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Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:53 pm
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Elinor says...



Rachel Chase's Dream Log
Day 9/12
11:38PM-6:48AM


I always that dreams within dreams were something that writers made up to make their stories more interesting. It seems stupid, but think about it. I'm thirty-two years old and I always heard about dreams within dreams happening in movies and books. Never to me or anyone I know or have even heard of.

Last night, I was proven wrong. Maybe it's the new facility, but I want out of this study. It's my personal opinion that things have gotten way out of hand. You would think that you people learned your lesson during the Stanford Prison Experiment in 1971, the same summer that my grandfather directed his followers to murder four people, and personally killed one.

As I mentioned when you interviewed me for this study, my family has a history of sleep disorders. My grandfather was never diagnosed but he likely had insomnia. My mother has sleep apnea. So, both sides of my family.

Last night, things went too far.

Last night, I was in Margaret Kelly's house. Her smile was wide as she served me a drink. A mojito, I remember. The Carpenters, her favorite musicians, was playing on the record player.

"We're going to try for a baby," said Margaret. "After Munich, of course. I'm going to retire."

I smiled at her, unsure of what else to say. Even in the dream, I knew her fate. All the same, I knew I couldn't tell her. And then I saw the date on the calendar. July 4th, 1971. And I thought I heard a car pulling up the house.

Then, I woke up in my bed in this new facility, or so I thought. I heard pounding on my door. Foolishly, I opened it, thinking someone had breakfast. Instead it was Alex Altman, wearing black, brandishing a knife.

She looked so much like Esther, the aunt I never met but Dad says he still thinks about often. Without a word, she stabbed me to death. In the dream, I felt the stab wounds, and my sides feel like they still hurt. Why is that?

I know it's not your fault that I had this dream, but I'm about at my limit.

Have a good day.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney





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Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:18 am
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soundofmind says...



Jessica Ray's Dream Log
Day 9/12
10:22pm-12:18pm


This might be the longest I've slept in a while, and to be honest, I don't know if those timestamps are accurate.

Mikhail came again last night, but this time, he brought my mom. He looked ragged like he'd hurried his way here to see me, and my mother didn't look well. Her face was creased with worry, and for some reason, she was still in her pajamas, with a bathrobe over her shoulders. She'd was walking with a cane, and the last time I saw her with one was five years ago, after her hip replacement. But I thought she'd recovered well. She should've been fine.

They came in unannounced, while I was still asleep. I woke to the door being thrown open, and I sat up with my heart racing, and my eyes bleary. They didn't come into focus until my mother was at my bedside, sitting down next to me, and grabbing my face.

"Jess, Jessie my baby, are you okay?"

She doesn't normally coddle me like that, which was alarming. It meant something had to be really wrong.

I felt too slow and drowsy to push her away, even though I wanted to.

Mikhail sat down on the edge of the bed and looked at me like he was trying to search my soul. To see if I was okay. To see if I was still me.

My mother continued to fuss over me, but my focus was on him, as we made eye contact.

For the first time, I felt like he really saw me. Not just as who he wanted me to be, but as me.

I reached out to him, and he took my hand.

"I contacted my lawyer. We came to take you home," he told me. At the moment, I felt I had no reason to believe it was a dream, and I wholeheartedly believed him, and I was relieved. I tried to lean forward, wanting to hug him, but instead my mother hugged me. I still held Mikhail's hand as I wrapped one arm around my mom's back.

My mother started sobbing into my shoulder, crying about how she had been so worried. Worried she would never see me again. Worried that I wasn't going to come out of this the same. Worried that I'd be stuck here.

I wonder if some of her anxiety was actually mine, but at the same time, it felt very real, and it was easy to believe.

I can still remember, not long after my father's death, when she freaked out after I forgot to call her one day. She thought something had happened, and that she was never going to hear from me again.

I was glad Mikhail was there this time, to hold my hand. So I didn't have to comfort her alone.

After a while, a doctor came into the doorway, and the light from behind them was blinding.

