"Dreams: without them, we are nothing. What causes them is unknown, but they are what make us get up in the morning and hope that one day, they will all come true."
Ever since I was little, I've been afraid of the dark. I know it sounds silly and cliché, but there's something unnatural about darkness, like it's not supposed to be there. At sixteen, most people realize that there's nothing hiding in the shadows, that it's your own imagination and fears causing your heart to speed up. But, I guess hating the darkness has always been an obsession of mine.
"Miss Cayson, your parents asked me to talk to you about their divorce, but I can't do my job when you keep blocking out what I'm saying!"
Mrs. Howl was an interesting woman. Her eyelids, though hiding under a pair of thick rimmed glasses, were always caked with outrageously loud pastel-esque colors that reached the very peeks of her penciled-in eyebrows. Her foundation was cracked and too dark a shade for her pale skin. She was short, thin, and always wore a pink clip in her salt-and-pepper pixie cut hair. It surprised me that my school would hire someone like her as the schools counselor. Mrs. Howl was judgmental, hated her job, and wore a permanent sneer on her blood red lips.
"I have a proposition for you Mrs. Howl, how about we pretend that you helped me, that way we can both go off and carry on with our insignificant lives like the way God intended us to."
"I'm afraid that is not possible, Miss Cayson. This might be hard for you to understand, but counseling is my job." She paused to adjust her thick, cat-eye glasses.
I gave her a sour look. "My name's Bailey, and I don't really need your help." I was certain when I said this, and the certainty rang in my voice. Mrs. Howl raised her eyebrows.
"It says here that you haven't been sleeping well?" She pointed to the small clipboard resting on her lap.
"I've been sleeping just fine." I lied because I did not want to give her the satisfaction of being right. The truth was that I hadn't been sleeping. In the last few days, I'd probably slept less than twelve hours total. My whole body was tired, all the way into the center of my bones. The only reason I was willing to give for my lack of sleep was the fact that wasting eight hours of my day pissed me off.
Mrs. Howl pushed her glasses up to rub her left eye. "What time have you been going to sleep every night?"
Four thirty. "I don't know, maybe eleven?"
"Your mom told me she walked into the family room the other night and saw you were watching the television at around three in the morning."
I looked away from her curious face and leaned back into my seat. The chair Mrs. Howl had told me to sit in, the one I was currently occupying, was one of those really thick cushioned chairs, the kind that you sink into until only your feet are visible to whoever might walk by. I wondered, as I fingered a small piece of loose string on the arm of the seat, whether or not Mrs. Howl bought this type of chair just to keep whoever she was 'counseling' from being able to leave.
"I needed a drink of water," I finally said off-handedly. Since my parents started to fight, lying came easier. I never used to lie, but I guess all a person needs to start shooting is the gun, the bullet, and the reason. Some would argue that you don't even need the reason.
"You're only wasting both your time and mine, Miss Cayson. If you want, we can stay here all afternoon."
The urge to glare at her was powerful, but I pushed it aside in favor of a simple placid expression. "I'm telling you the truth, Mrs. Howl," I replied, tapping my fingers rapidly against my jean-clad leg. "If you want to ask someone questions, they'd be better pointed at my parents."
"Your parents," she mused slowly like she wasn't quite sure she had heard right.
"The people that called you about talking to me," I explained, drawing out my words as if I was talking to a small child.
"Why do you believe I should be talking to them instead of you?"
I narrowed my eyes at the carpet. "Because they're the ones that got a divorce."
"You don't believe you were affected by it at all?" Mrs. Howl said, tilting her head to the side.
I finally met her eyes. They were muddy green, like a field that's gotten too much rain. She looked intrigued and like she was trying to hide it. Gossip is a sin, Mrs. Howl.
"You're a smart woman, what do you think?" I forced my voice to remain smooth and bored.
She tried to stop me as I got up but I shook off her efforts. "I'm done for today."
Stepping out of her office wasn't the hardest thing I had ever done in my life - it was actually very satisfying, but I still had to make an effort to continue walking, which I did slowly. My mother, who was most likely waiting for me in our beat up convertible outside, would undoubtedly badger me with questions as soon as I ducked into our car. I also didn't feel like fighting with her; I was too tired.
