Aubree lined her bike with the center line, tightened her grip, tucked her head, and let the hill pull her. She rolled over the first yellow dash and aimed for the next. As she gained speed, the yellow lines zipped underneath her. Within moments, they shot like arrows past; zip……zip…..zip….zip…zip..zip.zip. The wind pushed her hair back and even seemed to push the corners of her mouth into wide grin. The bushes along the road blurred into a green haze and she focused on a wooden ramp at the bottom of the hill. A quick queasy feeling in her stomach sent a wave of fear through her body and she considered putting on the brakes or swerving to the side. But the excited tingling in her stomach brushed it aside. In a way she couldn’t understand, she felt safe and stayed on course.The ramp lifted her front tire and aimed her towards the sky. Her body felt heavy as the bike suddenly lurched upwards but then light and free as the ramp launched her into the air. She closed her eyes and waited for the ground to catch her, for a bump…but nothing. She opened her eyes and looked down. The ground moved further away! The trees were below her. The street lights were below her. She looked out over the city and continued to climb higher into the sky. She let go of the handlebars and stuck out her arms as the wind pushed its way past her. “I’m flying…..I’m flying….I’m flying….I’m frying eggs!”
The wind stopped, her bike stopped, and she sat frozen in the air. Confused she looked at the handlebars in front of her. The green grips, the red posts…and a strange circular…
“…Frying eggs, come and eat.”
Aubree opened her eyes. She wasn’t on a bike. She wasn’t flying. She focused on her alarm clock: 7:05.
“Come on kids, come and eat breakfast.” Again the voice of her mother echoed up the stairs and into her room.
She closed her eyes; trying to see the green handlebars and red posts of the bike. She tried to see the ground beneath her, but…nothing. It was gone. She grumbled and kicked the blankets off.
“Whose bike is that on the front lawn?” yelled her dad from downstairs.
Aubree sat up and glanced out of her bedroom window (which overlooked the front lawn). She stared in disbelief. A bright red bike with green handle grips was lying on its side in the middle of the lawn. She ran down the stairs, out the door, across the lawn and stood over the bike. For a moment, she stood frozen…afraid to look. It couldn’t be! She was positive she had never seen this bike before in her life. But what if it had the strange circular sticker…
She bent down and grabbed the handle. Taking a deep breath, she stood up and pulled the bike with her. Her mouth dropped open. There it was. A red and green swirly circular design right where she had seen it in her dream.
“Whose bike is that?” Her dad’s voice from behind her startled her.
She spun around and saw her dad standing on the front porch.
“I don’t know. But dad! I just had a dream about this bike.”
He nodded his head and mumbled a muffled “hmm.”
“No dad, you don’t understand. I dreamed about this bike. I’ve never seen it before in my life and I dreamed about it. Now here it is.”
They were both quiet for a minute.
“Well, you must have seen it and not realized it. Somebody has probably been riding it around the neighborhood…otherwise, how would it have ended up on our lawn?”
She thought for a minute. His explanation sounded good. “Yeah, that must be it.”
“But I don’t know whose it is,” she said and let go of the handle. The bike fell back to the ground and she turned and walked back towards the house.
Aubree put up a “found” sign on the street lights in the neighborhood without luck. After a week, her dad drove her and the bike to the police department and the mysterious bike was left so the city officials could find the owner. Another couple of weeks, and the bike was forgotten…almost. As Aubree sat on the school bus staring out the rain splattered window, the red and green circular swirls from the bike popped into her mind. She remembered sitting on the bike and flying over the rooftops. She closed her eyes and relaxed to the thrilling memory…until the sudden jerk of the bus jolted her out of the daydream and nearly out of her seat.
She hurried off the bus and ran into her school. Not because of the rain, but because she was anxious to talk to her friend, Jenicca. As she rounded the corner and entered her classroom, she expected to see Jenicca sitting at her desk reading. She rarely beat Jenicca to school and Jenicca was always reading when Aubree arrived. Today, however, Jenicca’s desk was empty; so Aubree waited (by sitting at her own desk and reading).
When the bell rang, Jenicca still hadn’t arrived. Normally at this point, Mrs. Smitkin (her teacher), would lead the class to salute the flag. Today, however, she sat at her desk with one hand holding the telephone to her ear. Her other arm, elbow resting on her desk, supported her head which was staring down. Every few seconds she closed her eyes and shook her head lightly while she spoke into the phone. The class was silent.
Mrs. Smitkin hung up the phone and took a deep breath. She lifted her head and looked directly at Aubree. Time seemed to stop for a moment as they locked eyes. Mr. Smitkin turned up the corners of her mouth forming a weak yet tender smile and stood up.
“I have some sad news,” she told the class. “Early this morning on the way to school Jenicca was involved in a car accident.”
