January 24, 2015

The Dreamcatcher

"It's a surprise. Don't cheat," Jason said to Sarah, as he blind folded her.
With that, he revved up the engine and set the car in motion.
Jason and Sarah were childhood friends. Today, seated in his shiny black Sedan, she wondered what the surprise could be. She smiled to herself as glimpses of their friendship flashed before her blind folded eyes.

It was Sarah's 11th birthday. She had stopped celebrating it ever since her parents had died in that awful plane crash. She had been living with her grandmother ever since. The last birthday she had celebrated was when she was five, the year the accident had occurred.
Sitting in a quiet corner of her room, eleven year old Sarah had imagined herself in a pretty little pink dress covered with lace and sequins, distributing sweets to all her friends at school. In reality, no one had remembered to wish her except her grandmother and pimple-faced Jason. Jason had made her a shoe box and her grand ma had got her some messily packed candy. Sarah couldn't complain. That was all they could afford. Her friends would receive fancy gifts and clothes on their birthdays. Sarah had cried herself to sleep that night. In her dream, she saw fairy lights. A string of dainty little lights in brilliant colors....in shades she had never ever seen before.
The next morning saw her wake up smiling. She couldn't recall the exact dream. All she remembered was that she was happy...and of course the magical fairy lights, she would never forget those.

When she was fourteen, she had participated in a ballet concert at her school. She had really pinned up all her hopes on the prize--a small battery operated digital television set. Sarah wondered how it would be to have a TV. She knew her grandma could never afford one. But she was ashamed to reveal this wish to anyone at school. She had put her heart and soul in the practice. She was so sure she'd win. But as bad luck would have it, she tripped over a wire in the middle of the performance. Red with embarrassment, she had run off the stage. She had locked herself in her room and would not open the door for anyone. Amidst angry sobs, she had told Jason that she would never dance again.

In high school, she had wished good old 'heart throb' Nick would ask her to prom night. Her grandmother had fished out her mother's gown from an old trunk that was locked away in the attic. A little alteration had been needed....a nip here, a tuck there, and it had fit Sarah perfectly. That night she went to sleep thinking of Nick. As she entered a deep sleep, she felt something inside her  changing. It was if Nick was being extricated from her thoughts. She had woken up feeling unusually  happy, but could not recall anything of the mysterious dream. On reaching high school, she discovered that Nick had already asked Katy to the prom. Heart broken, she confided in Jason again. That evening Jason stayed back with her watching reruns of her favorite soap. He said it made him feel 'gay', and that made her laugh all the more.

Sarah's chain of thoughts was interrupted by a sudden screech. The car had stopped. It was time to step out.
The front door was opened, and Jason gently held her hand and let her out of the car.
"No looking," he reminded her again.
"Where are we?" she asked, her curiosity heightened.
"Hang on a minute," he said, a smile in his voice.

It was time to open the blindfold. Jason carefully removed the cuff from her eyes.In front of Sarah, was a cozy looking cottage with a wooden door. She looked at Jason, giving him a questioning look.
He smiled at her and inserted a key in the lock. The door fell open. The inside was furbished with trendy upholstery. There were spotless lace curtains adorning huge french windows. The mauve walls were adorned with breathtakingly beautiful paintings and modern artifacts. There was a small TV set in one corner, just like the one she had wanted to win years ago. On one wall, was a cuckoo clock, similar to the one she had once dreamed of. She wondered if the cuckoo would fly out chirping her name, just like it did in her dream. There was a table laden with neatly wrapped gifts. Sarah counted. There were eighteen in all, one for each birthday she did not celebrate. A full sized shiny looking glass adorned one corner of the room. Sarah blushed as she recalled complaining once to Jason about a cracked hand mirror. As she gazed at her reflection in it, Jason sneaked behind her and gently slid a gold chain around her neck.
Around it was the most beautiful 'ballerina' locket she had ever seen.

All of a sudden, there was a flash of color. Sarah looked up to see an iridescent spray of the most amazing hues in the universe. She followed her glance towards the source which led to strings of fairy lights just like the ones she had dreamed about on her eleventh birthday.
But how on earth did Jason get to know about all this, she wondered. She closed her eyes again and tried to recall the dreams she had dreamed as a child. In a far corner of her mind, hadn't Jason always been a part of them?
The day she failed at the dancing contest, the day Nick ditched her, the exam she had flunked, the gold bracelet she couldn't afford, Jason had been with her all along. She had just not taken notice of him then. He had stayed in the background, collecting bits of her dreams, to  present them back to her as a lovely collage some day. He had made her dreams come true.

She had heard of the 'Dreamcatchers'...the celestial characters her grandmother would talk about. They were a group of magical creatures who possessed the superpower to catch dreams from humans. They could change into any form they wanted. They were masters of their choice, and creatures of habit.
Were these fictional characters from her bed time stories real, Sarah now wondered. Could Jason be one of them?
She turned to look at Jason who was standing right behind her, like he had always been. For the first time today, she gazed into his eyes. She could see her dreams reflected in them.
As she continued to gaze longingly into his eyes, she felt a strange pull towards him. For the first time in her life, someone had made her feel important...someone had made her feel special...feel loved. She felt happy. It was the same happiness she had experienced in her dreams.
"I have never known love," Jason whispered to Sarah. "But if there is something called 'love', it must surely feel like this."
Sarah blushed. The fairy lights twinkled on, their spectral hues sending magical ripples around the room.
"I have never been happier," Sarah smiled, and they both hugged each other. It had started raining outside. The air inside smelled of lemon and lavender. Everything around them felt magical. So did their love.

Sarah felt her eyelids turn heavier. She was feeling sleepy. She lay on the four poster bed that she had always wished she had. It was exactly like the one she had read about in fairy tales. The pillows were like clouds under her head. That night, she had a dreamless sleep.
The dream catcher sat beside her all night long, guarding the smile that played on her lips. He did not even realize when he had dozed off.

When he woke up next morning, she was gone. He was in his own nondescript home. He peeped  outside his bedroom window to see the bright summer sun. His rusty old cycle stood in the messy shed, waiting to be mounted.
Jason pinched himself. He rubbed his eyes. Where had it all vanished? Where was Sarah?
Had he just returned from a dream or entered into one, Jason wondered.  Had the Dreamcatcher not yet learned to catch his own dreams?

Just then, his cell phone beeped. It was a text from Sarah,
You won't believe what I dreamt up yesterday, it said!

Jason smiled. Someone up there was playing tricks on him, reminding him that there was no greater Dreamcatcher than love!


Sutapa Basu said...

What a beautiful story, Priyanka!

Pri said...

Thanks Sutapa! I'm glad you liked it :)