"Are you alive?"

I stretch from head to toe.

"Speak to me, Pinky!"


Bleachers. I am lying down on the baseball field looking at bleachers. I shoot up, breathing unevenly.

"Shit." I say, "I'm in a cave. I can't be back home right now!"

Robbie helps me sit up. He says, "I started carrying you home to call the ambulance. I don't have a phone . . . I thought you were in a coma."

"Coma? Ambulance?" I realize Robbie and I are now in this together. He should know the truth. At least some of it.

"Yes," He replies calmly. "You keep passing out and going to sleep and getting hurt and I didn't know what else to do. I can't walk home someone who's in a coma."

Robbie sits by my side. I place my hand on top of his shoulder. "Listen, Robbie. I don't want to sound crazy but my dreams are more than that. As you have seen, something strange is going on here. It's best if you keep this between us."

"I swear on Betty Crocker." He responds with a smile. "I won't tell a soul . . . unless you absolutely need help."

"That's fine. Look, I really need to go back there. This is an emergency. You think you could stay with me? I can't go home now that you are involved. I don't want anyone else knowing about this."

"Pinky, I am concerned. This dream-world can actually harm you. Not sure what to think of this right now. But, you need to do what you need to do. I will stay with you and wake you when the sun rises. We don't need Sportapoop crashing on this parade."

We look at each other with a strange understanding. Robbie has always believed in unusual things; now he gets to witness something even I cannot explain. So I lean back and clear my mind. Robbie and I stare at the stars for a few minutes. I have learned from failing to switch back and forth that I cannot force it. To gain access to the Forest, I need clarity and silence. At first, I thought it came about from falling asleep. And then as I kept on blacking out, I noticed it was when I was at peace. Being with Robbie today erased my stress and therefore I was better prepared to switch. I wonder if I keep at it, will I be able to control where I enter as well?

For now, I simply focus on getting there.

"Robbie," I say. "I will see you soon."

Moments pass me. I see shooting stars crisscross above. And the light pulls me in.