I knew it was a dream, but it was so nice that I didn’t want to wake up. I was a child again and running through the fields with my sister, Mary. Actually, it felt more like floating than running. We were giggling and gathering lilies. I buried my nose in the flowers. Ummm….so sweet! That’s strange—they smelled a bit like moth balls.
Like dreams often do, the scene changed. The sky darkened and a storm came up. The thunder banged and crashed around me, and it seemed like I was running in slow motion. I could see our farm ahead and tried to reach the barn before I got wet.
The door slammed behind me. I was safe! The sounds of the storm were quieter, but the thunder still rumbled around me. I flopped on soft hay. The cool breeze was gone, and I felt hot and stifled. I heard Mary giggling and went to look for her.
I wandered all over that barn—up in the loft, into the shadowy horse stalls, behind the grain bin, and through the tool shed. I followed long hallways that had never been in our barn. I climbed tall, never-ending ladders. I could hear Mary’s footsteps running back and forth, but I couldn’t find her.
I was hot and sweaty and tired of looking for Mary, but I didn’t know the way back to the door. I asked the chickens, who only cocked their heads and blinked their beady eyes. One offered me an egg, though I didn’t feel hungry. I just wanted to get home; I didn’t want breakfast.
The horse laughed at me and shook his head. The cow knew the way, but I couldn’t understand her directions because she was talking with her mouth full. Next, I asked the sheep, but those silly lambs kept following me instead of leading the way. The pigs ignored me, and the goose squawked at me.
I sat in the corner, curled into a ball, and cried. I just wanted out of my dream. Maybe if I jumped up and down, I’d wake up. It isn’t working. I yelled—well, I tried to yell. I couldn’t make a sound. How was anyone going to hear me? My throat felt dry and scratchy. I began coughing. It was hard to breathe.
I smelled smoke!
I must get out of the barn! Thunder crashed and banged. I covered my ears. The animals mooed and squawked and neighed. They stampeded past me, so I followed. The pigs pushed me from behind. It smelled like their tails were getting singed. We tumbled out the door—into the manure pile! A flash of lightning and water on my face startled me.
“Mama, are you awake?”
I squinted at the faces lined up beside my bed. Pete held a squirt gun. He cocked his head. “Daddy said you were sick and that we should be quiet and let you sleep, but you’ve been sleeping a long time.”
I put my arm over my face. Oh…yes…quiet. My head pounded. That’s the last time I will take two different cold medicines together.
Little Charlie mumbled around his thumb. “We made ‘ou bweakfast.”
I squinted at the cookie sheet Deena placed on my belly—a plate of scrambled eggs, toast, and burnt bacon, with a tiger lily in a glass. Ah…the lilies… I coughed. “Why are the windows closed? It’s smoky in here.”
Deena shrugged her shoulders. “It started raining.”
I glanced toward the window. “Was it thundering?”
The row of heads waggled back and forth. Pete whispered, “But Deena was banging all the pots around, and it sounded like thunder.”
I took a few bites, but my stomach churned and my throat burned and something stunk like…manure? I turned toward Little Charlie and stared at his sagging diaper.
Deena grimaced. “We weren’t going to wake you up, but Charlie has a stinky diaper.”
My dream was making more and more sense—except for the moth balls.
Clutching the walls, I floated down the hallway. The children stampeded along beside me. Cartoons blared from the TV, the dog slurped something in the kitchen, and a box sat near the front door. My heart panicked at a thought. “Did someone come this morning?”
“Yes, Aunt Mary brought a smelly box of sweaters for the community sale tomorrow. She said she hoped you’re feeling up to snuff soon—whatever that means!”
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