Dedicated to a fellow writer whom I am blessed to call a friend.
Tathwem Essenuejal, for the injustices you dare to fight against and for a spirit that is never broken; I hope you get to see your wildest dreams come true.

Dream Walker

He was sitting at the lunch table amongst his friends with his arm draped around a golden-haired angel to which his affections were directed, but perhaps not returned. He laughed at something his friend had said and turned his head to the sky as the notes of his laughter drifted through the air. He glanced about to see who had noticed his outburst. His eyes locked with mine. Not long enough to give a note of recognition – but long enough still. He knew who I was; he'd known for a long time. This wasn't the first time I'd seen him.

My objective complete, I exited the lunchroom and began to walk through what appeared as a hallway of nothingness. Travel when everyone else isn't part of your obstacle course tends to make a journey smoother.

I was in an auditorium while a dancer flitted about the stage, captivating her audience with her grace and talent. I walked down the aisle, completely unnoticed by the wide-eyed spectators filling the rows. I was a phantom, a ghost, a vapor to them. They weren't real. But the dancer—she was very real.

She finished her routine and was granted a standing ovation. Continuing to beam, she bowed and blew kisses at the faces that exhibited awe at the magical display she had performed. I smiled and clapped, half envying her and half pitying her: she'd wake up soon and this would be nothing more than a distant dream.

As she looked around, her eyes met mine. She stared at me, her eyes full of recognition. Dreams are the desires of our own subconscious playing out for us – so why was I here? For her mind to generate me, she'd have to know me. She did. I'd been in more than just her dreams.

I slunk into the shadowy corners of the auditorium before again entering the hallway of empty space. I had one more stop to make: the hardest stop to make. I would again have to watch scenes from my own life. Scenes I thought I was rid of; scenes that were a part of my past. But, somebody else struggled with them now, and I was subjected to watch the nightmare.

The setting was different. We were in the classroom this time. She sat at the desk three rows back. Half paying attention to the teacher, half focused on her survival strategy for the day. Her shirt was wrinkled and her jeans stained; there was no fathomable way she would avoid ridicule today. The bell rung and she began to gather her belongings. Someone came up behind her and pushed her, causing her to be thrown off balance and tumble to the floor. Laughs and eye-rolls were exchanged. "Freak" and "Klutz" could be heard among the more harsh whispers. Swallowing back the tears, she gathered her belongings once more and decided to escape to the hallway. I followed at a distance, painfully watching the events unfold.

She was just putting books in her locker while counting the minutes until she could escape her personal hell. Some girls walked up and began their daily taunting routine covering everything from the girls' dirty clothes to her frizzy hair and tired face. I stood watching as the words pierced through her long ago broken armor. She stood there, holding her books to her chest as a form of protection until the girls left.

In her haste to get to her next class, she bumped into a boy heading towards her. She apologized and tried to move, but he lightly held her arms. "Don't go, I need to tell you something," he said. She looked up as he gave her a disarming smile. "I love you."

Love – something so foreign to her. In her world— a world filled with only ridicule and malice— someone to love her?

I wanted to scream for her to run, but I couldn't. I had to remain silent as it all happened. I could not speak: I was not in control.

"Really?" she asked as a few people walked up behind the boy. "You love me?"

He smiled again as he gave a low chuckle. "I could never love a pig like you."

The audience that had gathered behind him broke into hysteria, but she ran out the doors not daring to look back. She wouldn't endure her hell another minute. As I followed her, the walls of the school transformed into the walls of an empty room. Nothing but she was in the room. She sat on the floor, a gun in her shaking hand.

I walked up to her and gently placed my hand over hers and the gun before delicately prying it out of her fingers. She sat there sobbing and I allowed my own tears to fall. I desperately wanted to relieve her pain; to carry her burden. A burden so familiar, it seemed an impossibility that someone else would have to bear it.

I had dreams once too: dreams of excavating a tomb in Egypt, flying a shuttle to Mars, or discovering a cure for diabetes. But, my dreams slowly faded and transformed into the nightmares of my life. The nightmare of being unloved, unnoticed, and uncared for. The nightmare where I was seen as lower than human and unworthy of love or acceptance. The nightmare that changed my destiny from dreamer to dream walker.

I now only exist in the dream world as a vapor of a subconscious. Someone you've seen or you wish existed. I see what other people dream to be one day as well as those on a road to becoming a dream walker themselves. I see those who need their dreams back; who need a chance to be shown they can dream again. But, I can only show that here. I'm a dream walker: I don't exist once you wake up.