His Mother's Dream
Celeste never moved. She lay in bed, year after year, not even fluttering an eyelash or wiggling a toe. Her lips were set in a placid line, only slightly stirring when she took in a breath. But she couldn’t even do that herself. She could only breath with an oxygen tank. Celeste’s lungs were broken; they would never work again. Neither would her legs or her eyes. Even if she did wake up, she would have to spend the rest of her life here—in the hospital.
“She’s so still,” a nurse said to Celeste’s mother. “It’s like the ocean when there’s no wind.”
And it was true. Celeste emitted a sort of energy, so strong that whenever someone stepped within five feet of her they could feel the stillness, the emptiness, the cold lifelessness that surrounded her. There was no denying it: Celeste was as good as dead.
“You just wait,” Celeste’s mother said to the nurse. “The ocean may sit still, but given time a wave will come. A storm will gather and it’ll rain hard, just you wait and see.”
So they waited. And waited.
Doctors came in, sometimes multiple times a day, to gaze sadly at Celeste’s unmoving face. They would take notes and tests and then sigh. But it made no difference. Celeste was never going to wake up again.
It had been three years, three years of unconsciousness, three years of deep sleep. Celeste’s family stopped visiting her. They felt that there was no point. After all, she couldn’t hear them speak. She couldn’t feel their touch. She couldn’t see their faces gazing down at her.
Everyone thought Celeste was in a dark, dark place, the sort of place you go when you’re sleeping but not dreaming. The sort of place that is black but not scary, the sort of place where time is meaningless and the night passes away quicker than a flash.
And she was there. But only for a while.
No soul could reach Celeste. No one could talk to her or touch her or see her. She was alone, in that deep dark place of sleep, a fourteen-year-old girl who was so sick she couldn’t even open her eyes. She was alone.
Until she wasn’t.
Javelin was awake, but he wished he wasn’t. His mother recently passed away, and as she went to heaven she took her son’s voice with her. Javelin couldn’t talk. Ever since that frightful day, he hadn’t said a single world to anyone. Sometimes at night, when he was sure no one was awake, he would utter the softest of whispers, just to see if he could do it. Sometimes he could, sometimes he couldn’t. But it didn’t matter anyway. He would never speak to anybody else ever again. When his mom died, he cried for hours. When he had finally gotten ahold of himself, his throat was choked and blocked and he couldn’t make a sound. And that feeling stayed.
His friends at school didn’t try to comfort him. On the contrary, they immediately walked away from him once they heard of his mother’s death. They thought they wouldn’t be able to deal with a grieving friend. “We’re sorry, Javelin,” they said when Javelin walked over to their usual table. “You need some time alone right now.”
Alone time. Javelin didn’t want alone time. He wanted a friend, but nobody wanted to go near him.
Slowly, Javelin changed. His grades dropped and he stopped painting, which was something he was exceptionally good at. He walked with his head down and never smiled. His expression never changed, no matter what anyone said to him. Javelin was still, like the ocean when there’s no wind.
But a wave was soon to come.
Celeste opened her eyes and saw bright blue sky. Blinking, she sat up. Where was she?
She remembered flashing lights and people screaming. She remembered hands trying to pull her out of the way—of what? Something big had come. It was trying to get her…
Celeste flinched as the memories came back to her in an unstoppable flood. A big red car had hit her so hard that she fell flat on her back. The wheels drove over her whole body, not even caring that they were hurting a little girl… the memories of the unbearable pain were so real it was as if she was experiencing them all over again, and Celeste shuddered.
But where was she? Why wasn’t she broken?
Celeste looked down at herself and saw that, impossibly, she was completely fine. Her legs weren’t crushed like she expected them to be. In fact, they were bigger than she remembered. Were they swollen? She put a hand up and felt her hair. Instead of the short bob she was used to, her hair was long and spilled over her shoulders.
Was she even the same person?
And what was that she was wearing? A hospital gown? Celeste frowned and ran her fingers over her face. It felt right, just… bigger.
She took in her surroundings. She was laying on soft, white sand which felt like silk between her fingers. The sky above her was bright and blue, bluer than skies normally were.
