“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
— Edgar Allan Poe
You are at the playground.
You are excited, because you are young and free and wild and you want to play.
You grab your friend’s hand, and together, you race for the swings.
You swing and laugh and sing at the top of your lungs as your dad pushes you higher and higher till you could touch the clouds.
Then it’s your friend’s turn, and you race off again, now for the slide.
But something catches your eye.
It looks like monkey bars, a structure with two sets of legs and an interconnecting piece high off the ground. But there is only one bar and a dangling handle.
You approach it warily. It looks like a big kid thing.
Your dad tells you that you’re supposed to hang onto the handle, push off, and slide down to the other end. It’s a sliding bar . . . or something.
You want to try.
So your dad hoists you up the ladder, and your small hands grasp the plastic handle.
He asks if you’re ready.
You nod, your face set in excitement and determination.
He lets go, and you push off the ladder with enthusiasm and adrenaline.
But you are not prepared for the sudden weight of your body.
You are much heavier than you know.
Your hands slip.
Everything is black.
Everything is dark.
You can’t breathe.
And suddenly there is a light.
It bobs and weaves in front of your eyes.
You reach out to grab it.
(Is this a dream?)
The light darts away and disappears.
It is dark again.
A voice comes out of the blackness.
“Are you a friend?”
You are young and so you say yes.
(You’ve never had a dream like this before.)
“Will you help me?”
Even young, you are wary. You ask why.
“I’m scared. I need you to help me find my way home.”
You frown at this. You don’t even know where your own home is. But then, this is a dream.
You say yes.
“Do you promise?”
You pinky-promise, waving your hand in the air reassuringly.
“Take the ball if you promise to help me — no matter what it takes. Otherwise, turn around and you can wake up.”
(So you are dreaming. You feel better.)
A tiny bouncyball, no bigger than a quarter, appears in the darkness in front of you.
You pick it up. It looks like a marble, with a swirl of colors at its center.
“Thank you,” says the voice.
“I’ll be waiting . . . ”
Then you wake up.
Your throat hurts, your back aches, and your head pounds.
Your dad scoops you up, away from other concerned parents. Your friend looks scared.
You’re still crying because you don’t know what happened, and you’re coughing because you don’t know why you feel like you can’t breathe.
Your dad explains that you fell and “blacked out.” You got the wind knocked out of you.
But only for a second.
(The dream is already fading.)
You sniff a little, and your friend holds your hand and pats your head.
It’ll be okay.
Your dad buys you and your friend lollipops at the gift shop, and you eat yours thoughtfully on the way home. You never want to go on a sliding bar again, you inform your dad.
That night, you tell your mom what happened (except the dream), and she is all sympathy and hugs.
You go to bed, still a little sore, but your blankets and pillows are soft and warm.
Your mom comes in to kiss you goodnight.
“Oh,” she says before leaving. “This was in your jacket pocket. Did you find it on the playground?”
And she puts a tiny marble-like bouncy ball on your dresser.
DUN DUN DUN!!!!
This actually happened to me (well, not the creepy dream part). I was little, maybe six or seven, and I tried out that slider bar thing at a playground, and I fell and blacked out for like, half a second. It was absolutely terrifying (and painful), and I was scared of those bars at any other playground until I was much older. (Also, I just finished playing Undertale, so . . . yeah. 8D)