A boy grows up finding adventures in his dreams and then something real happens
| “What story would you like me to read tonight?”
“Prince Bertram the Bad!” I grabbed the well-worn book off the table by my bed and handed it to my mom.
“Are you sure you want me to read that one again?”
“Yes. It’s my favorite.” It was about a prince who threw a rock at a witch who punished him by turning him into a dragon. I identified with the prince who got in trouble a lot. I knew my mom and dad were tired of reading me the story and I had it memorized so they couldn’t cheat.
I knew I was getting a little old to have my parents read to me but I really liked it when we shared stories. I went to sleep one night and dreamed about Prince Bertram. He was short and had a strange haircut, just like the pictures in the book. We got in trouble and did fun bad things together. When I woke up I remembered what happened.
“Mom, I saw Prince Bertram last night!”
“Yes I know. I read you the story,” she sighed as she quizzically looked at me.
I could tell she didn’t understand. “No that’s not what I meant. I played with him.”
“You were just dreaming son.”
At that moment I learned that people frequently don’t believe what you tell them. I stopped letting them in to my dream life. I didn’t care if they believed me or not. I knew what really happened.
One evening mom rented ET and we all watched it. I don’t think dad liked it but he didn’t leave the room. He made a lot of comments about the movie while we were watching it and mom told him to be quiet. It was kind of funny.
I went to sleep that night and rode my bike to the store when suddenly the road ended and I was flying through the air. I started screaming for help.
“Wake up!” I heard voices and felt someone shaking me.
“Wake up, Sean!” Mother yelled in my ear.
I opened my eyes and she was staring at me. “Are you alright?”
“I was riding my bike and I…” I shut up and looked at her and dad.
“It’s alright now, it was only a dream.” She soothingly said and patted my head.
“A dream? I call that a nightmare!” Father offered. “Boy, you were yelling. No more scary movies before bed for you.”
“But ET isn’t really a scary movie,” She said and then quit talking.
“If I ever met something that looked like that alien I’d be scared,” Dad countered. He had a point.
“Was that what your nightmare was about honey? Did ET scare you?” She gently asked.
“No. I thought I was falling off a cliff.” There was no way I was going to admit to being scared by a movie about a goofy looking alien.
For a while after that my parents were careful about what they let me watch in the evenings. When I didn’t have any more nightmares they quit worrying and I was allowed to watch whatever I wanted again. The next time something bad happened when I was sleeping I told myself to wake up and didn’t tell anyone about it. I was learning how to control my dreams.
Not long after that, Mark moved in two houses away and became my best friend. Mark’s family and mine ended up doing things together. Camping was one of our favorite activities. Our parents slept in the motorhome and they would put up a tent outside for Mark and me, that way we could laugh and talk all night without bothering them.
“Remember that magazine we read about Disneyland last night? I dreamed we went there.” Mark said one morning while we were out in the tent.
“Me too, it must have been all the pictures we looked at.” We had huddled up together by the lantern and read all about the Magic Kingdom and looked at cool photos. I didn’t tell him I had already been doing things like this by myself. I enjoyed sharing our adventures. “We went to the haunted house and ran all over Tom Sawyers Island. It was fun.”
“I’d like to do it again,” Mark said.
“So would I.”
“Do you think we can pick where we want to go?”
“I don’t know. Let’s try when we go camping again.” The next time we brought a magazine with an article about a museum with dinosaurs they had created from real bones.
A huge dinosaur was chasing Mark and I when I woke up. “Sean it’s going to step on us!” Mark said in his sleep. It reminded me of the dream I had after watching ET. We hadn’t yet seen Jurassic Park or Mark might have gotten as scared as I had.
“It’s not real Mark. Wake up!”
He was pale and breathing hard when he woke up. “I don’t want to ever do that again.”
“We just need to be careful about what we dream about.”
“Are you sure? It seemed so real!”
“I know. It happened to me once before. Now I just tell myself it’s a dream and I wake up.”
Mark eyes widened. “Okay, I’ll try it again. Let’s not pick anything scary next time.”
“Good idea. Have you told your mom about what we’ve been doing at night?”
“I tried to but she didn’t believe me. I told my father too but he got mad and told me I was being silly so I quit saying anything.”
“You shouldn’t care if they believe you. I tried telling my mom once too and she didn’t believe me either.” I was convinced trying to make them understand what we were doing was not in our best interests. I was afraid they might stop us, like when they made me quit watching movies after the nightmare about ET.
