Story by Arielle Chesire

The same dream occurs in my head. A man with a deep voice is somewhere in the darkest part of my mind. He echoes the same three words in the distance: “ire, close, tree.” Opening my eyes, the surprise of it wasn’t unexpected. The same dream has occurred in my mind since I was a child. It started when I was ten.

Now, I’m 23.

Thirteen years of the same dream, not knowing its meaning or when it would ever end. If it ever ends, that is. I get out of bed unfazed and ready for my classes. I pass by a tree every day that fascinates me in the most curious way. Its bark shines in the light as it stands tall on the clean-cut ground. Out of all the trees around campus, this one acts like a brave soldier in a battlefield. Not crumbling down, nor losing its leaves during the winter. It stays the same every season, every month, and every year. Even through a gust of wind, that tree will remain firm on the ground. As I pass by that tree, a faint whisper brushes through my ear that no one seems to hear.

“Fire, close, tree.”

At night, the moon rises as the day ends. The stars shine bright in the sky as I walk home. A cold breeze passes by as it guides me towards the same tree from earlier today. I squint my eyes in confusion. I can’t explain it, but the tree looks different. Its shine is no longer around the bark. Suddenly, the words popped into my head as I looked around the sidewalk. “ire, close, tree.” There’s a stabbing pain in my mind that makes me shriek and shut my eyes in pain. Caressing my forehead, I can see a vision fade into my mind. A man looks down to me from inside a tent. Removing the black cloak from underneath his eyes, I recognize them from my past.

With a flash, everything starts to make sense. Like the staples were finally being pulled out from my memories. It was a Hypnotist. Tall frame, brimmed hat, and a wide smirk. “Whenever you hear these words under a full moon in 13 years, you will fall into a deep sleep,” he said. I recognize the deep voice. “Your mind, however, will remain awake.” Opening my eyes in alarm, panting, I see a light shining down onto the grass. Looking towards the sky, I can see the bright moon appear behind the clouds, fearless and without hesitation. The words occur again in my head. What scares me this time is that it never ends, repeating in my head until I could scream.

“Fire, close, tree. Fire, close, tree. Fire, close, tree!”

Suddenly, something snaps in my head, almost as if it gave in to the command. My eyes close. My legs buckle as I fall to the ground. I remain motionless, as I only have access into my mind. I can’t move. I want to scream for help, for someone to help snap out of this trance, to help me wake up, but how? How could someone find me?  

Who would wake me from the same dream that occurred in my head?

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