It started with an innocuous reverie: Lucy and I were perambulating atop a greensward. Peals of laughter came from our own mouths. The usual.
Then it got uncanny. One second, Lucy was right beside me. The next, she was gone. I didn’t fret. I knew she would come back. She would jump out from behind me, hollering, “Got you, Alana!” She would guffaw. I’d follow suit. The afternoon would end in relaxation.
But she never came back.
I thought it was a meaningless dream at first. I would wake with a start, scared out of my wits, but then I would look at the bed next to mine and see Lucy sleeping tranquilly. I would be comforted.
None of that happened. The dream wasn’t harmless, and I didn’t wake up. Instead, the reverie, which was quickly becoming a nightmare, kept going.
I was still alone in the dream, which meant so was Lucy, wherever she was.
“Lucy?” A beat, a shiver. “Come out. This isn’t funny.”
I expected her to relent, to call out, “I’m here, Alana!”
My sister did no such thing.
The dream didn’t end. I was baffled. Was I calling out her name in the dream, or was I yelling while asleep? I couldn’t tell. What I could tell was that there was meaning to this. Was it a furtive warning?
Then it happened.
Initially, my dream looked grainy. Then the faded, blurry shapes came into focus, and I saw what was happening.
I almost wished I didn’t. The only reason I was glad to be able to tell what was occurring is that if I hadn’t seen, I’d never have known. I wouldn’t have saved her.
I would never know what was happening in reality while this dream played out in my head.
Lucy was pedaling a bike in a rocky landscape somewhere visibly dangerous and far away. Her soft blonde hair and tiny frame shook slightly. Her normally bright, coal black eyes were glazed over, like she was entranced.
Lucy heaved forward with difficulty, like she was scaling Mount Everest. Her labored breaths didn’t fit what she was doing. Biking wasn’t strenuous. She looked pained and sweaty.
Her legs pumped, probably aching, but she focused on the bluff ahead…
My heart skipped a beat. Lucy was biking towards a scar! She was going to pedal off a cliff! I screamed, in my dream and aloud.
Now I actually awoke, shrieking in panic. I leapt out of bed, still sporting itchy pajamas, bounded down the staircase in four steps, and propelled myself out the door. I was perspiring and panting as I flung myself onto my bike. Only then did I realize I didn’t know where Lucy was. Where had she gone?
I decided to trust my instincts.
I pedaled forward, ignoring the screech of the weathered pedals. My bicycle was rusty and scratched, and the chains barely functioned.
But I had sloping hills to coast down, and determination fueled me.
I heaved huge breaths. When my instincts got stumped after a while, I tried to focus, to remember the dream. My lungs burned from the excessive riding. My legs screamed from being pumped so intensely.
How was I to find this cliff?
My legs gave out. My knees locked. I doubled over, shaking. I was dizzy and jaded from the sweltering sun. The world spun away from me…
When I awoke, it was dark. I sighed, frustrated, extended my enervated leg, and kicked the bike. It would serve no use on this lilliputian path.
Then I remembered. I recalled the reverie, the warning, Lucy, the bike, the bluff… I seized the bicycle handlebar, resolutely hoisting myself onto the seat.
I started out slowly again, pushing myself ahead. It was difficult to pedal, due to the steepness and rockiness of the knoll I was half-coasting, half-braking down. I recognized the barrenness of the land and felt a surge of encouragement, knowing this was the place where Lucy was.
Caught up in anticipation, as I forced the pedals into a swift cycle, my bike tripped and I flew off of it. I shouted and yelped as I fell, landing hard on my side. The hill offered me no clemency. My rough landing kicked up a cloud of dust. I spat, but it stuck to my tongue, feeling chalky on the roof of my mouth. The rocks embedded in the escarpment scraped my elbows. A tiny blossom of blood bloomed. I pinned my gaze elsewhere.
My arms stung from the scalding heat of the cliff, whose edge I hadn’t reached yet. There were only steep bluffs.
Where was Lucy?
I shook it off and staggered up the mountain. Grasping the multitudinous rocks jutting out, I slowly worked my way back up until I was reunited with my bike.
For the umpteenth time, I mounted it, pedaling downwards. A rush of air swept past me. I whizzed down the mountain at an unstoppable rate, screaming, but my brakes didn’t comply when I slammed my hands down.
Finally! I was grateful when a rock tripped me, sending me soaring to another precipice.
And I saw her.
She was tightly clutching the edge of the cliff. The rest of her body dangled below the edge, her face contorted into a fearful physiognomy. She was petrified but for the quaking of her body.
I ululated in fear. Lucy froze at the sight of me, probably thinking me a figment of her own reveries.
She waved one arm frantically.
I stumbled over the rocks. When I reached the edge, I knelt and squeezed her hand tightly.
Her hand became clammy and damp in my palm. I felt her slipping away…
I peered over the edge, regretting it. We shared a mutual gulp. I hoisted her up, but Lucy wasn’t prepared. Her weight pulled me down. We gasped as we fell, vociferating and howling. We plummeted down, down, down! We were going to hit the deadly ground—!
Then I woke up from my dream.