Mrs. Howl had been right when she made the accusation that I hadn't been sleeping. I kept having nightmares about things that normally wouldn't have bothered me, but for some reason, when I closed my eyes at night, night terrors where the things that encased my dreams.
I hated that my mother noticed what I deemed a weakness. There were things I felt like I should hide, if not for my sanity than for hers, and my depression because of my parents' divorce was one of them. I didn't have a problem admitting it– to myself, at least.
I slipped through the two metal doors of the front entrance of my school and immediately shivered as the ice-cold nails of November dug their way into my exposed flesh. I hated cold and everything it brought with it; dirty snow, frozen fingers, icey roads, and broken glass. Broken glass from the car crashes that always and would forever occur during this time of the year.
Sighing, I picked my way through the parking lot until I came across our dark green truck. My mother was looking down at something in her lap, but as soon as I saw her through the frostbitten, dirty glass of the car my anger at having been called to Mrs. Howl's office came back full force.
"Why did you call Mrs. Howl?" It really wasn't a question but a short sarcastic remark. I slammed the door and put on my seatbelt without bothering to even glance up at her.
There was a pause and then the sound of paper crinkling together. "I told you I was going to ask her to discuss the divorce with you." She sounded defensive, but I wasn't sure because I still hadn't looked at her face.
"And then I told you I didn't want to talk to my school's counselor about your problems."
"Bailey, although I wish you weren't apart of this, I can't turn a blind eye and pretend you're alright," my mother sighed into the steering wheel. She was a short woman compared to me, with mousy brown hair and eyes that were too big for her small delicate features. My own hair was an unnatural crimson color and shorter then hers, broken and fringed at the ends from years of trying to get the perfect shade.
I've seen pictures of her, so I know for a fact that she was once very beautiful, but cigarettes and stress had etched her beauty away and left large bags under her eyes and winkles in their wake.
"I'm fine, mother – you assume there's something wrong, but there isn't."
"Then why are you always up so late? Did you even fall asleep last night?" She pushed her sunglasses, which had fallen down her nose, back to rest at her bridge.
"Yes I did, actually," I said slowly, calculatingly. "I'm sorry I can't sleep all the time and forget about the whole world like you."
"Don't turn this around, Bailey." She sounded as exhausted as I felt. "You know why I've been sleeping so much."
I did know, but I was so angry, so hurt, that I didn't care. As I watched her spider-web veined hands rub at her sullen, fatigued eyes, I just wanted her to feel even more hollowed out.
"Don't blame the medication when you'd be doing the same damn thing without it," I muttered, trying to stop the burning in my eyes and the tightening in my throat.
She watched me for a moment, revealing nothing behind her stony eyes and tight-lipped expression, and then she put the car in drive, indicating to me - without having to say anything - that our discussion was over.
The drive home usually went by quickly, but today it was slow and awkward; every new pause at a stop sign added new weight to the thick tension that clogged the air.
Outside the sun was already relinquishing the day, turning the sky into a raw mix of orange and purple. The colors added emphasis to the array of leaves that littered the ground, which I watched with a mixture of disgust and curiosity.
When we finally made it to the house and parked the car, my mom slipped out of her seatbelt and through the door before I'd even realized the car had stopped moving. I looked down beside me and saw that she had been reading the newspaper, which was thrown haphazardly back together, when she was waiting for me at the school. The article facing me was about the local hospital. I blinked.
Curling my fingers into a fist and smashing it against the dashboard was the most relieving thing I'd ever done. My breathing was labored and ragged as I stepped out of the truck and onto the freezing cement floor of the garage.
The slam of the car door reverberated though the chilly air. Slipping inside, I didn't bother taking off my shoes. "Mom?" I don't know why I called out; I knew exactly where she was. "Mom?" I whispered as I came to a stop in front of her door. Clutching the newspaper to anchor myself, I pushed inside.
She was sprawled out on top of her red quilt with her back facing me and a pillow gripped in her hands.
