Dreams

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Discovery Creative I need to get published so I can use for related in HSC if they ask for 2 relateds

Submitted: October 16, 2018

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Submitted: October 16, 2018

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The third floor of the Washington D.C. NASA headquarters weighed heavy with anticipation. The smartest men and women in the world held their breath with their eyes affixed to the inching progress bar. Time had jaded their expressions but they stared, praying for one last dream to come true before their journeys end. And I, who was at the beginning of mine, prayed with them.

*******************

When I was a kid, I laid with my father on the soft grass as we gazed into the night sky, counting stars until sleep’s gentle embrace. His voice, a soothing lullaby that regaled me with the secrets of the universe, where the dots in the sky were larger than imagination. He told me that as a child, he had wanted to live up there in those bright lights along with the angels, but it was only a dream of his.

 

‘Daddy’, I asked, ‘What’s a dream?’.

There was a pause as he carefully selected the words which would mould my life.

‘A dream is… something… you want. Like a star’. I scrunched up my face as I tried to grasp abstract thoughts my little hands could not hold.

 

‘Daddy’, I whispered, ‘I want to go there’, and he slowly turned to me with a smile brighter than any star.

‘Dream bigger than they are, Sirius’, he replied with a voice I barely remember.

 

‘And one day you’ll reach the stars’.

****************

The calculations glared jarringly across the screen. It was impossible. The light-speed barrier that we needed to break, could not be broken.

‘Maybe we should try again?’, I asked. Begged.

‘We’ve already tried-‘.

‘JUST DO IT’, I screamed, my voice inflected with the haunting cadence of desperation. Someone ran the simulation again.

 

0.

 

A number whose meaning varied so drastically with context. In a bank account, a string of them meant success. In an exam, they meant failure.

 

Here, it meant the death of a dream.

*******************

‘Daddy?’ I pointed somewhere into the night sky, ‘When do stars die?’

‘Not for a very, very long time’.

‘So… like… a year?’, I wondered, struggling to think of something that big.

‘Many, many years, Sirius’, he said, ‘You could say they live forever’.

‘Forever…’, I spoke, feeling the weight of the word as it rolled off my tongue.

*******************

But my father told me dreams never die.

 

‘Do none of you give a damn?’

 

When you go to war, you expect to fight enemies. But I quickly realised I had no enemies.

 

Because no one cared enough to fight.

 

Slowly, backs replaced faces. In a room with these people, decades more experienced than I, who were supposed to carry the dreams I was yet to dream, I realised they had long woken up. In their faces wrinkled with age, I no longer saw my future self.

 

‘Sirius…’ Diana reached out to me before she was cut off by Aaron.

‘Wake up’, he snorted.

But I was already out the door. I wanted to walk. To run. To  fly. To fly as if I flew high enough, I could fly away from this suffocating room. As if I could fly towards the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**********************

‘Daddy?’ I asked, ‘Why does it have a tail?’

‘It’s a shooting star, Sirius’, he replied. ‘Make a wish’.

‘Anything?’, I tugged at his sleeve, taunted by the allure of endless possibilities, ‘Daddy, I’ll take you with me’.

I saw in his eyes what I now know as wistfulness. He pulled me into his arms and despite the vast open, nowhere else felt safer.

‘We’ll go together, Sirius’, he whispered.

**********************

A dim lamp illuminated the papers across my desk, with equations so alien it hurt to read. But I had to keep pushing. Fuelled by their labels.

 

Foolish. Childish. Impossible.

 

If people didn’t laugh at you, then your dreams weren’t big enough.

 

I glanced outside my window into the sparkling sky and I wondered, how anyone could resist their call. Their uncaring expressions returned to me. Did they not dream too?

 

Or was I just yet to wake up.

 

The ashes of my father laid in a simple wooden box on my windowsill. The box I promised to take to the stars.

 

‘You lied to me…’ I held back a tear, ‘But I won’t lie to you’.

 

I took another sip of the coffee that had long replaced water. Somewhere, someday, there will come the time to weep. But for now, I had promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep…

 

And miles to go until my dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

************************

‘Daddy?’, I pointed at the flaming trail the sky, ‘Is that a shooting star too?’.

He was silent for an unusually long time,

‘Yes’, he replied, ‘That’s a shooting a star, Sirius’.

************************

0.

 

A memory long forgotten surfaced as I stared at the cold calculations of my computer screen. They say that children’s memories are unreliable but I was sure of what I had seen. The Challenger Space Shuttle wasn’t the only thing that had crashed down to earth that day, yet he played innocent, hoping I would forget. I was never sure of why he lied, or needed to lie but as the cold, empty void of a number blinked back at me, I realised there are things you just wish weren’t true.

 

 

0.

 

Outside my room, the light pollution of the city had long faded the twinkle of the stars. I can’t help but smile at the irony. In our desire to advance our technology, our curiosity of how far we could push our boundaries, we lost sight of the goal. As I switched off the computer and scanned the night sky, seeking comfort in a familiarity that no longer existed, I realised why it’s so hard to watch children grow up. In the window’s empty reflection, a broken, distorted version of myself stared back. The clock hands said it had been years, decades, but my eyes said centuries. Time loses its meaning when there’s no tomorrow to look forward to. Long after the sparkling had stopped, long after they thought I would have given up, I was back where I had begun.

 

0.

 

Its like a poorly written poem with an ending no one wants to hear, except I had no choice but to listen. Their aged faces come back clearer than before and in their silence, I no longer saw indifference. In their weary eyes, I saw what it meant to be jaded by a lifetime of failure. A bubble bursts somewhere I could not reach and I finally understood, just how childish dreams could be.

 

 

 

 

 

***********************

‘Daddy?’ I asked as I measured the gaps between dots, ‘How far are they?’

‘It depends’, he replied, puffing out his chest, ‘When you’re as big as me, they’ll look a lot closer’.

***********************

They say that when you’re younger, the world seems so much bigger. Yet here, in the fields of my youth, as I reached out into a sky so distant, I wondered if I ever grew old. My father once told me that dreams were like stars but I wanted to find out for myself. A comet streaked across the night sky and I remembered to make a wish. So here I stood, under the light of a trillion stars I could no longer see and I asked them, if dreams really did come true.

 

Their silence said more than words ever could.


© Copyright 2018 James Ji. All rights reserved.

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