Something about him seemed familiar, but I couldn't place it. But it was the unsettling kind of familiar, not the comforting.

He said something about our time running out. I had to leave now, or I would only get worse.

I didn't completely understand. "Get worse" implied I was sick with something already, but I didn't think I was sick. Sleep-deprived before I came here, but not sick.

I thought the dream would've ended there, but it didn't.

I got up. I had my arm around my mother as I went to the door, and Mikhail followed behind me. When we left the room, the doctor was gone, but Rachel was in the hall, with who I assumed to be her husband. I couldn't remember if she ever showed me pictures, or if I saw him in the movie for some reason. I just knew it was him.

Further down the hall, I could see Tara, with her parents. But I couldn't find Clyde.

I called out to Rachel. "Are you going home too?"

And she nodded.

"Where's Clyde?"

I didn't get to finish my question though.

Time passed like a blur, and suddenly it was just me in the hall. I was standing in front of Clyde's door, and I knocked. The door creaked open, and I peered into the room.

Clyde wasn't there. The room was empty.

Something settled in my gut, like a heavy weight. I couldn't put words to the feeling, but I knew something bad had happened to him.

Even now, as I sit in my bed, I can't help but wonder if he's okay. I still can't stop wondering if Noah's okay, either, even though you told me otherwise. I guess I can't help but worry. My dreams are feeling more and more real. And now that the others are taken away... well, I don't know. Being awake feels almost like a dream.
Last edited by soundofmind on Mon Dec 07, 2020 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.





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Thu Nov 26, 2020 4:20 pm
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Zenith says...



Tarana Conner's Dream Log
Day 9/12
10:35PM-7:52AM


I couldn't really remember the first time I woke up; it was too dark. Maybe I didn't really wake up but just imagined I did. I stared at the bedside clock, trying to figure out the time. The numbers slowly changed shapes, and I half wondered that I had seen it in some movie before. The door opened slowly, and I could make out figures in the hallway. I tried to sit up, but my body was frozen stiff.

"Tara, we've to go now. They wouldn't let us in, but we managed somehow."

It was my mother's voice. But something about it was wrong. She sounded scared. I tried to find her face in the darkness, but all I could see was the digital clock glowing. I tried to reach out and find a switch, anything that would stop the numbers from changing. And right on cue, I heard my father's voice, " Hurry up, Tara. There's no time."

I still couldn't move. I wanted to ask them to help me get up, but I could only manage a hoarse croak. And then I slowly lost consciousness as I drifted back into sleep. I didn't know how long I was out. The second time I woke up, it was the door slamming open. It wasn't dark anymore as someone has switched on the lights in the hallway. There were muffled voices from somewhere nearby. Mildly curious, I decided to go out.

I stumbled out of bed and reached the doorway. It was Jess, Rachel, Clyde and even Noah. He looked the same as before. I was briefly torn between finding out what was going on here and asking Noah how he was. I didn't have to contemplate long. for just in time; they turned around, and Jess said, " Tara, they said we are free to go."

I echoed her words, "Free to go?"

"Yes, we've been officially discharged. " Rachel confirmed.

"Even our families are here." Clyde chimed in.

Everyone looked happy, but I could feel it in my guts that something was wrong. But maybe I was overthinking. Perhaps that's why my parents were here. Perhaps it wasn't a dream after all. Only then, I realized how much I wanted to see them. Yet, something told me it couldn't be this easy. What about all the paperwork and my stuff that I gave them for safekeeping?

" So where do I go to retrieve my things?" I asked hesitantly. At this, everyone stopped talking and stared at me blankly.

Finally, Jess answered, " But didn't they tell you? You have to stay here a while longer. And by we, we meant the four of us." Just then the alarm went off.

"It's time. Goodbye Tara. " I tried to stop them but they were moving too fast. I wanted to scream but I was afraid one of the authorities would come and lock me up. I woke up drenched in sweat. This time I could tell I was really awake for there was light coming in from the window. It was a new day and I felt as good as a prisoner.
Let's just die young or live forever.





