Everyone has dreams. Some are quickly forgotten, mere echoes of fleeting thought in the night, while others are vivid and remembered for days. Sometimes, dreams are peaceful, and other times, they're nightmarish. They can reveal our innermost fears and anxieties in strange and abstract ways. Among these meaningless glimpses into the sleeping mind are the dreams that some people are just destined to have.

A Good Dream

In her dream resided wide meadows rolling away into the hard blue line of the horizon.

In her dream, the sun beamed down in rays of sleepy golden warmth.

In her dream, she could hear the gentle gurgling of the river and watched its snake-like form unwind all across the grassland.

In her dream, she was completely alone, though her family was there.

Her father, young and handsomely dressed, toiled dutifully at a tall mountain of paperwork, the chains about his wrists and ankles clinking together with a merry clangor.

Her mother, perpetually surrounded by all sorts of highborn ladies and gentlemen, all of whom wore masks depicting heinous and monstrous forms. In a way, she, too, was chained.

What did my chains look like? She wondered. The girl lifted an arm and blankly observed the crisscrossing scars that blotted her pale flesh. She rubbed absently at her wrists, feeling the deep divots in her skin where the metal had chafed, tightened, and sliced. There was nothing now but red and purple bruises to show for it.

What was it that released those chains? Who had the power to release them?

Did it matter?

I suppose not, she thought. What mattered was that she was finally free of them. She no longer had to think of herself as an echo to her parents, a living prop for them to boast of to their various business partners and family friends.

In the world as she'd known it, the sky was always filled with greasy black fumes from the surrounding industrial factories, and the air tasted like poison. There had forever been talk of the war edging closer and closer, a food shortage in that city, a massacre in another.

So much noise, constantly filling her head, deafening her. The world itself just seemed too loud. The ceaseless clanging of the chains had been on the verge of driving her mad. Everyone had them.

A niggling thought wormed its way through her mind. Is it truly possible to break those chains?

Dark, brooding clouds gathered slowly over the meadows. Lightning licked across the sky in veins of blue and white, followed soon by the hollow rumble of thunder. Despite the clouds, the air was so dry.

Against the horizon, the girl could see a deep orange blaze lashing up toward the clouds. Flames drank the grasslands with whooshing red tongues, consuming her family, her peaceful, green world.

When she woke, morning sunlight and fresh tears were on her face. It felt as though a great weight was settling back over her, like the caul was being drawn back over her entire body.

Almost instinctively, she studied her wrists again, but they were smooth and unblemished now, free of any scars.

Yet as she moved to leave her bed, she swore she could hear the dry clacking of metallic chains.