Archive for November 10th, 2011

10th November
written by amber


He had never had a dream like this before. A dream from which he could not awaken.

Marshall wanted to wake up. Marshall was an expert at waking up. He suffered from frequent nightmares, had been driven to seek psychiatric help, and his therapist had taught him how to recognize that they were dreams, and how to wake up. None of that was working now.

This wasn’t a bad dream. In fact, it was a good one. He was married to Julie, his therapist, and they had two lovely children. The dream seemed to have been going on for a very long time when he had an inkling that it might be a dream, that it might not be real. He began to watch for clues to the unreal nature of the experience, and found one quickly when he asked Julie what her occupation was.

She looked at him strangely and answered, “I’m a nurse’s aide, just like I’ve always been. What’s gotten into you? That’s a silly kind of joke.”

“I don’t know. Didn’t you want to be a psychologist?”

“Now you are being cruel. Not that I ever regret our daughter, but dreams of college went out the window when I got pregnant – as you well know.”

She’d headed off to work, leaving him alone in the house, starting to panic, because all of it was way too real. There were photographs of him and Julie, of their kids at various ages. He snooped in the basement and found his high school yearbook, with a scribble beneath his picture that said, “To my one and only, Juliekins.” His grade five stamp collection was there, stuffed into the cigar box his grandfather had given him, but there was also a bowling trophy with his name on it. He’d never bowled in his life.

Returning upstairs, he automatically reached for his keys on a small table by the door. He knew where he should be going – to the job he’d dreamed about going to the day before, and as many days before as he could recall. But that was in the dream. Now that he knew it wasn’t real, going to the office didn’t matter.

Marshall felt tired. He lay down on the couch, not sure it was possible to sleep in a dream that you knew was a dream. But if he did sleep, he was hoping he’d have a nightmare.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

The first line of this story was borrowed from the first line of Ben Gadd’s novel, Raven’s End. Thanks, Ben!