Dream Journal: Part One
For Nelson, the clock could not have been ticking any slower on that final day of school. In the very back of the classroom, while other pets were doodling in their notebooks or staring longingly through the windows, he simply sat with his head down on his desk. Although he was a cloud Wocky, his head was hardly ever in the clouds.
“Now class, I know you’re all eager to get out of this room and into the freedom of summer, but I have one final assignment,” Ms. Fanelli, a tall green Ruki said. She had been Nelson’s teacher for three straight years, so he had been expecting another oddball summer homework project. The previous year, the assignment had been to create a unique musical instrument. On presentation day, Nelson had shown up with a cardboard box and a stick, claiming that it was a drum. Innovation was seemingly not his forte.
“You all will be writing in your very own dream journals. Over the summer, everyone will hopefully have at least three dreams. When you wake up in the morning, write down all of the small details of the dream and what you thought was interesting about it.” The Ruki pulled out some notebooks from her desk drawer and began to pass them out to the students. “See? Aren’t they lovely? Oh, and the best part is, when we come back at the end of summer, we can all share our dreams with each other and become closer friends!”
“I don’t have any friends,” Nelson grumbled to himself, sinking lower in his chair. Ms. Fanelli’s antennae were going crazy as she handed Nelson his dream journal, a small brown notebook with a golden stripe across its cover.
Just as she handed out the last journal, the dismissal bell sounded and the classroom emptied within two seconds. A small Chia had grown so frantic about summer that she left through the window instead. Nelson, however, stayed behind and stood nervously in front of the teacher’s desk.
“Ms. Fanelli, I was wondering something,” the Wocky said quietly.
“Ask away, Nelson.”
“Well, I was hoping that I could do a different project instead of the dream journal, or maybe no project at all. Is that okay?”
Ms. Fanelli smiled and shook her head. “What’s keeping you from doing a dream journal? I’m only requiring three dreams for the entire summer. Besides, I always thought cloud pets were the best dreamers.”
“I can’t do it, though. I’ve never had a dream before in my life. I always just fall asleep, and then it feels like I wake up a moment later. So really, it’s fine if you just don’t give me anything to do over the summer–”
“Nonsense, you’ll be doing the journal,” the Ruki said, interrupting Nelson. “I think I have just what you need.” She pulled out a small blue satchel from the bottom drawer of her desk and placed it in front of Nelson. “Can you guess what’s inside?” she asked.
“No clue,” Nelson replied, not caring at all to surmise.
Ms. Fanelli reached into the satchel and pulled out three perfectly round berries that seemed to steal some light away from the room. “These little delights are called voidberries. You may have picked one before at the Pick Your Own farm in Meridell.”
“I’ve never been there,” Nelson said, raising one eyebrow at the pitch black berries. “What do these things have to do with my dream journal?”
“Everything. Here, you can have them,” Ms. Fanelli said as she placed the voidberries back into the blue satchel. “Just eat one before you go to sleep at night. You’ll be dreaming away.”
“Um, okay.” Nelson took the satchel and picked up his dream journal from off of his desk. “Thanks for these berries. I guess I’ll try them out,” he said, unconvinced.
Ms. Fanelli nodded. “No problem. Now, go off and have a fantastic summer. Don’t be afraid to explore and discover!”
“Right.” Nelson grabbed the rest of his school supplies and left the room, puzzled and dissatisfied with the way his plan to avoid the summer project had turned out. As he made his way home, he pushed the thought of the dream journal out of his mind and tried to be excited about summer vacation, but there wasn’t much for him to look forward to. He never made any friends in school; all of the other students thought that he was boring as a brick. He and his mother never went on any vacations, so generally he would end up spending his entire summer loafing around the house like a lethargic Sludgy. Sighing, he shielded his eyes from the unrelenting sunlight and continued down the sidewalk to his home.
A few minutes later, he was standing at the door of his large white house. He could see his mother, a blue Wocky, hastily making herself some scrambled eggs. She was a successful businesswoman at the expense of having free time to spend with Nelson, who as a result, had grown rather isolated in recent years.
“Nelson? Is that you?” Nelson’s mother called a moment after he stepped through the door.
“Yeah, Mom.” He headed into the kitchen and breathed in the distinct smell of burnt scrambled eggs.
“How was your last day?” the mother asked, scraping her black scrambled eggs onto a plate and devouring them without paying any attention to their awful taste.
“Not so great. Ms. Fanelli assigned our class this lame project: I have to write a journal describing three dreams that I have over the summer.”
“That sounds easy. What’s the matter with that?”
“Mom, I’ve told you before, I never have dreams at night. How am I supposed to write an entire journal about them?” Nelson asked, irritated.
“Oh, right, you don’t have dreams, do you?” His mother pretended to remember, but honestly could not recall Nelson telling her. “Well, I’m not much of a dreamer either, so I would just make some up.”
“I don’t know. I think I’d have a hard time just making up a dream out of nowhere. I have no imagination, which is why I tried to get out of the project in the first place. Instead, Ms. Fanelli gave me some voidberries from the Pick Your Own farm and told me that they would help me dream.”
His mother chuckled. “That’s ridiculous. Maybe you should plant them and grow a beanstalk.”
