Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Writing Prompt: Finding Fantasyland

“I understand you’re concerned, Miss, but three hours isn’t long enough to file a missing persons report.”
I wasn’t at my most calm and understanding. I was hysterical. I was crying and screaming at the unfortunate police officer who had come when I’d called 911. “He hasn’t been missing three hours!” I screeched. “It’s been at least five, I was wandering around out there looking for him myself for hours before I called anyone!”
He nodded in an understanding way. “Well, I’m sure he’ll turn up soon. Give us a call tomorrow evening if you haven’t found him.” He smiled reassuringly. “Good luck.”
“It takes a lot less than twenty-four hours for a person to die!” I yelled at his retreating back. More tears gushed their way down my face as he got into his squad car, turned off the red and blue flashing lights, and drove away.
I slammed the door behind me as though he was my stepdad and he could somehow be punished by my adolescent aggression toward the house. And as if he could still hear me. It was dark in my aunt and uncle’s cabin. I could have turned on a light, but it wouldn’t have illuminated the dark knot of worry in my chest. I let out one more anguished sob and collapsed on the couch.
This was supposed to be an awesome weekend. Our friends from high school were getting together for an informal reunion. We were going to eat junk food, play video games, and stay up all night planning an epic roleplaying campaign, which my best friend Brett was going to run. Brett was always our GM. He was the best storyteller, and a few of our friends liked to say that he would live in fantasyland if he could.
But Brett was better than a good storyteller. He was the core of our group, the one who held us together when life after high school threatened to tear us apart. He kept in touch with everyone, and helped us all to keep in touch with each other. It was because of him that we were all going to gather here for autumn break instead of going off to some warm locale to drink ourselves silly. The others were going to show up in the morning; it was a long drive out to my aunt and uncle’s cabin. Brett and I had showed up early to sweep cobwebs out of corners, roast marshmallows in the fireplace, and make sure the fridge was stocked with plenty of soda and snacks. It was late afternoon when he suggested we go ramble in the woods. “Maybe we’ll find a good spot for a goblin ambush,” he’d said, laughing.
We wandered for a while on the path, talking about everything: comparing professors, extracurriculars, and new friends. Then suddenly Brett said, “Whoa, Jill, check it out!” and ran off of the beaten trail and into the trees.
“What?” I said, following him as close as I could. “What do you see?”
He was crashing through the brush and making a lot of noise, when I heard him trip and cry out: “Agh, I stepped in a hole. What…”
“Brett? Where are you?” I called. Wherever he’d fallen, I couldn’t see him. I stumbled forward a little more, trying not to trip over him in the afternoon light, which was rapidly darkening to dusk.
“Holy crap!” I heard him say. “Jill, this is amazing! Wait until you―” That was the last time I heard his voice.
By watching the ground carefully, I spotted a hole, but not Brett. It wasn’t a very big hole, so it wasn’t like he could have fallen through it into some unknown cave below. I called his name for ten minutes, then screamed it for ten more. I wandered the woods calling for him as it got darker and darker, then when I’d finally made my way back to the path, I ran to the house and called the police.
I sat dejectedly on the couch in the dark.
Where could he have gone? It wasn’t like college students vanished into thin air in the woods. This wasn’t a slasher movie. I cast a glance over my shoulder at the kitchen counter, where my aunt kept a quantity of knives. I rolled my eyes and imagined the announcer’s voice on the movie trailer: “They only wanted a weekend of fun with their friends. Little did they know what would happen. Coming soon to a theater near you: Teenage Horror Stabby Doom IV: Revenge on Autumn Break.” Then I laughed. In the dark, empty house.
On second thought, if this was a slasher flick, it wasn’t a bad idea to be armed. I got up and helped myself to one of the steak knives. It wasn’t terribly sharp, but it was pointy, and more importantly, it made me feel better. Then I thought that I may as well go look for Brett by myself in the woods, since according to slasher movie rules I was probably safer out there than in the house.
I helped myself to one of my uncle’s big camping lanterns and headed off in the same direction that Brett and I had gone earlier. For some reason, yelling into the darkness while holding the only source of light around didn’t seem like the best choice, so I just retraced my steps the best way I could. Eventually, I found it. The little hole surrounded by leaves. I was pretty sure this was where Brett had disappeared.
