Robin de Voh
there's never enough stories

Nanoprep 2021 Day 7: Great Minds Dream Alike

By Robin de Voh on 2021-10-12

Emily never really dreamed much, or at least she thought she didn't, because she hardly ever woke up remembering any. So it was odd to her when over the past week, almost every single night, she would wake up having dreamt something. Knowing what she dreamt, because she remembered it, and remembered it almost too well. No nightmares, just dreams of vaguely known things and people and the absurd situations dreams often bring.

But twice, and she wasn't sure what to make of it, she thought that weird kid from school was there. She didn't even know what his name was, and couldn't really recall his face, but she somehow felt it was him. Not prominent or anything, not a central figure in her dreams, but more of a side character.

Like he was hiding in the corners of her subconsciousness.

She tried not to think of it too much, as the implications of dreaming of someone she only ever vaguely noticed was unsettling to her, but she paid a little more attention to him when she was at school. By asking some friends, she managed to figure out his name was Harold. Of course it was. It fit him too well. And she made sure to notice and store his face, so maybe if it happened again, she could be more sure that it was him.

Harold was a non-jock kid, that was the best way she could describe him. Not the kind of person she generally hung out with, though even she wasn't a massive fan of the airhead bros. She was popular enough but her friends were more the stereotypical high school popular girls. She wasn't sure what clique he would fit into, and whether he even fit into any of them, because she didn't really see him with other people.

She did notice at some point that during lunch, while she was looking at him with a side glance, he suddenly looked up and straight at her. She looked away immediately, and pretended nothing had happened.

As this was going on, she didn't dream for a few days, and right as she was getting hopeful that the weirdness was over, the night after she dreamed again. And this time Harold was right there. No ambiguity, that was him. Just as tall, same floppy hair which always seemed a little wet somehow, just kinda waiting for her.

He saw her and turned towards her.

"Ah, hi," he said awkwardly, looking away and at her in rapid succession.
"Uh, hi. Harold, right?" Emily asked.
"You know my name?" He seemed shocked.
"Yeah, we go to the same school," she said.
"Oh, I know, you've been looking at me weird these past few days. But I don't know who you are."

Her turn to seem shocked. Somehow she'd just assumed he would know who she was. She chalked that one up to a little bit of arrogance maybe, and decided she'd work on that.

"Emily," she said, holding out her hand. He awkwardly shook it, after some hesitation.
"Nice to meet you," he said, pausing for a second as he seemed to figure out what to say. "Why have you been appearing in my dreams, Emily?"
"Wait, what? You're in my dreams!" she said, almost reflexively.
"I'm in your dreams?" he said, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah, I've seen you like twice before, even though I wasn't completely sure if it was you. That's why I was looking at you at school, I was trying to figure out if it was actually you."

He laughed.

"I knew it was too good to be true," he said. "My friend suggested you liked me."
"I hardly know you, Harold, so let's just start with the dream stuff," she said.

He smiled.

"Okay, so you're in my dream," he said.
"No, you're in my dream," she interjected.

He sighed and held up his hand to her.

"Let me finish my sentence, okay? So you're in my dream, and I'm in yours. This isn't a competition. I think we're sharing a dream. Or, I guess, we're sharing dreams."
"Purely based on the conversation we're having right now. I'm also not sure what's happening."

Emily thought for a second about what he said.

"Okay, say you're right. We're sharing a dream. We need to prove that. For all I know I'm just having this dream, and you're not even asleep right now."
"Fair point, it's the same from my perspective. What about this, I give you my number, and you send me a message when you wake up?"
"Waiiiiit, is this just a way to get my number?"
"No, but it's either through something like phone messages or email, or, if you want, we can do this at school? Besides, I'm offering up my number so you can decide not to send me anything and I still won't have yours."
"Fine. But then what? Wait, I'll send a word and you need to respond with a specific word in response. If you don't respond with that word I'll know it's not a shared dream."
"Sounds good. You pick your word I should respond with. You should send me 'peaches'."

She looked at him like he was broken.

"It's an Ice Age reference, one of my favorite movies. Don't worry about it."
"Fine. You should respond with..." she thought for a second. "Black Parade."
"Don't ask me what it is."
"I wasn't going to."

