Time stood still. Just for a moment. But it was enough.
Their eyes closed as the silty sand was sprinkled over their faces. Sleep came quickly and plunged them into darkness. They would not dream. Dreaming was forbidden. It was for this reason, parents all over the village made use of the services of Mr Sandman.
Each week, he visited the homes of the inhabitants and gave them a substance which would guarantee harmonious slumber. A vial of dust, heated gently over the flame of a candle every night, was all it took to ensure peace of mind. Georgia used it on her two children religiously. When her youngest woke one winter’s morning, screaming of having seen images in her sleep, she couldn’t understand why the sleep mixture hadn’t worked.
The first time her daughter dreamt, she predicted a terrible storm which caused devastation to the area. The second time, she foresaw a plague which ravaged a nearby town. Georgia was certain fearful residents would misinterpret her daughter’s dreams as witchcraft; so, she resolved to keep quiet and made her daughter promise to never tell anyone – not even daddy.
On the eve of the anniversary of ‘The Beginning’, a third dream came; this one, she dreamt more than once, but the meaning was too unclear. Worried, Georgia visited her god-father who had been a doctor before the dreaming had stopped. She went to him alone.
He listened attentively, as Georgia explained what her daughter had seen – pretending the dreams had been hers. Nodding understandingly, he offered her words of comfort, whilst his hands – out of sight under the desk – trembled with each word she relayed to him.
“And you have had this dream, how many times?”
“Three. And it’s always the same. I’m lying in a field. The grass is soft to the touch and the warmth of the sun caresses my skin with tiny kisses. I breathe in the fresh air as birds sing. And I can run through the endless meadows, freely. And then I wake up.”
Looking at his god-daughter, the doctor smiled soothingly. No-one had dreamed for years.
“What do you think it means?” she asked.
He had known her for nearly forty years; had watched her take her first steps. Babysat her two children on more than one occasion. But the dream. He knew what it meant. It was a sign of hope, and if the vision was realised the whole government which controlled their lives would be brought down. They would never allow that. If they found out he had known and done nothing… But how could he betray her; she was like a daughter to him.
He rested one hand on top of hers, reassuringly, as he pressed the alarm under his desk with the other.
His family came first. She needed to be silenced.
Emma is an English teacher and flash fiction/short story writer from the West Midlands. For the last year, she has been a Social Media Associate for The Word Factory and enjoys reading as a hobby. Twitter: @Little_Emma19.