Dream Journal: Part Two
Nelson eventually left his bedroom and proceeded downstairs, only to see that his mother had already finished breakfast without him and was rushing to wash a few dishes. After having such a wild and fun experience the night before, it pained Nelson to see his mother so busy and hurried all of the time.
“Morning, Mom,” Nelson said, much more pleasantly than usual. “You won’t believe it, but eating one of those voidberries actually worked. I dreamt I was flying high above Neopia, and it felt so real–”
“That’s great, Nelson, but I’ve really got to get back to work. Maybe I can wind down and talk to you about your dream later today,” his mother said, knowing full well that she wouldn’t have the time to talk to Nelson at all for at least another week or so.
“Oh, okay. But before you go, can I ask you something?” Nelson said tentatively.
“Sure,” the blue Wocky said, “what is it?”
“Mom, when was the last time you had a dream?” Nelson asked.
“Oh, I can’t recall ever having one, really. Ah, well. See you later.”
Once again, Nelson was left alone in his kitchen. “Sure doesn’t surprise me that she’s never dreamt,” he muttered to himself. Just as he finished saying that, it occurred to him that perhaps a voidberry was just what his mother needed. He grinned, and skipped over to the fridge to make himself a few deviled eggs.
Later in the day, Nelson recalled all that had happened throughout his dream, from his stormy cloud to flying around on Leslie’s back, and began jotting it all down into his dream journal. It actually turned out to be an interesting read once he finished. “Well,” he said to himself, “that wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be. This dream journal project will be a piece of cake with these voidberries.”
By bedtime, his mother had still not returned home from work, but Nelson didn’t mind all that much. Normally he felt lonely at home, especially since he had no friends to spend time with over the summer. But that night before going to sleep, he bit into another voidberry, hoping to see his new friend once more. He crawled into his bed comfortably, thinking about what awaited him in the dream world...
The first thing Nelson felt was hot sun beating down on his fur. His eyes couldn’t quite adjust to the sunlight, but he could smell ocean salt being swept up in the air by a soft breeze, and feel his paws slightly sinking into the sand.
“Welcome to Mystery Island!” the now familiar voice of Leslie sang in his ear. “Did you miss me?”
“...Yeah,” Nelson said truthfully, squinting at the Flotsam. “So I’m on Mystery Island. How did we get down here from the sky?”
“No clue. Maybe your imagination is waking up,” Leslie replied.
Nelson laughed. “I doubt that. The only reason any of this is happening is because of the voidberry I ate right before falling asleep. I can’t actually imagine any of this on my own.”
A moment later, storm clouds gathered over the beach and a downpour began, blocking out the hot sun rays that had been coming down seconds earlier. Lightning struck a nearby palm tree and it fell to the ground, much to Nelson’s shock. The soft breeze changed to a violent wind, sending waves crashing onto the shore of the beach.
“Where did this storm come from?” Nelson asked Leslie, panicking.
“It started because you didn’t believe in yourself, Nelson. Don’t go saying you’re here with me right now because of some snack you had before going to bed.”
“But that’s why I am here, honestly! I had never dreamt before trying one of those voidberries. They’re the reason I’m dreaming.” Another palm tree came crashing down, this time closer to both of them.
“Nelson, you and I both know that’s silly. You’re the one with the imagination, not the silly little berries. Just have faith in yourself; you can most definitely dream without them. Now, concentrate and get us out of this storm,” Leslie said.
“I don’t think I can.”
“Just trust yourself,” Leslie said firmly.
Nelson nodded and shut his eyes tightly. In his mind, he commanded the storm to cease. For a second, he forgot all about the voidberries and his imagination issues, and concentrated solely on getting himself and Leslie to a safer place. He opened his eyes slowly, and instead of seeing a peaceful, warm beach, he saw miles of thick snow stretching in front of him.
“You did it!” Leslie cheered. “Looks like we wound up on Terror Mountain. Isn’t the snow pretty?”
“Sure is,” Nelson said, amazed with himself. He dug his paw into the snow and packed it together, forming a small snowball. Bringing the snowball to his face, he could feel its coldness. “I don’t get it. I know that I’m dreaming in my bed right now, but this snow feels so real when I touch it. So is this all imaginary, or real?”
Leslie shook her head. “Come on, Nelson. You should know by now – it doesn’t matter! If you care enough, you can make it real. So, just enjoy the dream while it lasts. You wanna go sledding?”
Nelson paused for a moment, then threw his snowball out into the distance. When he turned back around, Leslie had already begun sliding down a hill on her stomach. A small wooden sled suddenly appeared in front of Nelson, and without any question, he hopped on and let it take him down the hill.
“Wait up, Leslie!” he called, laughing as the sled went faster and faster down the slope.
Nelson couldn’t find the time to notice the large pine tree in the middle of the hill, which his sled promptly crashed into. This ended the dream, rather abruptly.
Nelson woke up anxiously, rubbing a sore spot on his head. “That was a weird dream,” he grumbled. He checked his bedroom window; it was still night time. The hallway light was on, however, and his mother was standing in the doorway of his room.
“Is everything okay, Nelson? I got home and heard you tossing around quite a bit in your sleep,” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I was just having another dream. Isn’t that cool? I had another one!”
“That’s really something. So you really think it’s because of the voidberries your teacher gave you?” his mother said skeptically.
“Um... I– I don’t know anymore.” Nelson let out a sigh, remembering what Leslie had said to him during the dream. “Here, why don’t you eat the last one, Mom?” Nelson offered, picking up the satchel from the floor and holding it out to her.
“Why, thank you,” his mother said, taking the voidberry out and popping it into her mouth. “It’s pretty tasty. G’night, Nelson.”
