Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews sat up in bed, blinking against the darkness. Her heart pounded wildly and she was soaked in sweat.
She slipped out from under the covers and padded over to the window. A
coal black kitten blinked at her from among the blankets. He yawned and went
back to sleep, all four paws in the air.
A full moon shone down from a sea of stars, edging everything with
crisp shadows. Jamie leaned her head against the cool glass and closed her eyes. It was that dream again, the one she couldn’t quite remember. It was getting worse. There was a glowing heart-shaped stone
with a chip in one corner. A cavern filled with eggs. Someone was crying for help. But she couldn’t see who.
“Something’s wrong, Magic, “she whispered. Magic twitched an ear and snored.
Jamie wrapped her arms around herself. “What am I going to do? I don’t want to ask Grandma. She’ll start talking about dragons and magic.
If I say anything at school, Billy and his friends will make fun of me.”
Her breath fogged the glass.
Sighing, she turned from the window and crawled back into bed. Magic made
a sleepy mew of protest when he was shoved out of the way. The square of moonlight
crept across the floor. Somewhere, a dog barked.
Jamie stared at the ceiling and remained awake.
A dream that she couldn’t quite remember. Like a voice just below her hearing. She was going crazy with
the need to do something, if only she could figure out what it was. In her mind
she could see an emerald pendant. It glowed and she knew it was important, but
not how or where she could find it.
For as long as she could remember, she had been having these dreams. Grandma said she was blessed. Billy said
she was touched in the head. Jamie wanted the dreams to stop. She had a feeling that if she did what the dreams wanted, then they would go away. But she didn’t know what they wanted.
As much as she loved her grandmother, she didn’t want to end
up like her. Someone who listened to voices nobody else could hear and left sugar
for the unicorns or cookies for the elves. Grandma said she saw a unicorn once
in the front yard. She got excited and babbled about the good luck they would
have when a unicorn came to visit. Daylight revealed the unicorn to be the butcher’s
broken-down beast with a fake horn fastened onto his head. Someone had tied the
poor creature to the fence. He had eaten all of Grandma’s dahlias and was
munching his way through the pansies. The butcher accused Grandma of stealing
a valuable animal. Grandma asked what he thought she wanted with an old horse.
The valuable animal sighed and dribbled horse spit onto the butcher’s shoe. The butcher dragged the horse away while Grandma laughed until tears rolled down her
Jamie suspected Billy and his gang of being responsible for the trick,
but couldn’t prove anything. They followed her all around the next day,
saying “Where’s the unicorn, freak?”
Jamie’s parents had disappeared years ago. The story was that they had been chasing dragons. Jamie barely
remembered her parents. When she thought of them, it was of two tall people who
held her and loved her. With them, she was never afraid and the bad dreams didn’t
come. Grandma wouldn’t tell her much about her parents. She kept saying, “Your parents will return someday. I’ll
explain when you’re older.”
There was a key that Grandma wore around her neck. The plain brass key opened a cupboard: a forbidden cupboard. There
was something in that cupboard that once belonged to Jamie’s mother. Grandma
promised that when Jamie was old enough she could have it.
When Jamie was seven, she had crept into the room with the cupboard
while Grandma was napping. She reached out to touch the door. Maybe Grandma had left it unlocked. Her hand touched the smooth
wood. Fingers tingled. She cried
out as light exploded from inside the cupboard through the cracks in the wood. She
woke curled on the floor on the other side of the room. The cupboard was dark
and innocent-looking again.
Jamie’s right arm was numb for the next two days. She never told Grandma and Grandma never asked her what was wrong.
She had a feeling that Grandma knew exactly what had happened. Jamie avoided
the cupboard after that. Something waited in there. It felt aware...and eager.
Billy called her a freak. She
thought he was a moron. The villagers whispered that her grandmother was a lunatic. They pitied Jamie because her parents were nonexistent. Her dreams kept her awake at night. She fell asleep in school
and made her teacher angry. Grandma kept telling her “Someday,” and
“When you’re older.”
All she wanted was to belong.
She wanted “Someday” to become “Now.” Sometime
before dawn Jamie fell asleep, and if she dreamed, she didn’t remember it.