Aubree’s chest pounded. Her mouth cracked open and she breathed fast and heavy. She stared wide-eyed at Mrs. Smitkin waiting for more information. The silence seemed endless. It was like the world was in slow motion. Afraid, Aubree waited to hear the next sentence which a part of her didn’t want to hear.
Mrs. Smitkin continued, “Aubree….Aubree….Aubree! Aubree, wake up.”
Aubree opened her eyes. Her mothers face hovered above her.
“You’re going to be late for school, time to get up.”
Her heart was still beating hard and she looked around her bedroom.
“Oh, thanks mom…thanks for waking me up.”
Mom gave her a kiss on the cheek and walked out of the room. Aubree smiled and rolled out of bed.
“Wait until I tell Jennica,” she thought.
An hour and a half later, she rounded the corner and entered her classroom. Jennica’s desk was empty. She froze and turned her head towards Mrs. Smitkin. Her teacher sat hunched over her desk…talking on the phone. Aubree was unable to move. Her hands began to shake and a tear streamed down her cheek.
Mrs. Smitkin looked up and, upon seeing Aubree, dropped the phone and ran to her. Aubree nearly collapsed as Mrs. Smitkin took her in her arms.
“Oh, Aubree. I’m so sorry. You must have already heard…Don’t worry…don’t worry though, she’ll be fine.”
Aubree stared at her, eyes full of tears and shook her head. The hairs on her arms and the middle of her back tingled. “What happened?” she asked.
Mrs. Smitkin’s forehead wrinkled as her eyebrows tightened down forming a puzzled look.
“You mean you don’t know?”
Aubree shook her head slightly, still in a mild state of shock.
“Early this morning on the way to school Jenicca was involved in a car accident.”
The room began to spin and Aubree fainted.
Moments later, Aubree heard Mrs. Smitkin’s voice…
“Aubree, can you hear me. It’s ok Aubree, she’ll be fine…”
She opened her eyes and focused on her teacher. Aubree was lying on her back, feet resting on a cushion and head cradled in Mrs. Smitkin’s arms.
“Aubree, Jennica broke her leg…that’s all. She’s going to be just fine….don’t worry.”
After several seconds of silence her teacher continued, “Are you ok?”
“Well, why don’t you lay here for a minute and we’ll take you to the nurse and call your parents…just to be safe.”
Aubree nodded again.
The bell rang. Mrs. Smitkin looked up at the faces of concerned classmates, who were all gathered around.
“Ok, everyone,” she said, “back to your seats. Zack, lead everyone in the flag salute.”
The kids went to their seats and Mrs. Smitkin looked again at Aubree.
“Are you really ok, Aubree? You know that Jenicca is fine, don’t you?”
“Yes, it’s not that…”
Aubree stopped to think. She thought of her dream last night…at least she thought it had been a dream. She was confused now didn’t and didn’t know what to make out of it all. She even wondered if she was asleep again, dreaming another dream.
“I want to go home,” she said.
Mrs. Smitkin helped Aubree to her feet. She was a bit shaky and leaned on Mrs. Smitkin’s arm while the two of them walked out of the classroom and to the office. A half hour later she was sitting in the car driving home with her dad.
“I talked to Jennica’s Mom,” Dad said. “She’s fine. It was a minor accident. In fact, Jennica was the only one hurt at all…and only because she was sitting on her knees as her mom slammed on the brakes. Her leg was caught in the seatbelt and she flew forward and snapped her bone.”
Her dad continued, “there was only minor damage to the car. They barely even hit the other vehicle.”
He looked over at her. “The news must have just sent you into a mild state of shock.”
“It’s not that, dad. Last night I dreamed Jennica was in a car accident. Everything happened just like the dream…well, almost like it.”
He turned and looked at her for a brief moment. He didn’t speak, but his eyes expressed interest and concern before turning back to the road.
“It was way freaky,” she said. “I mean, first that bike dream and now this. I don’t know if I’m going crazy, imagining all this, or what…I don’t want to have anymore dreams like that. I don’t want to have any dreams at all.”
Her dad took his right hand off the wheel, reached over, and took her hand…squeezing it three times.
“Don’t worry Aubs, we’ll figure this out. We need to get your mind off things…do you think Baskin Robbins might be able to do the trick?”
Aubree smiled. “I think ice cream is just what the Doctor ordered.”
After finishing a double hot fudge sundae, dad’s expression became serious.
“Tell me about your dreams, Aubree” he said.
She explained both dreams to him, giving special attention to the red and green swirls.
“In both dreams, I saw that strange design. And both of those dreams ended up being real. The dreams seemed so real, too. I mean, I really thought I was awake…both times. I just don’t know what to think about it all.”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Aubree. I really don’t. This is strange…I mean, it’s hard to explain. It’s hard to believe…yet I do believe you.”
