“I’m sure it was just a dream, Sweetie.”
We were sitting in the spacious living room. Mom was across the room from me rearranging boxes. She was looking for the box of pictures and knickknacks. Dad was on the sofa next to me, untangling some wires so he could set up the surround sound system.
I had just told my parents everything that happened last night. I told them about the flashing lights around the dresser, being transported to another world, the pizza guy, the fog, and the creepy voice. They didn’t believe me.
My mom was trying to console me after I explained what happened the night before. I didn’t need consoling though; I needed them to listen to me.
“How do you explain the puddle then?” I crossed my arms over my chest as my eyebrows formed a ‘V’ and my lower lip stuck out.
Mom looked at Dad for an answer to my question.
Dad placed a protective arm around my shoulders and pulled me into a half hug. “Maybe there’s a leak in the roof. I’ll come up and take a look. This house is old, and the storm has been bad so it wouldn’t surprise me.”
I shook his arm off, stood, and stomped to the other side of the room. Even if Dad found a huge hole in the roof, I wouldn’t change my mind. The events of the night before were real; I just knew it. I don’t know why I couldn’t convince my parents.
When I looked back at my father, his face had fallen and I could see hurt in his eyes. Mom must have noticed as well because she had crossed the room and placed a hand on my father’s back. My parents were trying to comfort me and I had refused their support. They thought a bad dream frightened me and were attempting to make me feel safe. I hadn’t seen that kind of look in my dad’s eyes before and it shook me.
I felt bad about shaking off my dad’s arm and my emotions were already running high. That look caused me to turn away from my parents so they wouldn’t see my emotions overflow in the form of tears. I took a deep, shuddering breath to collect myself and walked back to my parents.
Looking into their eyes, I could see the love they had for me, but I could also see that they didn’t believe that my story was true. No matter what I said, they would think it was a nightmare or my childish imagination getting the better of me.
It wasn’t a dream or my imagination; something strange had happened the previous night, and I had to prove it. I didn’t completely understand it, but I knew it was real. I also knew it had something to do with my dad’s uncle Arthur and the book he left for me. The pizza guy had mentioned Uncle Arthur’s name, and he said the place I had magically transported to was the same place mentioned in the book, Khôra.
Whatever was going on was something serious. A plan began to form in my mind. I would return to Khôra and find out exactly what was going on. Once I had more information, maybe I could convince my parents.
This was just the beginning, though. Judging from what the delivery guy said about Arthur’s mistakes, I felt there had to be more for me to do there. I knew I would need my parents’ help, but first I needed to get more proof so they would know the truth.
I calmed the fear that showed on my face and forced an embarrassed smile.
“You’re probably right. It must have just been a dream.”
Mom and Dad looked at each other and I noticed a look of relief cross their faces. I was glad to no longer see the pained expression on my father’s face.
“I’m sure it was scary, but you’re perfectly safe here,” Mom said as she stood and pulled me into a hug, kissing the top of my head.
Dad stood and leaned into the hug. “I’ll take care of that leak as soon as I can, okay Buddy?”
I looked up at him and smiled as he rubbed my head. “Okay.”
I pulled myself free of the group hug and smiled at my parents again to let them believe everything was fine. As I walked towards the stairs I tried to act as normal as possible, but my dad must have picked up on something in my body language because before I reached the stairs he called out to me again.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Bud?”
I could hear the honest concern in his voice. I took a deep breath, looked back at him, and lied.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just feel kind of silly getting so scared over a dream. I’m just going to go read some more.”
“As long as you’re okay.”
Mom had observed our conversation and put an arm around Dad’s waist, rested her head on his chest with a contented smile and said, “You can take a bucket from the box in the hall to put under the leak in your room. Enjoy your book.”
“That’s a good idea.” I turned back and headed for the hall.
Bucket in hand, I returned to the stairs. I put one foot on the first riser and glanced back at my parents. They had turned their backs to me, so they were unaware I was watching them. Mom tilted her head up to Dad’s, and he gave her a soft kiss as they broke their hug. Dad must have made a joke because Mom gave him a gentle shove as she laughed and said, “Stop it.” Her smile indicated she didn’t really want him to stop though.
I lingered a moment longer and watched as they began unpacking another box. They were really happy. They laughed and joked and shared some loving touches. They removed some of my baby pictures from the box and reminisced for a few moments. They both smiled at the memories as Mom traced her finger over the image.
It should have made me feel good seeing them like that but I knew I was about to do something dangerous, and I only felt trepidation. Deep down I knew there was a chance I would never see them again if things didn’t go well when I returned to Khôra.
A single tear tracked down my cheek as I turned my gaze away from my parents and headed to my room and the perilous adventure that awaited me there.