you.”

She turned her head to the chipmunk. It’s eyes were moist with sadness. “What am I supposed to do?”

The chipmunk replied, “How did girl work it earlier?”

Sierra thought for a moment. She remembered her fear. She could clearly recall what had transpired and how she responded in her own memory. That wouldn’t do now.

Luckily, a chapter in Sierra’s mother’s book on lucid dreams came to her mind. She had understood much of what she had read on lucid dreaming. Now it was time to test what she had learned.

The ladybug died in the real world because of her silent scream here in the dream world. She certainly held some the power to affect reality from inside this strange dream. By proxy, she should have no problem affecting the world of this dream with her mind as well.

She reached out her right hand toward the still bug. As if on its own accord, the sleeve slid up her arm to her elbow. She rested her fingers on the front of the insect’s black head. She closed her eyes and concentrated.

First, she thought of life. Then, she thought of the love she felt toward nature and the joy she felt sharing those moments with her ladybug friend on the outside. She sent those feelings, as well as her wish to make her wrong right, through her fingertips and into the beast’s hard, rough head. Sierra could feel a sensation pulse down her arm, into her hand, and finally out her fingertips into the ladybug’s cold face.

She felt a slight brush against her hand. She opened up her eyes. The ladybug’s long dark antenna moved slightly. The other antenna did as well. The enlarged ladybug tilted its head toward Sierra and regarded her from where it lay on its clover bed.

Sierra stood up slowly and backed away a few paces. She was uncertain if the bug would come after her again. She was also in awe of the moment and what she had just done.

The chipmunk skirted a bit closer to the ladybug. “Red Shell, you are again? This girl has brought you back with us. She means you no harm. ”

The ladybug rose gradually to one knee on its hind leg. With some effort it pushed off the other leg and stood full upright. Large black markings remained on the clover patch below it.

The bug appraised Sierra for a moment longer and then subtly bowed its head.

The girl’s voice returned from the background, “I’m so sorry.”

The ladybug nodded its antennae once in a subtle gesture of approval and the turned away. Sierra could see its hard red wing covers no longer retained their dark spots. She realized that’s where the black stains on the clovers had come from. The ladybug’s red pseudo-wings spread and revealed the insect’s translucent wings of flight beneath. The wings beat quickly and made a reverberating buzzing.

The insect-man lifted off the ground and flew off. The eyes of all those present followed the insect across the sky until it disappeared into the bluish haze of the sky.

The chipmunk broke the silence of the moment. “You did well, young one. When you return, please take care as you use your mind-strength.” It skirted off back down the path. The bunnies followed. Two flew low, a few feet above the ground, their wings flapping like a hawk.

Sierra stood there for a moment, processing what had happened here and now, as well the events from earlier. She seemed pleased with herself as she continued to stare distantly at her dream’s sky.

Then lightning as black as night tore across the sky in the direction Sierra was gazing. As it struck, a line of purple remained across a large portion of the blue background of the strange world.

The line slowly parted. As it opened, Sierra distinctly saw the sclera, iris, and the pupil of a human eye. The eye searched the sky, seemingly taking in this most abstract setting. Its attention settled over onto Sierra.

An unfamiliar voice seemed to come from its direction, “I’ve found you, dreamer. Your power will be mine.” The call was followed by a deep, dark, throaty chuckle that echoed throughout the skyscape.

Sierra then experienced yet another new sensation. It was fear. She closed her eyes tightly and willed herself awake.


Back in the little girl’s bedroom everything was as she left it.

The overhead light was still on. Her unadjusted eyes strained against the momentary shock of the brightness of the room. Sierra squinted and averted her head toward the window. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and brought her heavy breathing back to its normal, moderate rate.

She could tell by the light sneaking in through the tan horizontal blinds that the sun was rising outside. Darkness was giving way to the light.

Sierra eased off her bed and went directly over to the drawer of her nightstand. She hesitated for a moment before pulling it open.