Writing Prompt #600
The lantern light illuminated the bottom of the hole. It was less than a foot deep. There were some pine needles inside. I sat there staring into it, not sure what I was expecting. It wasn’t like Brett had fallen into it. I sighed. This was ridiculous. I’d wait until morning, and maybe even until  everybody else showed up, and that way I’d have light and help. I stood up and leaned down to pick up the lantern.
I gasped and dropped it when I heard rustling in the leaves nearby. There was no wind. “Brett?!” I cried. “Brett? Is that you?” I turned in the direction of the sound I’d heard, trying to keep track of the hole behind me so that I wouldn’t put my foot in it; that would be a stupid thing to do.
A squirrel jumped out at me, twittered, and then ran up a nearby tree. I breathed a sigh of relief and was just about to grab the lantern again when I could swear I heard Brett’s voice behind me. I spun around quickly, and of course fell over into the hole just like I had been planning not to do.
“Ugh, stupid hole,” I said to myself. Everything was dark. I must have fallen on top of the lantern and accidentally turned it off.
“Jill?! Is that you?!”
“Brett!” I yelled. “Where are you?”
“Right here,” he said. “It might take your eyes some time to get used to the light.”
“You jerk!” I cried. “You’ve been out here this whole time?! I’ve been looking for you for hours! I even called the cops!”
“You’ve been looking for… hours?”
“What, did you take a nap out here or something?” I asked, squinting to pull in some light, trying to see Brett or anything, really. He was silent for a moment, so I started feeling around for the lantern.
“Oh…!” he said finally. “Time must run differently!”
“What?!” I asked, annoyed. The lantern didn’t seem to be anywhere nearby, so I figured that I must have fallen away from it when I stepped in the hole.
“It’s like a Narnia thing,” he explained without explaining anything.
“What are you talking about?” I said, exasperated.
“You know how Adrian and Sara are always saying that I’d live in fantasyland if I could?” As he spoke, a reddish light appeared, though it seemed far away. I could discern Brett’s outline. I reached out to touch his arm, but it was covered in something hard and leather.
“Yeah…?” I said as he helped me stand up.
“I found it.” I could hear the grin in his voice, and soon I could see it because the torch was getting nearer.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“I found Fantasyland.” Brett took the torch and stood back to introduce me to who had brought it. “This is Gar’fang, he’s, well, he’s my servant, I guess.” Brett said something to the thing and it bowed.
I blinked, not sure how to take this in. “What is it?” I said.
“He’s a goblin!” Brett said, grinning.
“A goblin.” I stared at Gar’fang.
“Isn’t it great?!”
I looked from Brett to the thing and back. “I think I must have hit my head on the lantern when I fell,” I said.
Brett smiled. “Come on. Let’s go back to my house.” He handed the torch back to Gar’fang and grabbed my arm to help me across the uneven floor of the cave we had been standing in. I looked up at the ceiling and didn’t see a hole, not even one too small to fit through but big enough to trip someone in the woods.
It took me a while to register his words. “You have a house?” I asked.
“I’m sort of the clan’s loremaster.”
“How…” I began weakly.
“I don’t know how much you heard after I got here, but right after I fell I was trying to tell you about the cave. I got interrupted by a hunting party, who took me back with them to the settlement and tossed me in lockup.”
“A hunting party of…”
“Of goblins,” he clarified.
“And they threw you in goblin jail.”
“I was there for a couple of weeks until I started to pick up words here and there. Goblin isn’t a very wordy language, but I wanted to learn enough to be able to say ‘I come in peace; take me to your leader.’ How awesome would that have been, right?”
“Awesome,” I agreed, still not really believing the entire situation.
“They don’t really have a word for ‘peace,’ but after a couple of weeks I managed to tell the clanmaster something like ‘I,’” and he gestured at himself, “‘here,’” pointing to the ground, “‘not war.’”
The fact that I was listening to one of Brett’s stories while we followed a goblin that was carrying a torch for a us through a rocky tunnel was suddenly incredibly hilarious to me, and I started laughing. I laughed and laughed and laughed until I cried. I doubled over, clutched my stomach, and giggled all my worry out. Brett was safe. He was happy. And he was telling me a story just like the one when he’d convinced our high school principal not to give him detention. I was expecting that when I stood, we’d be back in the woods, and Brett would be laughing with me, and we’d go up to the house and go to bed, waiting for morning so that we could tell Adrian and Sara the crazy story he’d come up with this time.
“Feeling better?” he asked when I stood. We were still in a dark stone tunnel, the light of the torch showing me that though Brett was happy to see me, he was slightly worried about me.
