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Author's note: I wrote this as a story for my English class to illustrate magic realism.
That day, Ethan got into an argument with his parents and it completely changed the way the world worked for him. He had come home from a bad day in second grade only to find out that his parents had been fighting again. This had become a somewhat regular occurrence after Dad had been fired from his job a few weeks ago, and Mom had to start working at night while he tried to find a new job. It has become increasingly difficult to just be around them because of the hostility between them. Sometimes, when Ethan would ask about something while they were arguing, they would turn their anger on him and let loose with a torrent of harsh words whipping and stripping the confidence and innocence from him.
So when this happened after the horrible day at school he decided to lock himself in his room and console himself with the comfort of the warm darkness cast by the shadow of his window shades. While he sat there, he started to grow dreary and was thinking of how nice it would be to have parents who didn't argue and would care about their child and show him love and kindness whenever he needed it.
So he drifted off with these ideas in his mind and experienced the most realistic dream he had ever had before…
He woke up, and lo and behold the smell of bacon and fresh pancakes greeted his nose as well as the melodious sound of his mother’s voice calling him to breakfast.
“Ethan, breakfast is ready. Come and eat now if you want to get to school on time.”
“Coming, Mom.” Ethan called back quickly.
What had happened to his mother that she would be in the mood to cook breakfast for him? Ethan wondered as he got dressed for school. He quickly packed up his things and raced down the stairs, his socked feet practically gliding over the carpet. He arrived in the dining room to see his father dressed for work in his suit and tie enjoying a plate with a stack of three steaming pancakes coated in maple syrup and bacon on the side.
“Hey champ, you better hurry up if you want to eat some of your mom’s pancakes before the bus comes.” Ethan’s dad pitched in.
Ethan, taken aback by his parents’ cheerful demeanor, was astounded that they could have made amends so soon after the way they were acting last night. How did this happen?
Ethan snagged a plate from the counter and put a stack of three pancakes on top. He sat down at the table, grabbed the maple syrup and drenched the fresh pancakes with it. Taking a cautious bite he was immediately greeted by the warm sugary taste of the syrup on the pancake. He quickly shoveled down the rest of the pancakes and washed up, rushing down the front hall to put his shoes on before he left to meet the bus.
“Now Ethan,” his mother called from the kitchen, “make sure you don’t forget that whatever happens today at school we are there for you if you need help. Also, don’t forget your lunch I made for you.”
Lunch, since when did Mom make lunch for him? In fact, since when was she up this early in the morning? Ethan noticed these strange things, but chalked it up to his father getting a new job. Rushing out to the bus, Ethan prepared himself for a new day.
Getting home that night was a cherry on top for Ethan after having a great day at school, he had been chosen to be line leader, and he was able to play basketball with the third graders at recess. After that the rest of the school day was a blur.
“Ethan, wash up for dinner,” his mother called from downstairs.
Ethan put down his journal, and went to the bathroom across the hall to wash his hands. He had just finished writing about this miraculous day in his Journal and was on a euphoric high with all of the great memories he had gained. He tromped down the stairs and then sat himself at the table. Waiting for his mother to finish preparing dinner and for his father to arrive home from work; Ethan started to ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬think about how nice it was to have such a caring family for once. Then he was shaken back to reality by his father’s pat on the back.
“Well, it looks like someone is thinking hard about something.”
“It’s nothing, I was only wondering what will be on the reading test tomorrow,” responded Ethan.
Ethan’s mother then arrived with a plate holding ham, a bowl of mashed potatoes, and a bowl of fresh rolls. The tantalizing aroma wafting from the dishes were enough to make Ethan’s mouth water. They said grace, and then dug into this great meal.
After dinner, Ethan excused himself and went upstairs to get ready for bed. He showered, brushed his teeth, and then went to bed.
Two days later, Ethan had the worst day in his life. He was late for the bus so his mom had to drive him to school, and then when he got to school he realized he had forgotten his lunch. Once recess time came around he went out to play with a kickball, but some bully went and stole it from him which made Ethan very angry. He went back inside and told a teacher about what had happened, but she completely disregarded what he said and told him to go sit down at his desk. This really made Ethan angry, and he wanted to find somewhere he could go to be alone so he went to a secret hiding place in the school where no one else ever went. There, he sat down and slept, and while he slept, he dreamed.
He awakened much later, and heard his name being called in a worried tone.
“Ethan! Ethan! Ethan, where are you?”
It was his mother’s voice, but beyond that there were the voices of his classmates, and the teachers as well. Everyone was looking for him, but since when did they care about him? Ethan crawled out of his hiding spot very cautiously making sure that no one had seen him exit, and then he headed toward the voice of his mother. A shape formed out of the shadows in front of him and called his name in a silky tone.
“Who are you?” Ethan called out.
“Ethan you know not what you are doing to others with your power. You are tearing lives apart in the attempt to repair yours. The stitchings of this world only stretch so far.”
