To Sleep, Perchance, To Dream: A short story


Note: Your friendly neighborhood editor here, just offering a warning. This story may get a bit intense. As this is the inaugural story, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer my warning. Otherwise, enjoy.
A story, a short story about what’s real and what’s perceived. About the world around us and what it contains. About a clock that reads 1:59 AM. Nothing true, nothing false, just a story about a boy and his dog. Or should I say, a child and their pet, or maybe it’s two animals, each affecting each other’s lives in an eternal quest to stay relevant in an ever changing world; changing from eyes closing, warm under the quilt, lying in the dark to standing in broad daylight, ball in hand and a smile on his face. Who’s to say what it is that the boy thinks about the tennis ball that is thrown across the yard, or maybe it’s the dog who’s wondering? It’s hard to tell in these uncertain times, what is real and what is imagined. As the boy ponders this, the dog gets up onto its hind legs and calls out to his pet boy, who comes bounding over on all fours. The boy sits on his rump, satisfied to have been acknowledged by the much older and wiser dog.
The boy called bow, whose human name was unpronounceable in the dog’s language, stared at the sky instead of the green and white ball that was being thrown once again by his master. The boy was distracted instead by the shifting and twisting skies, where the boy, no longer named bow, now found himself. The boy, uncertain of what he was doing, looked around and walked through a large marble archway. Inside the newly found room was a fountain whose water flowed upwards towards the ceiling. On the center of the water spout was a woman, or is it a girl, who was beckoning to the boy formerly known as bow, daring him to come closer. DARING him to move from the spot which he occupied. And the boy, or is it a man, attempted to walk but found himself frozen in place.
Unable to speak. Unable to move except in the slowest of motions, as if trapped in a vat of molasses. Moving his eyes side to side, the child became aware that he was back on his yard and sitting next to him was bow, his trusty giraffe. The child contemplated what used to be in front of him before turning, no longer frozen, to his trusty lion, ruffling his mane. The lion roared in happiness in response while the sky flashed a brilliant green and the boy’s house twisted and turned into shapes that were unknown to the girl, even though she had seen them many times before as her pet lion tramped throughout it. The girl, formerly of a male persuasion, slipped between the cracks of the sidewalk in order to listen to her parents’ conversation in the kitchen. This woman turned around to discover the labyrinthine corridors and hundreds of door that always comprised his house. Wasn’t it always this way in the house? He began to think that something might be off but he soon found that it was merely the hunger that ate at his stomach.
The boy realized that neither he nor his dog had eaten since twelve that morning and it was steadily approaching midnight, although his time in the yard made him think it was merely 1 pm again. Grabbing a box of Chex Mix from the cabinet in his bedroom, the boy climbs beneath the sheets and begins to hand out his food to the neighbors, door to door, and with one step, he is on the gallows, where eyes are boring holes into his sinful mind.
The noose tightens around his neck as time slows down. Why do they hate me, he thinks as his head clears for the first time in what seemed like eternity. The world around him begins to get fuzzy and distanced as the boy sees the distorted faces of those he called friends, all jeering in the crowd, all pointing and saying the same thing.
He can’t quite make out what their lips are saying.
The crowd’s lips melt and merge, the static leaving their throats turning into a vacuum of silence before one sentence resonates within it….you are worthless. Everything snaps back into focus, crystal clear, 4k. They call him false and horrible. They tear at his body with words, each comment making the noose tighten and the boy cry harder. He is unable to scream for help or reason, his voice is empty. The friends and family of the boy stop and stare. They say one final sentence and the boy’s tears run down his face in a never-ending stream. He wants to implore them, to tell them that he is good, that he didn’t mean to make them hate him but they cannot listen for he cannot speak. The crowd merely repeats their sentence, each word cutting a lash into the boy’s arms and finishing the noose. The boy submits, crying, in pain, dead to all but himself; before giving in to even that as he falls from the sky. Falling, falling, falling forever, watching the ground approach and crying. For he knows that when the ground arrives to meet him his troubles are over and the pain will stop. Others will stop hurting because of him, his pain will subside because the others say it will. Closer and closer he sees it, the ground and his dog.
WOOF! The boy’s head is covered in a cold sweat, the clock on the stand says 2:01 AM. He turns over, looking across his small room littered in toys, to his dog and smiles a tearful smile.

Elias Rosner is a Senior English/Creative Writing Major here at Goucher. When he's not stalking the Goucher woods seeking serenity, he's writing feverishly in the hopes something interesting will be said. He's always on the lookout for a good puzzle or story and is still not used to writing about himself in the third person.

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