Mark and I were buddies through high school but we spent less and less time together. It didn’t have anything to do with our dream travels. He took band class and I was on the football and baseball teams. I still traveled in my dreams but not with Mark much anymore. I missed having our adventures together but it didn’t stop me from traveling. I looked forward to going to sleep and having journeys. I became successful at going where I wanted. I grew so good at dream traveling that frequently I wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t when I woke up and I didn’t care. It was fun.
A female voice interrupted my thoughts. “Hello. What’s your name?”
I looked up and saw a pretty blonde girl standing next to me. “Shh...Sean.” I finally stammered out. She was definitely out of my league. I had dark red hair and freckles, even though I was playing J.C. football and was in good shape but I wasn’t what anyone would consider sexy. She looked like a cheerleader. I didn’t really look like anything.
“My name is Mara. It’s nice to meet you Sean.” She smiled at me with her hand extended.
Several minutes seemed to go by. “Thanks, nice to meet you, too.” I finally answered and shook her hand awkwardly.
That was it. It was the end of my life as I knew it. I was in love, or lust some people would say. Nonetheless it was good and I adored her. Besides being good looking she was smart and interested in almost everything I was. College had just developed into the best thing in the world to ever happen to me. Mara became my girlfriend and we started spending all of our time together.
She eventually took me to meet her parents and her sister. They were really nice to me and I liked them a lot. I had already taken her to have dinner at my parent’s house many times since they lived close to us. Her family lived several hours away.
We spent the night in her old bedroom and her parents were cool enough not to make a big deal about us sleeping in the same room. Her bed consisted of twin trundle beds but that was fine with us. I would have felt weird having sex in the house anyway. Getting to spend the night in the same room was good enough. It meant her parents trusted us. She pulled out her high school year book and showed it to me.
That night I dreamed I was at her high school meeting her friends.
“I had the weirdest dream last night. I imagined we went to visit my high school and got in a big fight,” Mara told me in the morning.
“The same thing happened to me. I remembered your school from the pictures your parents showed me as well as the ones in your yearbook. You got mad because you thought I was dating your sister.”
“That’s exactly what I remember. That isn’t possible is it?” She looked at me with wonder.
“What part, dating your sister or having the same dream? Of course not,” I replied and put my arm around her. She kissed me gently on the mouth. I wasn’t yet ready to explain about my experiences with dreams. I was afraid she would think I was crazy, weird, or both.
“Why would we dream the same thing?” She stared me in the eyes.
“I don’t know, maybe because of being here together.” I grabbed her and kissed her cheek but I didn’t elaborate.
The next time we shared a dream was after we went to a wedding for a couple we had gone to college with that had moved to Southern California.
“So when are you and Sean getting married?” John asked us at the reception.
Mara glanced at me and smiled. “We’ve talked about it. Sean wants to wait until next summer. That’s fine with me.” We were at a good place in our relationship. The wedding was a lot of fun though and it made me look forward to having our own. We got really drunk that night and I passed out as soon as we got back to our hotel room.
“Sean, did you ever date Cindy?” Mara asked me when I woke up in the morning.
“No, we used to have a drink together once in a while, but you knew that already. Why?” I saw that she was upset.
“I dreamed we had a big fight about her at the vineyard where the wedding was yesterday.” She told me with tears in her eyes.
“Yeah, I had the same dream. You were mad and accused me of cheating on you with Cindy. But I didn’t. I never slept with her ever.” I was being honest.
“This is the second time we’ve had a dream where we dreamed about the same thing. Both times we had a fight about a girl. It seems odd. I wonder if that has any significance for our relationship.”
“Yes it’s a little odd, especially since I’ve never really had any other girlfriend except you. Maybe it’s because we’ve been talking about getting married.” That was the best excuse I could come up with.
“Maybe so, it seems weird we dreamed about the same things.” She had tears in her eyes.
I knew I had to say something to comfort her. “Maybe we dreamed about those two places because we were together and sleeping somewhere besides our own bed.” We had slept together a lot but I guess we hadn’t talked about what we had dreamed about the night before except for the two times we weren’t home.
“I suppose that could be it. We haven’t gone on any other big trips together.” She gave me a big smile. “Next time should be our honeymoon.”
“What if I told you that we could have real experiences in our dreams?”
“What do you mean?” She looked at me with wide eyes and sounding skeptical.
“Well, ever since I was a little kid I’ve had dreams where I can go visit places I want. Sometimes I have met someone there. My friend Mark and I used to read about cool places and visit them together when we went to sleep. That probably sounds weird doesn’t it?”
