I can never remember where my dreams start. Never; and I've never met a person who said that they knew exactly when they fell asleep and their dreams started. It's like suddenly finding yourself in a movie theater with a movie playing on the wide screen, and you (no matter how hard you try) cannot remember when or how you got to the theatre, when you paid for your ticket and stepped inside to buy your junk food and find a comfortable seat. You may not remember any of those little things, and you probably do not wonder about them until you finally wake up and are able to think rationally, but you remember the movie ending, you remember getting up and leaving that theatre and going home to take a nap after feeding your dog. Like you, I can remember when my dreams end too, and that's always right when I wake up with my muscles trembling and my eyes snapped wide open, staring at the ceiling as I bite down on my lip to keep from crying or shrieking out.

This dream in particular did many things to me. It worried me, it terrified me, it kept me thinking about it for days on end without closure, without an answer, and I felt myself getting restless trying to make sense of it. The first thing I remember about it was that I was in the company of my good friend Caleb, whom was like the caring and attentive brother that I wished I had since the day I met him. All we did was talk and joke around about this and that and anything at all, and we always found ourselves confiding in one another about deeper problems, and in this dream that's exactly what we were doing as if it wasn't a dream at all but another one of our lazy days at school during lunch hour, but our topic of conversation still eludes me. In the back of my mind, when I recall the dream, I see him smiling slightly and his mouth moving to form words, but no sound played out as he spoke. I think someone else was with us, as I vaguely remember someone standing at my right, just out of my vision, but I can't recall who that person was. Maybe it was no one at all, and I probably don't remember the little details of my dream all that correctly (because that happens to me sometimes when I reflect on them). But even so, whether that person out of the corner of my vision was there or not, I do remember clearly being with Caleb, and I do remember that we were standing at the open mouth of a garage, cramped with junk and cardboard boxes. He turned to the heaps of boxes and carried himself over them to the other side where there was an empty circle where the garage floor could be seen, and set himself back on his feet. He turned back to me and gestured for me to follow him. I did as he asked and he smiled as I struggled to crawl on my hands and knees over very old baby toys and books, and broken parts of all sorts. That's when I saw movement, something bright and mobile, to the left side of me and I stopped my crawling to look over. There, about a foot away from me, slithered through the piles of junk was a snake—it was bright red with thick stripes of black and thin stripes of yellow all along its body, and it couldn't have been any longer than my arm from my longest fingertip to my shoulder. I saw it flick out its pink forked tongue and it slithered under a book and it was gone, but I still remained frozen in place.

Again, I don't remember Caleb speaking to me, but my head suddenly jerked up and I was looking into his face. He was still smiling, waving for me to hurry up and follow him and he pointed at a door that was just behind him on the far wall. His lips started moving again but his voice didn't meet my ears. When I looked down again at where the snake had disappeared, expecting it to rise up and attack me, it did not appear from under the book. I turned back to continue making my way to Caleb when I saw the snake make its exit from the very base of the mountainous heap of garbage below me, where it slithered across the concrete garage flooring towards him. I remember outstretching my hand to him in warning and in desperation, my hair falling in my face and I screamed for him. I screamed out his name.

As soon as my own voice hit my ears I was tumbling down through the junk to land on the floor with odds and ends tumbling after me. I lifted my head when I heard Caleb wail painfully, and I saw him swinging his arms out in front of him tactlessly (in defense or attack, I do not know, it looked like both) as the snake lunged at him—it was not hissing, but snarling like an enraged dog as it bounded from the floor and sank its long fangs into his shoulder, latching itself onto him. He would pull it out and throw it at the ground to continue flailing his arms around in terror, and the snake would only recover itself and lunge again, now sinking its fangs into his forearm. Caleb continued to scream in pain and I screamed with him in horror, unable to get myself up to help him. I sat there helplessly, watching as he would savagely rip the snake from his flesh and throw it at the ground, continue trying to attack the creature and at the same time defend himself from it, to have it elude his swipes and his blocks to bite him and latch onto his body again and again. It bit into his side, it bit into his inner thigh, and it lunged at his face and bit into his eye. That was when I finally got up and tore the snake off of him and threw it at the ground. As I lifted my foot to stomp down on its head, it rolled onto its stomach and looked up at me with round gleaming eyes that almost glowed an intense golden color. I slowly lowered my foot and watched as it calmly slithered away, back into the piles and boxes of garbage at the open garage door and disappeared from my sight.

