I empty dream catchers. There’s something satisfying about saving others from the monsters in their heads. Those beasts end up eating at their hearts and leaving the person miserable. That’s why I love to do it. It helps other people. I make my way into their bedrooms and brush all of the bad dreams into my bag. Then I slip back out of their rooms and take the terrors to the bottom of the sea. They can’t tell that they aren’t in someone’s head because it’s so dark, and they stay there.
When I first began, I lost quite a few of those nightmares and had to chase them down. I can’t describe all of the horrors I’ve seen, but can say that nightmares aren’t a simple breed. There are various characteristics that they carry. Some are about experiences, some are phobias, some are imaginary creatures, and some are about people. I knew when I got into this job that it would be hard on a gentle heart, but only a gentle heart could do such a thing. Many a time I wondered how I could go on, but then, how could I quit? These people needed me to keep their nights safe so that they could battle the day. I had to keep going.
I came up with systems and began to thoroughly appreciate the good work I was doing. I did my job, smiled, and let the world do what it needed to. Only one time did I ever find a dream catcher with nothing in it. I came into the room, careful to not awaken the girl, and went to sweep up the nightmares. They didn’t come out right away, so I tried to brush more carefully. Sometimes the nightmares don’t want to leave and stick to the catcher.
I stood there, brushing and brushing, but nothing came out. I looked at the girl. Maybe she didn’t really use the dream catcher. Perhaps it was just a trinket. I turned to leave, but something made me turn back around. I stared at her, wondering why she had no nightmares. Her eyes opened and she stared back at me. We stared at each other for a long moment. She sighed a little and just laid there on her bed.
“What are you doing?” She asked.
She wasn’t angry or even remotely intrigued, just asking for the sake of knowing. I fumbled with my bag – nervous because I’d never been caught before.
“I’m just here to sweep away the bad dreams,” I said.
She tilted her head and gave a slight nod. “Ah, I see…anything there?”
“I figured not,” she sighed. “Still no sleep.”
I cocked my head to the side and observed her features. She had dark circles and was a bit pale. I hadn’t noticed before, but now it was obvious she really didn’t get any sleep.
“How long?” I asked.
She squinted an eye and tilted her hand in the air. “Oh, about a week.”
“Does this happen often?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, staring at the ceiling. “I’ve been sleepless since I was born. 3 AM every day. And if not 3, then from 4 until sunrise. I hardly know what a good night’s sleep is.”
I frowned. “That’s strange. What do you do? What do you think about?”
“Anything. Everything,” she said. “Whatever comes to my head. Sometimes daydreams, sometimes people, sometimes monsters…and prayers begging for mercy. I only want to sleep.”
I didn’t know how to answer, so I just stood there, unsure. She sighed again and looked at me. There was a sort of curiosity that wouldn’t be bothered if I disappeared right then without any answers to its questions. That curiosity made me wonder. Had she given up? What did she do all day with hardly any rest? How did her brain cope with always being conscious?
“Are you bored?” I asked.
She smiled a little. “Yes. I’m always bored.”
“What do you do with your boredom?”
“I play with it. Daydream mostly. There’s always something to entertain, even if it isn’t real or can’t come true.”
I watched her eyes. A light flickered in them, deep in her soul. Like it was the only thing that kept her going. Then it faded away and she looked back at me.
“So you take people’s nightmares away?”
I nodded. “Yes, I do.”
“What’s it like?” she asked.
“It’s like helping people. Helping them take care of the world.”
I couldn’t help but smile as I told her. My calling in life made me know I had a purpose and was helping.
“So you’re like a superhero?”
I blinked. She was intently looking at my face, hoping for my answer. I had never thought of this like being a superhero before. Heroes are always in the spotlight and have secret identities. I was always in the shadows and only myself.
“I don’t know about that…”I said.
She waved her hand at me. “Oh, of course it is! You save people from their own minds. It sounds like you’ve helped the whole world. I wish I could escape my mind…”
She paused, thinking.
“Do you get to see their nightmares? Like, do you get to understand the way their minds work?”
“I-I can, but I don’t.”
She frowned. “Why not?”
“Well, I gather up all the bad dreams and take them to the bottom of the ocean. They can’t tell the difference between the bottom of the ocean and the mind, so they stay. I haven’t ever considered really experiencing someone else’s dream,” I said, a bit perplexed.
“Oh…don’t you think it would be interesting though?”
“I suppose it would.”
She put her hands behind her head.
“Do you ever rest?” She asked.
She sat up. “You mean you go around freeing everyone of their trouble every day, all day, and never go to sleep?”
“Yes?” I said, becoming more bewildered by her.
“Well,” she said, laying back down. “That’s new.”
I stared. “What is?”
She shook her head. “I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who can keep going and going without sleep the way you do. What are you? A spirit?”
That question echoed in the walls of my head. I suddenly felt the darkness and isolation all around me. I was alone. The girl was still there, but I wasn’t able to be near. This moment of dark solitude reminded me of what I was. I wasn’t a spirit like she had thought. I was the last of a genuine good dream. A dream that a person’s mind came up with without the help of a dream catcher. As the world had changed and become more and more of a dreaded place, we had died out. There was almost a scorn for us. People would see a real, true dream and say it was unreal and stomped us out.
I was the last. I had survived by taking up a purpose. Lots of dreams were just there to be dreamed. I made sure I had meaning, and I did. Now, as I sat here with this girl, this dreamer, I was reminded. I hadn’t even thought about my existence in so long, I had forgotten I could be snuffed out quickly by a loss of purpose. I frowned, coming back to the room and to the dreamer.
Staring at her, it all became clear: she had no purpose or meaning to exist. Her mind refused to rest because it had no reason to. She would get paler and more unhealthy until she finally left.
“Uh, are you ok?” She asked. “Looked like you just questioned the meaning of the universe.”
“Close, but not quite,” I murmured.
“What is your purpose?” I asked, suddenly crisp and passionate.
She looked down. “I don’t have one…”
“Wrong,” I said.
I must’ve been loud because she jumped.
“Why do you think you have no purpose?” I asked.
“B-because I haven’t found one?” She said now confused.
I shook my head. “No. You have a purpose. Many purposes. Right now you think you have no purpose, but in reality, your purpose is to find your purpose. You have to search day in and day out for a reason to keep on surviving, even if it’s something small. Especially if it’s small.”
The girl stared at me. As I looked into her eyes, there was no denying that she understood. I smiled. What else was there to do?
“Have you found something?” I asked.
“Are you going to keep going?”
“I’m…really tired,” she said, nodding.
“Good,” I said. “You go to sleep and live out that something small.”
She laid right down and closed her eyes. I went to leave, pondering how close my own struggle was to hers, even though it consisted of different things. Like the nightmares, we all fear something different, but it’s still fear. I turned back and gazed back on the girl and saw her sleeping and smiling. We all have different purposes, but they’re still purpose, whatever they are. I smiled back at the girl.
I wrote this story on the notes of a small device a week or so ago. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing – just writing I guess 😀 I know that if I had been given advice like this in the past, my younger years would have been soooooo much easier. But they didn’t, and it’s ok. Life goes on, right?
I hope that I’ve at least helped one person with this.
I’m not really sure what all it’ll do so I’m just gonna hit publish and watch it all unfold. 🙂
Thanks for reading!