She opened the small wooden box and peered inside. Her ladybug friend was crawling along the stem of the clover. The ladybug’s back was now solid red. It too had lost its spots. The clover leaves had wilted. Large black spots stained much of the green.

The ladybug rose up into its slow buzzing flight and settled itself down on the girl’s right shoulder. Sierra sighed lightly. She had alleviated the burden of her regret, bringing back the beetle, but she couldn’t shake the image of the eye in the sky and that wicked voice.

Sierra wasn’t quite done with that most peculiar world that resided inside of her dreams.

Or perhaps the girl’s dreams weren’t quite done with her.

blinds


Continued in Bad Dreams available here.


John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.

More of his works of can be found at:

Moving On Upwards Failing Upwards

Reach him for commission work or media requests at:

Info@MovingOnUpwards.com

 

The Dreamer Part 1

 

The Dreamer

Part 1

by John Andreula

Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
*Originally published on 5280Geek.com

dreamer castle

Dreams are strange.

Some dreams transport dreamers to faraway and exotic places. Some create the world in which the dream is set. Others occur in everyday and familiar surroundings.


A young girl sat on the grass just in front of a suburban townhouse. This home was a middle unit sandwiched in between two very similar town-homes on either side. The building was one of six  that made up the fenced-in court, all nearly identical.

The houses had red brick facades with gray asphalt roof shingles. The gutters were white years ago when they were installed, but had long since faded to a grayish brown. The windows of every unit were surrounded by faux shutters, each were painted dark red or blue. Neither of the colors really flowed with the rest, but for some strange reason the townhouses were still cute.

It wasn’t a wealthy neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination, but to the young girl playing quietly on the green grass lawn, it was home.

The girl had long straight golden hair that went exactly halfway down her back to the center of her white shirt. Her olive skin was in deep contrast with the bright white of her long sleeved tee. There was a gray kitten face wearing pearls and a bow decorating the front of her shirt.

A ladybug with four spots was climbing a thick blade of grass. This blade had popped up a day ago, after the lawn care people had done their most recent mowing service. Sierra pondered the bug and the abnormally long piece of grass silently to herself. The air still smelled slightly of clippings. It was a perfect smell for a late summer afternoon.

“Sierra, baby?” a voice called from up the four stone stairs and behind the white half-glass storm door. The girl didn’t move her eyes from the ladybug, let alone acknowledge her mother’s loving but firm communication from inside. “Sweetie, come inside and wash up for dinner.”

Still as a statue, the girl was apparently uninterested in dinner or going inside. She remained in lotus, continuing her concentration and deep observation of the bug crawling up the blade of grass. “What an odd creature,” Sierra thought to herself.

Slowly, she reached out her hand. Her index and middle fingers extended outward. They rested just in front of the red beetle’s head. The ladybug’s antennae wiggled, near-imperceptibly before it climbed onto the girl’s fingers.

The other neighborhood children were playing in the large grass circle just in front of her house. Sierra ignored them, as always. She was never interested in kickball, tag, or whatever game one of the older kids brought home from their school’s playground. Sierra never showed any interest in other kids. It was much of the same with mostly anybody, with the notable exceptions of her father and her mother, the latter of which was currently attempting to rouse her attention.

Sierra smiled slightly, just enough for her dimples to appear on the outside of her lips. She stood up and shifted her gaze in the direction of the impending sunset that would conclude in approximately two hours.

“Sierra!” her mother’s voice called again from inside. This time there was less patience and more force to the command.

The girl’s jeans had grass stains on both knees and the seat. There was a new hole on the left knee. Mother would wash and patch the pants using a scrap piece from a pair she had outgrown or ruined previously.

Sierra didn’t notice the grass stains on her knee, or the hole. She noticed other seemingly insignificant details, like the one long blade of grass on her lawn, or the number of cars that had returned home to the cul-de-sac since she had headed outside (that was fifteen). Her father referred to it as selective attention.

