There is a boy who catches dreams. He had been catching dreams for all of his life. Sometimes he would catch a ball and sometimes he would catch a fish, but he would always catch a dream. And though he was often alone, he knew he had the world to share his dreams with. So like the ball, he would pass them on, and like the fish, he would set each one free as though they were wild animals finding their way back home.
There was once a girl who visited the boy who catches dreams. She walked long distances that spanned across different worlds to see him. She would walk all the way to the boy just to tell him that she had seen a frog that reminded her of him, or to read to him stories from the numerous worlds that she had travelled through. The boy would listen to her words, taking them in slowly, allowing them to wash into him. All the while, he would continue to catch dreams, stopping only to see the girl off, once she had said all that she had to say.
The world went by for a while this way, the boy catching dreams and setting them free to find their homes inside sleeping heads. These dreams could be long or short, blue, or the shape of an egg. They would often be strange but they were never threatening. Until one day, the girl who visited the boy stopped visiting.
It took a while for the boy to realise that she had stopped coming to see him. He was always so immersed in his daily task that he did not notice that she would visit less and less often. An absence slowly crept up on the boy and he felt something that he had never felt before. What he felt was homesick.
The boy wondered what had happened to the girl and why she had stopped visiting. He found himself swallowed up by a deep restlessness and these feelings would find themselves into the dreams that he continued to catch. They would sense the anxiety in the boy’s hands and wrestle away uneasily, their journeys darkened by his troubles. When these dreams finally reached some form of home, they arrived drenched in tarry rain, shivering and panicked. And so, the world came to know of nightmares.
The boy’s feelings of homesickness would come and go but he would never stop catching dreams. Sometimes he would release them dancing off into the horizon, just as he would in the days when the girl visited him. Other times, they would thrash away from him, bruised and fretful. The boy would never find out where the girl had gone but he knows that wherever she is, she is home. And though he would sometimes feel homesick for her, he knows that he is bound to this world of travelling dreams. He stays here to pass them on, hoping that one will reach into her world, find her and call her home.
First published in “Lust & Panic” (2012) under Stern Collective