It was one of those perfect mornings. The kind of morning you wake up whenever you please. No alarm clock to shock you awake; and no human to jolt you into misery, either. Nope! None of that horse caca on this sweet, summer morning. The best part—it was a Saturday. And although every day feels like a Saturday when you’re on summer vacation, it was on this specific day, that Kieran, did not have one…single chore. This was the only day of the week—one-out-of-seven, 0.14 percent of the time—she was free. And for Kieran, there was only one thing to do on a morning like this: sleep.
She was the only nine-year old in the whole neighborhood who would rather sleep than be outside. And video games? They were stupid in her eyes. She wanted no part of those things. She just wanted to dream. Even when she was awake her mind would drift off into a dream state. The world made more sense when she was asleep. And no one could tell her otherwise.
Kieran loved sleep so much, she would sleep whenever she could, and wherever she could. She slept as long as possible on school mornings, and when she was prepared for school, she would find a quiet spot and sleep again, until the bus arrived. She slept on the bus, amidst the deafening sounds of crying, yelling, burping, and farting, created by her classmates (whom she called idiots). She slept in class when she could get away with it; which she could, because Kieran sat in the back where her teacher didn’t have to deal with her. She even slept—you’re not going to believe this—at the dinner table after she finished her meal! For her, sleep was everything, and she slept often…a little too often.
So, on this particular Saturday, Kieran prepared to do what she doe best, and she planned to do it for as long as a bear hibernates in the winter; which is a long time if you know about bears. Kieran nestled into her cot, as noise from the neighborhood kids penetrated her bedroom walls, and then continued into her brain walls. Irritated by the obnoxious noises, Kieran threw off her white, yellow-stained sheet, walked across her wooden floor, which creeped with every step, pulled the string on the low-hanging ceiling fan, and the noise from outside ceased. “Stupid dummies!” she whispered to herself, and smiled at her own insult (she amused herself, quite often).
On her way back to the musty cot she called her bed, she caught a glimpse of her
body in the small, cracked mirror on her jewelry box; which lie atop her faded-brown dresser: her face was the color of beach sand and her hair was as orange as…well, an orange. A plain-pink shirt, same one she wore the day before, covered her stick-like body; and sweatpants—two sizes too small—hid her insect-bitten legs.
She paused for half-a-second, no more, and ran back to her cot, excited to dream a little more. She was back in her cot within seconds. She grabbed her sheet, covered with dots of yellow, wrapped them around her body like an Egyptian mummy, closed her eyes tighter than the squeeze of a Boa, and listened to the whir of the fan as it hypnotized her into a deep…deep…sleep….
Kieran stood atop a rugged rock the size of a jungle gym. Her fists pressed firm against her hips, chin held high to the sky, and she smiled with pride. Feelings of freedom rushed through her like an electric shock. “This is where I belong.” she said into the light breeze.
The land was full of beauty; it was like a famous work of art—it was art! Beyond the rock which held Kieran high, was a vast land that stretched for miles and miles. The land was covered with bright-green grass. Sunflowers the size of baby trees were placed throughout. In the far distance, stood rocks. Lots-and-lots of large rocks pierced the yellow-painted sky. The rocks were Kieran’s favorite. They were massive rocks: each one held a different form, but all were jagged in one way or another; they looked like the spikes on a Stegosauria. And leading up to those rocks was a straight path the color of clay. “I’m going to stand on top of you one day.” Kieran said to the rocks. Who were too far away to hear, and also—they were rocks.
“Kieran! Kieran, is that you?” a voice said from the near distance. It was a familiar voice: calming and charming. It blended with the quiet flow of the wind, and Kieran assumed her mind was playing the role of a magician. After a few moments of silence, Kieran’s thoughts were interrupted, again, by the same calm voice: “Kieran, it is you!” The voice was just a few feet away. Kieran, a bit nervous and shy, turned her head to see the figure of her mother standing directly by her side.