She didn’t need to look to be on alert for her father’s Mazda crossover. She could tell by the sun’s position over the neighborhood’s boundary fence that he was running late. She stood for a moment with her outstretched hand and distant gaze.

A brief moment longer and she clambered up the stairs with her new friend crawling along the tops of her outstretched fingers. She opened the storm door with her other hand before one final glance in the direction from which her father would enter the street. Then she went inside.

Just inside the door, Sierra kicked her sandals off onto the floor mat. Once again, she ignored the adjacent shoe rack. She’d hear about this in a few minutes when Dad arrived, but he never stayed annoyed with her for long. So, her habit was never altered.

Off to the left was the kitchen. A twenty-something woman stood with her back to the foyer where Sierra stood. She stopped her toil at the oven for a moment to listen or sense the young girl. The woman’s hair was the same color as the girls. She had lengthy locks with a bit more wave.

The woman turned toward her daughter, who was standing silently and waiting for some response in regard to her new friend. Her facial features were similar to Sierra’s, especially as they softened from their evident impatience into a smirk at her precocious, but silent, daughter. Sierra’s mother could have been an older version of Sierra, except for a few lines from age and an abject weariness in her eyes.

She too wore jeans and a t-shirt. Her jeans were clean and without the wear of Sierra’s. The t-shirt was short sleeved and was baby blue, with no imagery or branding on it.

The sound of Sierra father’s car pulling into their space out front filled the air of the room. Sierra turned her head to the window to peer out and confirm her recognition. Her dad was home. Sierra’s mom stepped over and looked out also. She stood next to her daughter and softly put a hand on her shoulder.

The two took a moment to watch Dad do his normal car disembarkment shuffle. He reached into the rear and passenger seats and filled his arm with all his accoutrements from the day. There was a jacket, a briefcase, a lunch bag, a thermos, and a shopping bag of some sort. The man finally stepped from the car and closed the door just before stopping in mid-stride. An obvious awareness crossed his face. He had missed something he had meant to bring inside.

“Coffee cup,” stated Sierra’s mother, more matter-of-fact than emotive in any way.

Sierra’s father used one finger to pull the door handle, and then his foot to swing the door open. He leaned into the car, pulling the stack into his chin to brace his pile of things. He grabbed his cup, stood back out, and gently kicked the car door shut. He considered for a moment if he had left anything else. Convinced he hadn’t, he made his way up the stairs and past the front porch.

The ladybug had crawled to the inside of Sierra’s elbow. She had ceased interest in the bug for the moment. Her face did not show it, but she was excited that her dad was home. She always got excited when she had her whole family with her, she just did not communicate it externally in the way most others did.

Sierra was a beautiful girl. She was part of a beautiful young family. Despite her being unusual in relation to other children, her parents loved her tremendously. They did as much as they could to make Sierra’s life comfortable. Most kids her age didn’t realize the sacrifice and effort required to take care of them. Sierra knew.

Despite the amazing and abundant love her parents showered upon her, they did not share similar feelings toward each other. They put on a decent show of loving one another in front of the girl’s sharp eyes, but once she was thought to be asleep, or perceived out of earshot, the arguments ensued.

Her parents bickered over how to parent Sierra, what kind of therapy they would seek out next, and worst of all, how they were going to afford the care they were seeking out for their beloved child.

They already had incurred tens of thousands of dollars of debt for testing for autism, psychoanalysis, as well as attempting holistic methods of development. None of these achieved the ends the parents desired. They just wanted their baby to be able to lead a normal functional life.

But Sierra was anything but normal. She saw things differently than you or I. She was distinctly different from everyone else.

Once Sierra fell and scraped her knee badly. The cut had hurt, but the girl’s deep focus on the dove that flew overhead did not even break for a second as she lay there on the sidewalk craning her neck to watch the bird fly out of sight. Blood was streaming down her leg, staining her white lace-hemmed sock and sneaker. Spots of blood could still be seen on the laces, tongue, and toe-cap.