He opened is mouth to say more, but then just smiled, shook his head, and shrugged his shoulders.
“What do you want to do about it?” he asked.
Aubree took a deep breath and sighed.
“I don’t know. I feel better though, knowing that you believe me.”
“Next time you have a dream with that swirly thing, tell me right when you wake up.”
Aubree nodded, “oh, believe me, I’ll tell you alright.” She grinned.
Dad stood up and she followed him outside to the car. On the drive home they talked about their last family vacation and Aubree forgot about her dreams.
Later that night after mom and dad had kissed her goodnight, Aubree stared at her ceiling and thought about the two dreams. It had been quiet a while since the light from her parents bedroom had vanished and the house was dark and quiet. Almost afraid of going to sleep, Aubree just stared at the ceiling…thinking. If only she would have called Jenica first thing in the morning…right when she woke up. Then none if it would have happened. It was her fault…something had warned her but she didn’t do her part.
Crack! Aubree’s body jumped as a loud shatter following by a high pitched tingling of small pieces of glass echoed through the house. A window downstairs had been broken. Eyes and ears wide open, Aubree was fear frozen in her bed. She felt her chest pounding and took short quick breaths through her mouth…trying to be motionless and quiet. For a moment, the house was quiet and she took a deep breath…but held it in when a stair creaked. Her heart seemed to be trying to pound it’s way out of her chest, and when another stair creaked, she forced the air out of her lungs and immediately sucked more in. Her breathing raced out of control as she stared at her open bedroom door unconsciously pulling her blanket higher until it rested right under her wide eyes. The footsteps continued up the stairs.
The open hall was bright blue from the moonlight shining through a large window above the stairs, and as a dark shadow slowly crawled across the floor from the stairwell, Aubree pulled the covers completely over her head. Her hands, arms, and legs shook uncontrollably and she closed her eyes and vainly tried to stop moving. The blankets suddenly were ripped from her hands. She looked up to see a large body wearing a black hood standing over her bed….and she closed her eyes and screamed.
A hand grabbed her shoulder, and she screamed louder. It began to shake her…
She continued to scream.
“Aubree…you are having a bad dream. It’s ok….this is dad. Wake up.”
Aubree opened her eyes and stopped screaming. She saw her dads face above her and jumped up, throwing her arms around him. She burst into tears.
Her pounding heart and heavy breathing continued through her sobs. Her dad squeezed her tight, patting her back gently while whispering to her.
“It’s ok sweetheart…it’s ok.”
This continued for several minutes, until she had calmed down a bit. “Tell me about your dream,” he said.
She sat up and looked at him.
“Dad! Call the police! Somebody is in our house” she whispered.
“It was a dream sweetheart. Nobody is in the house.”
“But dad, remember my dreams?”
He looked at her for a minute without speaking.
“What was your dream?” he asked apprehensively.
She told him.
“But what about the swirly design? Was that in the dream?” he asked.
She thought for a minute. “No dad…no, it wasn’t. At least that I can remember.”
She stopped for a minute and looked at him. In another whispered voice she said, “but what if I just didn’t see it?”
“I think you just had a nightmare,” he said. “But why don’t you come and sleep in our room just so you will feel safe?”
“What about the other kids?” she asked.
Her dad stopped for a minute. She expected him to tell her that everything would be fine. This is what he would always have said in the past. But this time, he didn’t say that.
“Well, I’ll carry them in too,” he said as he picked her up.
That didn’t make her feel better…to hear him say that.
It was a long night for Aubree. Being in her parent’s bed was comforting, but she was still scared. What made it worse is that when she’d finally fall asleep, somebody would roll over, kick her in the face, or make a strange noise and wake her up. A king-size bed seems large, but not for five; two parents and three kids.
“Last night was terrible!” Mom said and rolled out of bed.
Aubree looked over to see her mom standing next to the bed, glaring at the three kids all sprawled across the mattress.
“Why in the world did all three of you come in last night?” she asked.
“I had a nightmare,” Aubree replied.
“All of you had nightmares?”
“No…but I was scared for everyone,” Aubree said.
“Oh…your dreams,” mom said and threw a nervous look at dad shaving at the bathroom sink.
The buzz of Dad’s electric razor stopped and he walked out of the bathroom nook into the bedroom.
“She didn’t see the swirly design in this dream,” he said.
Mom breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly.
“So why did you bring all the kids in then,” she asked.
Dad shrugged, shook his head, and said, “I don’t know. Just to be safe I guess.”
“So what was the dream?” Mom asked.
Aubree explained the dream to her. Dad added that he had checked all the windows and doors and even stayed awake for several hours afterwards and listened for any strange noises. Nothing happened out of the ordinary.
