It’s funny, because most people dismiss their dreams as nothing, simply a mishmash of images and thoughts from the day. It’s funny because sometimes those dreams act like a window to your soul, a brief glimpse into your thoughts. And sometimes those dreams show you things you could never admit to yourself, be it an unattainable aspiration or a hidden fear…
Slowly, but surely I made my way down the winding road, long abandoned by other people. And for good reason too, as the road had not been paved or cared for in years. Stopping suddenly, I looked around, wondering how I ended up here. Here, walking down this road on the edge of town, away from all those people I once connected with. In my heart, I know exactly how I got here, but my mind is jumbled. I feel so lost, and as if in sync the world tilts and I push back a feeling of nausea. It’s only a little further. It’ll all be okay, you’ll see. I don’t know who I’m trying to convince anymore.
As if a page had turned I find myself on a different road. It is night, and I can feel my heart pounding. Footsteps are echoing behind me, and I can’t help but run and run. Turn around. But my body doesn’t stop. There’s no one there. I can hear them getting closer. You can’t run forever. No, but I can sure try. But even as I think those words, I feel exhaustion bearing down, my legs burning. You can’t live this way. Then how am I supposed to live? The mist chills my arms, and I freeze, a shiver running down my back as I try to catch my breath. The page flips again.
I stare at the words on the paper, hoping that if I read them enough they will ingrain themselves into my brain. I’d really rather focus on something besides the growing anxiety. My name is called. I hold the paper tight. I know this. I can do this. With a steady voice, I began to read, ignoring the staring eyes. The knot in my stomach tightens. Just keep talking. I feel like throwing myself into a locked room and just hiding for the rest of the day. The words keep coming. I look up, and it is a mistake. I breathe slowly, and look back down. Keep reading, just keep going.
The dark road is back in view. With a new ice settled in my bones, I take off once more, hoping to put distance between me and those footsteps. You’re making a mistake. Please, please stop talking. The ground grows more uneven beneath my feet. It’s okay now, there’s no one looking. I ignore the truth in my heart that this path won’t make the chills go away. This path starts out much easier, nice and flat, no one in your way. That’s why I’m here. Everything will be fine. My legs are growing heavier; it takes so much effort to keep…moving… I only hear the page turn this time.
But I can’t keep going. It’s all too much, and I shake, angry at my own helplessness. The voices in my head are swirling, circling, and filling my head with different commands and opinions. Don’t listen to them. But I can’t stop hearing them. I want to be able to ignore them, ignore the doubts and listen to myself but they’re so loud. They won’t stop talking. I know I’m only a girl and I know that I’m so small in this world I know I KNOW.
And then I’m falling. Down, down, down and I can only hold onto myself. I want to scream and cry but nothing comes out. I keep waiting for the impact, but there is never one. Is this what lies before me on the path, my stomach nearly in my throat as the air rushes by? No, no NO. I didn’t want this I don’t want this I never did. It’s not easier to hide in the shadows. I’ll do it I swear, I’ll walk back into the sun, into the spotlight I never wanted. I’ll stop hiding. Just make it stop…
I am back on the road, hidden in the darkness. But this time I will not run. No, and as the footsteps approach, I turn and face it. I can’t turn back now, I will not stay here. The sound grows louder, louder still. And then they nearly on top of me. The wind begins to blow, harder, colder. The bitterness of it whips my skin, my hair covering my face. And I close my eyes, waiting. The pages are turning again, only in the opposite direction.
Opening my eyes, I can see a path, but it is the first winding road. Still unused, but it has a warmth I never felt before. But my time in the cold has given me a new appreciation for the sun. And here I can see the sun high in the sky, not a cloud to be seen. And I reach a fork in the road. Though I cannot see what lies among either one, I can feel that I have seen one before, at least in my dreams. I feel it too, and I know that this time I will not give in to the cold. I will stand in the sun, no matter how hot it might get. I will not move even if it burns my skin, because it is worth it. It is worth it to keep the snow and ice from freezing my heart and soul. Because at least on this path, the trees and grasses that died so long ago grow once more, and the light still shines, bringing bright, bright flowers of hope and joy to the land again.
Opening my eyes for the last time, I can hear my alarm ringing obnoxiously. I can see that it is dark outside, but the icy fear is now gone. Feeling lighter than I have in years, I realize that there is a warmth coursing through me, like aftermaths of sunlit afternoons of the summer. And I am so happy, for what seems like no reason. But somewhere inside I know the reason for it, and that perhaps one path of my life is ending and a fresh start now lies ahead of me. The path once cluttered is now free of obstacles. Getting ready for school, I breathe slowly in and out, feeling as if I have run a marathon. But that didn’t really make much sense, because after all, it was only a dream.