She looked suspicious but I could tell by the way she looked at me she didn’t think I was crazy. “Well since we already sort of did that I guess it doesn’t sound too bizarre...”
“I always thought it was a good thing. I go to fun places and they don’t cost any money.”
She thought about what I said. “That makes sense I guess. So can we go to a tropical island tonight?” She asked me with a smile.
I felt encouraged by this remark and proceeded forward. “We need to get something we can look at so we both know where we want to go first, like a book, a magazine or a movie. Then we go to sleep and see if we dream about it.”
“It’s worth a try I guess.”
That was the beginning of our dream life together. We bought books about places we wanted to go and read them before we went to bed along with a glass of wine or two. Then the next day we would discuss the adventures we had together. We ended up moving to California after we graduated and I got hired by a computer company. Mara was happy because she found a job at a library a couple of months later.
Our lives were going well and soon we started collecting things to remind us of the various sites we visited at night. We would have dinners in the theme of the locations we wanted to visit, Greek food for a trip to Greece for example. Our friends started to ask us about the stuff we had acquired so we began telling them about the exotic places we pretended to go to. Frequently we went to a hotel not far away and spent the weekend, or week, came back and told our family and friends about our trip. Sometimes we went shopping at a mall for souvenirs and occasionally we would spring for a fake tan before we came home. We were having a lot of fun with our imaginary vacations and got as much entertainment planning and implementing our elaborate illusions as I thought we would have if we had really gone somewhere far away. It was certainly a lot cheaper.
“Let’s go skydiving.” Mara suggested one afternoon.
“That doesn’t sound like any fun to me. I’m scared of heights.” I had been ever since my ET nightmare but I wasn’t going to tell Mara about it.
“What difference does that make, it’s not like we are really going to jump. Do you want to do the real thing?”
She had a point but I still wasn’t too keen on the idea. “No I don’t. Isn’t there something else you would like to pretend to do?” I beseeched her. “How about we go on a trip down a river somewhere?”
She looked at me disappointedly. “Alright, let’s go see if we can find a good movie about a river adventure then. I don’t feel like reading about a boat trip, I want to see it.”
“Sure. We can do that.” We settled on a movie that was playing at the IMAX theatre about the Grand Canyon. It was good and there were some fantastic shots of people rafting through the river in the canyon.
“Let’s go out to dinner at the Cliff House? We drive by it all the time on our way to Cindy and Johns, but we never stop,” Mara suggested.
“Sure. That’s a great idea.” It really was since it was located on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It was the perfect spot to round out our little adventure.
“This view is amazing and the food was wonderful. That shrimp and crab pasta was fantastic!” Mara commented after we ate.
“So was the chocolate cake with fresh berries and caramel sauce, I enjoyed every bite.” It was a marvelous meal. We were having a wonderful time.
“How about we splurge and get a room here?” Mara asked.
“That’s a great idea. Let’s do it.”
The rooms were beautiful and overlooked the canyon below the cliff. A lovely tall bed intensified the effect of looking out the balcony while lying in it. A swimming pool was on the top floor so we bought swimming suits in the hotel store and swam in the pool on top of the world. Afterwards, as we lay on the bed with the curtains open, we could see the water and part of the cliff. Cactus plants were placed all around the room, it was perfect.
Mara and I went to bed with great anticipation of the journey we were going to have. I didn’t have much problem going to sleep after eating and drinking our way through the evening. I was sleeping heavily when I finally saw Mara floating on the water. I swam over to her only to find myself going down some rapids and over a cliff. “Mara!” I yelled and fell forward.
“Sean! Sean! Wake up!” Mara screamed at me. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t open my eyes. But I could hear her.
“What’s happening?” I tried to say but no one answered and I wasn’t sure I spoke.
“Is he going to wake up?” I heard Mara’s voice but it sounded distant.
“There’s no way to know. We don’t understand why he isn’t conscious. There’s brain activity but he’s unresponsive.” A male voice said.
Then it got quiet and I couldn’t hear Mara anymore. I guessed that everyone left. I finally was able to go to sleep.
“Sean, what are you doing?” I heard Mara and turned around. She was standing next to me.
“I was wondering when I was going to wake up.” I gave her a big hug.
“You’re not awake. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to do this with you again.” She looked at me with tears in her eyes.
“What do you mean?” I looked around and I realized we were standing on the cliff outside the restaurant and I didn’t know how we got there. Then the cliff disappeared and I was lying flat on my back in a bed and I couldn’t open my eyes.
I used to have great adventures in my dreams. Now my dreams are the only time I get to see Mara.