“I guess,” I said. “So this isn’t a dream.”
“You have a knife?” he asked, pointing at the piece of my aunt’s silverware that I still clutched in one hand. “You’d better give it to me before we get to the settlement. Not that I want to disarm you or anything, it’s just that it takes months to get these people to trust you (I would know), and the fact that you’re my friend won’t necessarily convince the clanmaster that you’re not dangerous.”
I shrugged and numbly passed it over. He ran his thumb along the blade and smiled.
“Who were you going to attack with this? It’s not even sharp enough to kill a squirrel.”
“I did get mugged by a squirrel,” I admitted. Brett gave me a look. “Well, it ran toward me and then ran away. At least I was armed at the time!”
He tucked the knife away somewhere and gestured at my jacket. “You’d better zip that up, too. The more armored you look, the more respect you’ll get.”
I did as he suggested, raising my eyebrow at him. “It’s just a sweatshirt,” I said.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said, the ghost of a grin in his eyes, “the clanmaster’s never seen a white girl before, so you’ll probably be okay either way.” I shoved him sideways and he laughed. Gar’fang glanced back at us and said something to Brett. He replied, and then said, “We’re almost there.”
“What were you doing in the cave when I showed up?” I asked.
“Oh…” Brett seemed to be blushing. “I… was… studying. You know, lore. Sometimes the settlement gets too loud, kids running around, hunters training, and everything. I go there to think about all the different stuff I’ve read about goblins in my old RPG books. I wish I’d brought a few of the sourcebooks with me, but it’s not like I was planning to arrive here when we went for a walk a year ago.”
“A year?” I cried. “It’s been like six hours for me!”
“Yeah, Narnia. Like I said earlier.”
“So we’re… in Narnia?”
“Probably not. At least, I don’t think so. Well, maybe. But I haven’t explored much. I’m too busy loremastering.”
We emerged from the tunnel into a forest that looked almost exactly like the one we’d fallen out of. There was even a tree nearby that looked like the one that my squirrel mugger had escaped into.
“My theory is that it’s just an alternate universe,” Brett said.
“An alternate universe in the woods behind my aunt and uncle’s cabin,” I said, looking around at the trees.
“Well, the door to get here is there,” he said.
Suddenly I realized the real reason he’d been in the cave. “But the door to get back…?” I asked.
He shrugged. “The clan’s shaman has a ritual she can perform that puts you to sleep. You wake up back where you’re supposed to be, but you can never come back here again.”
I watched his face as he said this. Brett didn’t want to leave fantasyland. Once he found it, he’d never want to go home. So why had he been in that cave looking for a way back? Or had he…
“Were you waiting for me?”
“In the cave.”
“You were waiting for me, even after a year?”
He didn’t answer for a moment, then he took my hand. “Even if you were having the time of your life, you’d still want to know you were missed, right? Like that semester you spent in Italy. Remember?”
My time in Italy was only one semester ago, when Brett had burned through a dozen international calling cards to make sure I heard his voice once every couple of days. I’d known that everyone at home was excited for me and the wonderful new experience I was having, and it had made me feel less lonely. For Brett, that was a year and a half ago. He’d been ‘speaking Italian’ without hearing the voice of a friend speaking English for far more than three days.
I jumped into his arms. “I missed you, Brett!” I insisted. “I practically verbally assaulted an officer of the law because he wouldn’t help me look for you, and you’d only been missing for a few hours!”
Brett returned the hug, laughing. “Thanks, that’s nice to know. Sometimes when I went to bed I’d think about you guys having a funeral for me, my parents crying, and my brother stealing my music collection. But it’s nice to hear that I’d have been missed if there had been enough time for you to miss me.”
Gar’fang’s voice intruded on our moment, and Brett and I turned away from one another to see that he’d deposited the torch in a large fire in the midst of a circle of small buildings.
“Are we there?” I asked.
“Yeah, this is the settlement,” Brett replied. He pointed at a hut on the other side of the fire. “That one’s mine, but I should probably take you to see the clanmaster right away.”
We headed for the fanciest-looking hut in the circle, and once inside, bowed to a tiny goblin wearing layers of animal skins. He looked surprised to see me. “Brett,” he said. “This is Jill.”
“You speak English!” I exclaimed.
Brett smiled. “He taught me, I taught him.”
