A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you're fast asleep
In dreams you will lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep…
A dream is a wish. Eight years.
We're all crowded around the T.V., Bright, Colin, and I. Colin is Bright's stupid friend. He's annoying. "Hey, Amy," he says, turning to look at me. He has funny colored eyes, like someone's taken black sharpie and blotted them out. "Where's your Grover doll? Where's your Grover doll? Where'd your Grover doll…?" He gets bigger and bigger as he talks and I'm getting smaller! I want to stand up and be big again, I want to take the doll that he's holding above his head, too high! I can't reach it!
"Give it back!" I shriek, but my words are drowned out by the sound of his chanting.
"Where's Grover? Where's Grover?" Where's Grover?"
"Bright, do something," I say, and turn to my brother. But he's big, too, and he's laughing next to his stupid friend. His face is dark and scary and I want to hide my eyes – but if I look away he might hurt me, or worse, Grover. "Give it back, Colin!"
He laughs, and his laugh is scary, too. "Okay, Ames," he says, and lets go of the doll – but now it's falling down on me and it's going to crush me – Grover is getting closer and I pull my hands up over my eyes – I'm going to be squished, I'm doing to die –
Amy Abbott wakes with a start. She glances around her room, reminding herself that she's a big girl. Still, she reasons, dreams can be a killer – she pulls her feet from under her comforter and scurries into her parents room.
A dream is a wish. Ten years.
"I'll only give it back if you kiss me." I stare at him, and then look at my little Grover doll. For Grover, anything. I lean forward, and he leans forward, and instead of kicking him our lips meet.
It's wet, but overall very enjoyable. We stay pressed together for a few moments before I pull away. "Now give me my doll," I demand.
He hands it over dutifully, grinning at me. "Okay, Grover, here you go." I frown at him.
"Are you talking to my doll?"
He smiles at me, taking my cold hand in his warm one. "No, I'm talking to you."
Her eyes peel open and she stares at her white ceiling, shivering beneath her quilt. Colin and Bright are on her floor – Colin was still mad at her, but Bright didn't want to sleep in his room, since there was something creepy under his bed and everyone knew it.
She sat up and studied Colin's face, touching her lips. She leans over the side of her bed and presses her fingers lightly to his. "There's your kiss, creep," she whispers.
A dream is a wish. Fourteen years.
"Grover," Colin says, taking my hand in his, "I know this is only our first date, but … " He trails off sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck with his free hand. "Well…"
"What is it, Colin?" I ask, flicking my luxurious and silky hair over my shoulder and smiling with my bright and perfectly kissable lips.
He looses my wrist and uses both hands to cup my face. "Well, I already know that I love you," he tells me almost sheepishly, bringing his face so close to mine that I can feel his breath on my lips. It smells nice, like peppermint. "And I was wondering … will you marry me?"
My eyes fill with tears and I press my lips eagerly to his. "Yes," I cry. "Of course I will! Of course I'll marry you, Colin!"
"I'm so telling." Colin grins snidely. I frown. What? What does that mean. "I'm so telling him you said that."
She wakes as Bright's hand lands on her shoulder. She cracks one eye open to look at the clock. 8:30 A.M.
"What is wrong with you?" She snaps.
"I'm telling Colin that you're going to marry him," he chants, leaping around her room. "He's going to be so creeped out, he's going to cancel your date."
She throws a pillow at him. "If you tell him, I'll tell Jenna Bradley that you've been crushing on her for two years and have a picture of her in your room in your underwear drawer."
He grunts at her, good mood spoiled. "Fine. I won't tell."
"Good. Now get out!"
A dream is a wish. Fifteen years.
He's still, lying so flat on the hospital bed that it's like he's disappearing. "Colin," I say, grasping at his hand, but I can feel it shrinking between my palms. "Colin, please, wake up. I need you to wake up."
He doesn't say anything, just keeps getting more and more transparent, fading away right in front of my eyes. "Nurse!" I shriek. "Help me! Something is wrong!"
His regular nurse comes in and clucks her tongue, shaking her head at me. "Shame on you, Amy Abbott," she scolds. "Look what you've done to him."
I shrink away. "What do you mean?" I ask. "This isn't my fault, I didn't do anything."
"If you hadn't scared him off by saying you loved him," she says snidely. "This is all your doing! Well done, you've ruined everyone's lives! We can't save him. He's as good as dead."
Ephram sighs, standing suddenly on the other side of the bed. "Sorry, Amy. My Dad can't help you fix your mistake. Gosh," he looks at her with an ironic glint in his eyes. "by all rights, you should be the dying one. It's your fault he's there, after all." He shrugs, pulling a piano out of his pocket and playing the Death Knoll.
