This story is by Lacy Pierce and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Lying in my dark, cold bedroom with the reflections of the streetlights shining through the blindless window snuggled underneath my comforter, the last thing I always think of is my life. I feel so warm that I’m almost sweating. I think the fact that I’ve lived in Wisconsin all my life may have something to do with it.
I’m Becky Burnford. I am 18 and about to go off to college at Northland next year. In order to make it in, I must keep my grades at the top. I’m not quite as talented in algebra but I’ve excelled at almost everything else. I want to help restore nature so I’ve already chosen ecological restoration with an emphasis on forestry as my major.
I have been passionate about trees since I can remember. I still hang out in my old treehouse located in the large Box Elder just four feet away from the house. Mom has been telling me all my life that I can always turn to God. I’ve tried but my experiences have been meh at best. If God knows everything the way that He supposedly does, then why hasn’t He taken me out of this world? Instead, I try to make sense out of the dreams that I remember.
Tonight, I dream that I am a princess running through a very sunny forest of Redwoods. It is so wide that looks as if about nine or ten people can walk through it in one horizontal line. However, I seem to be running to rather than from something. I am back in an awkwardly tall little girl’s body. I know that I am running very fast, as if I am breaking through air and yet it’s restricting my movement.
Then…I come up on a hill. At the end, there is an arched shrubbery with an opaque pitch black spot that looks like an entrance. Suddenly, my heart is pounding. I am afraid to go in there. Simultaneously, it’s as if a greater force is pulling me toward it.
I wake up in a cold sweat. It’s still dark out. My heart is pounding and I am trembling.
It’s just your bedroom, calm down. I whisper to myself. Then I realize that I need to pee so I slowly get up out of my bed and walk into the bathroom that is just a couple of feet to the right of my bedroom. I don’t bother turning the light on. The toilet seat feels cold on my butt. Though at the moment, it’s almost a welcome relief. I flush, quickly wash my hands and stumble back to bed. It’s damp and the area uncovered by the comforter is cold, which startles me.
I stare at the shine of the streetlights parallel to my bed, thinking about the dream that I just woke up from. I normally don’t focus on things like dreams too much but this one has me absolutely stumped! It just doesn’t make sense for me to not want to go into the shrubbery entrance and yet feel pulled by some force greater than myself at the same time.
“Becky! Becky?! Are you okay?” Mom shakes me awake at daylight. “you slept way past your alarm. You need to hurry up and dress now or you’re going to miss the bus!”
Oh, God! I am going crazy! I always wake up with the alarm at 6:30! My morning routine in my treehouse is so important to me that the only time I don’t hang out in it is when the snow’s so wet that it’ s breaking the branches or when I’m sick. Thankfully, that’s only happened to the Box Elder a couple of times and it spared the treehouse both times.
I bolt out of bed, speedily put on my purple sweatshirt, white panties, and sweatpants that I had on yesterday along with my white socks and Nikes. Instead of washing my face with Nivea like I always do, I simply splash cold water on it, quickly run my favorite brush through my shoulder-length light brown hair. Right now, I am this image of a young/old tired hag. UGH!
I grab my red-and-white JanSport backpack and bolt downstairs. I walk to the corner of McCalister just in time to catch the bus!
“Ooh, look. The high-ended hippie decided to be human after all!” Michael McKinsky taunted and everyone else laughed. I just ignore them as usual. He thinks he’s so clever! He’s had it in for me since Kindergarten.
“Shut up or I will make you get off right now, Young Man!” Minsky, our longtime bus driver snaps at him.
As usual, I plop down on the seat at the left end. It’s the one that’s been “reserved” for me since Kindergarten,
The day goes by in a fugue. Normally, I’m very focused in class but today, I just can’t stop thinking about that damned dream! Why was that entrance so opaquely pitch dark and why was I being so pushed toward it?! It is not until Michael says,
“Earth to High-End Hippie!” in Literature class that I come back to the present. The class laughs and I’m embarrassed.
“Becky, please stay awake,” Ms. Lellvue lightly chastises me. The class laughs again and I can feel myself blushing even more deeply. Turns out that the class is focusing on climax of the Odyssey when Odysseus has returned disguised as a beggar and is about to beat the pigs at Penelope’s house by shooting his arrow through the axles. We are focusing on why Odysseus initially went incognito as a beggar and the plan for the slaughtering the suitors. Boy, Penelope was pretty weak if she was sleeping with all of those men and allowing them to trash the house! I mean, come on, even if she couldn’t be certain whether her husband was still alive, wouldn’t sleeping with all those suitors be a rather shameful way to honor his memory? She was obviously embarrassing Telemechus by doing so, too.
The rest of the day goes by in a blur. After Lit class, I come back to focusing on my dream. I even find myself hoping that I’ll have it again tonight.
After I finish my homework, I open up my laptop in the kitchen to journal about my dream. I suddenly get a very strong urge to spend some time in the treehouse. I bolt outside. I climb the nubby shelves that make up the three-foot ladder and sit in my empty-as-usual treehouse. I’ve always felt that chaos “blocks” creative thinking. Don’t ask me why. Even my bedroom has almost nothing in it but my bed and double-door clothes closet across from it. I always keep my packed backpack to the right of my bed.
I breathe in the sweet cold air and begin to relax. Once I do, everything feels right again. I normally do this in the morning. I love the feeling and all the smells of nature around me during the different times of year. It just feels right to me. So freeing. I just could never live someplace that isn’t a natural environment.
By the time I feel finished in the treehouse, the sun is going down. Mom’s probably going to be home in another few hours. I’m not feeling hungry but I heat up and eat a quick bowl of Spaghetti-O’s just in case. Then I brush my teeth and go straight to bed, shutting down immediately…
The dream does repeat itself. I run closer and closer to the hole. It seems to get itself further and further away from me initially. Then I finally stop running. I’m not out of breathe as much as I’m feeling very frustrated.
“Okay,” I declare in a voice that echoes throughout the scene. “I have had it! I’ll do what you want me to do. Just show me!”
And then…the hole expands itself toward me, again, my heart pounds. Though this time, it feels as if it’s going to shatter into a million pieces. Then I see a shining light pink heart and it swallows me.
The next thing I know, I’m in what seems to be a very large, dark concrete underground room with not a single door in it. Only the odd window shining pure gold-white light into it here and there. I am in the room for what must be an eternity when I spot a kiddie chair with the two large semi-square shaped holes in the back standing directly in front of on of the end windows. I walk over to it and sit down in it.
When I do, I am immediately transported into the blinding gold-white light. I feel surrounded by-no other way to describe it-Love. Both on the inside and the outside. As if It never left me. And It promises me right then that it never will. At that moment, I know that I will never return.