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Travel In A Dream

By Saisha Jain


It was a beautiful and terrifying thing, Evelyn mused, how symbolic the strange actions were. 

She had never been able to gain control over her mind—never would be, she had long since learnt that. A weakness everyone might consider, and anyone might use against her own self. And yet, watching the world as she knew it fade was still a horrifying prospect she was doomed to experience. 

This was not the first time Evelyn had accidently projected her mind and soul to another reality—she rarely ever did it on her own free, no, conscious will. But still, she watched shakily as the children lifted glowing bowls towards the elder female in a ritual she could not comprehend. They were faceless as they always were. Even Evelyn could not penetrate through the barriers of reality completely. 

Her eyes drooped and her vision blurred as she returned to the classroom, blinking, and trying to push back the indescribable pain in her head till it was barely noticeable, an echo of what she was used to. 

She leaned down to pick up the pen she had dropped and there was a flash, a warning—But before Evelyn could succumb to the dizziness again, her friend spoke; “You should improve your sleep schedule.”

Yes, thank you. A dry thought truly, but Evelyn had never been gladder for the pointless advice that she would not follow. Or the communication which she would usually avoid and scorn, especially when breaching a subject such as this. Alas, the voice directed towards her was concentrated and anchoring, drowning down the voices of the students and the teacher which garbled and had started sounding very destructive in the sense that it could make her ears bleed. 

“You’ve been getting a lot more tired lately.”

Yes, she had noticed. A voice in her head murmured in agreement but Evelyn ignored it as usual and gave her friend a smile, dismissing their worries and observation. It was no surprise when the general population decided she was undeniably a lazy child, when all Evelyn’s fault was that she had not yet mastered what could not exactly be called powers, neither a curse, she decided silently, more of a burden. A skill that requires more sacrifice than the usual, or perhaps, a responsibility of being aware. 

She was displaced through space, time, and reality and while everyone just assumed that her imagination would run rampant. Later, Evelyn would learn that she maintained the balance of the universe in the way of just gaining the slightest access to monitor realities parallel to their own.

Reaching home was the usual affair. A task so ordinary and so embedded in her schedule that it was an entangled routine, made Evelyn revel in the mundanity of it. Giving her mother short answers and practically locking herself in her room was the normalcy she craved, even if she did not actually bolt the door. 

But even inside her haven, the place that should have been safe, Evelyn could not escape her mind. It was the voices again, whispering in her ears, unidentifiable and unclear as always. If Evelyn bothered herself with delusions, she would say that she could decipher them easily, after all, they did call to her. But she did not, and truly? She did not have the wish to understand it either. 

Though she supposed that if she could cross the realms to see things unknown to others, voices of those who need help reaching her with pleas should not be surprising. But they did not help, and Evelyn’s head ached. She did not realize where she was until she heard a familiar voice whisper, ‘Wake.’ It was not necessarily a whisper, perhaps something that was not even said but sent to her mind in a form of communication not ethical or known. 

She peeled her eyes open and found herself on the bed with her knees pulled up to her chest. She was clinging on to her feet, rocking herself and trembling, gasping for breath which she could not get enough of. There was no-one in the near vicinity of her—thankfully—but that was no surprise. Because that voice was familiar and there was only one person with the ability of telepathy that she knew of. 

Her mother called her, telling her that her tutor had arrived, and Evelyn was reminded of how she never realized the time she spent away. Sometimes it would be none at all, though that was a rare occurrence. Mostly, time did pass in the material world of the realm she belonged to, it was just the matter of how much and what had changed then. Depending on her travels and visions, Evelyn’s memories adjusted according to her surroundings. Most people assume, incorrectly so, time to be a steady incline, a measured arc of growth and progress, but when history is written by the scholars and victors, the narrative can and often does misrepresent that shape. In reality, time as experienced is merely an ebb and flow, more circular than direct. What goes around comes around. Social trends change as do stigmas, as it is known so do truths, and the direction is not always forward. Evelyn’s case is no different, though admittedly, she was unaware of current social trends.

And so she found herself sitting on her study table with her tutor, finding her eyes pulling themselves to a close, but for the first time as far as she knew, Evelyn found something interrupting her travels and pulling out of them. or perhaps that was the vision as it was meant to be seen. Evelyn took in a deep breath and blinked, and as always, her intake and grogginess was taken as her being tired. 

She gave her chiding tutor a small, polite smile and whispered, “I don’t think I will be able to take a longer class. Can we end it at one hour only.”

Her tutor agreed and Evelyn was glad for the subject being maths.

So, at the end of the day as she lay down to sleep, rather than willing her whole body and mind to shut down, for the first time, Evelyn reached out to astral project on her own will. It was not difficult to find them, not when they had already guided her and lighted her path, but Evelyn could not help but savour and revel in the feeling of pride that sparked in her. 

“Hello, you little hippie.” The teasing voice was not unknown. He had saved her before, not to long ago, and more than that, they had history. Evelyn smiled at the man and woman in front of her, not letting herself be fooled by the vision of the little girl and her father that her eyes saw and would have, no doubt, wanted to lead her to believe. 

“Be nice, brother,” the girl chided, her silver hair floating with the residue of magic. The boy beside her rolled his eyes, the colour a perfect match to his partner’s, making it seem like a flow of attraction. 

They had been the first and only people Evelyn had been able to contact and communicate with during her astral projection. It seemed fair that for that she would have to pay with something, that being her perception of her only friends. But seeing only their hair and eyes, that too only being an interchange of their golden and silver was something Evelyn was willing to sacrifice in exchange of their company. She had come to hold them very dear to her heart, even if they could not tell each other their names. She was sure the brother and sister knew each other’s just as she just knew—subconsciously without anyone having to tell her so—that they knew each other from before they traversed through the realms. It was not much of a deal though; they had all agreed with what they had come up with to call each other. They had deigned it right that she could call them the Travellers while they called her the Dreamer. 