“What are you talking about?” Now Ethan was worried about what this stranger meant. What was it saying about his power, what power did he have? How is it bad that his dad got a new job, and his dad and his mom stopped fighting?
“What I have said will be revealed to you in time. Watch closely the lives of those around you, and see the pain that you have caused for them.” With this, the being from the shadows disappeared.
Ethan quickly rushed down the remainder of the hallway and barreled straight into his mother.
“Ethan!” his mother cried, “Where have you been? Everyone was worried sick about you. Why, even David was helping look for you.”
What had his mother just said? Did she say that David, the boy who was causing his pain at school, was helping to look for him? This makes no sense, if David hates me so much, why would he help look for me?
“Can we just go home, please?” Ethan asked. If he could get home and write this all in his journal, maybe he could figure out what was going on.
“Okay honey, we can go home. I’ll order a pizza so we can just relax tonight.”
“Sounds good mom.”
After the encounter with the stranger that day at school, Ethan started to reflect upon the words that they had spoken to him. What did they mean? Why should he care about what happened to others? That night, the dreams stopped
Ten years later the dreams started again, but now Ethan had a general idea of how to control these thoughts that influenced what would happen. Dreams of wealth, intelligence, possessions, and powers all had the possibility to change how he lived in this bland reality.
He had realized, over the past ten years, that what he experienced that long time ago was in fact an extension of his subconscious altering reality to fit his desires. After realizing this fact, Ethan hoped and wished and wanted with all his heart to rediscover this power he had lost. Once he regained this ability, he decided to bend reality to his whims.
Now Ethan was seventeen years old and he had developed a more mature view of what happened around him. Life was great, and with this power given back to him after all these years, it was about to get much better.
“Hey Alexis,” Ethan called over the noise of the hallway, “come here!”
“What do you want Ethan?” Alexis inquired.
“Well… I was wondering if you wanted to go to see a movie with me this Friday.”
“Sure Ethan, just make sure you bring enough for popcorn.” Alexis chirped as she hurried to leave.
Now Ethan had wanted to ask Alexis out for the longest time, and this Friday was the perfect opportunity to impress her. With thoughts of how amazing Friday would be Ethan didn’t fully pay attention to where he was going, and wound up in an alleyway somewhere in town. By this time, it was getting dark outside and the clouds that had been lingering all day had started to coalesce into a large gray sheet threating to rain. Out of the darkness of the alleyway, a shadowy figure emerged.
“Ethan,” the shade spoke, “you have reawakened the powers you held in the past. Are you yet truly worthy of this awesome power?”
Now the fact that this creature had suddenly shown up after all these years was very disturbing for Ethan. “Why are you here? Is it your job to bother me about trying to help my family lead a better life, and how ‘The whole world is going to be destroyed because of me’? ”
“You have matured in body only these past ten years. There was good reason as to why your powers had lain dormant, but now if they have truly reappeared you must make your choice for the safety of all those you love.”
“Why do you always show up right when I think my life is starting to be normal and amazing? I just want you to let me be to make my own mistakes and successes with this power.”
“Very well, I’ll grant you reprise from the choice for now, but keep in mind, if you fail to choose correctly, the punishment will be severe.” With this, the shadowy figure disappeared leaving Ethan alone in the alley with a gentle spring rain beginning to fall.
That Friday ruined Ethan.
“Alexis,” Ethan called from the car, “hurry up; we don’t want to be late for the movie.” This could not get any better! Going to the movie with Alexis was just the icing on the cake. Ethan had it all planned out. First she would choose the movie they would go to, and then he would go and buy the concessions. Once the movie had ended he was going to ask her if she wanted to start going out with him.
They got to the theater and everything went smoothly up until the end of the date. Walking out of the theater Ethan turned to Alexis and grabbed her shoulder and pulled her out of the way of the door.
“Alexis, I had a great time tonight, and I was wondering if you might want to do things like this with me more often.”
“That could be fun, but I don’t think my boyfriend would like that very much.”
“You didn’t know? Ethan I’ve been going out with David for the past month.”
“You have?” Ethan said with a slight tremor in his voice.
“Oh! Ethan, I didn’t know that you felt that way.”
Alexis then tried to approach Ethan and give him a hug, but Ethan quickly backed out of her reach.
“Why didn’t you tell me right away?” Ethan croaked, “Why couldn’t you have said something before tonight? Did you just want to see me crack? Did you want to see me suffer?” at this point Ethan had raised his voice so others leaving the theater started to notice him and Alexis.
“Forget this,” Ethan shouted as he turned away, “if you want a ride home, call your ‘boyfriend’ I’m sure that he’ll come to pick you up.” With that, Ethan rushed to his car, slammed the door, and drove off in a huff.
“I’ll figure out some way to take care of this mess.” Ethan muttered as he sped down the road. Out of nowhere an idea hit him. Slamming on the brakes Ethan quickly decided that he needed only to pull off of the road and sleep.