“Mom! But…how? How are you here? I don’t”—her heart was a race horse, and her breath became short—”I don’t understand.
“Shh. It’s okay. I’m here now; I’m here my darling, Kier-Kier.” She reached over to embrace Kieran, and Kieran, timid at first, began to ease up as her moms soft breathe hushed her heart like a lullaby. “Now,” she continued, “why don’t we find a nice patch of grass, lay our heads down, and watch…watch as the sun falls below the horizon. Your favorite.”
“Alright, but I get to pick the spot!” By the time she finished her sentence, Kieran leaped off the rock like a frog, and raced to the spot she noticed moments before: it was a spot where the grass was an inch higher and sat right below the brightest sunflower she could find. Her mom, smile on her face, tried to keep up with her energetic daughter. Kieran was seconds away from the spot, when in a flash, the air became still and smelled of mold. The yellow-painted sky turned black. The sunflowers withered, and hid in fear behind the eerie mist seeping from the ground. And the clouds—the fluffy white clouds—dispersed in all different directions.
In the distance, the sounds of heavy feet marched toward them. “Mom! What’s happening?” There was no answer. She turned around and her mom was no longer in sight. She felt shivers running up-and-down her body like an elevator that didn’t stop. Mom!” she shouted again. Kieran began to sprint back to the place she last saw her mom, but the footsteps were thunderous, and drawing near—fast. She ran and ran until…. “Mom, no! Let go of her you creeps!” Her mom was held by two gruesome creatures. Their legs and body were similar to those of a human. They were wearing all black; their hands were misshaped, and their fingers were claw-like; their heads were disproportionate and large; their eyes were pure white and evil; and their teeth jagged and rotten. They reeked of decay. And if this wasn’t such a serious situation, Kieran would have offered them a toothbrush.
“Kieran, get out of here! You must go!” her mom said as she struggled to free herself from the two monsters.
“I’m not going without you!” said Kieran. “I can’t live without you.” She felt tears trickling down her cheek. Just then, the eyes of the monsters fell beyond Kieran and into the distance. Kieran turned to see an army of creatures, and they too, were looking to where the path meets the jagged rocks. And in the distance, a dark figure emerged on top the highest rock of all. In a slow, but sure manner, he gave his army of monsters a nod, and with that, the creatures began to close in on Kieran. Within seconds they had her in their grasps. Kieran fought with all her might, but there were too many. With Kieran in their grips, they began to journey back to the rocks from which they came, and away from the mom Kieran held so dear.
“Let her go! Kieran!”—her mom yelled with all her might—”Kieran! I will find you! I will save you from this! Kieran! Kieran!”
“Kieran! Open up this door immediately!” The voice startled Kieran awake. Breathing heavy, and tears on her cheek, she lifted her head to the sound of her Na-Na shouting and banging on her flimsy, bedroom door. “Kieran!” Her Na-Na kept pounding on the door. “Get out here—NOW!” Her voice was vicious. It was a voice of hate and its high-pitched tone could destroy anyone, or anything, that listened too long.
“I’m not ready!”—Kieran snapped back like a viper—”I’ll be out when I’m dressed.”
“You get out here now, or you stay in there all day. What’s it gonna be?”
“Well, I’m not ready. So you’ll have to wait.”
“Wait? For you? You’re not worth my time. Your decision cost you dinner; and you’ll be lucky if I let you out at all!”
“No, wait.” Kieran said as she rushed to the door. But she was too late. She heard the sound of the bolt locking her within the tiny bedroom walls. This was nothing new, and Kieran didn’t mind it most of the time, but the thought of her dream was still real. She placed her forehead on the rotted door, and cried…and cried. Kieran didn’t know it yet (there was no way she could), but her heart—a heart now filled with sadness, anger, and hate—was just beginning to grow. And it would be her heart, that would change the world for the better. All she had to do was dream.