Perhaps it’s the ale that brings you the dreams tonight, or maybe it’s the stress from your long journey. Whichever it is, your dreams have been extra vivid. This time, it’s one of your earliest memories from childhood. You find yourself sitting in the living room, your mom and dad on the couch reading, Elliot looking through one of his picture books. It’s a cold winter day outside, but you are cozy next to the lit fireplace. You are playing with a small toy doll, the kind where you pull the string on their back and they fly up into the air. You’ve played with the toy countless times before, but this time when you pull the string, it flies directly across the room, into the fireplace. There’s a few seconds of tears welling up in your eyes, before the memory fades completely.
Another quick trip to the loo and you’re back in snooze town. It’s a few days after the doll incident, and you sit once more on the floor of the living room, stroking the hair of your favorite toy pony. Elliot walks in, both hands behind his back. He calls out your name and you look up. You catch a glimpse of both of your parents standing in the door behind your brother, looking down on you with smiles on their faces. Elliot pulls his hands from behind his back, revealing a crude version of the doll you accidentally destroyed several days earlier. You leap up and grab the doll out of his hands, a big smile on your face. You move in to hug your brother before you are yanked into reality by a loud knock on your door.
“Lyla, it’s time to get up,” says your new companion, Jordan.