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The Stars in Our Heads

by Mr.RMA

Mr.RMA The story of a boy and a girl who, though some strange twist of fate, end up meeting each other in their dreams. It’s a surreal friendship that eventually turns into an unexpected romance, but eventually the two are forced to face the undeniable difference between their dream world and the harsh reality they must return to every morning
I’ve heard so many people over the years talking about some of the dreams they’ve had, how memorable they were, how vivid they seemed, how amazing everything was, stuff like that. I’ve never been able to really understand much of it all myself to be honest. My dreams have always been too confusing to understand, or too frightening to recall. I always felt like I was never in control of myself in my dreams, that I was stuck in a body that wasn’t my own, forced onto the stage while someone else manipulated me like I was nothing but a robot bending to the will of his creator’s remote. Waking up with the realization that all the chaos in my head never really happened was always the most comforting sensation whenever I had these dreams, because I was back in reality, a realm I understood and had a true part in, no matter how small that part seemed on occasion. That’s how I felt for the longest time…but then something had to come around and shatter my perceptions; something had to make me lose my grip on what was real and what was fantasy; something had to make me wish I could just stay in my dreams and never wake up…She just had to be there for all those nights…all those wonderful nights…nights that I would kill to have again…if only just once more.

It began a few years ago, though I’m kinda ashamed to admit my memory of the first few dreams is hazy at best. My brain tends to store some of the most ridiculous things and toss out some real important stuff for some reason, but from what I can recall, it started when all I was dreaming about was a white void, with something just barely fading into existence before me, right as I suddenly woke up. I brushed it off as just a scrambled memory of something I had done the day before and went about the new day as normal, until that next night came and, for one reason or another, I started to think about that dream as I drifted back to sleep. Sure enough, the white void returned, but the thing in front of me was just a bit more visible, and this time, I could’ve sworn I had heard a voice calling out, trying to get my attention. I don’t think I had any time to respond before this dream also came to an end, and even if I did, I doubt I had anything to say in the first place in the surreal confusion. All the same, this dream repeat definitely left a bigger impact on me, now that I had gotten the same dream twice in a row. I still tried my best to not dwindle on it, having had repeated dreams before on occasion, but by the time the next evening came around, I was fully expecting to pop right back into that void. Surprise, surprise, my expectations were dead –on. This time I could distinctly hear what was the voice of a girl, one that may’ve been my age, but, being a guy who doesn’t really think too hard on the age to vocal ratio of girls, I wasn’t gonna be placing any bets on it. Not like it really mattered though, because by the time I realized it was a girl’s voice, I was thrown right back into consciousness yet again. This carried on for a while; every night the scene just got a little bit clearer, and eventually, I was able to make out this mysterious girl’s words. She was saying “hey!” and “hello!” and “can you hear me?” confirming my assumptions that she was indeed trying to get my attention, but every single time I went to open my mouth, my time was up…until one night finally came around and actually gave me the chance.

Of all those earliest dreams, this is the one I can remember the most vividly because of how different it felt. First off, the white void was gone, replaced with a deep navy, nearly black, but not quite. Everything seemed dark except for the dim light in front of me, where that girl always stood. She wasn’t there at first, but then the dim light was joined by another slightly brighter light next to it, and then another, and another, until small dots of light were scattered all over the place…That was the first time the stars appeared…I now felt like I was floating in the night sky, instead of a debilitating purgatory, and that was another thing; I actually felt like I was all there for the first time, and not just watching everything play out before me like a TV show with a bad signal. It shouldn’t have come as any surprise, then, when I finally got a clear view of the girl who had been calling out all this time, and upon laying eyes on her, I was a bit stunned. Granted, I would’ve been surprised finally seeing who this mysterious person was no matter what she looked like, but, the fact that she looked so…well…cute, definitely threw me for a loop. She was a short one, tan, with dark hair that went down to her shoulders. Her youthful face may have made her look somewhat like a child, but it wasn’t enough to hide the fact that she had to have been in her late teens like I was. She was wearing a dark brown leather jacket over a blue and white flannel shirt and dark blue jeans, kinda boyish attire, but it still looked very fitting for her, and to be honest, when she gave me a wide-eyed smile at the realization that she could see me and vice versa, it all just served to make her look even cuter. Hastily, she floated over to me, waving eagerly.

