This novel is complete at 33,796 words.
When Dreams Come True
Copyright Rebecca Emin 2011
I’ve always had vivid dreams. I can’t remember my earliest dreams although I seem to recall a lot of colours, landscapes and friends. Swirls of friends, dancing, singing and laughing. I remember waking up feeling happy from those dreams.
When I started at primary school the dreams changed a bit. I will always remember how it felt to be a little kid at school. Somehow I didn’t quite fit in as I didn’t really want to play with the other girls in my class, which was fine from Reception through to year three. But from years four to six, the girls and boys had to play in separate playgrounds during break time. I was split from my best friends, Max and Toby, and forced to play with the girls, with their obsessions with all things pink and purple. It was torture. Not my thing at all, and I missed Max and Toby a lot. I missed our games of Cowboys and Indians, racing around the field. My dad told me Cowboys and Indians was around when he was at school, which was, well, ages ago. If it has lasted that long it must be a good game.
It was then the action dreams began. I was a cowboy in my dream, not just any old cowboy but the kind of hero who was relied on to save the day. Somehow we would become holed up in an old building and were surrounded by furious Indians. I can’t remember how, but I would always save everybody and end up being the hero of the hour. I have no idea why I was a boy in those dreams, but it didn’t bother me at the time. I was a tomboy anyway. It just made me feel more fed up when I woke up and remembered I couldn’t spend time with Max and Toby during the lunch-break.
That was all a long time ago now. I can remember a lot of dreams since then but it all began to get weird when some of them started to come true.
So here I am now, in year nine and I have to admit I look back and cringe when I think how things were when I was at primary school. It’s so much better to have a uniform and not have to worry about what you have to wear every day. I could never quite understand the other girls’ obsessions with clothes and accessories. What a waste of time.
I’m pleased to say I’m free to talk to Max and Toby whenever I want to now, and by some piece of luck we all ended up in the same class at senior school. I’m glad about that. We’ve known each other since we were born as our mums are all friends, so we have become known as a bit of a trio. I hope it will always be like this as it seems to work well for us. They’re such a good laugh and they don’t seem to care that I am a girl, which is just as well, as I can’t do anything about it. I still kind of wish I was a boy as they have much cooler clothes and gadgets, but as it is I have to get on with it. We’re allowed to wear any sort of black skirts or trousers to school anyway so you can bet I’m in trousers every day. Max, Toby and I pretty much wear the same stuff as each other.
It gets a bit tricky with some of the other kids sometimes; they don’t seem to understand boys and girls can be friends with each other. They’ll just have to get used to it as there is definitely never going to be anything else going on between the three of us. They are like brothers to me. I guess perhaps, as none of us have any brothers or sisters, we have adopted each other. And, you can’t think about snogging your brothers can you? That would just be weird.
The three of us spend our time sharing our gadgets, going on bike rides, building camps and generally mucking around outside of school. What I like about it the most is that they treat me exactly the same as they treat each other.
I have a friend called Allie at school. We get on really well too. She’s more of a girly girl but not to the point that winds me up. I spend time with her quite a bit and we go to the cinema and shopping together. I set her straight when she asked me about the boys one day.
“So, Charlie, what is it with Max and Toby then? Have you got some kind of threesome thing going on?” she said.
I glanced at her to see if she was joking. She so wasn’t. “How can you be so gross?” I asked her, “Would you want to stick your tongue down Ben’s throat?” Ben is her brother. He’s a bit older than us and I think I got my point across with this question. She makes a face and said “Ewww.”
“Exactly,” I finished.
We didn’t need to discuss this again after that.
The only thing about Allie that bugs me is she seems to think she is so much older than she actually is. We’re only fourteen but she seems to think the most important thing in the whole wide world is to get a boy to fancy you, become their girlfriend and then goodness knows what. I can’t really be bothered with any of that, I have much more fun hanging out with Max and Toby, and going for days out with Allie. I kind of humour her though as I don’t want her to think I am really weird.
One night at home I log into Facebook and see in my news feed that Allie is ‘in a relationship’. What on earth?
I immediately text her. “OMG who is he? Charlie xx”
“It’s Jack who goes on our bus!”
“How? When? Where?”
Her reply said it all really: “Oh no, nothing has happened, I just fancy him.”