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Sat Nov 28, 2020 9:23 pm
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Elinor says...



Rachel Chase

As soon as Rachel hit send on the computer, she regretted it. But did she? She had meant every single that she'd said. But it wasn't as if the people running this study knew what or were able to control her dreams. Or were they? Wasn't that part of the point of the study, to learn more about why people dreamt?

She didn't want to make assumptions about the doctors. They were just people who had families to feed and bills to pay. But she couldn't deny that being sent to this private room was incredibly sketchy, especially when she hadn't remembered anything about it being discussed when they were initially being interviewed for the study. And no one else seemed to know anything about it either.

She found herself thinking intensely about her sister, about her father and about everything she'd left behind when she'd agreed to the study. They might have never been a normal family, but they were still a family. And they loved each other in their own deeply flawed ways. She would be thirty-three in a few months, which wasn't old, even if it sometimes felt it. Her mother had been thirty-nine when Lacey was born.

Rachel wondered if part of the reason she wanted a child so badly was to start something of her own. Beyond in the way people often wanted kids, but to erase the hurts her family had given her in the past and start something new. She still wanted a child, but she and Justin could adopt, if it came down to it.

She sat up on the bed and rubbed her eyes, trying to forget about the dream, trying to forget about how vivid it had been. She would be with her family again soon. Just then, there was a knock at the door. Breakfast time. One soggy egg, cheap wheat toast, a packet of jelly and a carton of toast. No coffee. Rachel didn't want to go through the trouble of asking.

She sat on the bed for a moment before she realized how much it felt like a prison. So she got off and went to the desk to eat her breakfast. She thought she remembered them saying something about being careful around the computers, but at this point, she didn't care.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney





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Tue Dec 01, 2020 11:02 pm
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soundofmind says...



Jessica Ray


Jessica could remember breakfast as two pieces of buttered toast, but she wouldn't have been able to say when she ate it, or how quickly time passed until lunch came, or what lunch even was. She could remember the man at the door handing her a tray, and she knew there was food on it, and they'd exchanged polite words, but she couldn't remember anything else.

At exactly 12 pm she finally had a moment of clarity.

It felt like everything in the room had crisp edges. The sheets on the bed were coarse, and everything smelled sterile, like a hospital.

She stood up and walked the edges of the room, pacing, letting her fingers brush against the pasty white walls.

It had been two weeks, but it felt like it had been longer than that.

Jessica kept trying to remind herself that it wasn't all bad. She had gotten more sleep than she had in a year. Her body was getting the rest it needed. But a part of her regretted taking this time off work only to have it turn out this way. Was sleep worth the cost of her mental clarity? Was it worth the unsettling dreams, and the unsettling reality, and the line between them blurring?

She knew she at least had to be sane enough to know there was a difference. It was just that... spotting it was getting harder.

She stopped as she made her way back around to her bed, feeling the pull to return to it. If she lied down, maybe she would wake up again, and actually be awake. If she woke up again, maybe she would feel more connected to real life.

She put her hand on the edge of the headboard and stood there, looking down at her pillow.

It wasn't just that she was bored. She... missed the Mikhail of her dreams. In her mind, he was becoming everything she'd wished he was a year ago before they parted ways. It had been on equal terms, but she'd always wished, just maybe, that he would change.

She sighed and bent over, grabbing a book from the side-table.

It was some cheesy romance novel. Not her cup of tea. But maybe she could read it just to make fun of it? To laugh at it? She needed something to pass the time.

She started flipping aimlessly through pages as she paced the room, skimming over scenes. Certain words popped out to her like "voluptuos" and "pure" and she found herself already cringing. As she laughed to herself she could've sworn she heard a shuffling by her bed. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the figure of her father, under the white sheets, and the hospital wristband around his hand.

Her heart skipped a beat as she looked up.

Nothing. Nothing.

She'd just imagined it.