Once it was completely gone, I turned back to Caleb and saw him lying on the floor with his limbs strung out around him and his chest heaving in a convulsing manner, as if he couldn't breathe. He exhaled sharply and his closed mouth emitted sounds of gargled chokes and I dropped to my knees at his side. I saw no blood and I saw no puncture wounds, but where skin showed and the snake had bit him were bruises that were such a dark purple they almost looked black and they all varied in size from one another. I finally looked to his face, reaching out my hand to stroke his cheek and comfort him but I stopped and flinched back. His eye was the center of a bruising blossom, and the white of it started to turn pale yellow and bloodshot. Both of his eyes turned yellow and bloodshot, but only the eye that the snake had bit had begun to swell. His skin turned grey and he rested his head back on the ground, his body still convulsing and he sputtered out harsh chokes and I quickly got to my feet and ran. I don't know where I ran off to and when I had arrived there, but I was away from him, and I was suddenly somewhere else.

I was in a room, one that I know I didn't recognize and I can barely recall the details of it. I remember sitting on a table with a vase full of lavender perched next to me and my feet were propped up on a chair, my elbows were on my knees and I had my fingers entwined with each other in front of my mouth, and my leg was bouncing as someone would do if they were being impatient. A handful of people surrounded me, and I don't know if they were people I knew or if they were people I never met, because looking back into the dream their faces are all blurry to me. I just remember people standing with me, and it felt like they were all waiting for something. Like we were all waiting for something. There was a window at my right, letting in dim sunlight between thick grey clouds and the walls of the room were painted a dark red color—almost maroon. A plain wooden door sat in front of me on the far wall a few feet away, and I couldn't stop staring at it. The atmosphere was so thick and overwhelming, just the anxiety that comes with waiting for something important suffocating me and the door suddenly opened, letting in a woman with dark hair pinned back into a ponytail and she wore white nurses scrubs. She held a clipboard in front of her and wouldn't make eye contact with any of us. I immediately leapt up from the table, knocking over the chair and the vase of lavender and ran straight to her. She finally looked up at me, startled. I said nothing, and she spoke to me impassively.

"I'm sorry, but he's dead."

I turned and I ran again. I ran away from her, I ran away from the people that had surrounded me in that nervous moment of impatiently waiting and I ran from the maroon-painted room itself into complete blackness. When I looked back, there were only two people standing in the room now, and I recognized them immediately even though I had only met them once and I had run so far away. Caleb's mother and father stood on the very edge of the room, where the floorboards met the blackness I had run into. They were standing next to each other stiffly, a few inches away from the other person's body so neither one was touching the other person and they were both staring at me. Caleb's father had his gruff hands stuck in the front pockets of his jeans, and Caleb's mother held out the vase I had knocked off the table. The lavender flowers that were sticking out of it were now wilted and dead.

I remember suddenly waking up after that, and even though my eyes were open and I was no longer running but now lying in bed, I was still surrounded by and trapped in complete blackness with the red snake slithering around in the back of my mind.

-:-

Caleb and I talked many times after that dream but not once had I told him about it. Even now, as I write this, he still has no clue even though it has been nagging at me for several days now. I felt like he did not need to know. It was just a dream, after all, a terrifying dream that scared the daylights out of me and it was better that he didn't know. The guy had a heart that was bigger than what a normal boy's chest should allow, and I knew that talking about it to him would easily upset him. So I kept my silence, and pondered the dream on my own.

About two days ago, Caleb had again brought up the topic of this girl named Miranda that he had met and quickly befriended and soon after was romantically interested in her. Being friends with him for so long, I knew that it wasn't hard for him to become smitten by a pretty face, and with his cheeks furiously blushing he admitted that he had asked her out last week and she accepted. They had already gone on a couple of dates and he was very excited for their developing relationship because he felt that she was 'the one' for him. I couldn't say I wasn't happy for him, and when he asked if I had any interest in meeting her tomorrow night at dinner, I couldn't say no to him. I was, in fact, very interested in meeting Miranda, if not a little bit nervous. I knew how girlfriends could be—when their boyfriends introduces to them their best friend who happens to be a girl, there's going to be some friction there.

I pushed the thoughts out of my head (and tried to keep them out of there) until the day for meeting Miranda had arrived. I could feel my excitement, and my anxiety, growing as I got myself ready and drove down to the restaurant that I was to meet them at for dinner. I stepped past the front gold doors with the glass inlaid windows and walked up to the maître d', who sat at his perch idly waiting for people to come in. He pulled up my reservation for three and brought me to a table in the far corner. The room was large and wide and filled with many square tables for small parties. The back wall was one large rectangular window that let the dank moonlight stream into the restaurant through the thick inky black clouds of night. Glowing glass scones that held bright candles were high up on the walls along with ceiling lights that gave a dim, romantic atmosphere to the room for young lovers. The maître d' pulled out my chair and gestured for me to sit down before I brought my chair closer to the table. He handed me a menu and when I looked up at him, he was staring hard at the table with squinty eyes, as if concentrating on something. He finally muttered angrily under his breath, but suddenly smiled at me pleasantly when he noticed I was watching. He excused himself and said that he would be back momentarily.

