The Nightmare

Paul woke up with a gasp and ran into the kitchen. His mom was there, eating a bowl of cereal. Paul flopped down onto the chair next to her. “Mom, I just had the most awful nightmare. It’s one I had before. If I keep having the same nightmare over and over, do you think it means something? Maybe it’s a warning.”

“I don’t know. I keep dreaming I left you behind at the grocery store, but it hasn’t happened yet.”

Paul rolled his eyes. “That’s because you still make me hold onto the side of the grocery cart like a baby.”

“Well, you haven’t been left behind at the grocery store, have you?”

“If you somehow left me behind at the grocery store, I’d sit at the bench by the door and wait for you to come back for me,” Paul said.

Mom set down her spoon and looked at Paul for a moment. “I forget how much you’ve grown up.”

Paul scowled to hide how pleased he was with the compliment. “You say that like it’s so surprising.”

Mom laughed. “You’re right. How could I forget that you’re growing up? It’s not as though you lose your shoes every morning.”

“You shouldn’t be so mean to me. I just woke up from a terrible nightmare.”

Mom stopped laughing and patted Paul’s arm. “You’re right. Tell me all about it. In fact, wait just a moment. I have just the thing.”

She left the room, and returned a few minutes later with a book. She turned the cover to face Paul. He read the title out loud in a tone of disbelief.   “The Dreamer’s Dictionary?”

“You wanted to know what your dream meant, right?”

“And that will tell us?”

Mom shrugged. “Maybe.   Who knows? Personally I think dreams are really just weird things your brain makes up when it’s bored. But it couldn’t hurt to look things up, right?”

Paul sighed. “Fine, fine. Let me tell you about my nightmare. It’s about these guys in glowing masks.”

Mom flipped the pages. “Glowing means good things will happen. Oh, but masks mean deceit. Maybe a surprise party?”

“Who knows? Not me.   I guess it will be a surprise if it happens. Anyways, they were carrying these tulip plants around in little clay pots. Except, instead of a flower, they had a crab claw at the end of the stem.”

Mom opened the book again. “Seeing tulips in bloom is a good omen. Crabs mean tricky rivals. Unless you ate them?” Paul shook his head. Mom tapped a finger on her chin. “It will be good to have tricky rivals? Maybe they’re throwing the surprise party.”

Paul laughed. “Maybe.”

“So what happened? What did they do with the plants?”

Well, they carry them around, and if the plant pinches someone, there’s a flash of light and the person now has a mask and flower of their own. They go around infecting everyone, like zombies.   They walked on the power lines to get around more quickly.”

“Well, let’s see. Light means you find a solution. I can’t find pinching. Power lines mean success.”

Paul nodded. “Yes, but success for me or the zombies? And what did the transformation solve?”

“I don’t know. It’s your dream, dear. So, what happened next?”

“Well, I went to the news station so they could warn people to stay away from the plants. But the news anchors all had glowing masks. I ran away and ended up in the basement, which was full of the crab tulip plants in pots, all reaching for me. That’s when I wake up.”

“News… It says that you’ll get good news. That’s nice. Basement. Refuse plans that don’t appeal to you.”   Mom set down the dictionary.   “Really, it sounds like a nice dream dear. Good news and solutions and success. I think that according to this something nice is going to happen.”

“But it was scary and they were like zombies and it felt like a nightmare,” Paul said.

Mom smiled. “I guess sometimes we just don’t know what’s good for us.”

Paul frowned. “You’re still going to make me hold onto the side of the grocery cart, aren’t you?”

Mom picked up her spoon. “Probably.” She took a bite of cereal and made a face. “It’s soggy. That’s unfortunate.” She shoved the bowl towards Paul. “Do you like soggy cereal?”

Paul laughed. “No. Who does?” He went back to his room to get ready for the day, feeling much better than he did when he woke up.

He didn’t believe all of the weird stuff in the dream book, but maybe that meant that dreams mostly don’t mean anything at all. They really were just weird things your brain made up when it was bored. His brain just happened to like the weird dream with masks and crab claw tulips. He hoped it picked a new favorite soon.