Safe Not Sorry

The main reason I write mostly non-fiction is because life has always held more intrigue than fiction to me. Dreams and reality often have a way of mingling.

I stood frozen.

My lips wouldn’t move. My body refused to respond.

I stared at my seven year old cousin as he and a friend walked through an unfamiliar bedroom to the closet. His friend climbed up a shelf to grab a box, and pulled out a gun. “Look what I found.”

His fingers were too small to handle it. The gun slipped from his hands.

It went off and my cousin fell.

I screamed and banged my head on my sister’s bunk above me. My heart thumped so fast I didn’t know what happened. I glanced around the shadows and lay back against my pillow.

“It was just a dream,” I whispered to myself.

But dreams had a strange way of becoming reality in my family. My mom was prone to dreaming of the future. When losing something, she could find it in her sleep, wake up, and go retrieve the missing item from the spot shown to her in her dreams.

It ran in the family.

I had a few instances where a dream gave me foggy glimpses into the future. They were never as clear as I wished. I couldn’t decipher between fantasy and reality for a time. Stray cats sometimes crossed my path looking for food after dreaming of them, but it was often hit or miss. Always eager to sneak some food out of our little apartment when my parents weren’t looking, I figured it was better to have something ready even when no strays showed up.

This dream was different, though. I knew it.

I saw everything. My cousin had walked before me as if from a memory instead of through the shade of my subconscious.

The possibility drove me to get up and go wake my mom. I tiptoed to her room and tapped her shoulder. “Mom. I had a bad dream but I think it might come true.”

She was used to me being an early bird and scooted over to let me climb in bed with her. Half asleep she whispered, “What happened?”

“Billy went to a friend’s house and got shot. They were playing with a gun. I’m really worried about him. It was so real.” I shivered in the warm bed.

Mom hugged me close. “It’s a school night. He’s at home right now. We can call Aunt Sue in a little bit.”

I let her go back to sleep and breathed deep in the quiet. It felt like the sun would never rise.

As soon as the rays of light finally peaked through our cheap apartment blinds, I woke my mom. She insisted that we wait until after breakfast and went to get my sister up for school. Every minute felt like time lost. My head grew heavy. My pulse refused to steady.

I barely chewed my cereal, swallowing each bite as fast as I could to speed everyone up. I raced to the sink and tossed my bowl in. “Can we please call her now? It was so real. Billy went to a friend’s house and they snuck into the parents’ room and they found a gun and he got shot. It was so scary.”

Mom sighed. “Okay. It’s late enough, I guess. But you know dreams usually give you time if they’re gonna come true.”

She walked into the living room with me at her heels. She waved me away and called my Aunt. “I know it’s early but…”

I paced the room as she detailed everything I said.

Then silence followed. It was the longest silence I’d ever known.

Mom laughed. “Yeah, always better to be safe than sorry. I’ll talk to you later.” She hung up.

“What did she say? Is he okay?” I practically leapt at her.

Mom stood. “He was supposed to go to a friend’s house after school…”

My eyes went wide. I couldn’t breathe.

“But she said she’ll cancel and talk to him about staying safe from guns no matter where he goes.” She hugged me.

I breathed with relief and sank into her arms. “I’m sorry. Maybe it was just a bad dream.”

Mom pulled away and looked me in the eye. “We’ll never really know now. You might have saved his life. I’m glad you told me. You just never know.”

More of my dreams came true in later years, as did Mom’s, but I’m so glad that one never came to fruition.

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