“Loremaster teaches,” said the clanmaster. “The old ones, the small ones.”
I looked at Brett. “You’re a one-room schoolhouse teacher in a goblin village,” I said. He laughed, and translated for the clanmaster.
“He’s pretty fluent, but not when you speak quickly,” he explained to me.
“Tell him I said, ‘I, here, not war.’”
Brett laughed and started speaking quickly to the clanmaster in Goblin. I assumed he was relating the conversation he and I had had earlier about his arrival. Whatever the case, the clanmaster looked amused.
“Brett is good,” he said. “Loremaster…” he spoke a few words to Brett and Brett supplied him with the English word he wanted: “important.”
“You’re saying he can’t go back with me,” I said.
“Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t,” Brett said. “The way I understand it, our shaman can only send you back during your first sleep here. I’d already slept here too many times before I could even communicate, let alone make them understand I’d come from somewhere else.”
“Clan need Brett,” the clanmaster informed me.
For the second time that day, my eyes filled with tears. I’d had a long day; I yelled at a police officer, lost my best friend in the woods only to find him later in a mysterious cave, had to accept that he’d been living among goblins for a year as their loremaster, and now, on top of everything else, I was going to have to leave him here, alone, within the next several hours, and return to a world without him in it.
The clanmaster took my hand in his rough, wrinkly one and patted it with the other. He said something in Goblin that I didn’t understand, but it sounded comforting, so I thanked him. He passed my hand to Brett, who said something else and then bowed, leading me out of the hut.
It was getting dark in fantasyland, but I could still see Brett’s face. All I wanted to do was see Brett’s face; I was never going to see it again after today.
“Don’t cry,” he said. “Let’s just pretend it’s back when you were going to Italy. Let’s pretend it’ll only be a few months before we get to see each other again.” His voice broke saying the last word, so I decided he didn’t have any authority to tell me not to cry if he was going to, and hugged him.
“I’ll miss you,” I whispered. “I’ll miss you so much.” He didn’t say anything. He just squeezed me tight.
“Now we have to go see the shaman,” he said when we finished our hug He grabbed my hand and led me out of the village to a tree that had been painted with strange green symbols and had a hole in the ground next to it. Brett stopped and rapped on the tree with a stick he found on the ground and called out in Goblin. We waited for a few minutes, during which Brett pointed out the area where the hunters trained, and several trees nearby where the children of the clan liked to play.
I jumped when there was a moan from behind us and an ancient goblin appeared from out of the hole next to the tree. She was wearing the shirt Brett had been wearing earlier that day (or a year ago, fantasyland time) and appeared to have his jeans perched on her head like a denim crown, his sneakers tied by their laces to the end of the legs, which dangled down behind her back.
As I covered my mouth with my hand, I shot a glance at Brett to see if this was someone who would appreciate my stifled laughter. He have a quick shake of his head and adopted a very serious demeanor while I swallowed my laughter and did my best to banish my smile. As she and I studied one another, I figured that Brett’s otherworldly clothes were probably considered by this tiny goblin to be very powerful magical objects.
The shaman began to speak, more quickly than the clanmaster had. I thought maybe she was casting a spell, so I looked at Brett, but he didn’t look worried, so I went back to watching the shaman. When she was finished speaking, Brett bowed to her, so I followed his example. Out of the corner of his mouth he informed me that she had just blessed us.
“Loremaster,” she said in English, then rattled off a long paragraph in Goblin. Brett responded in the same language, and they spoke for a few minutes before the shaman held out her hand. Brett seemed excited as he looked at me, then he passed her the knife I’d brought with me. She said a few words over it, then passed it back to him and retreated into her hole.
“What was that about?” I asked when she’d gone.
“She’s going to get the ritual ready,” he told me.
“What was the deal with my knife?”
He smiled at this question. “Come on,” he said, leading me quickly back into the village. “You can pick something out at my house.”
“Pick something?”
He pushed aside the curtain that served as his front door. “You brought something with you when you came, and if you leave it here in exchange for something of mine, we’ll be able to talk to each other, like an interdimensional hotline!” While I stood, stunned, he continued. “I mean, it seems like we could probably talk if you sat next to the hole and I was in the cave, but that’s not as good as this! We’ll be able to talk whenever we want! You can read me the stuff about goblins from all the gaming sourcebooks, and I’ll figure out some way to write them down, and then they’ll have a written record of their people and history. Maybe I can even develop a written language for them and teach the young ones to read! I may never be able to come home again, but at least I’ll be able to hear about what’s going on there.”