“I finally got your attention!” she cried out in delight, floating around me with such child-like excitement.

“Uh…yeah, you…you sure did that,” was all I managed to sputter out in response, still trying to wrap my head around what I was experiencing here. Was this girl supposed to be some long-hidden figment of my dreams? I never remembered seeing someone quite like her before, so, how could she be? Where on earth did she come from, and how did she keep appearing in so many separate dreams? So many questions were on my mind, but I couldn’t even think of which one to ask first. I just floated there, blinking, as the girl twirled around me some more before eventually stopping right in front of my face with a look of curiosity.

“Hmm…you’re not much of a talker, are ya?” she deducted, resting her chin on her hand like a deeply pondering detective in a noir film might as she looked me over, as if she were trying to analyze me. “I woulda’ thought my little dream buddy would be a bit chattier…”

“Dream buddy?” I repeated, that particular term catching my interest.

“Of course! That’s what you are, aren’t ya?” From how she was asking, I was starting to get the impression that this girl considered me the illusion, but I obviously knew better. I was gonna have to correct her before she got too zany to control.

“Uh, Miss, I think you have our positions here a little mixed up…Aren’t I the dreamer in this whole thing?” The girl returned a puzzling look that I can only guess looked similar to mine at that point.

“Noooo….I’m pretty sure I’m dreaming all this…I remember specifically going to bed, falling asleep, then seeing you, like all the other times, but this time I finally got you to see me too!”

Well, that was peculiar news, to be sure. She remembered going to sleep and dreaming of me…multiple times? Either this girl was supposed to be a manifestation of my own memories…or something else was at play here. “…What’s your name?” was all I could muster speaking as I did whatever I could to piece things together into something explicable.

“It’s Nell…err…technically it’s Gainell, but…Nell for short,” she explained to me.

“Gainell’s an interesting name...much more unique than mine for certain,” I said, noticing that she seemed to have reservations with her given moniker.

“I’d…rather you call me Nell…please,” she insisted with a shrug. “Anyways, how ‘bout yourself? What’s your name?” She seemed eager to switch the focus back to me, so I decided to just go along with it, giving her my name, which she reacted to with a warm smile. “Okay! Seems fitting enough for you, but I’m probably just gonna call you ‘Dream Buddy’. That’s what I’ve been callin’ ya for a while,” she said with a giggle.

“Well…guess there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you wanna call me,” I said with consent, figuring that she probably already had her mind made up, and I doubted any objections would’ve done much to persuade her against such a nickname...and besides, I didn’t have many nicknames as a child, and even fewer endearing ones.

“Yay! Okay, Dream Buddy, now we’re all acquainted…and you know, I’m starting to think you’re not just all in my head. Could we…possibly be sharing a dream here?” That was the question of the day apparently, and to be frank, it was bothering me to no end that there was no way to prove one possibility over the other.

“I don’t know…I mean, I think I’m real, and you think you’re real…Since there’s no way to really tell, we might as well just go ahead and believe that,”

She seemed content with that answer, giving me a gleeful nod in agreement. “Okay then! So, what do you wanna do now?” She asked me as she bounced around in the air like someone on the greatest of sugar highs.

“Well…there’s really not much to do around here, is there? You wanna just talk until we wake up?” I suggested.

“Sure, let’s do that!” And so we were in agreement again. That was the night when we started our daily little chat sessions, and admittedly, at first, they were kinda awkward. I’ve always been a little timid around strangers, even those that are particularly friendly, and this surreal encounter was no exception to this. Fortunately though, Nell proved very easy to talk to before long, with her contagiously cheerful demeanor and willingness to listen to whatever I had to say. She had all the makings of my favorite kind of friend: the zany and smart kind, with funny little quirks layered over an impressive display of maturity (even if she herself claimed she still had the mindset of a tween). She was musically talented, an excellent student in her school, and a pretty damn good writer as well, all traits that I admired greatly. The fact that she seemed just as impressed by my significantly less impressive talents only made me admire her all the more.

