9-The Gray Dream

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Maya squinted in the distance and had to put her hand over her eyes to take in the view around her. She was back in the field. The field that haunts her dreams. But this was different. Usually when Maya dreams of this day she is stuck in her body, unable to change the events of this day. But here, now she was standing in the middle of the field, her present self, with full control over her body. This isn’t right, she thought. Maya looked around her. The sky was gray, the grass was gray. Everything was gray. Everything was wrong. She shuffled her feet and lightly kicked the gray grass leaving a muffled crunching sound floating the air. It sounded as if she had her fingers in her ears. She tugged at her ears trying to fix the sound, hoping her ears would pop and everything would return to normal but it was still quiet. She bent down to run her fingers over the ground but instead of finding healthy grass she instead felt a brittle grass that instantly resumed where it was once her hand had passed over it. Standing back up, her eyes moved to the sky. The sun was hanging above her, showering everything in its eerie white light. Maya’s eyes were still trying to adjust to it. Even with the world made of different shades of gray shadows seemed to be nonexistent. What is this? Why am I here?  She took a few steps forward, trying to remember where everything was. She wasn’t used to seeing this day from this angle. The memory of her trip up here came and went as it pleased, sometimes returning to her in vivid detail but often throwing her into a panic as she struggled to even remember the faces of her parents. Where was the city? I remember I was facing the city when everything happened. I was on a hill. To her left she noticed the land slowly sloping upward. It wasn’t much of a hill but maybe to her childish eyes it seemed like a mountain. The crunch of her feet on the ground trailed behind her as she moved up the slop and noticed the horizon getting closer and closer, she looked back to where she came from and she had climbed much higher than she expected to. Maybe it really was a hill. It didn’t look so high from the field. Then she saw it. At the top of the hill she finally had a good view of her surroundings. Where she expected to see the city off in the distance she instead saw the blast that threw her into the air. It was bright. Brighter than the sun and frozen in place. An unmoving white fireball engulfing her entire field of vision. What is this? Turning back to look at where she came from she noticed something hanging in the air. Her younger self stuck in place. This is definitely strange. Circling her younger self Maya wondered why now. Her dreams about this were normally nightmares, thoughts that continued to haunt her well into her adult life. Why are things suddenly so different? What purpose could this dream possibly have? The air was eerily calm as she sat on the grass below her suspended body, she began to pat the stiff grass just to break the silence. Her dreams usually ended at the highest point of panic but nothing here caused her to feel even remotely afraid. She had never had a boring dream before. Maya could not even keep track of the passing of the time, the sun still hung in the sky, slightly dulled by the frozen explosion behind her but still unmoving. Despite her traumatic experience here as a child, picnics were still a big part of Maya’s life. She, Abby, and Alice would often pack lunches and drive in whatever direction until they came upon the first park or open field they found once they began to get hungry. It was an exercise to break the temptation from living the rest of their lives in the same tiny neighborhood. They loved it there but complacency was their enemy. It was mostly Alice and Abby’s enemy, Maya had no problem cuddling up next to complacency and comfortably hiding away for the rest of her life but she often understood that following her friends on whatever adventures they had planned was probably healthier for her life in the long run. After they would eat Maya would lay in the grass and watch the clouds make their way across the sky, the sun darting in between them as it made its own journey towards the next day. Now she is laying in a bastardized version of her worst nightmare watching as things remain unmoving and motionless. Her gaze drifts back to the body hanging above her, dress and hair floating in the stillness of the wind. In her dreams it felt like she was flying through the air forever and had always assumed that to be an exaggeration brought on by her dream state but looking at herself now, twenty or so feet in the air, far enough away from the top of the hill and not even halfway to where she would land. Where I should land. Would I have even survived the impact if I had stayed here? Did crossing over somehow save my life? Then it hit her. Where exactly did she cross over? She sat straight up, bringing her gaze to the tree her parents had set up their picnic. She squinted and could just barely see it. A shimmer in the air. Like when you’re looking at the empty road on a hot summer day. Getting up, Maya made her way towards the tree. The crunch of the grass got louder and louder the closer she got and slightest of hums began to fill the air. This is it. This is where it happened. I wonder— Her outstretched hand inched closer and closer to the shimmer and the familiar sound of her alarm got louder and louder. No! Not now. Not yet! Her eyes open and she shot up in her bed. What. Was. That?

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