I don’t understand why people do this on Facebook. Life isn’t a game but so many of the kids from school seem to play on Facebook like they are acting out their dreams. It’s so weird. I don’t add many people on it as it winds me up so much. I don’t even use it often, as it’s like reading a story in a magazine when people make up so much rubbish on there. Only it’s not as interesting as reading a magazine.
Allie and I go on the same bus to school. She’s had a crush on Jack for ages, so why she has decided to change her status now I have no idea. I don’t think it will make him any more interested in her. He’ll probably be put off. I don’t understand why I know this but Allie doesn’t; maybe she should spend more time with Max and Toby like I do, but she doesn’t really enjoy spending time with boys so much. I don’t think she likes them much at all, in fact.
Apart from Jack, of course.
I first met Allie when we started at senior school. I walked to the bus stop on my own and when I got there she was waiting too. We struck up a conversation and we seemed to hit it off immediately, which was a relief as it was kind of nice to get on the bus and sit next to her and not look like ‘Little Miss Friendless’ to everyone who was already on the bus. I needn’t have worried though as it turned out our bus stop was one of the earlier ones on the bus route so when we got on there was hardly anyone on the bus, and the kids that were on there were all sitting on their own. I felt lucky to be next to Allie and have someone to chat to. It totally got rid of my nerves that had been bubbling away about starting at a new school, and when we got there I met up with Max and Toby too so I was so relieved.
Allie told me a lot later into the term that she noticed Jack during that first bus journey. I can see why she likes him as he is quite good looking, but he really does know it. That puts me off a bit. He is also in year eleven and as we are in year nine I really don’t think she has much of a chance, but as she is my friend, I humour her. It seems a bit pointless to me to have such a massive crush on someone, knowing it will never come to anything.
So there we are. My friends and I. I have other friends as well, of course, but Allie, Max and Toby are my best friends. I think Allie is growing more fond (or maybe just more tolerant) of Max and Toby as time goes on. They don’t really have much choice about getting on as we all hang around together a lot of the time at school. I see them separately during weekends and holidays though. I guess I am a bit like the pin in the middle of a wheel, holding it all together.
At weekends when I’m not busy with my family, or biking with the boys I spend with Allie, and we go into Reading and see a film at the cinema or hang around the shopping centre. Allie likes to do the hanging around thing a lot, but I find it a bit boring so I kind of suggest the cinema as much as I can.
“Shall we go and see one of the Harry Potter films; they’re showing them all back to back this weekend?” I say one particular morning, early in the first term of year nine.
“Oh yes, it looks really good,” Allie replies. She would say that, as I know she fancies Daniel Radcliffe. I mean! But the film is good anyway. As the credits roll, I say to her: “Have you noticed how Harry Potter looks ever so slightly like Toby?”
Allie goes silent for a minute. “Hmm you’re right there,” she replies with a weird smile.
I kind of regret pointing this out, as I wonder what will happen next.
The following evening I go onto Facebook again and Allie has changed her profile back to ‘single’. I text her; ‘Have you gone off Jack, then?’ and she replies,
‘Oh he’s still gorgeous, but it’s a bit pointless isn’t it?’
I’m glad she has realised that, anyway.
I throw myself back on my bed and look up at my ceiling. I know I shouldn’t put two and two together and make six, but I have to wonder if Allie’s status change has anything to do with what I said to her about Toby. I really hope not.
On Monday on the bus, I notice Allie’s hair looks a bit difference and she seems to have a smidge of eyeliner on, despite the fact we are not allowed to wear make-up in school. I try not to laugh to myself but it’s quite hard. We talk about our homework on the way into school; we had a tricky maths assignment so we compare answers and as most of ours match I feel relieved. Allie and I are at about the same level in maths, so we often help each other along.
As we get off the bus, I see Allie straighten her hair, hitch her skirt up a bit and… well, strut is the only way to put it. She looks a bit like a peacock strutting around. I leave her to it and run over to slap Max and Toby on their backs as soon as I spot them. They turn around and gently thump me hello too. It seems ages when I don’t see them at the weekend. I am sure we have a lot to catch up on.
“Did you have a good weekend, Charlie?” Max asks.
“Allie and I saw the new Harry Potter film on Saturday,” I tell them.
“Ah cool,” Max replies, “we played footie again and it was a great match.”
