The Dream Unfinished

Her breath puffed out in short spurts as the wind whipped violently around her face. She could hear the rhythmic hum of her petals underneath her and her feet pounded into them. Left. Right. Left. Right. She kept a steady pace. Her vision was blurred momentarily by a cloud of dust, causing her to turn her head off to the side. Forward again, the shrubs and trees blurred with speed and shadow as she continued on. She could feel her pulse hammering in her temples, and stiff hands that clenched the handlebars tightly.

Through the buzz of the wind in her ear, she could hear the distant shouts and the dim thuds of feet. She checked again under her her arm to analyze their progression. The dark curtain of night blocked her view abruptly within a hundred feet, but she knew that they were slowly, and surely going to overcome her. The thought filled her body once again with an adrenaline burst, making her pound her legs harder into her pedals. Her handlebars swerved slightly from the force, then straightened and gained speed with new determination.

The path before her was of a comfortable width, but the gloom of the dark, shadowy bushes that lay on either side of her made her feel far more enclosed than reality. She was a lean girl, her shoulders slightly curved with the beginnings of muscle. She wore a dark gray T-shirt and blue jeans. Her long, dark hair streamed behind her, and blew from side to side with the cold, resisting wind. Strapped to her back was a small pillowcase, secured with a thin rope that was knotted around her middle. The bundle was small and lumpy, allowing you to wonder and question its contents.

Her back was curved as she hunched over the handlebars. Her legs burned with new found vigor as she stood once again to add speed to her seemingly interminable journey. Her feet, one bare, ached from the pressure of the pedals. The one protected left foot was covered only with a thin, leather, slip-on shoe, that permitted her to feel the small teeth that budded from the small pedal. The other had long ago lost any sign of small discomfort and now throbbed and bled from the medal spikes. A new ragged rip broke in the sole of her foot as she stood. She bit down hard on her lip to keep from crying out into the night. The pain steeled her with anger, and invigorated her and she turned a sharp angled corner, down another lonely path. Her feet seemed to curl around the pedals,as her legs swirled in a blur of motion.

She heard another shout and looked again over her shoulder. But still, the cover of night shielded her pursuers from being sighted. She faced forward and a small shadow sped near. The looming branch lashed at her face, tearing at her skin. Breaking quickly free she closed her eyes for a moment against the burning sting of pain that had exploded from her left cheek. Silent tears puddled unwillingly and rolled down in a single, mocking stream. The salt burned deep into the gash, causing her to grit her teeth.

Her legs shook with the effort to stay standing. She collapsed onto the seat and pedaled hard. Her legs burned as if on fire and her knees felt as if they were being torn by bitter hands. Her lungs felt choked, her mind not able to clearly think. She could hear the voices, still not audible enough to make out any words, but they were there. Pursuing her into the night. She could hear the metal clicking of their heels, as they sprinted, tirelessly. Closer they came, she could feel it. Even at such a distance, she could almost feel their breath down her neck.

She prepared herself to stand once more when she caught a reflection. Just a shimmer of white against rippling glass, and it was coming nearer, and nearer. And all too quickly. Her breath drew in rapidly, and she forced her tightly curled fingers to reach for the break. Her finger creaked with the effort of extension. The brakes squealed at the resistance, a single spark flew with the sudden friction, burning a hole in the cold, harsh night. The back wheel swung right, causing her to swerve. Then all was silent and she came to an abrupt stop. All that could be heard was the strained breathing of the girl as perspiration dripped down the side of her face. Then out from the night another cry was heard, sending a cold chill up the young girl's spine. Still seated on the hard, plastic covered seat of her bike, she looked out at what lay in front of her.

Her abrupt stop had planted her near the murky water's edge. Nearby trees were reflected in wavy, threadlike images, looking like a spider's web, luring yet strangely suspicious, and for good reason. She could hear them, approaching fast. The muffled click of heels, were now close enough so that she could hear the step of each foot. They sounded like an approaching army of pachyderms, devouring and destroying anything that might be in their path. She shivered beneath her T-shirt, from both the bitterly cold night and the implanted bottle of raging fear and anxiety that was beginning to seep into her veins , taking over her entire being,and replacing the adrenaline-made anger that had masked the emotions of her situation.

She lifted a blood stained foot over the middle bar of her bike and laid it in the dried grass. Her gait showed sign of a wound as she walked to the water's edge. She took in a breath, hoping to revive her lungs of their much deprived oxygen. She un-knotted the rope that rubbing a raw band around her middle. The pillowcase fell to the grass with a light rustle. She moved as if to kneel, but quickly straightened at a sound from her right. Taking one more quick glance at the dark,and dreary night behind her,and another at the sack at her feet, she took a giant leap crashing down deep into the water with a loud splash.

Bubbles emerged from her mouth as she broke the surface and began to swim the distance that lay between her and the bank. The water felt thick under her tired arms, and each kick taking all the effort that she could muster. Her strokes slowed. Twenty feet... fifteen feet... closer, yet still so far. Her fingers and toes felt numb and she felt as if her legs were shriveling to nothing beneath her. The water grew thicker and thicker... she closed her eyes as the water swirled around her...

She opened her eyes with a start, looking around feeling slightly confused. The water was up just below her neck, her knees were bent to fit the small space. The bath had long lost its warmth and was cool to the touch. Her hair floated in a fan about her shoulders. Her leg had fallen asleep, and sharp pins seemed to prick her shin and foot as she wiggled her toes. She blinked her eyes and lay her elbows on the edge of the tub, palms flat. Had she dosed off? She shivered in the cool water, and raised herself into a sitting position. She reached over to the silver rack just to the right of her and pulled down a soft, luxurious towel. She stood then, rapping the towel about her shoulders, finding comfort in its warmth.

She glanced at her reflection in the mirror. Her damp hair was slightly curled about her face. She dried herself off before slipping on loose fitting pajamas, and a long, warm robe. She took her time walking down the hall to her room. Especially enjoying the peace of the lightly lit house, and the warmth of her soft bathrobe. Reaching her room, she closed the door gently behind her. Walking her bed and folding back her down blankets, she buried her head in the warmth of her down pillow and let the blanket and sheet fall softly over the contours of her body. The edge of the blanket caressed her delicate jawline. Laying back, she thought back to the odd dream that she had had in the bathtub. How strange to feel emotions so real, only to realize there was nothing ever there to cause them. She rolled onto her side, placing her hand underneath her pillow and snuggling closer. Perhaps when sleep claimed her once again, her unconscious mind would grant her the ending of her dream. Although curious of the resolution, the thought did not trouble her. After all, don't all dreams not placed in reality have happy endings?

THE END