Palo Alto Weekly 27th Annual Short Story
Third Place Children
Into Their Dreams
by Dori Filppu
No one knows who I am, not even me. I think I’m dead, but at the same time still living. All I remember is that we were driving in the rain. I even forget who “we” was….maybe some people I loved. Anyway, we crashed. I heard voices. I soon lay in a bed with things all around me: tubes up my nose, machines hooked to my arms and legs. I heard people sobbing. A grown woman was holding my hand, crying so hard. She looked very strangely familiar. So did a man and a teenage boy. The woman through her tears said something like: “Stay with us, Emma. Please.” But no. I was long gone.
I woke up to a world of light. Light everywhere. A strange feeling of warmth spread over me. My body tingled. I saw many figures. It looked like I knew them, but it was hard to tell. They all had gold light surrounding them, so I couldn’t focus in on their faces. I felt relaxed, but I can’t say for sure. I don’t know if I was happy, sad, nervous, sleepy, but I think most of all I was at peace. Then I felt a warm force on my back. I turned to see only a hand, a giant hand. “Welcome Emma,” said a deep, but soft voice. I did not know who “Emma” was, but it sounded right to me. I think it was me.
I’m Molly Johnson, Emma’s mother. I screamed. I cried. Emma, in the Williamstown hospital, nurses trying to calm me, telling me it’s alright. But no. It’s not. I was going through every mother’s worst nightmare, losing my child, the blue-gray eyed beauty. Jake, my husband, had just lost control. Everybody was hurt, but Emma the most. I cried every day. I now know what it’s like to lose someone you love. I still cry, but not as much. It was a single dream that changed it.
When I went to bed that night I could actually feel Emma inside me. That night I had a dream about her.
God refreshed my memory: who I am, what happened, and my family. I felt so alive, but at the same time, so dead. I wanted my family to know that I was okay. So I went into their dreams.
I dreamed of Emma and she said to me: “Mom, I love you and I’m okay. I swear. I’m in heaven now. I miss you, but please don’t worry.” I woke up crying, even though it was a dream, this one was different. I could feel it with my heart. This one was real. I don’t know why I was crying. Maybe of happiness that Emma was safe and okay.
It was pouring rain while I was driving. I don’t know what happened, I just lost control of the car. I got a black eye and an air bag shoved into my stomach and chest. But Emma, oh God, Emma was leaning her head out the window. She loved the rain on her face. Why did I let her do that I do not know. Then when we crashed a tree smashed into her head. She tried to pull her head out just as the air bag exploded. I still cry. My little baby girl. She was just 12. Seeing her in the hospitial just about killed me. I hated myself. When I went to bed that night I dreamed of my daughter. I dreamed of Emma. “Dad, I am up here in the world of light. I love you. I’m okay. Please remember I will always be right inside you. Forever. Whenever. Always.” It was a miracle. Though just a dream, this one seemed different. This one was real.
Losing my sister, it was a nightmare. I was scared, don’t get me wrong. But Emma, oh my gosh. I pulled her head fully out of the window. Right then and there I could see she was never going to live this down. But I really had no idea what was coming for me and my family. I remember when we would all go for a picnic on the river. Emma would love to cross this huge log that was in the middle of the stream. There she would look down at the fish swimming in the cool water. After that she would come join us under a shady tree to eat. I used to cry, but now I feel better; a lot better.
God told me that I would be coming back down to Williamstown. At first I was really happy, but then a little sad because I was beginning to like the world of light; heaven. I still had my brother’s dream to enter, so I told him I would be coming back down.
When I went to bed that night I actually felt happy. I saw and heard Emma. She told me, “Adam I love you and miss you so much. I will be seeing you soon. I’m coming back down.” I know the dream was short and small, but it made me cry. Emma was okay. That morning I went down to my parents. I was surprised to learn that they too had a dream of Emma. I told them that Emma was coming back down. While we were talking my mom suggested that we go to the stream.
When heading out, something caught my eye. It was a wolf. But this one was pure white. It was beautiful. My parents saw it, too. We all stood frozen in awe, watching. The white wolf went over to the log that Emma always used to stand on. Guess what? The wolf crossed the log. It stopped in the middle and looked down at the fish. Then the white wolf went to the tree where Emma always used to stand. I caught my breath. The wolf looked straight at us with piercing blue gray eyes, Emma’s eyes. It howled and vanished into the woods.
Even now, two years later we see the wolf running free. We know it’s a sign of Emma…. at peace, forever.