As his mother turned around and headed for her bedroom, Nelson wondered whether she would dream that night too. He dreaded the thought of never dreaming again just because he was out of voidberries. But if what Leslie told him was true, then could he really create his own dream world without them? Now wide awake, he sat down at his desk to document that night’s dream in his dream journal. He left out bits and pieces of his conversation with Leslie, especially the part about the voidberries, to avoid a few awkward questions from Ms. Fanelli. An hour later he finished, ending the entry with his unfortunate crash into a pine tree. Yawning, he closed his dream journal, turned the lights off and slipped back into bed.
The next morning seemed to come a bit too quickly for Nelson, as if he had not slept at all. Squinting in the morning sunlight, it took him a moment to realize he hadn’t dreamt upon returning to sleep. He sighed, rolling slowly out of his bed and onto the floor. “So it was just the voidberries making me dream,” he muttered.
“Come get your scrambled eggs, Nelson,” his mother called from the kitchen.
Nelson walked slowly down the steps, following the unappetizing scent of burnt eggs. “Why do we have to eat scrambled eggs at every meal?” he groaned.
“Oh Nelson, I made you breakfast; the least you can do is eat it. Did you have a good night?”
“No. After I went back to bed, I didn’t have a dream.”
“Sorry about that. I’m sure you’ll have another one soon, though,” his mother said.
“Oh, yeah? I don’t have any more voidberries, and we’re not going to Meridell in the near future either. What makes you so sure I’ll ever see Leslie – I mean, what makes you so sure I’ll ever have a dream again?”
A small smile tugged at his mother’s lips. “Because I’m living proof that those voidberries don’t work.”
Nelson’s eyes opened up, for the first time that morning. “You mean you didn’t have a dream from the voidberry last night?”
“Nope. Let’s face it, Nelson, I’m just not a dreamer. Never will be. You, on the other hand... well, I think you have more imagination than you give yourself credit for. Just trust yourself.”
“That’s what Leslie told me!” Nelson said in awe.
“Just an imaginary friend... um, from school.”
“Okay then,” his mother said, still smiling. “I’m going to head off to the store, so I suppose I’ll see you tonight or tomorrow morning if it’s another late night.”
“All right. See you later, Mom.”
“Oh, and Nelson?”
“Next time you have a dream, we should sit down and talk about it. I’m interested in hearing who this Leslie character is,” his mother said with a chuckle. She would never know how much that really meant to Nelson.
“...Then Leslie and I flew far, far away from the stormy island, into an endless blue sky, and we never looked back,” Nelson finished. Cheers erupted from the students in the classroom, captivated by Nelson’s presentation. Summer had just recently come to a close, and the time had come for the students to share stories from their dream journals. For Nelson, presenting was an easy task; he had documented not only the minimum requirement of three, but over fifty dreams from the summer in his journal. He grinned and took his seat as the class continued to clap.
“My, my, who would have thought that of all my students, Nelson would be the one with the most vivid imagination?” Ms. Fanelli said proudly.
The bell rang soon after, but surprisingly didn’t bring Nelson the same relief he usually had at the end of a school day. Throughout the day, he had impressed the class with dreams from his journal, made new friends, and for once participated in classroom activities. The first day hadn’t been the same boring and tedious day that it usually was, but an adventure instead.
Just as he had once before the previous year, Nelson stayed after the bell. This time, Ms. Fanelli spoke first. “So I see you had a few dreams this summer after all,” she said.
“Yeah, tons!” Nelson said excitedly. “I just ate one of the voidberries before going to sleep one night, and I dreamt away. But then when I ran out of berries, the dreams didn’t stop. I ended up having one every other night, sometimes two a night.” He paused and took a breath. “But... I gave the last voidberry to my mom, and it didn’t work. She didn’t dream for the entire summer. Why is that?”
“Probably because it wasn’t the voidberries that made you dream in the first place,” Ms. Fanelli replied with a wink. “Nelson, for all the time I had been teaching you, I always knew that there was some hidden potential behind your bored stares, some wild imagination that you were holding back. You’ve always been a dreamer, but I just needed some way to give you the confidence to know it. So, by eating a voidberry, you felt that you could finally cast aside your inhibitions and dream. The berries really are nothing more than a tasty afternoon snack.” She opened her desk drawer and pulled two of the berries out, handing one to Nelson. “Mmm, aren’t they delicious?”
Nelson blinked, taking the voidberry into his palm. “That’s what Leslie meant when she told me to trust myself...” He trailed off for a moment. “So I really can dream and imagine on my own. It’s all up to me.”
“Precisely. The best dreamers are the ones that have the strength to believe in their own imaginations.”
“Right. Well, if you don’t mind then, I’ve got to get home to meet with a friend,” Nelson said, smiling up at Ms. Fanelli.
“Go on ahead. Explore and discover!”
Nelson grabbed his backpack and ran all of the way home. His front door seemed to fly open before him as he twisted his key into the doorknob. He darted past the kitchen and the burnt scrambled eggs his mother had left for him on the table, and up the stairs to his room. Gasping for breath, he looked around.
Something had changed about the room. He saw his bed in the corner, but it was no longer just a bed. It was a pirate ship, ready to travel across the soft blue sea of carpet that extended all around him. The dresser on the far side of the room was a castle standing tall in the distance, reigning over an unexplored kingdom. His desk was an aisle waiting to be painted on, and his window a large telescope looking out over the dream world.
But best of all was the cloud Flotsam, floating right in front of him with an amazed grin spreading across her face.
“So, Nelson, are you dreaming right now?” Leslie asked.
“Right now? No. Just look around.” Nelson pointed to the towering castle on the horizon and the ocean of possibilities stretching ahead.
“All of this,” he said confidently, “all of this is real.”