Mr. Sandman

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story I started a while ago. It's not finished, but I kind of like it as it is right now.

Mr. Sandman

By Tahlia Alarid 4 April 2018

 

“Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream—

Make him the cutest that I’ve ever seen;

Give him two lips like roses and clover—

Tell him that his lonely nights are over.”

--The Chordettes (1954)

 

The Sandman Service is quite serious. Each dream concoctor carries on business as an important and meticulous privilege, mostly because they are born into that caste. Even so, you’ll never see a sandman bilk a member who signs up to receive special dreams. It is important to note that not every human on Earth signs up to receive Sandman dreams, and the Sandman Service clamps onto no grudge if maturing individuals decide they no longer need the imaginative packages of the company. Although, dreams are less like paper-wrapped packages, and more relatable to tiny pouches of ground Turkish rhubarb or stardust, or perhaps both. The secret of the richness of dreams is that no human truly knows the ingredients of them.

The reward of the business is dreams that come true, though not all of them do. Whether they come true or not depends on if they align with the Master’s Plan. Sometimes it’s for the best if they do not come true, and sometimes The Master lets certain ones become reality for specific purposes. Anyway, though it is a serious business, it is also a beneficial one for the dreamer—the Sandman—and the dreamee—the human. Indeed, Sandmen, for the most part, enjoy their jobs. When they receive a request, they gingerly fashion the dream, personalize it for the individual, and deliver while the person sleeps. Their most valued customers are the imaginative and the youthful. Of course, the youthful are frequently the more imaginative, and, when they develop an acute awareness of insecurity and adult obligation, they leave the Sandmen for their own dreams. The end of the human and Sandman relationship is bittersweet, mostly for the Sandman—and mostly because humans do not usually realize the Sandman Service exists.

No strict rules dictate the services, except that tailored dreams be well-kept and delivered during the perfect transition from one level of brain wave activity to the next. Another, mostly implicit norm is that Sandmen keep out of sight, out of mind of humans. Some might think it is a lonely business. Traum didn’t think so, until he delivered a special dream to Agnes Stewart of Syncopator Row.

After bidding farewell to Traum’s two or his three customers, the short fellow heard the familiar ting-ting of a star above flickering with light—the signal of a patron’s request. Soon a letter appeared at his desk. Finishing the last munch of a plain but satisfying sandwich, he dusted crumbs off his hands, scooted his round-back chair closer to the lamplight, and unfolded the paper to read the bubbly and delicate penmanship of Agnes. Delight sparkled in his eyes—he had not heard news of Agnes in five years, though he had delivered creative dreams to the endearing girl for 12 years before. Traum’s eyes swept the words with diligence and equanimity due all Sandmen.

“I can’t stand to be alone forever. If men in reality find me boring, maybe the man of my dreams will be more faithful. I want him to have welcoming eyes, and wavy hair, and a cheerful personality, and I want him to want me, too…”

Traum hummed thoughtfully as he tucked the paper under a little paperweight. In effect, Agnes wanted a partner to love and love her back, as she concluded she was growing old too fast. As a young child, her dreams had burst with innovative ideas to change the world or her life. This would be quite a new experience for the both.

Humming softly, Traum lifted himself from the velvet and wood chair, padded through an arched doorway, the drawn batik curtain hanging from the ceiling gently swayed as he passed. With a curious smack of his lips, a motion he made while deep in concentration, he paused in front of towering, wide wall of shelves and cupboards and cabinets, the corners of which disappeared in shadows. An array of glass vials, mason jars filled with unique talcum-like powders, tin boxes of crushed herbs, and other fascinating things cluttered the shelves, along with feathers, stones, papers, and other useful items.

“A man with welcoming eyes…” Traum murmured to himself and the dust bunnies who watched him from loose strands of the wool rug. Muttering and tapping his tongue, he collected fine powders, a fey down feather, and several other tools. Then, he settled at his desk and began to work. For Agnes, the charming little girl with a bright spirit, he hoped he could tailor this dream just right.

First, he sketched ideas with charcoal and parchment. Once he found an innocent design, he referenced his sketch for the dream as he dusted, swirled, shook, shaped some ingredients into a dream. When he finished, he cupped his hand and swept the sandy substance off the edge of the wooden desk and into a little bag, tied the opening shut. Thankfully, Agnes had already snuggled under her covers by the window, as a new note implied. Thus, Traum hefted his satchel, the dream, and his weathered umbrella, and headed out to reunite with the girl who was oblivious to his presence.

To travel as a Sandman is quite an adventure.  The dreamer usually finds his umbrella the most efficient means of travel—much faster than a boat and much more comfortable than a musty airplane seat. With his umbrella fanned out above his head, Traum floated through the wispy, cold clouds, admiring the twinkling city lights below as they trickled over the dark green countryside and led him to Agnes Stewart’s two-story house. He angled his umbrella, and leisurely decelerated. When his toes touched the shingles of the roof outside Agnes’ window, Traum gracefully closed his umbrella, slid through the open sill, and shook his transportation device until it glowed enough to see through the night.

Surprisingly, Agnes’ favored stuffed animals, homemade doll, and crayon drawings no longer littered the room. A school dress hung on her closet door, her clothes were neatly stacked in her wardrobe, and a table near the door held homework, bobby pins, and rarely used makeup. On her bed nestled a larger form than her younger self, one with a longer and more mature form, fast asleep.

Traum tip-toed to the bedside and paused to study her soft, relaxed face. Her chestnut hair ran along the white pillow and collected beside her uniquely shaped nose. The covers rose and fell with her slumber-breath. She slept without the slightest clue that a Sandman watched her with subdued amazement. She was beautiful. However, work called, and Traum ignored his shock to sprinkle the dream into his umbrella and spring the thing open above her head, watching the miniscule crystals drift onto her skin. As they soaked in, her eyelashes fluttered, and her petite lips twitched. Enamored, Traum silently watched the dream take effect.

After fluttering several times, Agnes’ eyes shot open, and she pushed herself into a sitting position as Traum hid himself just outside the window. He peeked in to watch her blink, casting a gaze around the darkness. Then, with a soft expression, she lay back down and hugged the covers, smiling at the man in her dreams. Traum shared her smile.

With no other dreamee to provide for, Traum relished a couple minutes on the cool shingles of the roof, leaning over the white window frame to watch Agnes sway into the realm of the unconscious imagination once more. When he found she was fast asleep, and her soft face flickered slightly with dream, he decided to respect her privacy. Content, he lifted his umbrella, whispered goodnight to Agnes, and drifted into the vast expanse of cloud-breaths and deep ocean blue.  


Submitted: December 15, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Aia Bunny. All rights reserved.

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