I remember you and I used to sit by the steel sea, laughing and giggling, digging our toes into the Styrofoam sand, sipping our mercury milkshakes mindlessly, unaware that we were being poisoned by an artificial reality. You, your marble eyes lacquered and polished to perfection, stared into the distance and laughed as bombs exploded and mushroom clouds sprouted, turning to me with a smile and stating how lovely the fireworks were. And you truly believed they were fireworks, though you once told me you wished you’d stop coughing up “pretty red flowers” from your lace lungs as a result. Each day your porcelain grin seemed to stretch wider, never faltering nor fading. On many occasions I tried to make you frown, to make show some other emotion other than mindlessly warped happiness. Yet all you did was stare, that saccharine smile stuck to your face. That is, until the day I asked you what a dream was.
At first, you seemed puzzled, as if the very idea of this thing called “dream” was a foreign concept, as if the very word didn’t exist. You asked me, as if part of some sick spelling bee, to put it in a sentence, to give a definition, a language of origin, anything you could cling to. I stated that a dream could be many things, at that to each person a dream could be different. I drew pictures, wrote stories about my subconscious wanderings, clipped out pieces of the unused, dusty dictionary, even showed you an old cartoon called “Somewhere in dreamland” and you still failed to understand. That’s when I noticed your porcelain doll face was cracking, straining to stay smiling, to keep up the façade. The more I vainly tried to help you understand, to see how beautiful a dream was, the more cracks appeared, snaking up and down your limbs like grey-black vines, betraying the emptiness within. The more I tried, the more desperately I taught, the less you seemed to understand, the colder you became. Until, finally, the cracks reached your chest, crossing over where your heart, now a pile of burnt embers, once was. Holding my hand, you sang, in a voice just below a whisper,
"I'll see you somewhere in dreamland
Somewhere in dreamland tonight
Over a bridge made of moonbeams
We'll find our clouds are silver lined
Each little star in the cosmos
Shining our welcome so bright
Dreams will come true for me and you
Somewhere in dreamland…"
And with that, your eyes finally shining with understanding, you shattered, stardust and ash pooling into my weathered hands. My eyes brimming with tears, I sobbed, the last unsaid word echoing round the world, over the steel sea, silenced by the crashing metal waves.