An Impossible Dream
When you woke up this morning, your eyes opened, slowly. You desperately wanted to go back to sleep. It was only five o’clock and you are scheduled for a day off of work on Sundays. You do not remember what time you fell asleep last night; but, sometime before sunrise, you were dreaming about home.
You were back in the tiny apartment that smelled of lilacs and pine needles; there was an unmade bed and a few stray blankets in the center of the room. You could see the sun shining brightly as ever, and you knew that you had slept late, again. You were smaller than your pillow and too young to go to classes at the school three blocks away. It was the middle of November, and the air was crisp even indoors. It was cold, and you did not have heat, so you turned on the oven and sat in front of the open door. Your mother would be furious if she came home and found out you had used a fire-operated gadget without permission or supervision. The door opened, and you hoped it was not her. You were excited to smell the cigars and cold leather as your grandfather turned off the oven and handed you a blanket. “Your mother would be furious,” he explained. I already knew that, Grandpa, you thought to yourself. He knew what you were thinking and giggled. Your grandfather took a book off of the shelf and began to read to you, just as he did every other night. He read to you about a princess who did not have a prince. He always read to you about the independent women; they were his favorite. Your grandfather slipped into bed less than eight minutes after he finished the story; he did not even eat dinner. He lay down on one of the spots on the floor, leaving the mattress for you and your mother to share. Your father left when you were four years old, so it was just the three of you remaining, along with some pretty sad flowers and a drafty window. Your mother came home very late and left again early the next morning, as she always did.
That is when you woke up. That is when you desperately wanted to go back to sleep. You wished it had happened that way; but, the truth is you never met your grandfather and the oven never turned off that night. You fell asleep before your mother came home, and she opened the door to an abundance of flames. You still have the scars on your forearms and shins, and your mother had burns on her face.
This dream always leaves you defeated, because you simply cannot change the past. You blame yourself, again, every day, and, again, it is a struggle to roll out of bed. Every single morning, you expect the scars to be gone and they never are. No matter how many nights you spend wishing you had not turned on the oven, it does not change the fact that you did.