"Stop!" I scream at him. "He's not dead yet!"
"Isn't he?" He asks with an arched eyebrow. I glance down at the table and realize that Colin is gone.
She wakes abruptly, shooting up in bed. Sweat dribbles down her temples and into her shirt, her chest heaving. She can't get the picture, the fear out of her mind, her heart racing faster than an a hurricane.
She tries not to cry, curling into a ball and clutching her pillow to her chest. Amy reaches for the phone, dialing slowly. His voice is muffled on the other end.
"Ephram?" She asks, her voice quiet and wavering. "Will you just talk for a while?"
There's a pause. "Sure, Amy. What do you want me to talk about?"
A dream is a wish. Sixteen years.
I sit alone on the bench, watching Colin disappear back to his truck. I feel terrible – and not just because what he said hit a nerve. I deserved every word. I'm an awful person and a worse girlfriend.
Then the tears come, hot and huge. I sit crying on the bench until a soft hand lands on my shoulder. "Amy? Are you all right?" I stare up into Ephram's eyes, my sense of irony hitting me with full force.
"Fine," I tell him bravely. "Go have fun with Laynie."
"No, no, you're more important," he tells me. Laynie gasps behind him, but I don't feel bad. I feel almost … glad as he tells her, "I'm sorry, Laynie. It's just that you can never compare to Amy. She is prettier, smarter, and nicer then you, not to mention that she kisses better and I'll always love her, forever."
Layne runs off – never mind that she's on ice – crying into her hands.
"Oh, Ephram, you shouldn't have," I whisper courageously through my tears. "I'm such an idiot for crying like this."
"What happened?" He asks, taking a seat beside me and wrapping his arms around my shoulder. I snuggle into him, his long pianist fingers wrapping around my arm.
I sniff. "Colin and I had a fight," I explain. "And I'm crying because it's true, everything that he said."
Ephram frowns. "I'm sure that's not true," he promises. "You're the picture of perfection, Amy, my love, my darling."
I shake my head, looking at him. "No – he said that I loved you."
We stare at one another for a full minute before inching closer, closer. Our lips are about to meet and I know that more than just a kiss is coming, my whole life is about to start …
It's a slow awakening, and she clings to her dream. She shouldn't. Especially after her fight with Colin, she should hide that dream and get rid of it. But she won't, because there's a part of her – a small part, she tells herself – that still has feelings for Ephram, and always will.
Dreams are okay. Dreams are safe. Even ridiculous ones.
She hugs Grover to her chest, thinking of Colin up in Denver, getting well for her. She'd invite Laynie over, but the Hart is at the Brown's for the day.
Amy realizes, quite suddenly, that she never really liked Laynie, anyway.
A dream is a wish. Eighteen years.
I'm alone in a glass bubble, surrounded by colleges and my family off do-gooders. Bright is at Princeton – he stole my school! – and all my friends went to USC, because apparently that's where all the "hotties" are. Ephram is gone, too, off to find himself, although I wasn't aware that he'd become lost.
Colin's dead. Colin's dead. Colin is dead.
He waves at me from beneath her feet, his head bandaged but the blood pouring from his brain and staining his hair. He holds out a razor. "Will you shave it off for me, Grover?"
I look away from him, feeling sick. Everyone is crowding to look at me, tapping the glass like I'm some sort of animal on display.
"Hey, Ames, thanks for all the notes," Bright taunts, laughing. "I'm going up to see Ephram this weekend."
I brighten.. "Can I come?" I ask.
He laughs at me, the sound cruel and taut. "Are you kidding? He doesn't like you anymore, he hates you. And anyway, E is my friend, Amy. My best friend. Look what happened the last time I let you get your claws in one of those."
My father smirks at the remark and even Mom can't hide an amused smile. "That's not funny," I snap.
There's another tap and I turn. It's Ephram, looking at me sadly from under his bands. "Here's your postcard," he says, handing over a new one. Hello from Somewhere You Can't Follow it read. The text was short. "I still love you. I will always love you." I look up, feeling happiness swell in my chest, but he's got an arm around Madison's shoulder and they're holding a baby. The picture of my family.
"Sorry, Ames," he says cheerfully. "The delivery was a little late. I wrote that years ago."
The postcards are warm beneath her pillow. Her speeding heart is slowed as she grasps them to her chest, running her thumb along all the places that he's been.
For the first time in a long time, Amy remembers with a gasp what it felt like to lose him to the wide, wide world.
A dream is a wish …