Aubree tried to use the scary dream as an excuse to stay home from school, but it didn’t work. She went to school, and, as her parents had told her, everything was just fine. Although she was unusually jumpy for the first few hours, by the end of the day was laughing and joking with Jennica and her other friends. In fact, the next day went even better, and the next after that….and as the days turned into weeks, Aubree’s dreams were forgotten by everyone, even Aubree.
It was a sunny friday afternoon. Aubree stepped off the bus with her brother and sister. They walked quickly down the sidewalk arguing over who would have control of the TV. As the argument escalated, so did their pace, and soon they were all running towards the house. But as they approached the driveway to the house, Aubree froze. In the driveway was parked a bright red bike with green handle grips. She stared; her eyes were tense. Although she was a little scared, she was also angry…and curious. Angry because she hated the dreams and anything that reminded her of them. The curiosity and the anger overpowered her fear, and she walked up to the bike briskly and looked. There it was; a red and green swirl…right in the middle of the handlebars.
With her curiosity now satisfied, anger wasn’t enough to stop the fear. It engulfed her like an icy breeze…making her hair on her arms and the back of her neck stand on end. Her mind raced and body shivered as a terror filled panic began to form…until, from some deep place in her mind a simple thought pushed it’s way though the chaos.
“I’m dreaming,” spoke her thought.
The panic began to subside, and she said aloud, “I’m dreaming again.”
She looked up and down the street, into the sky, and around at the houses.
“I’ve seen the swirl again and I’m dreaming,” she thought. “Now something is going to happen.” She took a deep breath.
“I’m going to be ready for it,” she muttered aloud.
She walked up the sidewalk and stood in the open doorway and listened. The sound of cartoons coming from the TV in the family room was all she heard. She turned to the right and walked into the front room and sat on the couch. She sat on the edge of the cushion, back straight, hands in her lap…like a perfect school girl at full attention. She stared straight ahead, listening…and waiting.
Aubree turned to the right to see her dad standing in the hallway. She ignored him and turned her head back. She didn’t think he was the purpose of the dream.
“Aubree….are you ok?”
“Dad, go away,” she thought. “I’m busy.”
He didn’t go away. In fact, he walked into the frontroom and kneeled right in front of her face.
Irritated, she said, “Dad, leave me alone. I’m dreaming.”
Although she tried not to see him, she couldn’t help it. He lowered his right eyebrow and puckered up his mouth…his thinking look. She didn’t flinch. She had more important things to do in this dream and she decided to ignore him.
He still didn’t go away, but instead lowered both eyebrows and, as he stared into her eyes. He opened his eyes up wide and flared his nostrils. She still didn’t respond, and he didn’t give up. He added a frown and puffy cheeks to the look, and then in a Yodalike voice said, “dream you can’t, for you are awake, yes.”
“Dad! Stop distracting me!” she said with a smile on her face.
“Distract you from what?” he asked.
“I’m dreaming, dad. I’m in the middle of a dream. I’ve seen the swirly design and I’m waiting to see what happens. When something happens, I’ll wake up and come and tell you, ok?
“Oh…so you are asleep right now?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“So are you sleep talking then?”
She looked at him. He didn’t get it. “Dad, you aren’t real right now. You are in my dream. Now…go away. It’s my dream…go away.”
He started laughing.
“Aubree, you are not asleep, I promise you.”
She looked at him. “I saw the bike in the driveway…remember, the one from my dream. I saw the swirly design. That means this dream will become real.”
“Oh,” he said as a smile slowly crept across his face. He chuckled.
“Aubree, the police department brought the bike over earlier today. It’s been 90 days and they couldn’t find the owner, so now it’s yours.”
His smile grew. “You are awake you silly girl!”
Aubree was silent for a minute while she thought.
“So, I’m not dreaming?”
“No, you aren’t dreaming,” he said with the same grin stuck to his face.
“Oh…” She was quiet for a moment.
“Sorry I was so rude then…” she smiled sheepishly, her eyes looking up at him while her face pointed down.
He laughed again. “No problem Aubbers,” and then added in a stern tone, “but don’t let it happen again!”
She laughed with him for a second and then stopped…suddenly quiet and still.
“What is it?” dad asked.
“I don’t know dad. I really thought I was dreaming.” She spoke slowly as she thought about what had happened.
Her gaze fell downwards and with a blank stare, continued.
“I was trying to be mature and responsible and figure out what the dream was telling me. At first I was scared the dreams were back but then I decided to be strong and watch carefully to find out what the dream was about. I’m so confused.”
Dad sat on the couch next to her and picked her up, squeezing her in his arms.
“Maybe we should see a doctor about these dreams,” he said.
“No!” Aubree blurted. “No! …I’ll be fine. I don’t want to go to a doctor.”
“Ok,” dad said. “We’ll put the doctor on hold for now.”
He squeezed her again and she put her head on his shoulder.