“What was the score?” I ask. Not that I like football or anything, but you have to support your friends, don’t you?
“We won seven to three,” Toby replies. He then starts to give me a detailed blow-by-blow description of the match, and as I nod at him and try not to let my eyes glaze over too much, I noticed Max staring over my shoulder with a weird look on his face. I glanced in the direction of his gaze and see Allie slowly strutting towards us. Oh my god.
Allie is walking in a way that seems to be slow motion, although of course it isn’t. God knows how she learned to walk like that. She looks like a totally different person to normal.
“Hello Max, hello Toby,” she simpers as she gets near us. Her final look is for Toby. Why on earth did I ever mention he looks a bit like Daniel Radcliffe? I mentally kick myself.
Toby says “hi” to Allie and then, after a few seconds, he launches back into his tales of football and team rivalries. Max is still looking at Allie with that weird look on his face. I expect his tongue to come lolling out of his mouth at any second. I cringe inside and try to lead the conversation onto more neutral territory, all the time wondering whether my friends have gone completely mad over the summer.
“So what do you think of our new French teacher then?” I say.
They look at me as if I am the one who has gone mad. I mean; the cheek of it!
“Er, yeah, she’s ok,” Max graciously answers.
“I prefer that new teacher who has year seven this year,” Toby says in a jokey tone, “She’s a fox.”
A fox? I have no doubt left now, something weird has happened over the summer.
My friends seem to be changing in very strange ways. I am not sure I like it.
That night I had the weirdest dream.
We were all on a carousel; one of those old ones you get at fairs and amusement parks with up-and-down horses and whatever else on. The funny thing about it was, to start with we were all sitting on our own horses and as the carousel started, Allie was behind Toby on his horse, and then behind Max and then somehow all three of them were on one horse together with Allie wedged between the two boys. Then the carousel broke and started to go backwards, and the horses turned into real horses and went galloping off into the distance. By this point we were all on our own horses again, and we all went off in different directions.
God knows what that was all about.
Next time I see Allie, on the bus, she is definitely looking different. She goes on and on about Toby for the whole bus journey.
“I can’t believe I didn’t notice he looks like Daniel Radcliffe until now,” she says for the millionth time, “do you think he likes me?”
“Of course he likes you,” I answer, exasperatedly. She keeps asking me the same things over and over again but I can’t ignore it as we’re stuck on the bus seats next to each other. “We’ve been friends for over a year, I think you’d know it if he didn’t like you by now,” I add for good measure.
“But do you think he could like me like that?” Allie pushes.
“Look, he’s one of my best friends,” I finally let out what I have been thinking. “Don’t make me think of him like a potential boyfriend, as it’s just too weird,” I plead.
I think Allie’s past reasoning with though.
“Look at Jack, he’s got a really cool new jacket on,” I say by means of distraction, as Jack climbs onto the bus. Allie vaguely glances in Jack’s direction but I think that moment has well and truly passed. Jack is no longer on her radar. Bit weird really, as he’s much more appealing than Toby, it has to be said. I have to admit I quite fancy him myself, not that I’d ever tell Allie though.
Or anyone else, for that matter.
He’s way too old.
I snap myself out of my distracting thoughts about Jack in time to notice Allie is still droning on and on about Toby. I am not sure how someone who was so much fun in year eight can become so boring in a matter of months. I pretend to be listening to Allie as I wonder how on earth I can snap her out of this phase. Surely it’s a phase?
I try to change the subject. “Have you heard about that new film As Summer Passes? It’s coming out at the weekend, do you think we should go and see it?” I suggest. Or, we could go swimming if you like?
“Shall we invite Max and Toby along?” Allie says.
Now this would have been fine a year ago, but we have been meeting up at weekends for over a year now and not once has Allie ever wanted to include the boys in the past. It really annoys me as I would have loved to hang around with all three of them before, but it’s only an option when it suits her, or so it seems.
I have no idea why I feel so snarky about everything at the moment. All I know is, Allie is driving me mad. I hope she will shut up about Toby soon, or I’m going to have to tell her to zip it myself.
I’m totally grumpy by the time we get off the bus.
“Hi guys,” I say to Max and Toby as we see them on the way in to school.
“Hi…” Allie says almost shyly, positively glowing in their direction.