But why had she imagined his slow breathing? The faint beeping of a monitor? The calluses of his aging hands, gripping hers loosely?

Tears pricked at her eyes, and she walked to the edge of the bed and sat on it. She closed her eyes, trying to imagine him again, but not sure if she wanted to.

He had been stuck in rooms like this all the time. He would understand. The fear. The uncertainty. How far she felt from home and family, and how time didn't even feel real anymore.

And he would've held her hand.

She wished he was here.





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Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:07 pm
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Zenith says...



Tarana Conner


Tara sat on the edge of the bed flipping through her dream journal. So many things crammed into so few pages. She briefly wondered if they would let her keep it as a memoir after all this was over. Probably not. She looked out of the window, trying to visualize the end of it. Yes, she wanted to leave, but where to. A bird flew outside her window as if prompted by her thoughts. Or did she just imagine that bit? There was something comforting about the way how everything blurred into each other, as if in a dream. The only noise in the otherwise quiet room was the tick-tock of a clock in the background. Each second overlapping with the next and the next and the...

The alarm clock went off, and Tara woke up with a start. She didn't realize when she had dozed off; the dream journal lay on the floor near her feet. She was still in a seating position. As she put the journal back on the bedside table, Tara quietly commended herself for setting the alarm for every hour of the day. She wasn't falling for the drug's charms anymore.

The room was too small, and there wasn't anything to distract her attention. As if, the authorities had planned to make them sleep more. There were a few books, but she would rather stay grounded to the reality right now. She tried to make a mental list.
She has already had breakfast, and looking at the dream journal didn't help. She paced around the room slowly and wondered what the others were doing. Then slowly, her thoughts turned to what she would do once she was free. It occurred to Tara that this was the time she had needed so badly, far away from other human influences. Anything she came up with now would completely be her own.

Tara grabbed a pen and started making a list at the back of her dream journal. Surely the authorities wouldn't mind if she tore off one page from here. She wrote the heading in big block letters- THE NEXT 10 YRS PLAN. She had been putting this off for far too long. But if there's anything she had learned in this facility, it was this that the uncertainties could be scary, but it's far worse to sleep through life.
Let's just die young or live forever.





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Mon Dec 07, 2020 8:45 pm
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soundofmind says...



Jessica Ray's Dream Log
Day 12/12
8:00pm-12:43pm


I woke up, and at first, everything seemed normal. The same bed. The same white walls. The same lone window letting in slivers of daylight through the blinds. But it only took a second for me to notice the chair, on the other side of the room, and the person sitting in it.

My heart stopped, and I don't think I was breathing.

See, when I was little, we had this worn-out recliner that my father would always sit in when he came home from work. It was made of this woven green and brown fabric, and my mother thought it was the ugliest thing, but we kept it because my father was so attached and no one had the heart to toss it out.

Over time, the seat had fitted to his frame like a pair of worn-in shoes.

Seeing him sitting in the seat again felt so real and surreal at the same time. Sometimes, with dreams, there's that foggy haze over everything, or that disconnect in your brain that tells you none of this is quite right, but this felt so vivid and tangible. And he was there.

Leaning back, with his legs kicked up, in his slippers, with the comics from the Sunday paper. He was so relaxed, and he looked like his old self. Before he was sick. He still had his belly and his cheeks were full, and his eyes were still full of life.

I sat there frozen for a while, staring. He didn't seem to notice, or he didn't seem to mind.

Finally, he flipped a page in the paper and looked up at me, and I thought, maybe, at that moment, I would find words or figure out what to do, but I felt like I was glued to my bed. I hadn't even sat up yet.

When he met my eyes, I felt like he was really there. He didn't say anything for a moment, almost as if he didn't register where he was, or who I was at first.

Then he finally said my name. "Jess."

All I was able to do was croak out: "Dad."

He got up from his chair slowly, pulling the lever on the side to bring it down, and getting to his feet with a grunt. He would always grunt when getting out of the seat. I used to think it was annoying, but now I remember it fondly.