While he was pacing in excitement, I sank down onto his bed and watched him.
“Brett,” I said quietly. He stopped pacing and looked at me. “What about the crazy time difference? I’ll go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow and you’ll be like 55 years old. And how will we hear each other? Will it seem to you like I’m talking really slowly and I’ll hear whatever you say in fast forward?”
“I… hadn’t thought of that,” he admitted. He plopped down onto the bed beside me.
I grabbed his hand and squeezed. He squeezed back.
I peeked at him, but he was staring at the wall. Brett had been my best friend my entire life. He’d defended me from bullies in elementary school, weathered my erratic behavior in junior high, encouraged me through high school, and been my shoulder to cry on, my cheerleader, and my sounding board all through college. He was the greatest guy on earth, but when I got back to earth, he wouldn’t be there anymore.
I loved him.
“Brett,” I said, “I love you.”
He sighed and put his arm around me. “I love you too, JJ,” he said. “I’ll miss your face.”
“I can’t leave you alone,” I moaned into his leather-armored shoulder. “I should stay!”
“You have a whole life,” he told me as he patted me on the back. “Besides, if you stay, no one will ever know what happened. We’ll have no way to communicate with anyone.”
“But you’ll be by yourself!” I protested.
“There might be humans somewhere in this universe,” he said. “In fact, I’m sure there are, because the goblins have a word for us. So there must be some somewhere. And there’s no way I’ll ever be lonely, because I’ll have you to talk to.”
“But…” I’d run out of excuses, no matter how good they were.
“It’ll be okay,” he whispered. “Like I said, we can act like I’m just overseas. It’s sort of like that anyway, except there are no flights home from here.” He laughed and I choked with amusement on my tears. “And who knows?” he added, "Maybe the shaman will find a way to send me back someday.”
I responded with a sob.
“Please don’t cry,” he pleaded. “You’ve got to pick out an international calling card.”
“What?” I said, sniffling.
“Something to take with you.”
“I want to take
you with me.”
He smiled.
“Fine,” I said. I wiped my tears and looked around. Brett had a lot of weird stuff in his house. That made sense, considering the shaman had probably taken all of his possessions. “Do you have anything… not so gobliny?” I asked.
He laughed. “Everything I own now is gobliny,” he said, “even the clothes they’ve made for me.”
“I’d look pretty weird walking around everywhere with this,” I said, picking up a strange object made of wood that sat nearby.
“You’re right,” he said, “It has to be small. Something that won’t be obvious. It’s not like anyone is going to look at me funny for carrying a knife around; that’s the sort of thing people (well, goblins) do here.”
We both forgot our distress and looked around his one room house for something that wouldn’t look out of place at home.
““What about this?”” we both said at once, turning to show off what we’d found. He’d grabbed a cord made of some kind of vine, and I’d found a small stone.
“You’re going to lose that,” he said. “This, you can tie around your neck.”
“I guess that’s true,” I huffed, pushing the stone around in my palm. “I just figured I could keep this in my pocket. It’s small enough, and that way no one will be asking me why I have a plant around my neck.”
We glared at each other, and then at the same moment, started laughing.
“We should get back to the shaman,” he said after we shared another hug. “We need to get this stuff to her as soon as possible so she can tie it into the ritual. After that we can go for a walk or whatever until she’s ready.”
“Go for a walk?” I said, smiling. “Isn’t that the sort of irresponsible behavior that got us into this mess?”
Brett laughed, but his eyes were sad.
We returned to the shaman and presented her with the objects we’d found and an explanation. She jabbered something, and nodded. He sounded happy as he replied to her, gave her both the stone and the cord. She returned to her hole without saying anything.
“She said it’ll be even better than she thought,” he reported as we started off on a walk. “Because both of us chose an object for you to return with, she can combine them, and I’ll be able to talk to people besides you, as long as you’re touching them. Isn’t that great?”
“So I just hand over the stuff…?”
He shook his head. “The link between us is through you, so you have to be the go-between.” He looked at the ground. “You don’t mind, do you?”
I gaped at him. “Brett, if you let me, I would stay here with you. Why would I mind sitting with your mom while you talk to her?”
“I feel like I’m getting the best out of this deal,” he said.
I stopped him and turned him toward me so that I could look him in the eye. “You’re not,” I told him. “I get to talk to you. That’s the best part. We could get into another fight about it if you want, but I’ll win.”
