Chapter 3:

Dive Right In (2)

Sweet Nightmares

Actually, I wasn’t sure if the bedroom I was in was the exact room I had when I was a child. It had the same bed, the same floor, the same closet, the same furniture arrangement - all as I remember it growing up.

But, if I had to guess my age in this dream, I’d say I was somewhere between ten and twelve. There were some items which I would not obtain until later in my life, like the guitar laying face down on the bed and the handheld console which rested on the floor in between my feet. There were posters plastered on the wall which I only had put up when I was a teenager as well.

Of course, since it was a dream, I didn’t have time to try and find the logic behind the inconsistencies in my room. Instead, there was already one idea in my mind and that is to clean up the messy bedroom.

So, I started picking up the toys that were at my feet.

As soon as I began, I could hear the voice of my mom shout from downstairs asking me, “Are you cleaning your room?!”

Irritatedly, in my kid voice, I shouted back, “Yes, I am!”

I had the feeling that I’d rather be doing something else, which explains my testy mood.

“If you’re not done in two minutes, we’re leaving you behind!”

“I’m almost finished!”

But, despite what I had said, I was nowhere near done cleaning up. Not for a lack of trying, however. I pick up what I can with my small arms and haphazardly dump them in the box beside me. However, the toys just seem to keep reappearing on the floor.

There were the toys that I remember playing with.

There were toys I recall were already broken and thrown out before I was ten, but they were in pristine condition.

Some of my sister’s toys were even mixed in the pile, but I knew leaving them on the floor wouldn’t be acceptable to my mom despite it being my sister’s so I picked them up anyway.

There were even toys I don’t recall ever having. Some of them were toys that I envied my friends having, but some I don’t remember much at all.

Strangely, I haven’t picked up the same toy twice and those that I’ve placed in the box remained there. But, the mess never ended.

A few moments later, my mom appeared through the doorway.

“I told you to clean up your room”, she scolded.

“I am cleaning!”

“I told you half an hour ago and it’s still like this?! I’m sorry, but it’s time. We’re leaving without you.”

Then, she left from my view.

“Mom, wait”, I pleaded as I clumsily traversed through the littered floor.

But, the heavy sound of the front door closing could be heard before I could even get out of my room.

Mom had left the house.

I wasn’t sure if my dad and my older sister were with her, but once I reached the hallway, I could only hear silence from the house. I couldn’t even hear anything from outside. But, that is one bit of silver lining. I have yet to hear either our gate groan from being opened nor the car starting. Normally, these sounds can be heard from the inside, so I assumed they haven't left yet.

So, thinking I could catch up, I ran downstairs to chase them.

When I went through the front door, the scenery changed. Not in the way that I went from being inside to the outside of my childhood home, no.

Instead, I found myself back to my young adult form and on a busy street. My dream self had forgotten about the previous scene about chasing my family who were about to leave me home alone, but I was still on the chase. This time, I was pursuing Erica, whose back I could barely see through the sea of people. But, I recognize it is her.

She wasn’t running particularly fast. Actually, she wasn’t running at all. She was only walking at a normal pace, but my way kept getting blocked by blurry humanoid figures so I couldn’t reach her.

For some reason, I had the feeling I should catch up to her. I had the feeling that, if I didn’t, I would never see her again.

“Erica!” I tried shouting.

But, she didn’t turn around.

I continued chasing.

I tried calling her name again to no avail.

Starting to feel desperate, I started pushing and shoving the blurry people. I even bumped into a few, but I ignored them as they fell to the ground.

I felt a tiny bit of hope that the gap between Erica and I had gotten closer. It was even encouraging when I spotted her at the pedestrian crossing waiting for the light to turn green.

I thought that I would finally catch up to her. But, as luck would have it, the light turned green and she crossed the street along with the crowd of blurry people.

“Erica!” I tried calling her again.

This time, she was close enough to hear me. She stopped in the middle of the street to look for the voice that called her name. When she spotted me, she gave a smile while waving her hand to say hello.

I felt glad that my luck hasn’t left me yet.

I waved back as I ran towards her and said, “Wait for me.”

With the light still green and people still moving along the crossing, she stood there in the middle of the street waiting for me. It only took a few seconds for me to reach her.

But, when I was only a step away from her, half of the street collapsed. There was no earthquake nor a sinkhole. Rather, the street seemed to have been cut clean into half horizontally and the other side sank into the earth. Or, more accurately, dragged down into the earth by gravity as if it was dropped from the sky. Its descent was that quick.

Erica, who had one foot on the collapsed half, fell backwards.

I rushed to the edge of my side of the street, kneeling, trying to reach her, but I was too slow. I couldn't catch her.

I screamed her name as I looked down into the newly-formed abyss. However, she wasn’t there. There was only darkness.

I screamed for Erica again.

This time, I heard a voice calling for me. However, it didn’t come from below, from the abyss, but right across me.

I looked up and saw the other half of the street back where it should be as if nothing had happened. On the edge of the crosswalk, I spotted my mom with both hands on her hips.

“What are you doing here?” she asked. “I thought I told you to clean up your room.”

Confused, I rubbed my eyes to see if I was actually seeing my mom scolding me. When I reopened my eyes, she had disappeared along with the other half of the road. The dark abyss was back again.

But, before I could blink again, Erica surfaced from below the darkness and dragged me down with her. It happened so quickly, I didn’t have time to react or brace myself for the fall.

It was a short fall, though. I landed on my back with eyes wide open.

The first thing I saw was Erica’s face looking down on me. It was a bit dark with only some low red light illuminating my view of her. Once my eyes got used to the darkness, I noticed she wore a look of worry.

“Wake up”, she said. “You fell from the couch, are you hurt anywhere?”

I then realized I was out of the dream and awake.