I feel like sticking my fingers down my throat but manage to stop myself when I realise none of them would ‘get it’.
Toby starts talking to me about his evening, and as I listen to him, I notice Max staring at Allie again. What in the world is going on? I hope for everyone’s sake that Max hasn’t developed a liking for Allie in the same way Allie has for Toby. I’ll be stuck in the middle of a really awkward triangle if that’s the case, and the last thing I want is for my friends to fall out.
The next time I log into Facebook, I notice Allie has changed her relationship status again. Now she has it set as ‘It’s complicated’. Too damn right it is. My friends seem to spend their whole time simpering and gazing at each other and nothing is actually said or done, which is probably just as well as it will only end in disaster. I hope Allie will eventually get distracted and move her affections on to someone else outside of our little circle. That would make so much more sense.
At the weekend I go for a bike ride. I meet up with Max and Toby and we go to one of our favourite spots, which is a bridle path up through some woodland. We chase each other around for a while and eventually stop for a break. As I delve into my rucksack to get out some boxes of juice my mum gave me, Max asks, “So, Charlie, what’s Allie up to this weekend?”
“I think she’s seeing her cousins,” I reply. “She mentioned something about a sleepover at their house.” I sense Max wants to ask more, so I change the subject pretty quickly.
“Are you two playing footie again tomorrow?” Usually talking about football will keep them entertained for hours, and even if it isn’t really my thing, it’s preferable to listening to Max trying to be subtle about his brand new crush on Allie.
“Yes we’re playing again, and it’s against the best team in the league,” Toby answers. He then launches into a monologue about the players in the other team and how they are really rough and had caused more injuries to other players than any other team. It all sounds like a bit of a nightmare to me. I can understand a bit of competitiveness when it comes to scoring goals, but where is the fun in punching someone in the face so hard they lose a tooth?
“I thought rugby was meant to be the rough game?” I say to Toby. He gives me a withering look. “You can be such a girl sometimes,” he says, like it’s a bad thing. “Duh,” I say, “yeah, I am actually a girl.”
He looks at me as if he’s only just realised this fact.
Maybe it’s only now it’s actually going to start to matter.
I have another weird dream that night. It’s almost like a recurrence of the one I had before with the carousel but this time when the horses turn into real horses, Max, Toby and Allie all gallop off in one direction and I head off in the opposite direction, but after I look around to see where Allie is, I look forward again to find my arms are no longer around the horse’s mane but around Jack. He’s in front of me on the horse and it feels rather delicious to have my arms around him and my cheek leaning against his tight, muscular back.
I wake up and lie in the hazy early morning light thinking about Jack, and how I felt during that dream. I know I won’t ever be able to look at him in the same way again. A prickly feeling runs down the back of my neck.
I don’t tell Allie about my dream; I can’t see me telling anyone about it, that’s for sure. I find it hard to concentrate on our conversation on the bus, as I’m thinking about what will happen when we get to Jack’s bus stop. But as the bus slows and stops, the door opens and he slouches on and sits down, there are no sirens and horns. No-one can tell he was in my dream. I’m guessing they may wonder why I am so red and clammy though.
“What’s up with you today?” Allie asks.
“I didn’t sleep very well last night, that’s all,” I say by way of explanation.
“Oh poor you,” Allie sympathises. “I wonder if Toby will be there before us again today, it would be nice to see him before school starts.
I sigh and look out of the window. Why is it so obvious to me? Toby is not interested in her. She’s totally barking up the wrong tree. I begin to wish it was Max who looked vaguely like Daniel Radcliffe. At least then she would have a chance.
As Allie continues to talk to me, I glance around the bus and my gaze rests on Jack for a while. I see a rogue blonde curl gently hanging over the back of his collar and I wonder just for a second how it would feel to gently flick it over my finger.
I suddenly snap back into reality. What the heck! Why have I suddenly started to think about Jack like this just because of a dream? More to the point, what would Allie think if she could read my mind? She had an almighty crush on Jack until… well… The Toby Thing happened. Would she care? Just the thought of her being annoyed with me makes me flush all over again. I try and think about other things but it’s quite difficult as when I gaze out of the window I see a big open space which only reminds me of my dream… and the galloping horse… and the way it felt to wrap my arms around Jack.
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