Funny, how things change.

He set the paper back down on the seat and walked over to me, looking at me with concern. He would always do this thing with his mouth - almost a pout - where he'd stick out his lower lip, and I always knew what was going to come next.

He knelt down beside my bed and asked: "Honey, what's wrong?"

I pinched my eyes shut, trying to tell myself it wasn't real, but something came over me. I wanted to stay there, with him. I didn't want to wake up.

I opened my eyes and I threw off my covers.

I sat up, and I slid off the bed, beside him, and hugged him tightly. He hugged me back.

I wanted to stay there forever. I hate that waking up almost felt like losing him all over again.





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Mon Dec 07, 2020 10:58 pm
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Elinor says...



Rachel Chase's Dream Log
Day 12/12
9:17pm-10:53am


When I woke up, it was so sunny in the kitchen that it was blinding. It appeared to be a perfect summer day. I was back home, having just walked into the kitchen in a t-shirt and fuzzy pajamas.

I instinctively knew that it was the year 2031, and yet, our kitchen was the same as I've always known it to be.

"Esther?" I called.

Of course, it wasn't my aunt who I was calling to, but my daughter, now five. I felt something grab my leg and realized it was her. At five, she looked more like Justin than me.

He was nowhere in sight, but that didn't matter.

"Mommy," she responded.

I picked her up, and asked if she wanted me to make her breakfast.

She requested chocolate chip pancakes. But them on her plate like Mickey Mouse. Make a smiley face with banana and strawberry. This made me smile. "Your grandmother, my mommy, used to make pancakes like this for your Aunty Lacey."

"Why I don't I get to meet Aunty Lacey?" Esther asked.

"She went to heaven before you were born," I responded, nervously, awkwardly. My eyes drifted to a photo of the two of us from her high school graduation, unable to look at my daughter. I thought that Lacey was always great with kids. And she would have been a great mother one day.

Of course, when I woke up, I had to remind myself that my sister is still alive. I'm more eager than ever to find out where she is and what she's up to.

And I thought about the dream, how it felt so real, how my daughter felt so real. Maybe it's a premonition. But that would mean that I won't get pregnant for another five years, and I don't know if I can bear waiting that long. I've waited so long already. And it would also mean Lacey won't be alive in five years. And that is something I don't want to begin to process.

Justin has made no secret of the fact that he wants a girl. But the Whitmans have always, for the most part, have had daughters. My father and my brother are exceptions to that, as are my cousins Tyler and Ezra. Secretly, when Justin and I do have a child, I hope for a boy.

But a girl will do too, and I've always liked the name Esther. When my brother got his girlfriend pregnant and they found out it was a girl, Dad wanted them to name her Esther. Ryan and Dad got in a fight because Mia, his girlfriend, didn't like the name. So they went with Adelaide instead.

But maybe, if I do have a girl, I'll name her Esther.

I've also been thinking about something recently, about how there are people who are offended that my family even exists. Once, when I was about twenty-five, I fell down an internet rabbit hole, when that movie was being made, about how we have to end the bloodline while we still can. I saw another cruel person mention that it's a good thing my Aunt Esther killed himself, because "one less Whitman in the world".

But these people don't know my family. My grandfather will likely not survive the year. When he's gone, all that's left will be us. And I think we've done alright for ourselves.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney





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Tue Dec 15, 2020 1:09 pm
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Zenith says...



Tarana Conner's Dream Log
Day 12/12
9:30pm-8:45am


The thing that I remembered most intensely from the dream was me running through the corridor endlessly. There were doors on either side; I partly wanted to fling open each one of them, but I dared not stop. Something was chasing me, and with every step, it approached closer. I knew I was still at the facility; for where else could I find walls these bare and devoid of life.

I realized I was going too fast, and yet I couldn't feel my breath catching, or my limbs ache. There was no sound of my movements because my feet barely touched the ground. The only thing that echoed across the infinite corridor of locked doors was my pursuer's footsteps. I wanted to shout, but as it always happened in moments like these- I forgot the coherent use of my vocal cords. All I could feel was the adrenaline that course in my blood and my heart about to burst inside my chest.

