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The Family Tome of Dreams

December 4, 2009

This week it’s back to #fridayflash. πŸ™‚

It was supposed to be a family secret. She was so going to be in trouble. But that was the least of her worries. Dreams in the Tome were supposed to be…positive. But right now Bryan was locked inside, breathing heavily while crouched behind an oversized, whitewashed tombstone. The posse of purple skeletons would find him—soon.

She was thinking as fast as she could. She remembered no scenarios—legendary or anecdotal—that gave her a clue as to what to do. She’d only broken one rule. How hard could it be?

Rule #1: Under no circumstances shall a nonmember of the family use the Tome of Dreams.

True, it was the first rule. But her cousin had broken rule #5 numerous times by bringing in his skateboard. And her little brother had broken #17 by losing it under his bed in a stack of dirty socks colonized by dust bunnies. She’d had to detach a half-eaten red lollipop from its cover.

There had been no dire consequences. Until possibly now.

The Family Tome of Dreams—a Phillips family legacy. A blank book, except for those who’d actually entered to dream or those who remained outside (called witnesses) to read the dreamer’s desires in real time. Afterwards, that record remained, but invisible to all but the dreamer and witness who’d shared the experience.

“Elaine?!” Bryan was on the run again, screaming.

Thank God he was able to hear her. “I have an idea! Stop! Stop running!”

“Are you crazy? This—”

“No, stop! Imagine the place you were when you started.”

“My grandmother’s field?”


“You’re crazy!” His voice softened. But I’ll trust you.”

Bryan stopped, held his arms out in a “T,” his hands up like a cop stopping traffic. Surprisingly, the chasing skeletons stopped. They’d encircled him, but were moving no closer. Shaking, he asked, “The field at my grandmother’s farm?”


Bryan closed his eyes. The skeletons began to move, closing in, and then—

The sunlight was softly bright in a way she’d not seen. The air was tinged with the tanginess of corn silage, hay, and manure. A man, maybe 65 or so, sat in the middle of the field on a rock the size of a small beanbag. He stood up and began walking towards her.

“Grandpa! I didn’t recognize you!” She ran to him.

He took her in his arms and hugged her tightly. They both laughed. “It’s good to see you again, sweetie,” he said, letting go slightly and staring at her.

She’d missed him so badly. He’d been her emotional anchor until he died when she was twelve. Then she remembered Bryan.

“Grandpa! I did a bad thing. I let my boyfriend into the Tome and now he’s—” She looked around. “I don’t know where he is!” She began to sob. “He was dreaming nightmares—nightmares!—not soul desires—and I couldn’t get him out. Grandpa, I couldn’t get him out!”

Her grandfather laughed. “Well, that’s what Grandpas are for, eh? We’ve had lots of experience with the Tome. But you, my dear, are what will save your boyfriend. Or rather, what will allow him to save himself.”

She was quiet, then asked, “Why am I in his grandmother’s field?”

“That’s what he wished. He wanted you to experience his place of security, his favorite place in the entire world.”

“So what do I do now?”

“Close your eyes. Imagine.”

“But I don’t know what to imagine.”

“Your heart will tell you.”

Suddenly she was 5, behind the couch in the living room. He was chasing her, again. Every night she eluded him, but she never knew if she’d make it through. He was tall—his head almost reached the ceiling. He walked wrapped in a black cloak, carrying a half-moon-shaped sword. Closer…closer…the phantom peeked over the edge of the couch. Her eyes were closed. Something touched the top of her head. She screamed. She wasn’t going to make it this time.

“Elaine, Elaine, shhhh….it’s okay…Elaine…” Bryan was holding her close against his chest. The sheets were glowing a delicate blue-white. “Where am I?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe it’s the future.”

“Are we still in the Tome? We’ve got to get out! We’ve got to get out!” She pushed him away and threw the covers back.

“But, Elaine, look—” he gestured towards the window.

She walked to it. “Oh, my God. It’s gorgeous! I’ve always wanted to live in the mountains.”

“Me, too.” Bryan said quietly.