Evelyn did not bother herself with greetings or pleasantries. “Why am I hearing bells?”

The two stared at her before the girl half choked out or perhaps on an incredulous laugh. “I’m sorry, but are we supposed to know what you are on about?”

Yes, Evelyn thought with a grimace. Yes, because if you don’t then I don’t know what to do or what I’m going to do because I’m scared, I am scared, I’m scared, and I can’t run away from my mind, and it terrifies me. You know, tell me you know, help me. Please, Evelyn pleaded in her mind because she couldn’t get it to pass her mouth. I beg of you, please, help me. I—

“Hey!” The boy was crouching beside her, and it was unusual what she saw displayed on his face, what she felt in his touch as he held her by her shoulders. Softness. Tenderness.



His mouth twisted, concerned, and exasperated and full of anger. “You’re okay,” he decided to say, “You are going to have to be okay. Now tell us what it is.”

It was not a suggestion and definitely not a request. It was a command and Evelyn complied as she knew she always would, deep in her heart, even if she was completely disoriented. She grimaced. “It was like a huge gong, I suppose. Loud, very much so. It woke me before I could travel further.”

“And why are you worried about this?” the girl asked, her voice soft. So, so soft—beautiful.

Evelyn felt herself getting lulled by warmth and ethereal light. She just wanted to give up on her control while feeling safe from her own mind. She shook her head to wave of the feeling, she should be used her friend’s power by now, and it’s surge when she was nervous. “It sounded like a warning,” she whispered, suddenly feeling so very weak. Fragile like she could break like glass, frail like she needed to be handled with the utmost care.

“Okay,” the girl nodded, smiling like she felt proud of her, and Evelyn felt her heart swell. “Good, you’re doing so good, love.”

“Is there anything else?” It was the boy and Evelyn could not take her eyes of his golden hair, just as bright as the girl’s eyes.

“The voices are getting louder,” Evelyn replied pathetically, piteous even, and gods, she felt poignant and woeful. It was terrible and it was so freeing. She was despicable, truly, a deplorable and wretched woman. But the lack of contempt was not completely unsatisfactory. She knew of many harrowings compared to which her horrors were negligible. But they cared for her so much and so bright—so purely. “If they can reach to me, why can’t I connect with the planes I travel to?”

There was a hum, she could not figure out who, but it sounded like understanding and Evelyn couldn’t contain her joy at the thought of someone getting her. “We believe that when you’re magic makes you astral project your subconsciousness—to be more precise, the other side of your magic puts up a ward, a veil to separate you and anything that may harm you, particularly, your own mind and whatever danger it puts you in.”

Evelyn had always thought that if she had a more important role and not only a side character, she wouldn’t have the strength to be the villain, but she would make an incredibly dull hero. She was losing control of herself to her mind again and she desperately repeated, perhaps not as random as the others might have been:

Hypnagogia is the transitional state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep. It’s the opposite of hypnopompia, which is the transitional state that occurs before you wake up. That heavy feeling right after you wake up is called sleep inertia. You feel tired, maybe a little disoriented, and not quite fully ready to hit the ground running.

Evelyn had always related to her projecting as something related to sleep, consciousness, and limbo. Everyone had their own slice of heaven, hell and purgatory waiting for them, and Evelyn had just come back gasping for hers. All of them.

She had never travelled while in the dream realm before. 

The Travellers eyed her worriedly. “What did you see?” they asked in complete synchronization. 

Evelyn studied her surroundings in the dream realm created by the woman in clear avoidance of the question. It was beautiful really, greenery and animals and birds and magic, just nature. And she would know. After all her power was seeing through, to view reality and catch a glimpse of the truth. 

After a moment she replied, admitting something that she perhaps shouldn’t. “I saw the world crumbling.” Well, Evelyn had never been good at listening. 

“So, the world’s ending and you’re not going to save it,” the man said more than questioned, clearly disbelieving and distrusting.

“I can’t alone. How can I even begin to justify being selfish enough to ask you to risk dying because of me?” When nothing but silence greeted her question, Evelyn could feel dejection spreading through her body, making her limbs somehow feel heavier. 

“It isn’t for you,” the female Traveller determined would be a sufficient answer.

Sighing, Evelyn turned away from the Travellers and began to head towards the door leading her back to her plane. Just before her outstretched hand touched the doorknob, however, the male’s reply stopped her in her tracks.

“So don’t risk it. Burn it all to the ground to keep us safe, just like we would—we’ll keep each other safe. But trust in us enough to know that we will be right there beside you, lighting the matches.”

 

No, Evelyn thinks now. She wasn’t wrong. She would still make a horrible protagonist and perhaps an even worse antagonist. Yet she had no interest in being a side character of not much value. The problem was, she was searching for a role for herself, in a wrong place in the wrong world. Because she isn’t a character in the book, she’s the one writing the story. And she does not care if they are real or not, if she has magic or there is something really wrong with her, because they are real to her, and that’s all that matters.


By Saisha Jain




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Ankita Kumar
Ankita Kumar
Feb 02
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Heart warming indeed!!

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Shikha Garg
Shikha Garg
Jan 17
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Commendable write -up

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Unnati Jain
Unnati Jain
Jan 17
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Amazing 👌🏻

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Shivani Jain
Shivani Jain
Jan 17
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great saisha

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Rupali Jain
Rupali Jain
Jan 16
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

🤩

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