I sat at the table, alone, and placed my purse in my lap to pick through it for my cell phone. I pulled it out and placed it next to my silverware on top of the menu I was given, so I would be aware of any incoming phone calls or texts from Caleb above the noise of the restaurant. I clasped my purse shut and folded my hands on top of it on the table, picking at my cut nails patiently for someone, anyone, to come over. A hand was suddenly on my back and when I looked up, Caleb stared back at me with his goofy sharp-toothed grin. I got up and hugged him loosely.

"Hey, hope you weren't waiting long." He spoke sheepishly.

"No, no, I wasn't at all. I was just seated." I answered him as I motioned to the seat that sat opposite of mine and we both sat down. "So where's this lovely girlfriend of yours that you won't shut the hell up about?" I grinned.

A heated blushed ravaged his cheeks, and he scratched at his chin. "She went to the bathroom to clean up her makeup or something once we walked in. The maître d' wasn't at the front desk, so I just let myself in when I saw you. You look nice, by the way."

"Thank you," I laughed. We fell into awkward silence as we waited and I began picking at my nails again, looking around the room awkwardly. My eyes suddenly caught a glass scone that was placed on the wall almost directly above my head, and I briefly admired the intricate detailing of it when they slowly drifted downward to stare at the wall blankly. My brows furrowed together in familiarity at the color—dark red. Almost maroon.

"Sorry," A girl apologized and I looked up, expecting it to be Caleb's new girlfriend but instead found myself staring back at a waitress holding a vase of flowers. The girl was young and fresh-faced with her dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. She looked familiar to me, as well. "I forgot to put this on your table when I was making it."

"New working here, huh?" Caleb asked her good-humouredly with a small smile. She nodded and put the vase down and walked away hurriedly. I watched her escape and realization hit me like a shovel to the face—she was the woman from my dream! Thee faint scent of lavender reached my nostrils, and when I forced myself to turn back around to the table, I was staring back at the vase of lavender flowers with my jaw tightening. Caleb reached forward and plucked one out to sniff it, thumbing it delicately. "They smell wonderful. You should put one in your hair, it would complement your eyes."

"N-No. No thank you." I stated firmly and smiled nervously, still staring at the flowers. The dimly lit room, the maroon walls, the vase of lavender—if only the place was downsized and with less tables, it could have been an exact replica of the room in my dream. I shook it off and buried my nose into my purse, pretending as if I were searching for something as Caleb placed the stalk of lavender in the vase. After a few moments of silence that had turned from awkward to downright tense, he leaped up from the table.

"There she is," He muttered to himself, as if I suddenly wasn't there. A soft and affectionate smile came to his lips.

I planted a smile on my own lips as well and rose up to politely greet the famous Miranda that my best friend was smitten by, but I could feel the blood rush out from my skin and my body turned cold. My muscles tensed, my heart leapt into my throat and I swallowed dryly at the woman that slowly approached our table.

She was tall and voluptuous with her broad hips and round breasts, all bound up in a small and simple red tube dress that ended mid-thigh and looked absolutely stunning on her, hugging her body in all the right places. Her skin was flawless and tan, and glowed brighter than any glass scone candle in the room. She had long perfect fingers with beautifully manicured red nails, and on her thin wrist were glimmering gold bangles while a matching gold necklace adorned her lithe neck. She wore high red pumps and she walked with a certain sway in her step and her hips—almost graceful, but at the same time deadly. Her wavy black hair tumbled over her tanned shoulders and curled around the contours of her high cheekbones, which framed an elegant nose and plump red lips. Her full lips pulled back into a sweet smile that had looked frigid (the type of smile that was fake and manipulative), like soft ribbons framing pearls of straight white teeth. Her eyes gazed upon me with a dangerous glint, and I don't know if it was the candle light playing tricks on me or what, but it looked like her eyes were glowing an intense gold color.

"Hello, I'm Miranda, Caleb's girlfriend." This exotic creature spoke in a sultry growl that I was expecting to sound like a hiss as she held her hand out to me. "And I'll make sure to take very good care of him."

I swallowed again and tried to push the faded smile I had back to the surface of my lips and my hand reached out to hers.

"Nice to meet you. I am—"

My voice caught in my throat when her fingers wrapped around my palm and the sharp points of her fingernails dug into my skin, like two little piercing fangs and a female voice rang out in the back of my head as my wide eyes snapped to Caleb.

"I'm sorry, but he's dead."