So for the first time in ten years, Ethan slept. For the first time in ten years, Ethan Dreamed.
For the dreams Ethan manipulated to actually work he had to choose the correct Dreamset and work from the base up. This process sometimes lasted the length of six dream days, and whatever he changed during that time would be changed in the real world. Ethan still didn’t know how this process worked entirely, but whenever he felt strongly about what he wanted to happen it usually went faster and ended up working much better in real life. This time since Ethan knew exactly what he wanted to do, it took less than one hour dreamtime.
Waking up in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, Ethan felt a little stiff from sleeping all night long. He got out, stretched, and walked around the car a couple times before checking his messages on his phone. The first one he noticed is from Alexis.
‘Hey babe, hope you’re feeling okay. Sorry you got sick last night, hope you’re still up to dinner tonight’
So it worked, by eliminating David, everything is working just as it should.
“What have you done?” a voice whispered as the wind blew past
“Who’s there?” Ethan shouted as he looked around. Who had said that, and where did they come from?
“You have made your choice Ethan, but will you be able to change it?”
There, over by the weeds in the ditch. That’s where the voice was coming from. Sneaking towards the ditch, Ethan got ready to finally see who this person or thing was that kept pestering him about his ability.
Suddenly, the weeds burst into flames and a figure leapt clear of them landing in front of Ethan. This mysterious person was dressed as hitchhiker with a huge backpack, but his eyes were the must upsetting thing about him. One was a pale blue while the other was deep forest green, almost black, in color.
“You have finally pushed to far Ethan. You have overstepped, and by doing this; you have initiated a great unraveling. Look around you Ethan, for it may be some time before you will recognize that what you once took for granted is now altered.”
Ethan, who had been captivated by the stranger’s eyes, snapped back to reality and took a look around as the stranger had told him to and realized that he had made a terrible mistake. Ahead, the road was slowly unraveling like a piece of fabric once a loose thread is caught and pulled; winding back and forth in thin strips disappearing into nothing leaving behind a stretch of darkness completely empty and devoid of life.
“How am I responsible for this? In fact, why is this my fault? Why didn’t you do anything to stop me?” Ethan asked.
“Ethan, I can do nothing to forcefully change any decision you make, I can only discourage you from making the choice to make changes around you.” The stranger calmly replied.
“How can I stop this, or undo it? In fact, what is ‘It’ anyway?”
“‘It’, as you so bluntly inquired, is a great unraveling of the space around you due to the snags you created by making the changes with your ability. These snags were caught by other existences and others conciseness’s which created an opposite force which initiated a great unraveling.”
“That accomplished nothing.” Ethan remarked, “You still didn’t say if it could be stopped.”
“Once started, the great unraveling cannot be stopped unless the irrevocable change is corrected. Sadly, your ability is unable to ‘undo’ any mistakes you may have made. The only possibility to fix this would be for you to initiate the Dreamset and recreate a somewhat similar existence to that of the initial canvas before the first alteration. If this works there might be a chance for the great unraveling to have never started and for all to be at peace.”
Ethan stood there for a minute wondering how he would be able to correctly recreate this plain of existence before his first change. The only thing was he didn’t know when his first change happened.
“I don’t know when the first change happened.” Ethan admitted. “The only one I can remember is when you first showed up right before my gift went dormant.”
“Ethan, go before your parents had a falling out if you want to never risk this again. Heed my words as you use the Dreamset for the final time.” With this the stranger disappeared and where he had stood a small puddle and a marbled black and green ghost orchid stayed behind.
Ethan quickly drove away from the fringe of the constantly growing darkness until he was well into town and once again far from the looming danger. Even though he sought to enter the Dreamset, sleep evaded him. Ethan then decided to seek the aid of sleeping medications in order to beat the unraveling and save himself as well as the others he loved.
Once Ethan secured the pills, he moved to the opposite side of town to put as much distance between himself and the fringe to give himself as much time as possible to use the Dreamset. Ethan settled in the backseat of the car and took two pills, within five minutes, he was asleep and entering the Dreamset.
Something was different this time. Ethan noticed that his usual quick sets for small changes were out of order, or in some cases, nonexistent. In order to make a change from before his parents started arguing he needed to create a new set from scratch. Quickly, Ethan cobbled together a past set and started setting things up to match what existed in that ‘before’ time of his gift.
“Finally,” Ethan sighed as the final mailbox was set in place, “now I can initiate the merge and wake up. If you can hear me Stranger, please don’t let me make a mistake with this Dreamset, and if there is some way I can keep any memory of this time let it be that I should want only to change what is going to happen instead of what did happen.” With these last words Ethan woke up.
“Ethan, get ready for school,” his mother called from downstairs, “and if you want to bring a lunch you had better hurry up and make it before the bus comes.”
“Okay Mom!” Ethan yelled back. Never had it felt so great to wake up without having had a single dream.