Hills of a million different greens shined in the sun. Not ten feet away, a creek’s crystal clear water babbled over variously sized, multi-colored rocks. The air was so crisp that all the things Elaine saw seemed in focus for the first time. She looked up at the blue sky with its stray gossamer clouds. “It’s perfect, Bryan.”

“It is.”

She glanced back into the room. “Bryan, what’s that—was that here before?”

“No!” The Tome stood open on the bed.

They rushed to it. “It’s blank.” She said.

“No it’s not.”

Large, sky-blue calligraphy began filling the pages. She read: “Rule #111: Love trumps all rules.” She laughed. “Well, that’s a relief.”

Underneath the calligraphy, black letters formed in the shape of her grandfather’s handwriting. Bryan read, “Love trumps all fear, and it’s complete when shared—both given and received, in good and bad dreams, and in everything in-between.
Welcome to the family secret, Elaine.” The writing paused.

“And welcome to the family, Bryan.”

They looked at each other and laughed.


22 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    December 4, 2009 3:03 pm

    Oh I loved this lush, lovely, fantastical story!
    And I smiled at Rule #111.
    It does. πŸ™‚

    • December 4, 2009 5:46 pm

      Re: Wonderful
      It really does, doesn’t it? I think that’s just beginning to sink in now for me… Thanks, Marisa. πŸ™‚

  2. Anonymous permalink
    December 4, 2009 4:35 pm

    cool stuff!
    Very cool story! Great fun. I love how the boyfriend gets welcomed into the family as well as the Tome πŸ™‚

  3. Anonymous permalink
    December 4, 2009 7:46 pm

    And she can write fantasy!
    Very cool story. I like the idea of this Tome. Lush, lush writing — per usual ;^)
    Peace, Linda

    • December 5, 2009 3:16 am

      Re: And she can write fantasy!
      Thanks, Linda–and thanks for taking time out to comment. Prayers to your family.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    December 4, 2009 10:47 pm

    The skateboard
    Loved this. It compelled me to read on even though I’m STARVING and should have come back after dinner…the cousin taking his skateboard into the tome seems not only wrong but somehow sacrilegious. Very vivid and lush and lovely.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Karen :0)

    • December 5, 2009 3:19 am

      Re: The skateboard
      Aww, you just made my day. To win out over a howling stomach makes any writer proud. πŸ˜‰ The skateboard–I know, right? It was the first violation that came to me, though, and in it I pictured a kid who could dream into the future so much better if only he were attached to his beloved skateboard. Lol.

  5. December 4, 2009 11:17 pm

    Awww, jeeze. That was so sweet. Neat story, solid twist and I loved the overall tone.
    BTW I really appreciate your, literally, thoughtful comments on my #FF, especially coming from someone with such obvious talent. Thank you!

    • December 5, 2009 3:26 am

      Re: Fantastic(al)!
      Thanks! As for the sweetness–ha, I know. I wondered if it were a little much. But that’s what came. (At least I have some darker stories to give me “cred.” πŸ˜‰ You’re welcome about the comments. Enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

  6. Anonymous permalink
    December 4, 2009 11:17 pm

    What a sweet ending.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    December 5, 2009 11:51 am

    Great world
    I love the complexity of this world you’ve constructed. Great work!
    – Tony Noland

  8. Anonymous permalink
    December 8, 2009 7:49 pm

    Very entertaining. Rule #111 sounds like a good rule.

  9. Anonymous permalink
    December 9, 2009 4:01 pm

    I liked the rule #111 too πŸ™‚ What a sweet ending! Lovely flash!

    • December 9, 2009 5:56 pm

      Re: Lovely!
      Thanks! Knowledge of that rule tends to be hard-won, but then it’s totally worth it…

  10. Anonymous permalink
    December 10, 2009 12:49 am

    Nice story
    I love the concept of the family tome of dreams. Very cool. And quite a wild ride, capturing the essence of dreams quite nicely. Loved the ending.

    • December 10, 2009 4:09 pm

      Re: Nice story
      Thanks, Jon. I’m thinking about playing around with the Tome in a longer piece…

  11. Anonymous permalink
    February 11, 2010 4:39 pm

    you are wonderful!
    This is wonderful!!
    Robin Maria Pedrero

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