Like a boomerang, the dream from childhood had returned. He wasn’t sure why this specific dream. There were plenty he could remember that hadn’t returned: being stalked by a tornado as he searched for a basement, jumping off a swing but continuing to fly upwards, or opening the blinds to see a t-rex eye blinking at him. None of those, it’s always the one that has him searching the recesses of his mind. Was it based on a real memory or some repressed childhood trauma?
This dream always starts exactly the same. He stands there in snow that’s up to his knees and surveys the scenery that lays in front of him. From a cinematic stand point, it would make any black-and-white filmmaker giddy. The white snow and leafless branches as far as the eye can see. The birch bark scattered throughout confuses the eyes and leaves an eerie feeling in the stomach. The sky offers nothing but more shades and speckling of snow falling at uneven rates. The only color one can see is the startling blood red of the berries hanging from some of the branches. He knows what he has to do next. He’s been doing it since the dream came to him at five years old. He follows a set of tracks in the snow. He thinks they belong to a rabbit though he’s never encountered anything living. The tracks lead him deeper into the forest. It becomes thicker with branches clawing at his face. It feels real despite it being a dream. He knows he has to keep pushing through. He pushes into a clearing. On the other side is another stretch of trees. The tracks lead him there though he’s never made it before waking up. The clearing goes left and right all the way to the horizon. Like every time before this, he follows the track despite what awaits. Echoes ring out with every step letting him know that the clearing is in fact a river that’s cutting through these woods. As he gets near the middle, he stops and takes a breath as what happens next is easily the worst part of the dream. He figures he just has to go for it. With the next step, he is plunged into the darkness of the water below. He didn’t even know if he had felt a cold like this before. It would make the polar vortexes of recent blush. Even though it’s a dream, he pounds on the ice above him until letting the water rush into his lungs. The burning is the worst part, but he knows he will wake up soon. Slowly, he sinks down knowing that he will wake in three… two… one.
A cough rattles him awake. He covers his mouth as not to wake his wife, but he feels an unusual warmth upon his hand. As his eyes adjust in the moonlight pouring through the window, he sees the red of the berries from the dreams splattered across his palm. His eyes look passed his hand as the shadows the moonlight is casting mirrors the forest from his dream. He tries calling out for help, but a feeling of horror grasps hold of his body. The cold. The cold has reached all the way to his bones. He lays his head back down taking one last look at his beautiful wife before the inevitable happened. The dream has come.