Sierra was about to turn five. She was of the age when it was expected to enter kindergarten at the neighborhood public elementary, like all the other kids. However, after visiting the school and observing the special needs program, Sierra’s parents knew that there would be no easy solution to such a special girl’s education. Sierra’s mother would have to home school her. Her mom and dad fought a few nights about this as well.

“Janice? Cici? I’m home!”

The two girls turned toward the foyer. Janice stepped out to the door to open it.

“Stephen, I missed you so much.” The two kissed on the lips, quickly and dispassionately.

“You look like a million bucks!” Stephen replied, “And you too, you look like a million and one. What have you got there, pumpkin?”

Sierra took a second and then seemed to come back to her body. She looked down at the ladybug crawling around to the back side of her arm and she smiled. Stephen walked over to her, still standing in the kitchen. He reached a hand down and picked up the bug. His technique was strikingly similar to the one Sierra had used earlier to retrieve the insect from the grass.

Her father lifted the bug up to his face and placed the little fellow on the tip of his nose. He crossed his eyes to look at the bug on the center of his face. The Janice rolled her eyes. She couldn’t help but smirk. Then she turned back into the kitchen to resume her dinner preparations.

Sierra stared at her father with her ladybug friend sitting on his nose for a moment before taking a step closer to him. As she reached towards her father, he bent down at his waist so his face was just at his daughter’s eye level. She reached up and took her bug back, then turned and disappeared deeper into the house.

Stephen watched his daughter for a second and then kept his gaze in place after the girl had disappeared from view. “They’re making more cuts at work. They fired Nairy today, and expecting me to shoulder his load. I’ll end up working later everyday; probably needing to go in on Saturdays as well.”

“Great,” Janice supplied with an air of detachment. “Did you tell them you need more money? Did you tell them we need more money?”

“I’m trying, J. I’m doing everything I can.”

“Well, right now, everything isn’t enough!”

Yelling ensued, followed by some choice words and name calling. Sierra could hear everything from her room upstairs, despite having the door mostly shut. She hated when her parents fought. Again, no one would have been able to read that on her face, but regardless, that hate existed behind her eyes and her stoic countenance. Although she didn’t vocalize it, even at five, she understood all of it.

A moment ago, her father was glad to be home, but the present reality and responsibility of parenting a child as special and unusual as Sierra weighed heavily on Stephen. Likewise, the burden of having to be available to her daughter twenty-four hours a day drained Janice. These pressures always seemed to release in an explosive response towards each other. Eventually, Stephen and Janice would cool down and exchange stories of each of their days. They would connect, thanks to the shared bond of each feeling that they couldn’t connect with their baby girl.


What Stephen and Janice Stewart didn’t know was that their efforts did reach their daughter. It wasn’t that she didn’t feel. On the contrary, she just didn’t know how to, or didn’t want to, show her emotions. Sierra was smarter than other kids her age. She was reading fourth and fifth grade level books on her own. She just lacked social intelligence.

Sierra never spoke. She didn’t make any sounds as a baby. She didn’t cry when she was wet, hungry, or tired. She kind of just was.

Sierra had decided to stay in her bedroom instead of doing as her mother requested and going to the bathroom to wash up. She gently placed the bug on her windowsill and watched it in deep concentration, trying to ignore the argument below, despite hearing and understanding everything her parents said.

She lay down in her bed, continuing to stare at the ladybug. With her head on the pillow she had a ninety degree inverted viewpoint of her new friend. She watched the ladybug for a few minutes. Her eyes blinked once, slowly. A few seconds later they did again. The next time her eyelids closed they stayed shut. Sierra had fallen asleep.

In the dream Sierra glided forward. Her hem dragged against the ground, hiding her feet. Her dress was white. It shined more than the white of her real world t-shirt. There was some blue and pink within the tone of the dress’s color, which gave it the subtle effect of shimmering.