Later, Aubree sat on the bike and studied the strange design. It was a small round sticker with shiny red and green lines swirled together. She lifted her feet from the ground and began to pedal. She glided down the road as the air tossed back her hair and bathed her face in a cool breeze. It was a nice bike. She liked the color, the position of the handlebars, the seat…and it was a gentle smooth ride too. In fact, she didn’t remember ever riding along so effortlessly, speeding down the road. Normally, by now she would be almost tired as she pedaled…pedaled? She hadn’t pedaled the bike since leaving her driveway! The road was flat, yet she coasted along like she was zooming effortlessly downhill. She looked at the road ahead. She was nearing church hill.
It was impossible to ride up church hill. Everyone had to walk their bikes up church hill. It was too long and steep to even dream of riding to the top. Oh, she had tried plenty of times…got a good head start, pedaled hard, stood up and pushed hard, but the best she ever did was a quarter way up. It just became too steep.
Her heart began to pound as she neared the base of the hill. She tried to calm herself by thinking, “I’ll stop. I’ll start up the hill, the bike will slow, and I’ll stop. It’s ok…” Another voice inside disagreed, but she tried not to listen. She reached the base of the hill and began to ascend the steep road…and she kept rolling forward!. She hadn’t pedaled once and she was already a fourth of the way up the hill, which was now getting steeper! But she kept right on climbing.
A part of Aubree was terrified; another part cheered at defying the invincible hill, and another part was busy analyzing the situation.
“Am I dreaming or am I awake?”
Normally, she would assume that for something this strange to happen she would have to be dreaming. At the same time, the bike was mysterious. Maybe she wasn’t dreaming.
As she neared the top of the hill, she smiled at conquering it so easily. She reached the top…and kept right on going. The bike seemed to have a mind of its own, carrying her forward to an unknown location. Although there was still a terrified feeling about it…Aubree was tired of being afraid of the swirl and her dreams. She buried the fear and just watched as the trees and houses rushed past her.
The bike made several turns, crossed an old bridge, and started up an old windy dirt road. There were no more houses; only a forest of large trees and shrubs. Several miles down the dirt road, the bike suddenly stopped. Aubree stepped off and looked around. As her eyes adjusted to the shade in the forest, she saw a curious house nested in the shadows. The small house was covered in green vines which hid all but two windows and a door which had a rounded top. Around the house was a thick layer of plants…flowers, fruit trees, and vegetables. A small path weaved though the growth to the house. Aubree stepped off the bike, leaned it against a tree, and followed the path.
As she neared the front door, it opened and revealed and old gray haired women sitting at a small round table.
The women smiled and said, “Welcome, Aubree. Wake-up! It’s is time to begin.”
Aubree opened her eyes. She was lying in her bed, her blankets tucked around her neck. Her room was dark. She sat up and looked out her window at the bike on the lawn below. She knew what she had to do…her arms tingled, her mind was clear, and her heart pounded. She had never been so excited and full of energy. She knew that today she would uncover some of the mystery behind the strange dreams.
Aubs crept down the stairs and into the kitchen. The house was still and quiet, a typical Saturday morning as everyone enjoyed a few extra dreams. She made a sandwich, poured a thermos of milk, grabbed a few cookies and put everything into her backpack. She slipped out the back door and within minutes was pedaling her bike quickly down the road…the same path she had followed in her dream.
This time, however, it wasn’t an effortless glide. She pedaled hard as she approached church hill. She was already tired and breathing hard! In her dream she had made it to the top of the hill…so maybe on this mysterious bike she could ride to the top. She reached the base of the hill and began to race upwards, climbing! Climbing! …slowing, slowing….
She stood on her pedals, using her body weight to push them down, trying to keep moving, but the hill was ruthless and seemed to laughed at her efforts. She jumped off her bike as it came to a stop. Nearly exhausted, she huffed and struggled for air. Her side hurt and her face was wet with sweat. She raised her arm and wiped her forehead on the short sleeves of her shirt. It left it soaked. She repeated this with the other arm and then took the lower part of her shirt in her hand and wiped her face.
Aubree, still breathing hard, looked at the hill. She was barely a fourth of the way up. She looked at the sun. She pictured the ride ahead….several miles of road; past the old bridge and up the dirt road. All this for a dream? Was she crazy? She flipped her bike around and straddled the seat. Looking down the hill and sitting on the bike reminded her of the first dream. Same hill, same bike. She looked at the swirl on the bike. Her foot was pushing the pedal backwards, locking her in place on the steep hill. All she had to do was lift her foot and she would glide down the hill…and almost all the way home.
“I’ll get Dad to give me a ride,” she thought. “If I just drive home…”
Somehow she knew that wasn’t the way it had to be done. She climbed back off her bike and turned it around and began to push it up the hill. She laughed back at church hill, “you won’t beat me today!”