But nothing could compare with the ocean.
The ocean was the true gem in this fairytale scene. The water was a deep dark blue, and it stood still. There was no wind. It looked so flat it almost looked something like a painting. Celeste thought that if she tried to walk on it, she could. But it didn’t matter that it was so still, for that was what made it so beautiful. It was so hard to explain, so hard to put into words the way it sparkled, the way the water looked gentle and becoming, as if it was a person instead of an ocean.
But despite how beautiful it was, Celeste had no idea why she was sitting in this beach, or why she was so much bigger. She stood up. She was taller than she remembered.
Celeste took a deep breath and willed herself not to cry. She would get out of this. Somehow.
Javelin didn’t want to live. He wanted to sleep and never wake up, like his mom did when she was his age.
When she was little, Javelin’s mother got hit by a car. He always felt a flash of fury whenever he thought about it. How could the driver be so careless? Mr. Cliff said the police never found the guy who did it. He vanished without a trace. Javelin hoped to track him down one day when he was brave enough.
Mrs. Cliff was so broken, nobody thought she would ever recover. But she did, and nobody knew why. She said it was because of a dream she had when she was in her coma. Mrs. Cliff fell asleep for three whole years before waking up again. When she did, her legs had healed themselves, her eyes worked perfectly, and she could move like anybody else. The doctors were bewildered.
Whatever her dream was, Javelin had no idea. But he was glad she had it.
If only she’d had another lifesaving dream before she died, things would’ve been okay. If only she had been saved from the cancer she had been inflicted with…
It was too many “ifs” for Javelin. He was done.
As Javelin lay in bed one night, looking out the window, he cried tears of grief. I want to see her one more time, he prayed. I want to say all the things I forgot to say…
Celeste heard a strange, high-pitched whistling sound behind her. She turned and saw a boy a few years younger than her laying in the sand. His face looked familiar, though she had never seen it before. The way his lips curved and the color of his brown hair looked strangely similar to her own.
She stepped closer and knelt down beside him. “Hello,” she said softly, touching his shoulder. He was wearing pajamas. “Wake up.”
He heard a voice. A gentle voice that sounded sweet.
Javelin shot up and bonked heads with the person hovering over him. He clutched his forehead and blinked at the sudden sunlight that met his eyes. What was he doing here? And on… a beach?
He looked at the person he had just bashed in to. It was a teenage girl. His hope melted away. He was so sure he'd heard his mother…
Javelin stood up and took a proper look at the girl’s face, and saw that she looked only slightly similar to Mrs. Cliff. But she was much too young, her hair too long and curly. And it was the wrong color. His mother’s hair was black, not brown, and this girl had freckles. Plus, she wore glasses. His mother had never worn glasses.
“Hello,” the girl said again in his mother’s voice. Javelin yelped and stepped away from her. Who was she? “Do you know where I am?” she continued. The way she talked was more high-pitched than a grown woman’s would be, but it was his mom’s voice just the same.
“No,” Javelin said. Then he clutched his throat and widened his eyes. He had spoken out loud, and to a complete stranger! And he had done it instinctively…
The girl lowered her eyes. “Well,” she said. “Who are you, then?” She sounded very close to tears.
“My name is Javelin,” Javelin answered. He wanted to ask the for the girl’s name, but he couldn’t bring himself to. Maybe it was because he was scared of what the answer would be.
The girl stared out at the sea. “I feel different,” she said slowly. “I’m not supposed to be here.”
“Neither am I,” Javelin said.
“Are you… did you… how did you get here?” the girl asked him. She looked so lost.
Javelin shook his head, wishing he could help her. “I have no idea,” he said. “One moment I was in bed, the next I appeared here. I think I’m dreaming. I have to be dreaming.” What other explanation was there?
The girl knelt down on the sand and buried her face in her hands. Javelin hoped she wouldn’t cry; he hated it when others cried in front of him.
And he hated to cry himself.
Celeste tried to stop the tears from leaking out of her eyes. She didn’t want to cry in the presence of this strange boy that looked so much like her. The more she looked at him, the more similarities she discovered. The way their eyes were both far apart from each other, how their ears were slightly pointed like a pixie’s. She didn’t want to look at him anymore. It was frightening.