The very next moment, something strange happened. I can't really describe it in words now; it was more like a sense of clarity come in. As if one moment I was trapped in a nightmare and the next moment I was awake. But I wasn't really awake; I was still in the dream corridor, trying my best to get away from whatever that was after me. It's just that I wasn't afraid anymore like I knew it was only a dream. My pace started slowing. I muttered the phrase " There's no one here." over and over again. Surprisingly, the footsteps grew less audible, and after a minute or two, it faded away completely.

I turned to the first door on my left. It was locked. By then, my curiosity had already got the better of me. I gave the lock a rough shake, willing it to open up. Strangely, so it did.

There was an unexpected thought forming at the back of my mind- I was lucid dreaming. I have only seen it in movies before, but here it was happening to me.

I pushed open the door to find myself in broad daylight. The morning air swept across my face, and I breathed it in. I was on a balcony looking down on a vast stretch of wilderness. It was like no place I have ever been to, perhaps a dreamland hidden behind the safety of my innermost thoughts. It was green and beautiful. But beyond everything, it was lonely. I stood there indefinitely until I was once again lost in the depths of sleep.
Let's just die young or live forever.





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Wed Dec 16, 2020 8:21 pm
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Elinor says...



Rachel Chase

Rachel was woken up and told that it was time to go.

"Your husband is in the waiting room, Mrs. Chase," said a doctor. "Please collect your things." Then, he handed her a check. She folded it and put it in her pocket for safekeeping.

Rachel was confused. She was sure they had a few days left in the study. But she wasn't about to question it.

Wearily, she got dressed, made sure she had everything, and went into the hallway. The others were there too, and she gave them slight nods.

There was an odd energy to the facility. The doctors and the staff were nervous, on edge. When Rachel reached the library, she barely had the time acknowledge Justin when she saw Justin.

Reporters. Press. Rachel wasn't sure what was going on. Justin put his phone in his pocket and stood up, hugging her tightly.

"I've missed you," he said.

One thing was certain. No matter what, it was nice to be in her husband's arms again. "I've missed you too," Rachel replied.

He extended his hand, and Rachel took it.

She looked back at the people who she'd come to consider her friends. "Until we meet again," she said.

Reporters took their photo as Justin took her by the hand and led her into the car. They kept their heads down. Rachel was used to reporters by now, but there were no questions about her family. Only about the study.

----

In the car, Justin explained the word out about the boy, Noah, who had almost died. About them being sent to private rooms, close to the end. Potential side effects of they drugs they were using.

The scrutiny had forced them to shot down.

"But, are you okay?" Justin asked eventually.

"I had some very strange dreams," Rachel said. She didn't want to go into more right now. Especially the last one.

The rest of the drive was mostly silent. Justin turned on NPR. There were at the point in their marriage now when silence was comfortable.

She closed her eyes and tried to think of something pleasant. Maybe the beach in Hawaii, where they'd gone on their honeymoon. But after a moment, she opened them again, not wanting to let another dream overtake her.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney





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Thu Dec 17, 2020 3:15 am
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soundofmind says...



Jessica Ray


Jessica woke up to a knock at her door, but she was bleary. The morning sun broke through the blinds, and it felt blinding. She rolled over, remembering words were spoken, but not what was said. When she was on her feet, she realized she had started packing, folding her clothes, and putting them away. She'd gotten dressed, too - more than her pajama pants and her cardigan, which she'd begun to live in - but this time, the jeans she came in. A more fitting blouse. And a cardigan, still, but a fresh one.

She adjusted a simple gold necklace around her neck, centering the little teardrop pendant over her collarbone.

Why was she getting dressed up?

She looked across the room, expecting to see a chair there, with her father sitting in it. Her heart sunk with disappointment when she was the corner was empty.

There was another knock at the door.

"Come in," she said.