He laughed. “I’m going to miss you.”
“No you’re not,” I said, “because you won’t have a chance. I’ll be talking in your ear in your sleep.”
Brett grinned at me and linked his arm with mine, pulling me along out of the trees and up a hill.
“By the way,” I said as we climbed, “did you ask about the time difference thing?”
“Uuuh!” he whined. “I completely forgot. I’m too excited that you’re here, and I’ll get to talk to you and everyone else.” He sighed. “It was a long year here without you.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, “it’s been long day for me, too.”
“Check it out,” he said when we got to the top of the hill. He pointed at what I thought was a cloud in the sky, only it sparkled more than a normal cloud in a night sky should. “That’s what I saw that day, the day I ran off the path and fell into fantasyland.”
I stared at the cloud. It was shaped vaguely like a faerie from Legend of Zelda, only it was a lot bigger. “It sort of looks like…” I began.
“I know!” Brett interrupted. “How could I not chase it? And it was the proper size, then. I’m not sure what it is, but everyone I’ve asked said it wasn’t there until I got here. For a long time I thought it was probably my way home, but I don’t have any way to reach it.”
“Maybe it is your way home,” I said. “You should get started on a ladder.”
“Or a lasso,” he suggested jokingly.
“Or a catapult!”
We laughed all the way down the hill, and as we strolled back to his house, arm in arm, we enjoyed one another’s company for the last time in silence.
The shaman was waiting for us when we arrived. She handed me my aunt’s steak knife and gave Brett the cord and stone, which she had fashioned into a pendant necklace. After indicating that we should face one another and join hands, she spoke some words and gestured at us, and we each gave the other our gifts. At the shaman’s prompting, I laid down on the bed and closed my eyes. She said a few more phrases and then stepped back.
I opened one eye, and whispered, “ask her about the time difference!”.
He looked panicked and quickly said something to her. After listening to her answer, he informed me that by exchanging these gifts, we were linking our two worlds, and bringing them into alignment.
“So you’re giving me jewelry, and we’re tying our lives together,” I commented, “should I be wearing a veil? Are you going to kiss the bride?”
He grinned and tied the cord around my neck. “I now pronounce you bonded for life,” he said, and kissed me on the forehead. “Sweet dreams.”

I opened my eyes and saw the sloping ceiling of my aunt and uncle’s cabin. The whole of the day before flashed through my head in an instant, followed by one hopeful thought: “Maybe it was all a dream!
“BRETT!” I shouted, jumping out of bed and running out of the room. We’d decided the day before that he was going to sleep in the guest room across the hall. I burst through the door and leaped up onto the bed, not caring whether I jumped on him. “You have to hear about this crazy dream I had!”
“Gah, don’t yell,” came his sleepy voice. “I didn’t sleep very well.”
I started jumping up and down on the bed. “Oh man, wait until Adrian and Sara get here, they’ll love it! We should write it down and turn it into a campaign sometime!”
“Turn what into a campaign?” he asked.
“My dream!”
I hadn’t stopped jumping on the bed, and suddenly caught my reflection in the vanity mirror that sat along the wall across from the bed. The first thing I noticed was the black stone bouncing off a cord onto my collar bone. I bounded off the bed to look closer in the mirror. It looked familiar… something about my dream. Was it fading already? I turned around to tell Brett as fast as I could, so he would be able to hear as much as possible before I forgot all of it.
But there was no one on the bed. The covers were obliterated because of my jumping, but other than that, it didn’t look disturbed at all.
“Brett?” I called, my heart sinking. “Where are you?”
“On the floor,” he reported with a groan.
“Oh,” I breathed, relief flooding me.
I dropped to the floor and to look for him as he said, “Someone fell asleep in my bed last night, remember?”
I tried to cry as silently as possible, but it turns out it’s pretty hard to keep anguish from becoming audible.
“Oh, Jill…” Brett said. “Your dream…? You thought…”
“I thought I’d dreamed Fantasyland,” I managed to say between sobs.
“I used to do that,” he said. “But then I found it.”
I fought back my sniffles.
“There’s no reason to be sad. Be happy instead. I am. I get to be where I’ve always wanted to be, and I still get to talk to you. Be happy for me.”
I let out a huge sigh and wiped my eyes. “I am happy for you,” I told him. “I’m happy you finally found fantasyland.”

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