Nelson smiled half-heartedly. “Yeah, it was stupid.”
“Well, I’ve really got to get back to the store and restock,” his mother said, gobbling up her last eggs. “See you later, Nelson. There are still some eggs in the fridge if you’re hungry.” She hurried out the door, forgetting to shut it behind her.
“All right. Bye.” Nelson closed the door, took the blue satchel, and brought it upstairs to his room. He emptied out the voidberries onto his bed, eyeing them curiously. “This is silly. Eating a berry isn’t going to make me dream,” he reasoned with himself. He left the voidberries on his bed absentmindedly, as if they would be gone when he returned upstairs. But as he went back down the steps to the kitchen, the only thought in his mind was how exciting it would be to have his own dreams that night.
Midnight. There was no moonlight shining through Nelson’s window, but even in the complete darkness, he somehow felt the presence of the voidberries next to his bed. He had tried to tell himself all night that it would only be a letdown in the morning when he would wake up without having dreamt at all, but it was no use. His stomach was grumbling; the scrambled eggs he had fixed for himself earlier really hadn’t filled him up at all.
“Maybe I’ll try one, just to fill myself up,” he said, rolling over his comforter and out of his bed. Feeling around the floor with his paw, he came across the satchel and carefully removed one of the voidberries. The berry seemed to glow in the pitch darkness, but in a darker shade of black than the rest of the room. Without any further wait, Nelson took a large bite of the berry, savoring its exotic taste, and then quickly finished up the rest of it. He jumped back under his bed covers in anticipation of the dream he would have that night, if he would have it at all. Slowly, his muscles loosened and his eyelids drooped, allowing him to drift off to sleep...
Nelson rose abruptly to something shaking his arm back and forth. “Hey buddy, get up!” an unfamiliar, female voice whispered in his ear. He looked around and saw nothing but blue sky and soft white clouds surrounding him. It took him a few more seconds to notice the smiling cloud Flotsam standing – well, floating – right before him.
“Who are you?” he asked the Flotsam, shifting his eyes back and forth in bewilderment.
“I’m your new friend, Leslie. Do you know where you are?” the Flotsam said, giggling and hovering over to where Nelson sat.
“No idea, um, the sky?” Nelson guessed.
“Well, you definitely aren’t in your bed anymore. See for yourself!”
Nelson looked down and noticed that he was not under his covers or in his bed, but sitting on an ominous gray cloud. Small rain drops were falling underneath him and an occasional rumbling of thunder could be heard from within the cloud. “I’m on top of a stormy cloud... How is this even possible?”
“It’s only possible if you believe in it, silly,” Leslie said, swimming in circles around him through the air. “Technically, a cloud shouldn’t be able to support your weight, and there’s no logical explanation for why you’re up here either–”
“And Leslie, you shouldn’t be able to swim, I mean, fly through the sky either. Flotsams are definitely aquatic creatures,” Nelson pointed out.
“Flotsams don’t have to be aquatic creatures in your dreams, though, and that’s all that really matters,” Leslie said with a wink.
Nelson stared at the Flotsam, wide-eyed. “That’s what this! I’m in a dream right now, which means none of this is real!”
Leslie frowned at him, and to his surprise, the thunder cloud beneath him released a booming flash of lightning. “Dreams are only as imaginary as you make them. This could all be real, if only you believed in it. See that dark cloud you’re sitting on? It’s the only storm cloud in the whole sky right now, as far as the eye can see. It would probably lighten up a little bit if you stopped doubting your ability to dream.”
Raising one eyebrow, Nelson said nothing for a moment. He stood up nervously on the cloud and stared at the Flotsam floating in the middle of the blue sky before him. “But this is all just impossible.”
“Nothing’s impossible in a dream. Hop on my back!” Leslie commanded cheerfully.
“That’s insane. We’ll fall to our death.”
“Just trust yourself.” Leslie did a somersault in mid-air, waiting for Nelson’s approval. Finally, the Wocky closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Here goes nothing,” Nelson said, opening his eyes and jumping onto Leslie’s back. Instead of plummeting to his doom, he instead felt free and weightless as the Flotsam took off into the air.
“See?” Leslie said, chuckling. “We’re flying.”
Nelson could not believe his eyes as he soared past cloud after cloud, miles above Neopia. He knew that he was dreaming, but for some reason it all felt very real. There was no way that this feeling of weightlessness and adventure could be a mere figment of his imagination, something that his mind conjured up. “This is nothing like I’ve ever felt before,” Nelson whispered.
“Well, that’s normal I guess, considering it’s your first dream. But time’s up, buddy. Maybe we’ll meet again in some other dream!” Leslie said happily. She promptly dumped Nelson off on a nearby cloud and zipped away, out of sight. Nelson sat on his cloud, perplexed and amazed at what had happened in such a short time. He blinked, and when he reopened his eyes, he was sitting upright in his bed with the covers wrapped all around him. The morning sun coming through his bedroom window nearly blinded him. Relaxing, he fell back onto his bed and began to grin. His grin grew wider and wider and soon, he was laughing uncontrollably.
Nelson remained in bed laughing for quite some time, so pleased that the voidberry had really worked. He had absolutely no idea that his imagination was only beginning to unfold.
To be continued...