Sierra’s hair was longer in the dream. It was more like her mothers, but instead of waves, she had large ringlet curls. Her hands were longer as well, more like that of an adult. In fact, Sierra was taller; a stretched out version of the girl who had just exited the real world and entered this strange land of dream.

Around her, trees of the same white with blue and pink as her dress stood and waved. They didn’t wave like aspens in the wind, instead they swayed like a mirage on a desert horizon. The path on the ground was white as well. Only the exposed skin of her hands and face had any color resembling that from the real world.

Sierra glided briskly further down the path. Rolling hills approached on either side. Some of the hills were topped with groves of trees, some were covered with balds of grass in the same unusual white color. The soft road she was traveling on began to climb into a hill. The hill she was on was flanked by similar hills on either side. Her visibility was limited above and behind the path she was traversing.

She crested the hill. Just past the top stood a figure that was new, yet eerily familiar. It was a six foot tall ladybug-man standing on its hindmost legs. Both front and middle legs were crossed in front of the red bug’s abdomen, as if it were trying to convey a defensive or closed-off body language.

Despite standing like, and being the size of a man, the ladybug maintained all its features of being a bug. The ladybug noticed the girl in white climbing the hill. It regarded Sierra silently with both eyes. The insect-man tilted its head slightly to the left side. It repeated this movement switching to the right side.

A normal person would have been freaking out. The unusual nature of this dream might have shook the most fearless person’s foundation, but not Sierra. Unusual dreams were commonplace for her. Sierra’s dreams were a bit more unusual than a man-sized ladybug. Somehow, Sierra could affect reality outside of her dreams from within. She didn’t know how, or even understand where this ability came from, but it happened often.

The emotions Sierra brought into her sleep typically dictated the nature of her powers’ manifestations. Occasionally, she would fall asleep with pleasant thoughts and feelings.

Once, she dreamed of beautiful flowers sprouting from her arms, legs, stomach, and chest. When she awoke the following morning and gazed out her kitchen window, the lawn had been covered by a blanket of wild flowers in many different colors and varieties. Some may not have even been recognizable to the keen eye of a trained botanist.

This dream she was having now was more typical. She carried with her the emotional unrest brought on from the sounds of her parents yelling and fighting with one another. These dreams brought on dark consequences.

The ladybug leaned out of its defensive posture. It crouched as if preparing to pounce, or flee. The large beetle-man sensed mortal threat from the woman-sized child.

The bug tilted its head at the girl one final time and started toward her, using all six of its legs. It approached Sierra and opened its mouth to reveal sharp black teeth and a midnight black tongue.

Sierra tiled her head now. She did not blink. She did not flinch. She stood her ground and stared at the huge insect.

Then Sierra opened her mouth, a little at first. She widened her lips and opened her mouth wider, as if to yell. Her faced turned red. It gave off the look of a person screaming, but no sound came out.

The bug tried to push through whatever was psychically, or psionically, happening. But the girl’s strength was just too much. The ladybug leaned backwards onto one hind leg. It placed both its front and middle legs across its midsection, and then it fell over to one side. The bug, round as it was, rolled over onto its back and kicked its hind legs twice, before laying still.


“Sierra! Sierra, wake up, honey. It’s time for dinner.” A voice yelled from downstairs. She pushed herself up to sitting position and looked at the ladybug on the windowsill. The bug was on its back, dead.

Sierra reflected from her seat at the edge of the bed. Sadness filled her heart, yet it couldn’t be seen on her face. She was aware instinctively of the connection between her dream and her ladybug’s death.

Despite her youth, Sierra knew she must gain a greater understanding of what was happening between her mind and the real world while she slept. If she did not, she would end up hurting others, especially those she cared for.

She wanted more for herself, so she resolved to learn about what she could do. She just didn’t know how yet.

girl sitting


Continued in The Dreamer Part 2 available here.


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