In memory of Dylan Hart. Born: May 4th, 1980. Died: April 22nd, 1991 of Leukemia. I graze my fingers over the lustrous gold letters that were engraved on the plaque with the photograph of the contented young boy whose eyes looked so full of life. I never experienced a loss of someone I loved, and as I look up at the boy in the baseball cap I was longing to know how loss felt. I long to feel the worst kind of pain, not for the pleasure, but to know that no feeling in the world can be worse. Unexpectedly arriving and disrupting my days with excruciating feelings of terror and pain were day mares. The unexplainable became an ordinary to my middle-school self; however, I never got accustomed to the unnerving dreams themselves. Experiencing the pain of death meant that I would be ready for what were agonizing feelings I endured in my dreams, but I would not know until later on that I was a naive child who asked and received too much to bear. I take a step back and look up at the brick wall that ends abruptly between the wooden plaque and our school mascot: the black panther. I look longingly as if in the back of my mind I know there is something missing.
“I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…”, The song was playing in my head softly but distinctly enough that only I could hear it, like in a horror movie. My eyes started to move slowly, and I was looking at my surroundings. I felt nauseous and started to sense every little thing that moved. The tiny bug that was crawling up the teacher’s desk. The aroma of the chocolate-chip muffins coming from the next classroom. The sounds of my classmates talking, but everything soon faded and a moment of pure silence set upon me. Only for a moment then suddenly the walls changed, along with the floor and the ceiling. It was pitch black and the air felt heavy. There was a small light in the distance that kept coming closer gradually. I was sitting on something rocky, the ground. I was trying to register where I was. The light was coming closer and closer and SWOOSH the train came by super fast. Luckily, I moved my legs out of the way. For some reason, I was staring at an oddly shaped flower and then something bright came along. The Sun perhaps, but there was a giant ring at a certain angle to it, as if it was a halo. I squinted my eyes and there were lavender-colored flowers on a gigantic field that went on until it met with the horizon. Then the water came slowly seeping through the field of purple and consumed what was a moment ago an everlasting meadow of lavender beauty to a horrifying sea of blood. The waves drowned my beautiful white dress in scarlet. I leered longingly miles ahead of me mournfully as my focus blurred and then there was the classroom again. I rolled my eyes and covered my face with my hands and opened them to my English class. I didn’t miss a second of it.
I immediately use the margins of my notebook filled with math formulas that have no importance to me, and I record down my dream as the details were progressively disappearing. The visions of Dylan Hart haunted me through my sixth-grade year in middle school. The strange part was, that whenever the thought of him came into my head the person changed more and more into a girl with red hair and thick glasses. I didn’t understand what it meant so I let it go, but I shouldn’t have because it cost someone’s life. Toward the middle of the year, I got a dream that was so terrifying I still remember its horrifying feeling to this day.
I was at a construction site alone in India that faced the vast countryside. There were two towers like two parallel dominoes standing next to each other and another domino was stacked on top of it with interconnecting stairs in the middle leading to the top floor. They were made of pure cement, but looked stable enough to travel to the top. I journeyed to the top with each floor revealing a better view of the luscious mountain lay ahead. I made it to the peak by sunset just in time to be able to catch the gleaming sun right on top of the lively green mountain. I sat on top with my legs dangling below exhausted from my walk up thousands of stairs. As I was admiring the beauty of nature, the tower I was sitting on was wobbling and kept leaning slightly from side to side. I had no other option other than jumping to the tower right next to it. To my surprise, a boy was sitting there with a melancholy look on his face. I instantly recognized him as the boy that died in my school twenty-five years ago due to cancer, for he had not aged a single day. I sat beside him and we both looked ahead of us at the great mountain admiring the power of nature when he looked at me with his sad teary eyes and smiled. I was confused and wanted to console him when he pushed me and I fell. From the top of the tower I kept falling and falling. The worst part was I wasn’t waking up and I felt trapped and suffocated in my own body. Suddenly I hit the concrete ground sidewalk where some people were walking who now stopped and looked around to see what was the commotion. My head hit the ground hard, but my shoulder hit the ground first and I felt as if I was paralyzed. My head was sideways against the ground and it started to bleed, for I could see a pile of blood forming by my face. I felt excruciating pain, and only then did I finally wake up: bawling.
The next day I kept thinking about the girl who had transitioned from the boy with the baseball cap with red hair. She was dying and bleeding, but she was still happy. The thought of her creeped me out so much that I could not concentrate on my favorite sport I was playing in gym class that day: soccer. Suddenly as I gave the ball a feeble kick, one of the teachers ran into the gym and told another teacher about how one of my classmates had gone to the emergency. She had pneumonia, but now she developed a cancer that was killing her from the inside. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel sorrow seeing that I did not believe what was happening. Either way my thoughts and dreams tortured me about the situation that I kept trying to force away, because of a horrible reason that I knew but was annoyingly too stubborn to believe. About six months later, when I was in my math class the phone rang. My teacher answered the call and listened with silence for a couple seconds when she bursted out in tears. She died, she finally died of cancer and all I did was laugh.
Maybe I thought that I was finally going crazy, or that it was just a disgusting coping mechanism, but I forced myself to feel ashamed. A few days passed by, and I felt a fraudulent sense of relief as if I was just existing through the days and having no emotion at all. However, one morning as I drudged up the steps of my middle school, a glistening shine caught my eye. My dreams and memories of red hair and the boy who turned into a girl came flooding back. I knew she wasn’t just a dream. I knew what she looked like. I knew I recognized her. I knew she was going to die. I didn’t believe it, and instead I got what I asked for: I finally felt the pain of loss and god did it hurt. I bawled as I looked up at the brick wall and saw that nothing was missing anymore because the brick wall did not end abruptly. The gap had been filled by the shiny new plaque of a happy little girl in glasses and curly red hair.
This was a true story.