Two hours later she crossed the bridge and worked her way up the windy road. Although she had never been on this road, she recognized every turn. With excitement, she rounded the final bend to the point where she knew the house and old lady awaited. As it came into view, her heart sank…causing her to catch her breath. She skidded her bike to a stop and she stared wide-eyed and mouth-open. The view was not what she expected.
She recognized the trees, for the most part. She saw many plants, although they weren’t the flowers and vines that she remembered. But nestled in the shadows was not a cozy little house but the remains of an old building. She walked to the place in her dream where the house should have been. There were still rocks marking the pathway but they were overgrown with grass and brush.
In front of her stood what she imagined a house would look like after being ripped apart by a tornado. A few walls were still standing, but not many. Old wood covered the floors and pieces of broken furniture, glass, and chunks of concrete littered the area. It was a mess!
The house looked like it had been destroyed fifty years ago. Nothing remained. There were even plants in the middle of what used to be the living room, growing up through the broken boards. Aubree thought of the old lady who had looked at her. She remembered the sparkle in her eyes, the excitement in her voice. Aubree expected to meet her and get an explanation of what had been happening, but instead….there was nothing!
Her eyes filled with tears mixed with the sweat on her cheeks as they tricked down her face.
“I was so stupid,” she thought. “I rode out here for nothing. All because of a stupid dream.”
She picked up a rock and heaved it at the house. She opened her mouth and her frustration came out in a loud scream of anger and frustration.
“Why? What are these stupid dreams! What is happening to me! What is going on?”
She dropped to the ground and sat crying with her head buried in her hands. Her voice wailed uncontrollably as she sobbed…she felt the complete opposite of her excitement from this morning. She was mad at herself for getting excited, for thinking all those ridiculous thoughts. She lifted her face, eyes still full of tears. It must have been just another funky dream. She pictured the old lady sitting at her chair, her eyes sparkling…her eyes sparkling. She rubbed her eyes. Something was sparkling. Something in the rubble near where the old woman had been sitting!
She jumped up and ran through the destroyed house. Something was under the pile of wood! She frantically kicked aside the rubble and knelt down to find an old wooden box. A decorative lock on the front of the box is what had sparkled and caught her attention. She picked it up and held it in both hands. It was about the size of her pencil box. The wood was old but solid. It wasn’t cracked and warped like the house around her. It was smooth, clean, and pretty. It was carved with several designs….and as she looked closely at them, she gasped. There was the swirl from her dream, carved right into the top of the box! She tried to open the box but it wouldn’t budge. She pulled on the latch, but it was solid. She dug her fingernails behind the lock trying, unsuccessfully, to pry it open. She used her feet, sticks, and rocks; but nothing worked. The lid would not open.
After several hours looking through the remains of the old house and surrounding area, she put the strange box into her bag and ate her lunch. She had rummaged through the rubble and hunted around the yard, but found nothing else of interest or value. The box must be what she was sent to find. She mounted her bike, and began to glide down the hill. At least the ride home was much easier!
That evening as Aubree snuggled in her bed preparing to go to sleep, she tried again to open the strange box, but without luck.
“What good does it do me?” she thought. “Why send me on a crazy trip if I can’t get the dang thing open?”
She tossed the box aside, flipped off her lamp, and dropped onto her pillow.
She was slightly irritated at the strange old women, which seemed funny to her. She was mad at a woman whom she’d never meet, never known, and probably hasn’t even been a live for many years…if ever at all! The thought made her laugh out loud. She was mad at a stranger from a strange dream….and with those thoughts, she drifted off to sleep.
Immediately she was standing in the Ice Cream store. Before she even saw the new strange flavor of ice cream (the one with an all too familiar swirly design), she knew she was dreaming.
“Well, if I’m dreaming” she thought, “I may as well enjoy it!”
“Hi, I’ll have a triple hot fudge sundae.”
The girl behind the counter made a giant sundae and put it on the counter. “That will be $4.99,” the girl said.
“$4.99?” Aubree thought. “This is my dream, how am I going to pay….wait. It’s my dream and I want to have $10 in my pocket.”
She stuck her hand into her pocket and pulled out a $10 bill! With a huge grin on her face, she gave the ten bucks to the girl and told her to keep the change.
“This is so cool!” she thought.
She sat on a stool next to the window and scooped out a mountainous heap of ice cream. It was delicious…and so low fat, she thought, which made her laugh out loud. The door chimed behind her, and she turned around to see who had come in. She froze, dropping her spoon onto the floor. Suddenly, the dream was not so pleasant anymore.
A man with wearing a green jacket, old levis, and a stocking cap, over his head was pointing a gun towards her.
“Nobody move, and nobody gets hurt.” He said.
