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sugarplum dream
an experiment
by heather m. millen

She always dreamed in vivid color. Her subconscious world was one that was larger than life and more intriguing than death. If she could think in her dreams, she probably would have been considered a genius. But when she was under that thick cloud of dreary, all she could really do was feel. I know they say that you can't feel in your dreams... that if a Mack truck hits you, you wouldn't feel a thing. That's not what her dreams were like.

Everything seemed heightened in that magical world. Maybe what was happening was beyond feeling. Maybe it was something more. But every rose's silky petal seemed softer. Porcupine needles pricked harder. She could actually feel the color blue. Soft, wispy, whirling, soothing, beautiful blue.

So try to imagine how the emotions felt. She sometimes said that she felt more in her sleep than she did in reality. More than once she'd wake herself so overcome at the feeling. Somehow, in that world of hers, it all mattered so much more. She laughed louder and wept harder than ever. There she could live and love with such power that it felt as if her heart would explode inside her chest. Her entire body would ache and she'd wake from her sleep exhausted.

I was envious of her world. I wanted to visit on a midnight voyage. Sometimes when she'd wake violently from her sleep, I'd watch her intently from my side of the bed. After a few terse moments, her eyelids would begin to flutter and I knew that she was going back there. I'd watch her slip silently and wish that I could go with her. I wanted to feel like that.

I asked her once if she thought it was true what they said: that if you fell in your dream and hit the ground, that you would die. She said she couldn't know for sure, she never fell in her dreams, she flew.

The first time I knew that I loved her was when she woke me one of those restless nights. She didn't realize she'd kicked me in her sleep. She never realized anything of actual time and space when she was in her world. I liked it better that way. Though it had provided a fair share of bruised shins over the years.

I don't know where her beautiful mind took her that night. But I remember looking at her and for the first time, my jaded heart shook. The mystery that had attracted me to her now solidified her in my world... my dreary, deadened world that she escaped for a few glorious moments each night when she drifted off to slumber.

She never dreamed of the mundane. Never once did she dream about the project at work or what to make for next week's dinner party. She never stood naked in front of an imaginary crowd feeling awkward and vulnerable. She already had more than enough time in life to contemplate those things. All of her dreams were moonbeams and magic. If I were her, I think I would have slept all the time.

When I first asked her what it was like, she had said, "Utopia. I don't think Utopia is a land where everything is perfect. It's a place where everything is real. Funny that reality can't even live up to that."

Science has proven that dreams only last a few seconds in actuality. She said that it was nice to have a few moments feel like forever. I guess the pain-staking timbre of real life gets to all of us in our waking hours. We all need an escape.

I couldn't escape. My envy began to consume me. What began as adoration for her world ended in jealousy and doubt. She never said it... she probably didn't even realize it, but I couldn't shake the suspicion that I was the one trapping her. That each night when she rolled out of my arms after she fell asleep, that she wasn't just leaving the world behind, that she was leaving me. And while I so direly wanted to be able to fade into her, to let her be my escape, I couldn't allow myself. I wasn't free the way she was.

I slipped away quietly one of those tousled turvy nights. I never told her that I loved her. It seems only fair that now I can't escape her.


Heather has a penchant for drama, both personally and professionally. She secretly wishes people spoke in song and wholeheartedly believes that everyone deserves a standing ovation now and again. She finds it appalling that people reserve champagne only for special occasions, when champagne is clearly best on a Tuesday, while riding the subway, accompanying a slice of kick-ass pizza.

more about heather m. millen


a writer's plight
keep on, keepin' on
by heather m. millen
topic: writing
published: 7.18.02

the heathers
four shades of me
by heather m. millen
topic: writing
published: 6.26.06


sandra thompson
12.26.03 @ 12:39p

Poignant and lovely. We humans can be so very perverse, can't we?

tracey kelley
12.28.03 @ 5:31p

That each night when she rolled out of my arms after she fell asleep, that she wasn't just leaving the world behind, that she was leaving me.

Ah, nice. Painful, but nice.

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