A nurse opened the door, and her smile looked plastered on, like the customer service smile Jess was used to putting on all the time. She could see the stress behind the woman's eyes, like a silent cry for help, though Jess wasn't sure she was the one being asked to help her.

Her mind still felt foggy.

"Are you almost ready?" the nurse asked.

Jess paused, looking from the nurse to her suitcase, which she'd laid out on her bed. Everything was in there, she just needed to zip it up.

She nodded and closed it, pulling the zipper shut before she slid the suitcase off the side of the bed, wheels down, and pulled up the handle so she could roll it behind her.

It was only then that it hit her: it was over.

She was going home.

When she stepped out into the hall, she saw Rachel, then Tara, then Clyde. A wave of relief washed over her now that she was them in person. They were okay, just like the doctors promised they would be. Jess flashed them a smile, even though she didn't quite feel present in the moment.

She watched as the others were led away. The nurse who'd come to get her put a hand on her arm.

"Your mother is this way," she said gently.

Her mother?

Why had her mother come to get her?

Jess glanced back at the others one more time. She realized she didn't have their numbers yet, and this was their goodbye. But her attention was quickly stolen by the sound of murmuring outside the building. The voices got louder the further down the hall they walked, and she noticed how tense the hospital staff seemed. It sounded like...

News reporters.

She could hear the clicking of cameras and what sounded like a news anchor talking about the trial. Before they left the hall she was handed her phone again, and it felt strange to hold it in her hands. There were many missed messages. Unread emails. A missed call from her mom.

And then a text message, that just popped up.

Mikhail?

"Just saw the news," it read. "Are you okay?"

The news?

They hadn't talked in almost a year.

Jessica gulped, and felt the nurse's hand on her arm again, leading her.

"We'll go the long way," she said.

She was led through a different door, another hall, and into what looked like a little doctor's waiting room.

The walls were plain, and the chairs were blue, and that was all Jess was able to absorb about the room before her eyes landed on her mother, who was sitting with her hands folded in her lap, in a long dress that stretched down to her feet, and a jacket that was just a little too big around her small shoulders.

She never thought she would ever be so happy to see her mother, but her heart soared with relief, and she hurried to her mother, who stood up to meet her. Jess wrapped her in her arms.

Her mother returned the hug, and Jess squeezed.

"Are you alright, Jessie?"

Jess pulled away and met her mother's eyes.

"I'm just really happy to see you," she said softly.

She could see her mother's smile falter. There was worry. Confusion. But relief seemed to be the prevailing emotion overall.

Her mother held her hands and squeezed them.

"I'm glad to see you're alright," she said, and her eyes flicked towards the exit. "The press is talking up a storm."

Jess followed her mother's gaze and her heart sunk into her stomach.

She had known that the doctors weren't being fully transparent with them, but now, it felt real. She was going to have to face the music.

They hurried out of the facility, and after a picture or two, and declining many, many questions, they finally made it to her mother's car. When the two of them sat down, they sat in silence for a moment, and Jess stared forward out the windshield, letting out a long and heavy sigh.

"They said you'd started sleepwalking again," her mother said.

Jess nodded slowly. That didn't surprise her.

"And sleeping a lot."

Jess laughed. "Well, they did say it was a sleeping pill. I guess now we know it works."

Her mother wasn't able to join in the laughter.

"Maybe a little too well," her mother whispered. She started the car, and Jess felt the rumble of the engine.

"But that's over now. You'll recover, and we'll get through this together," she said. Jess looked over to her mom, feeling a small, indescribable feeling stir in her stomach.

She wondered if her mom ever said anything like that to her dad before things turned for the worse.

Jess didn't know what her face looked like, but she saw worry flash across her mother's face, and her mom reached out and grabbed her hand.

"I'll check in on you. I want to make sure you're alright."

Jess couldn't help but smile, sadly.

"And I'll check on you too," she said quietly.

Her mother smiled, just a little.

"We'll make sure the both of us are okay," she concluded.