Aubree was shaking. In the back of her mind she kept reminding herself this was a dream, but it seemed so real. She heard once if you died in your dreams you die in real life…what if he shot her?
“Your money goes in this,” the hooded stranger said as he threw a duffel bag to the girl behind the counter.
The duffel bag landed on the counter next to the girl and slid to the floor, but the girl didn’t pick it up. She just stood there, staring at the man. Her head was quivering, she was breathing fast, and her eyes were full of tears.
“Fill up the Bag!” he said as he took a step towards her and waved his gun at her. “The Bag!”
The girl didn’t move.
The guy walked right up to her, pointing his gun to her forehead.
“Fill up the bag with your money.” he said long and slow. “I don’t want trouble, just the money.”
The girls eyes rolled up behind her head…she swayed for a moment, then fell backwards. There was a loud crashing of metal spoons and pans…and, bam! The gunshot was unexpected and caused Aubree’s entire body to jump. She didn’t even realize she was screaming until the gunman turned to her, pointing his gun.
“Shut up!” He screamed.
She began to shake and she realized he had grabbed her and was shaking her back and forth.
“Wake up,” he said.
“it’s ok, it’s just a dream….” He said and continued to shake her.
His voice faded, the ice cream parlor faded, and her dad’s voice was speaking, calm and easy.
“It’s a dream, Aubree, wake up.”
She opened her eyes. She was sitting in her bed, both her parents at her bedside. Her dad was holding her shoulders. She was breathing fast and hard.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
She nodded yes.
It was quiet for several moments and the three of them sat looking at each other. Then, without a word, her dad picked her up out of bed and began carrying her down the hall. With her head on his shoulder looking backwards, she saw her mother carrying her pillow and following them. Seconds later, she was cuddled up between her mom and dad in their king sized bed.
“Do you want to talk about it tonight or tomorrow?” dad asked.
“Tomorrow,” she said. She didn’t want to think about it at all tonight.
Feeling safe between her parents, Aubree fell asleep for the second time that night.
Early the next morning, Aubree shook her dad. “Wake up!”
He rolled over, grumbled, wrapped a pillow around his head, and muttered, “let me sleep!”
“Dad, my dream!” She continued to shake him, “Something bad is going to happen!”
He sat up and looked at her.
“What was it?” he asked.
Her mother was also sitting up now, and she told them both about the dream.
“We have to call the police!” her mom said.
“And tell them what?” Dad said. “Hello, our daughter had this scary dream last night and we think you ought to send a police officer to Baskin Robbins?”
“We have to do something!” Aubree blurted out, almost shouting. “What if she gets killed?”
They all looked at each other confused.
“I know, I know….we just need to think about this for a minute.” Dad said. “Do you remember what time of day it was?”
Aubree thought for a minute. She had no clue…it was light outside, and she guessed it was sometime in the afternoon, but she wasn’t sure. She shook her head back and forth with a sigh.
“Maybe we could take a bunch of people and go hang out at Baskin Robbins all day. Maybe he’d get there and decide not to do anything,” her mom said. “Or,” she continued, “maybe we’d end up with an even bigger problem, or maybe he’d just go somewhere else.”
“What we need to do,” her dad said, “is make sure that nothing happens at Baskin Robbins or anywhere else. Somehow we need to get the police involved, so they can stop it and arrest this guy.”
Aubree climbed out of her parents bed, “I’m going to get dressed,” she said.
As she walked in her room, she froze in her doorway. On the floor in front of her bed was the mysterious box…and the lid was wide open! She walked over to it and looked inside. The box had a soft purple velvet interior. In the bottom was a small folded piece of newspaper. She took it out, opened it, and read.
It was an obituary. She ran into her parents’ room, hardly able to speak.
“Dad, look at this!”
He took and read it.
“Dang, that’s really sad,” he said as he handed it back to her.
“No dad! It was in the box!”
“What box?” he asked.
She hadn’t told him about the box. In a single breath, she quickly told him the whole story about the other dream, her bike-ride yesterday, and the box.
“This morning when I went in there it was open, and this was in it! It must be a clue or something!” She was so excited she couldn’t seem to talk or think fast enough.
“We have to hurry!”
Her dad looked at the article again.
“This says that a woman named Susan Hanson was killed by a drunk driver last month….I wonder if the guy who is going to rob the store was that driver?” he said.
Aubree shook her head. For some reason, she knew this wasn’t the case.
“The guy who is going to rob Baskin Robbins was this woman’s husband. It says she left a husband and little girl behind…that’s him.”
Her dad looked at her.
“How do you know that?” he asked.
“I just do.”
After a short silence, her mom said, “Why don’t we see if he’s listed in the phone book?”
Aubree ran to the night stand and pulled the phone book out of the drawer. She flipped pages quickly for several seconds, her parents looking impatiently at her.