We managed to cover a lot of ground that first evening before the light from the stars around us started to go out, quickly cluing us in that the dream was about to come to a close. “Can I expect to see you again tomorrow?” I asked her as we shook hands while the last few stars flickered away.

“Most definitely, Dream Buddy!” she said, right as she faded into the blackness. A wave of white light washed over me and I opened my eyes, having returned to my bedroom. I woke up rejuvenated, feeling light as a feather at the encouraging realization that I had just made a new friend, and one that I could really look up to at that. That entire day, all I cared about was getting to sleep as soon as possible so that I could see her again. That star-filled sky became my sanctuary, a place where I could say whatever was on my mind, and always have a sympathetic ear. I did what I could, in turn, to help her out with her troubles as well, and though some of the issues were beyond me, I would do my best to at least make light of the situation, and if I managed to somehow make things right, then I was more than happy to be of assistance to someone who always did what she could to help me. For a couple years this went on, and I was learning more and more about both Nell and myself with every meeting. That was the kind of effect she had on me; she helped me to discover who I really was, a mystery that had proven baffling to me, and to others. As time went by, our friendship just got stronger and stronger. We hardly even noticed the abnormal means of communication that brought us together in the first place. It didn’t matter what the circumstances were, so long as she was there. In retrospect, I was really late when it came to figuring out that what we had here was love…

The signs were there, but I wasn’t paying attention…She mentioned having a crush, but I always just assumed she was referring to someone else, and I was just there to help her out with her new feelings. That’s how things had been for so long, why would this be any different? After all, I would always say to myself, who in their right minds would have any romantic feelings towards me? No one ever appeared to like me back in high school, and I was too cowardly to bring myself to ever ask anyone out. Love was truly foreign to me, and even if it was smack-dab in front of my face, I wouldn’t have been able to recognize it. Because of this, I did my best to pay it no mind, but, that was around the time where my own feelings towards her were growing quite a bit. Our meetings started to make my heart race, and my arms would feel all tingly at the sight of her, but even as this all went on, I was too afraid to tell her how I felt. Sometimes I would have difficulty getting to sleep, just because I was too scared I would look stupid in front of her. It felt like a lost cause, until one night…one simple mention in passing…She had brought up her crush once more, and it was too much for me to bear, not knowing who this person she had feelings for was.

“I’m sorry, Nell…but…this talk of a crush is making me nervous as hell…mostly ‘cause I’m just wondering who this person could be!” I admitted to her, doing whatever I could to keep from looking embarrassed, though I was probably failing on an epic scale.

“You know, you could always just ask me who,” she replied with a giggle, smiling…smiling that amazing way that she did.

“I feel like I’d be imposing if I asked…” I said, partly out of politeness, but also because I was still unsure if I was ready to hear the answer.

“I don’t mind, really,” she assured me, slowly, gradually, floating closer to me. In my bumbling stupidity, I started naming off all the people she had told me about in our earlier conversations; friends, classmates, people she had just met, everyone I could think of…that wasn’t me. She shook her head at each guess, and eventually, I had no choice but to bring up the person I had neglected to even dare mentioning.

“…I suppose I’ve been keeping my name off the list as well…” I murmured.

“Why?” she asked me. “You’re just as viable as everyone else.”

Even in this dreamland, I felt my throat closing up as I found fewer and fewer reasonable excuses to give her. “I…I guess I didn’t wanna ask you if it was me so quickly…I didn’t want to sound like some kinda creeper or anything, you know?” I said with a nervous laugh, feeling the blood rush into my head as I futilely fought off asking the inevitable question for just a little longer.

“I understand…but you’re not gonna ask at all?” Well, now there was no way around it. If I wanted to know, I had to ask.

“I guess I may as well…Is it me?” Within seconds, I was suddenly wrapped tightly in her embrace as she made these adorable squeeing sounds, at a loss of words it seemed…I was having trouble speaking as well, but I didn’t really have much to say. All I could do was hug her back…and all I wanted to do was stay wrapped in this embrace forever.