Jess nodded, and her mother backed the car out of the parking lot, taking them out onto the main road, and away from the buzz of the press in front of the facility. Jess watched the building that was her home for two weeks fade from view, and then her phone vibrated in her pocket.

She pulled it out and looked down. It was Mikhail again.

"Who's that?" her mother asked.

Jess looked at the message and opened it.

"Just saw you, and glad you're okay. No hurry - but call me when you can."

Jess put her phone back in her pocket and looked out the window.

She needed time to sift through what was real and what wasn't. What was reawakened by a dream and what she really wanted.

"Nothing urgent," Jess answered. "I'll get it later."

Right now, she just wanted to focus on being with her mom, and being present.

Her mother wouldn't be around forever, and even if things had been strained over time, she wanted to treasure moments like this. She wanted to treasure her family, while they were still with her. While it was real.





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Thu Dec 31, 2020 12:47 pm
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Zenith says...



Tarana Conner


Tarana heard a knock on the door and hoped it would go away, thinking it to be a part of the dream. But when the noise grew persistent, and even the pillow pressed on either side of her ears failed to keep the knocking at bay, she staggered to the door and yanked it open. She was surprised to find a nurse that early in the morning. Breakfast usually came later.

"Please pack your things, Miss Conner. You are free to leave. Your parents have already collected your other possessions. They're waiting at the front desk."

Things were still a bit blurry when Tara had opened the door, but every statement brought her closer to consciousness. She didn't remember what day it was and was even more confused by her parents' mention.

"I haven't written down in my dream journal yet." She said, unsure of what to make of the situation.

"Don't worry about it. Just collect your things. The rest will be taken care off." Looking closely, Tara realized the nurse had a strangely reluctant expression on her face as if she couldn't get rid of Tara any sooner. She nodded her approval to the nurse's instructions and started picking up her things. The nurse left, possibly going to convey the same thing to others. She changed into jeans and a comfortable looking T-shirt. The thought of leaving brought back a lost sense of freedom. Tara grabbed the dream journal and tore out the last page - one where she had written down things she would do once she got out of here.

Even though she had been told that her parents were there, seeing them as real people and not just vague distortions of her dreams startled her for a moment. Her mother came forward and hugged her tightly. Only when she let go Tara of her warm embrace, did she realize that there were quite a lot of people in the room. She saw Jess, Clyde and Rachel with their family members and they carried similar worried expressions as her own parents. Tara found her father looking at her closely to see if anything was amiss.

"Are you alright? We came as soon as we heard" Her mother looked on the verge of tears. She was still holding Tara's hand tightly. Their last conversation and the fight they had before the trial was already a distant memory.

"I'm fine, maybe a little sleepy, but nothing to worry over. But what's going on here?" She saw people with cameras flashing and shouting out questions about the trial to the other participants. Tara glanced back at her parents in confusion, "Why is media here?"

"We'll tell you. But first, let's get out of here." Her father helped her manoeuvre her way out through the reporters, her mother following close behind.

On her way back home, Tara heard how Noah's accident had put the trial all over the news. She was glad to know that Noah was being treated. Her parents kept giving her worried looks, she half-smiled back at them. She wanted to assure them that it was good for her in a way, that she was all the braver for that experience.

They were going to be alright in good time. Perhaps she would have nightmares for a while about this place. Tara may have trouble sleeping or oversleep; the drug's effects are bound to take some time to go away. But the page from the journal in her pocket will always remind her of the difference between dreams and nightmares.
Let's just die young or live forever.





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Thu Dec 31, 2020 12:54 pm
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soundofmind says...



Image

There's a fine line between a dream and reality. Sometimes it is searched for, and sometimes it is stumbled upon.


THE END


Jessica Ray..... @/soundofmind

Clyde Silverstein..... @/sheyren

Rachel Chase..... @/elinor

Tarana Conner..... @/Zenith

Noah T. Kent..... @/Magebird








Positive anything is better than negative nothing.
— Elbert Hubbard