After he had her repeat his phone number a few times, they stood there for a second.

"What now?" he asked.
"I don't know, we wake up eventually?"
"This is not going to be the best dream we've had recently, is it?"

She laughed, and then he did. They ended up chatting nonsense for a little bit, but then she suddenly woke up.

She grabbed her phone and saw that it was 7:30am. She still remembered everything so went to contacts and entered Harold and his number in. Then she spent half an hour thinking about the dream, what they'd discussed and what to do about it.

"Fuck it," she said and opened her text message app. "Peaches," she typed, "from the Ice Age movie," she added. She dropped her phone beside her and looked up at the ceiling. This was all extremely weird, and whoever she just messaged was likely going to be very confused.

10 minutes later her phone dinged.

"Black Parade," the message said, from Harold. "Is that My Chemical Romance?"

She sat up, not believing what was happening. She had had a dream, a conversation within that dream, got a number she had no way of knowing, and it was actually correct.

"Okay, fine, after school we get a coffee and talk about this," she sent. "And yes, it's MCR," she added in a second message.
"Sure, works for me. Also, yay for me for guessing right."

All day long she felt weird, but when her last class ended, she sent Harold a message asking when he was done, which he answered by saying he'd been out of class for an hour. They agreed to meet up at a coffee shop far away from school. Nobody needed to see this happen and come to the wrong conclusion.

Syrupy and sugary coffee drink in hand, Emily sat down on the bench opposite the coffee place. Harold had gotten a tea instead and stayed standing.

"So how does this work?" she asked him.
"Look, I don't know either. All we've done so far is prove that we did, in fact, share some dreams. How it works is beyond me, and to be honest, it's freaking me out a little."
"I'm not so much freaked out as just plain confused, but yeah, same. So now what?"
"Nothing? Like, what do you suggest we do? A dream exorcism? Check ourselves into a mental hospital?"
"No, I don't like either of those," she said as she shook her head.
"You weren't supposed to. The funny thing is that the first time it happened, I was just having a regular dream, and suddenly I noticed you off in the distance. I went over to check if it was really you, but before I could really tell, I woke up."
"Hm. I'm not sure when that was and if I noticed you. How many times have you seen me in your dreams?"
"I dunno, 5 times or so?"
"I've seen you 3 times now, so I... Sounds kinda stalkery, doesn't it? Twice you were in my dreams without me knowing."

He almost choked on his tea, eyes wide. After coughing a bit, he put down his tea and looked at her.

"I assure you I didn't mean anything bad," he said far too seriously.
Emily laughed, "I didn't mean to imply you did, sorry, I was just messing with you."
"Good! Well, not good, but better than what I feared, I guess."
"So yeah, you're right, I don't know what to do either. Guess we see what happens?"
"I guess so. Sorry, but it's possible you're stuck with me for a few more dreams."
"Eh, could be worse. So far you don't seem as creepy as I--" she coughed to cover up the trailing sounds of that sentence. "You know what, never mind."

He raised his eyebrow and turned his head sideways a little. A somewhat challenging look.

"As creepy as you thought?" he said with a grin.
"Look, I didn't know you, okay," she said apologetically.
"No, no, it's fine. I'm not the best at socializing, I'm sure you're not the only one who thinks that."
"You seem fine socializing with me now," she said.
"You've been in my dreams. You're different," he said, picking up his tea and finishing it.

Over the next few weeks, they'd pop into the same dream every so often and they'd essentially just hang out. There wasn't much else to do about it as far as they could tell. Seeing one another made them immediately realize they were dreaming, and they managed to control the dream a little, influencing it in small ways.

Over time, they started hanging out after school as well, talking about movies and music, hobbies and wishes and wants. There had been something weirdly comforting about sharing their dreams together, and they grew closer over time.

Harold, the weird kid, and Emily, the somewhat popular girl, started hanging out at school too. They just 'got' each other, somehow. In a way they could never really explain to anyone.

And when one of Emily's friends had asked her why she suddenly started hanging out with Harold -- he was rather weird and friendless, after all -- she had simply said that no, he's not friendless.

They were friends, and it was one of the best friendships she'd ever had up to that point.

I've been practicing my dialogue writing. I think it's paying off. ALSO: so wholesome.