He said his name was Javelin. She liked that name a lot. It made her think of someone that was strong inside, but quiet on the outside.
But he hadn’t even asked for her name. Fine, she thought as a single tear escaped her hold and trickled down her cheek. If he won’t ask, I won’t tell.
The boy made his way towards her and sat beside her. She could tell he felt awkward and brushed away her tears impatiently. Holding her head up, she said, “tell me about yourself.”
Javelin looked like he didn’t know quite where to start. He hesitated, then said, “I have one parent and no siblings. And I don’t usually talk. Now tell me something about you.”
Celeste wrapped her arms around her knees. She sighed a deep, shuddery breath. “I don’t know what to say,” she said, thinking. “I’m eleven years old…”
Javelin frowned. “You don’t look eleven,” he said.
Celeste looked down at herself again. “I know,” she said. “It’s like I suddenly grew.”
“Keep talking,” Javelin said, laying down on his back. Celeste did the same; the sand was blissfully warm and comforting. “The more we talk, then the longer we can stay,” he said. “This place is amazing.”
He was right, Celeste realized, with the calm ocean and soft sand. Everything on this beach fit together perfectly, like a jigsaw puzzle. She knew she would eventually have to leave, but she didn’t want to. At least, not yet.
“Well…” she searched for things to say. She could tell him about her family, but for some reason her memories of them were unnaturally blurry. She couldn’t remember her sister’s name. Did she even have a sister?
There was only one clear memory in her mind, one she didn’t want to talk about. But she said it anyway. “I was hit by a car,” she said. “A big red one. That’s the last thing I remember.”
She turned her head to look at Javelin and saw mingled shock and fear in his eyes. His body had stiffened. “What did you say?” he whispered. “About a car?”
“I said I was hit by a car,” the girl repeated. “Are you all right?”
No, no, no, Javelin thought. How could this be? It was too much of a coincidence. He added it all up in his head. His mother was eleven when she got hit by a car, and was in a coma for three years, which meant she was fourteen when she woke up. This girl said she was eleven but looked like a teenager… it all made sense. She couldn’t have known she was a coma. And the similarities between them, their facial features…
“Hey.” The girl touched his shoulder. With a jolt he remembered that his mother used to do the same thing whenever he felt upset. “What’s wrong?”
“My mother’s dead, that’s what’s wrong!” he shouted, leaping to his feet and leaving the comfort of the sand.
Sympathy shone in the girl’s eyes. “I’m so sorry,” she said softly, rising to her feet.
“It’s okay,” Javelin mumbled. He had no desire to tell this girl about how similar she was to his mother.
But then again, he thought. This is just a dream. A crazy, realistic dream. But a dream all the same.
He looked out at the ocean again. The sight of it made him feel slightly better, and he had the sudden urge to walk into the water. But he didn’t, and instead sat down on the sand again. The girl followed suit.
They were silent for a few moments, and soon the girl spoke. “It must be very hard, losing someone you love,” she said. “I can’t even imagine.”
Javelin nodded, not meeting her eyes. “It is,” he admitted. “It’s like she took some of me with her.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Javelin swallowed. “Back at home,” he said, “I couldn’t talk after she died. It was like she took my voice with her. But for some reason, I can talk to you. I don’t even have to try. I just do it.”
The girl laughed softly. “That’s because we’re dreaming,” she said. “Everyone can talk in their dreams. That’s why my memories are so blurry, too. When I wake up, I’ll probably be all broken. Then I’ll have a useless body to go along with my useless self.”
Something clicked in Javelin’s mind, and he shook his head. “No,” he said. “You’re not useless, and you won’t wake up broken. You’ll wake up completely healed, and you’ll be able to walk and talk and see just like any other person.”
The girl frowned. “Huh?” Then she smiled as if he just told a funny joke. “Thank you for trying to make me feel better,” she said. “But I’m okay with having a broken body. At least, more okay than I thought I would be. But saying I’ll be better won’t fix me.”