"Mom?" I started, fingering a small piece of chipped paint on the door. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean-"
"Bailey, just stop. I don't want to fight with you anymore." She sounded as weak and as fragile as her bony, jagged shoulder blades looked through the thin cotton nightshirt she wore.
The newspaper slipped though my fingertips and I nodded even though she couldn't see me. Closing the cream-colored door, I let out a soft sob and went to my bedroom.
I was burning up and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
Cleave was in the middle of a particularly hard dream weaving, one that I kept bugging him to corrupt, and I had nothing better to do with my time than to watch.
He was new at weaving, and I was supposed to be making sure he didn't fuck anything up, but that's exactly what I wanted to happen. What was making me pissed off, though, was the fact that he was sweating his ass off at the simple task of weaving, the easiest chore Ring could've given him.
The atmosphere in this particular person's mind was relatively cold, but my body temperature was so high it felt like my skin was melting off. It was Cleave's damn stubbornness that was causing my body to react like this - if he would only do what I told him to, everyone would be happy.
Not only was his unbendable determination pissing me off, but also the strings of varying colors that were shooting from his fingertips. My own fingers itched at the thought of weaving another dream to counteract his. Destruction, pain, anger, instead of the happy and repetitiveness of Cleave's dream weaving, and all the beautiful colors that would go with it; bleeding red, the orange of a fire and the whispering gray of smoke that comes after, the complete and total darkness that comes with being alone.
I felt my body relax under these thoughts, and I sighed in content when the heat of my body receded. Cleave heard my sigh, took it as annoyance, and reacted as such.
"I'm almost done," he muttered under his breath, sounding slightly nervous, and watched me through the corners of his eyes.
Leaning back into the chair I had conjured up when Cleave's weaving had slowed to a ridiculous rate, I lifted my left leg, rested its ankle on my knee and cocked my head to the side. Cleave was small for a Dreamcatcher - men and women alike were usually far taller than six foot. Because of this, he seemed weaker and tended to be treated like he was at the bottom of the pack.
No matter how pissed I was, some respect at being able to stand his ground surfaced as I surveyed him. But I'd never been the type to let other people win, no matter how small the prize.
"If you expect me to give you a good report to Ring, you're mistaken," I said, feigning an inspection of my cuticles.
Cleave didn't hesitate in the movement of his hands, always fluttering up and down and pointed in the direction of the spot he was weaving, but he did shift his eyes sporadically back and forth between his fingers and the wall of blue sky in front of him.
"You're only doing this because I didn't mess with this dream." It was a statement, not a question.
He was analyzing me, trying to pick up on my subconscious actions before even I did, and I didn't like that.
"Or maybe you're just a sucky weaver, who needs to be watched so he won't fuck up someone's mind," I replied back, tucking away the smile that was the threatening to show.
Cleave paused, his fingers cutting off the glowing power and curling themselves into fists for only a moment, and then he was all relaxed face and fluttering fingers once again. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you the one that caused your last human to be put in one of those institutions for the disturbed?"
"Her brain was already fucked up – it's not my fault that I was paired with a psychopath," I growled, my carefully built composure shattering into a thousand tiny pieces like broken glass.
"You tortured that poor human – you took away her sanity and gave her nightmares about death and suicide," Cleave replied, as a large Weeping Willow grew 30, 60, 100 feet into the air right before him.
I closed my eyes, trying to calm my racing heart and my body temperature at the same time. "Why do you say that?" I muttered, forcing myself into the same calm indifference I was in earlier.
He glanced over at me, purple eyes narrowed. "Because it's true."
"So what if it is?" I hissed, pushing myself from the chair and stalking toward him. Cleave was a good five inches shorter than me, which gave me the upper hand when it came to intimidating him.
The only problem was, he didn't look threatened at all.