We mumbled a few meaningless words to each other, nothing I can firmly recall, but other than that, we just kept hugging each other until the light came for us. This moment had to end, much as we wished it wouldn’t, and as everything faded away, I heard Nell say one last thing… “I love you”.

Everything looked so much brighter that morning. I hadn’t felt so happy for such a long time, and it was truly a refreshing change. I went to my classes that day with my head held high and a near-permanent smile on my face, in absolute ecstasy with every passing moment. Was this what love felt like? My god was I missing out! Suddenly all those sickening couples I’d seen over the years were far less annoying to me! I understood now what this feeling could do to a man, how it could make him act like a blubbering idiot, and how he couldn’t care less about it. Having a special someone changed everything, and I treasured every night we had together. She was someone I felt I could tell anything to, a true confidant, and I was happy to know she felt the same way about me. Being in college at this point in time, I was hundreds of miles away from all my friends, and my family was pretty far off as well, so, she was the one person I could always talk to; Ironic in a way…considering how she was the furthest away out of all of them in reality. That hardly mattered to me though, because when I was with her in that cosmic haven, there wasn’t anything separating us. When I hugged her, I felt her, and when I kissed her, I felt her. I knew it wasn’t real, but every act was just as sincere as if she had really been standing there before me. The three months we were together were some of the happiest months of my life, and the moment it all ended may very well be one of the worst…

I remember that fateful night vividly, though it hurts even now to recall how it all happened. We were floating around, as usual, but something in Nell’s face looked off…something was troubling her. I decided to ask what was up, and she had to pause and take a deep breath before breaking the news…

“There’s so much going on for me right now…I don’t think this is going to work out…I’m sorry…” It was as if someone had taken a big plank and slammed me over the head with it so hard that it broke into splintered pieces. I couldn’t believe it…It was ending, just like that…Just like that; these dreams were coming to an end. I wanted to object, I wanted to so desperately try and change her mind, but I didn’t want to make this any more heartbreaking for either of us. She believed it would be better for the both of us to end it, and since I would’ve done anything for her, I tearfully agreed to it. The light didn’t come for us this time, only darkness, as the stars all began to flicker away. It was hard to get out of bed that following morning, needless to say…

The days that came afterward were pretty much the polar opposite of what the days were like before. I was always looking down, not paying attention to what was going on around me, finding little motivation in doing anything, even things I enjoyed. Daytime was hell, but night was worse…No longer did the star-filled dreamscape appear, replaced with a black abysmal nothingness. I could hear remnants of Nell’s voice ringing in my head, but I could never see her…She was gone, and all I had were the memories; the stinging, painful memories of a time I wanted back.

I sunk into a pretty bad depression at that point, and it took a lot of help from my family to bring me back out of it. Hell, I’m still not all well yet, and I don’t think I will be for a while. The scars are deep, but if there’s one thing I need to make clear, I could never blame Nell for any of this. She didn’t mean to hurt me, I know she didn’t. She only brought an end to it all because she felt it was the best thing for the both of us, and I guess I can see her reasoning for it now…We couldn’t just live in our happy little dream world forever, that wasn’t the way life worked.

Our fantasy was just that: a fantasy, and if we wanted to truly be happy in reality, we’d have to let that fantasy go…But at the same time…I don’t think I’ll ever let it go completely. There’re still a lot of years left in my young life, years to find where I belong in this real world, and years to share with someone I love. Nell helped me realize that I wasn’t a hopeless cause when it came to love, and hey, there’s nothing saying we won’t ever get together for real someday. I know she’s still out there, and she even pops into my dreams every so often to this day, always greeting me with a warm smile. The stars in our heads may be gone, but I can still see them every night in the sky, and they’ll always be there to light our way, to wherever our futures lie.
  1. Belladonna Valkyrie
    Belladonna Valkyrie
    This. Is good. You need to publish it or SOMETHING. I've read a lo of books but this, this hit a chord. Good job ><
    Jan 18, 2016