“Hansen, Hansen, Hansen, Hanson James, Hanson Jay!” she yelled. “He’s here! 321 North Baneberry Lane!”
“Let’s take a drive.” Dad said. “uh….after we all get dressed, that is.”
Fifteen minutes later the three of them were driving down the road. Her younger brother and sister were both playing at the neighbors. Mom felt it better the kids stayed behind. In fact, mom didn’t like the whole idea of going to this guy’s house in the first place and hadn’t stopped trying to convince them to try another plan.
“This is dangerous,” she said.
“We’ll just drive by….a normal family out for a normal drive. No harm in that. What other choices do we have?” replied dad. “Ok, do I turn left on 10th street, Aubs?”
“Yes,” said Aubree, who was looking at the map. “And then a quick left onto Baneberry Lane. We are almost there.”
They were in an older neighborhood. The houses were nice but far from fancy. The yards were quite large and large trees covered the area in a dark shadow.
“229….looks like it’ll be on the left” dad said. After a moment, he added “there is 289….it could be the next house.”
The three of them were quiet. Dad slowed the car a bit as they moved into view of the house and yard.
Number 321 was a modest, clean house. It was small, there were flower gardens which looked neglected and the lawn hadn’t been mowed in weeks, but the house looked nice. The front yard had cute little brick fence that curved up and down separating the yard and the sidewalk. Suddenly, dad turned sharp and stopped the car.
“What are you doing?” mom asked.
“Look!” he said, and pointed to the corner of the yard up ahead.
Aubree looked where he pointed. In the corner of the yard sitting under a tree was a little girl hunched over. As dad opened the door the three of them could hear her crying softly. They jumped out of the car and rushed over to her.
“Are you ok?” mom asked.
The little girl, probably about six, looked up. The tears had turned the dust on her face into mud streaks.
“My dad is mad at me.” She said.
“Why?” asked mom.
“Because I’m hungry and we don’t have any money to go to the store. My dad says he’s sorry he’s such a bad father.”
The little girl wore a dress that, although was very cute, was quite dirty. Her hair was long and pretty even though it was not combed.
“But he’s a good daddy…” she sobbed. “He’s just sad…and I’m sad.”
The three of them were silent. Mom already had a tear halfway down her face.
“Where is your dad, sweetie?” Dad asked.
Just then a car started behind them. Startled, they quickly turned around as an old truck backed out from the car port. The side of the truck had a sign that said “Hanson’s Masonry.” As the truck backed out, the driver saw them and the truck stopped. The door opened.
Aubree’s heart pounded. The man walked around the front of the truck, wearing the same green jacket and levi’s she remembered in her dream. His face, however, was not hidden behind a stocking cap. He looked like a nice man.
“Hi, can I help you people?” he said in a hesitant voice.
His face looked tired and stressed. His eyes were dull. Although he had a kind feel to him, there was an emptiness to his expression.
“Uh…” her dad started. “Well, uh, we were driving by because…”
There was a bit of silence and the man shifted the weight on his feet and looked quite uncomfortable.
“Well,” her mom continued, “…your neighbors down the road mentioned that you might be able to help us out.” She hesitated and continued, “We are looking for someone to build us a brick fence…kind of like the one you got here.” She pointed to his little brick fence. “We heard you were the best and wanted to find out if you were available.”
The man was completely silent and stared at them.
“You want me to build you a…” he stopped. He took a couple deep breaths. He was having a hard time talking. “You want….”
His eyes began to fill with tears and he raised his hands over them, trying to make it look like he was shielding the sun.
“Uh, yea….” The man couldn’t talk. He began to break in sharp breath, breathing in and out fast, then holding his breath in an effort to control his emtions.
“I’m sorry” he mumbled, apparently aware that he wasn’t able to hide behind himself.
Dad walked over and put his hand on the mans shoulder, “it’s ok, friend.”
The guy sniffed and looked up, tears streaming down his cheeks. “I haven’t had work for months. You have no idea…I just…” he put his hand over his mouth. A fresh wave of tears fell from his eyes. “I just haven’t known what to do.”
The guy rubbed his cheeks with his hand, took a couple deep breaths and calmed down. He wiped his eyes clean.
“Boy, not a good way to start a business deal is it?” he said with a slight grin.
Dad laughed gently, “It’s the perfect way,” he said, through is own moist eyes.
“How about,” mom said, “we go talk about the details over breakfast! We’ll take you two out for pancakes! Have you had breakfast yet?”
“Pancakes!” the little girl shouted.
Later that evening as Aubree watched Jay Hanson mixing cement in his wheelbarrow in her front yard, she held the box in her hand. It was locked shut again; she found it that way when they’d come home earlier in the afternoon. But for some reason, she knew it wouldn’t always be locked shut. It scared her a little, but watching Jay helped give her courage…she’d be ready for the next dream..