"Ring doesn't want to believe it because you're his only nephew, but everyone else knows how just how sadistic you are. We all know what kind of Dreamcatcher you are." Cleave's outburst was fueling his weaving, and tall blades of grass were starting to shift and move under my feet. "Just look at your arms," he hissed, throwing a disgusted look at my upper body. Ink drawings – tattoos – were intricately weaved together over the skin on both my arms and all the way to the bottom of my back. Because our skin was so much more sensitive to pain and pleasure than a regular human body, only the most masochistic Dreamcatchers got tattoos.
More of a deep growl rather than a laugh shot through my lips. "Do you really think it's the tattoos that make me sadistic?"
Cleave fell backward, stumbling on a root from the massive willow he had conjured up, and landed on the soft, newly grown grass. He stared up at me, eyes wide from panic.
Watching the dread in his tired purple eyes was almost as good as weaving a nightmare. Almost. "That's what I thought," I hissed, grinning down at him. Turning around, I stopped when my eyes rested on the large willow. Glancing once more at Cleave, I smiled and flicked the middle and index fingers of my right hand at the tree.
The willow exploded into a million tiny red droplets, and I strolled away, not bothering to even slow when blood rained down on my face.
It was the miscarriage that brought my parent's marriage to a close, and I was there to see it all come crashing down. Their marriage, like many people's marriages, was resting on a thin line after about twenty years of being together. I was fourteen when I finally saw the signs of the failing marriage. There wasn't any yelling, which you might be thinking there was, but a cold indifference hovered in the house, an indifference that I registered slowly and with an almost reverent curiosity. If I looked closely enough, I could see the cracks in the foundation of their love. Moss and disgusting, dark things had infiltrated the sanctity of that foundation, leaving behind emotionless faces and unsatisfied sighs.
A glass house with cracks in it is sure to fall, and fall it did. But before the crash came the patches. A new baby seemed a poor substitute for lost love, but my parents thought it good enough to try. For a while, things seemed better. My father went out of his way to do things around the house and my mom actually started cooking family dinners again. They started to have "date nights" and smiling that tender, loving smile I'd only seen happy young couples have on television. But like I said, once glass is broken, it's hard to fix.
The doctors said there really wasn't a cause for the miscarriage, except maybe my mother's age, and my dad was kind enough to give us the house. Three weeks after the official divorce, my grandfather passed away while he was asleep.
All of these things happened in the course of two years, and I was now almost seventeen years old. I'm not sure if it was the anxiety of my parents' divorce, or the chilly, almost surreal feeling I got every time I thought of my grandfather dying in his sleep that kept me awake at night, but whatever the cause, it was not going away.
Many nights I would lie awake on the roof of my house, not picking out constellations, but trying to see a star die. I remembered learning about it back in seventh grade, but on those long sleepless nights I only got as close as a shooting star. Other nights I would read, watch TV, anything but the one thing that I wanted to do the most; sleep. I couldn't let myself fall victim to it, though. Wakefulness was my safe haven, the only place my nightmares wouldn't consume me.
It was hard at first, never sleeping. It seemed that I was always in a state of being semi-awake, absorbed in my own thoughts of wanting sleep. My eyelids became lead objects, always betraying me at my weakest moments. More often than not I would find myself drifting off in the middle of class after the few hours I allotted myself at night (it seemed the less time I gave myself to sleep, the less likely it was that I would be pulled into my endless nightmares).
As I my energy and enthusiasm dwindled, my friends became increasingly worried about me. Smother emotionless eyes, lift lips a quarter of an inch, incline head back in order to fake a laugh. It was soon second nature to me and I was able to mask any type of emotion with a counter emotion, one that even my best friend believed.
Maybe they didn't really trust me, maybe they pretended to because they were afraid to ask me about it. After two years of hiding my real thoughts I'd come to realize people usually revolve around safe topics. Which I suppose is the lesser of two evils.
My life gradually fell back into place about two months after my grandfather's death and, except for the sleepless nights and moody thoughts, I was starting to accept the divorce; Acceptance was hard, but I was doing it. My mother on the other hand had not come to terms with the separation.
all will be explained in due time.
however, please excuse the grammar/spelling/disgusting phrases. i detest nanowrimo for the simple reason that i cant edit. grr.
anyway, this will either be updated very regularly or very sporadically. who knows? i surely dont.