“I’ll fix you!” Javelin said desperately. “I have to fix you! It was me that fixed you in the first place—or, at least, I think it was me, or me in the past, or maybe the past is happening again because this dream is in the present—”
“Woah, stop.” The girl held up her hand. “What are you talking about?”
Javelin took in a shaky breath. “I’m your son.”
Celeste stared. And stared some more. Then she opened her mouth and laughed. “You’re funny,” she said. “Real funny.” This boy? Her son? Whatever joke he was trying to tell, it was hilariously bad.
Javelin, however, didn’t look like he was joking. He looked scared, worried, and was biting his lip.
“Hey.” Celeste nudged his knee. “You look pretty serious. Were you not joking?”
Javelin shook his head. “I wasn’t,” he said. “You’re dead right now. Or supposed to be. You’re my mom, and when I was going to bed I asked to see you again, and now I’m in the dream that saved your life, only I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do to—”
Celeste grabbed him by the shoulders. “Javelin,” she said slowly. “You’re right that this is a dream, even though it feels scarily real.” She noted the softness of the sand on her legs and the smell of the ocean. “But it’s just a dream. It isn’t going to save my life.”
Javelin looked hurt. But more than hurt, he looked devastated. “But—but if I don’t save you, you’ll die,” he said, his voice breaking. “A—and I won’t b—be born because you won’t be alive!”
Celeste looked at him fondly. There was something about him that made her love him. Like a brother, but different. Like he was her family. He was, she knew, but how? He couldn’t possibly be her son, he was too old…
No, it was just a dream. Just a crazy dream.
Regardless, she pulled him into her arms and hugged him. “It’s okay,” she whispered. “I’m here, and it’s okay.”
Javelin hugged the girl back and began to cry. It was his mother, he was sure of it. He knew it. It was the way she hugged him. Yes, she looked a little bit different, but it didn’t matter. His mother had probably dyed her hair and wore contact lenses when she grew up—that was the only difference. But this was his mother.
He broke away from her and stood up once more, looking at the sea. The shining water twinkled at him as if it were winking.
Then he heard whispers.
“You have little time,” the ocean said in a calm, hissing voice. “Find a way to heal your mother or you will cease to exist…”
Javelin swallowed and looked back at the girl. She seemed to have heard the whispers too, and her face was pale.
“This…” Javelin could hear her gulp. “This is real, isn’t it? It’s not a dream. I’m—” she let out a sob. “—I’m hurt. Please, please help me.” She looked so lost, so forlorn.
“Time!” the ocean said. Then louder, “TIME!”
Javelin ran towards the girl and pulled her up. “I don’t know what to do,” he said, voice breaking. “I’m sorry.”
“Please!” the girl shouted, wrenching away from him. “You have to do something! Anything!”
The air around them was so deathly still, so humid, Javelin would have given almost anything for the slightest bit of wind. He could feel it seeping into his very skin, his flesh. It was like time itself had stopped.
Time. He had so little of it.
“Please!” the girl said again, tears streaming down her face. “Please, Javelin, I don’t want to die. Back at home, nobody cared. They probably won’t care if I die, but you do. Please!”
Javelin was crying too. The ocean made a strange, hollow sound. Javelin took the girl’s hands and held them. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “I love you.”
A fresh fall of tears streamed down the girl’s face. “I love you, too.”
The ocean waved. Ripples appeared in the water, and the clouds moved with the new breeze. A pleasant wind kissed Javelin’s neck.
The water reached out and grabbed him and the girl, and they fell away into the sea.
Javelin woke to the sound of his alarm clock. He was lying in his own bed, comfy and warm. He wracked his brain, trying to remember the dream he’d had the night before. It didn’t come to him. There was a girl, he remembered. And a sea. That was all.
Javelin frowned and pulled himself out of bed.
Some things are better left unremembered.
Celeste opened her eyes. She was lying in a hard, long bed, and beeping machines surrounded her.
She was in a hospital.
She looked down at herself, confused. Then it all came back to her. Her mother scolding her for goodness knows what, Celeste getting mad and running out into the street. The car hitting her, the bright lights. And the dream—the boy, too. Javelin.