The Girl Next Door (The Dream Factory)

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See “The Dream Factory” for a full list of my shared dreams.

This is one of the craziest dreams I’ve ever had. It was late spring; I was a junior in high school. This was one of the few dreams I can remember where I woke up in a jolt to a sitting position, covered in sweat.  It wasn’t a horrific dream in the conventional sense, with monsters and ghosts or what have you. Yet, it chilled me to the bone with both its profoundness and vividness.

In the dream, I was at my home—or, rather, my parent’s home. This alone was unusual, because typically I don’t dream about real-life places. The constructs in my dreams are typically like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Often, they’re unique, if but unpractical. In this dream, though, the setting was my parent’s house in their neighborhood. Some of the details were a little different. There was no backyard fence in the dream, while their yard in real-life is, in fact, fully fenced, but it was more or less to scale.

The first part of the dream progressed in true montage fashion. I was in the backyard with this girl who had thick, dark hair and pale complexion. She was gorgeous and I was completely smitten with her, though this wasn’t a person I knew in real life (and this is honest-to-goodness the truth. Some people I tell this dream to don’t believe that). We spent the greater part of the afternoon talking and by the end of it I understood that I was completely in love with her.

Now, like many neighborhoods, this one had a strange, old man down the street whom the children of the block had told stories about. Think of the old, scary many in the movie, Home Alone.  This man didn’t have a beard like that one did, but he was very strange and antisocial. Among his quirks:  he wore a rain jacket with a hood no matter the weather; he didn’t go out much, except when he had to rake leaves or tend to his yard; he rarely, if ever, spoke to anyone. He also lived alone.

In light of all these oddities, one could imagine my surprise when this girl that I loved invited me to come to a party at his house that was taking place later that evening. He wasn’t going to be there, she assured—it would just be us and some other teenagers our age that lived on the street. I asked how she got permission to have a party in his house, but she told me not to worry about it.

So later in the day, I walked over to the house. Inside, about ten or so neighborhood kids sat on sofas and chairs in a great big circle in the living room. While the outside of this house was just as it is in real life, an old man doesn’t live there and the inside was certainly not to scale. Nevertheless, I sat among the group and another montage ensued in the dream. That is to say, I don’t remember or know the details of the next progression of time, only that at some point the light outside dimmed to late evening and that we all talked and laughed a lot.

At another point, someone disrupted the momentum of the fun by asking the girl the same question I had asked earlier:  “How did you get the man to let you have this party?”

Immediately, her demeanor changed. She averted her eyes and looked very sad, telling the person not to worry about it. Others persisted, though, and she grew more and more uncomfortable. This series of questions was interrupted by a loud succession of thumbs at the front step to the door. We all knew the old man had returned.

When he opened the door, the room had fallen silent and all eyes were upon him. He only looked at the girl, however, and I saw that she was not returning his penetrating stare. Her eyes were lowered to the floor, focused on nothing in particular.

“Everybody out,” the old man said and, without further questions, the kids lined up and slowly marched out of the room with dumbfounded gazes.

I was the last to leave and, as I did, I began to realize what was happening. This man was going to molest this girl.

The front door closed behind me and I watched through the curtains as the old man’s large shadow moved across the room to the girl. I acted fast, grabbing the largest kid of the group I could find and telling him to stand at the front door and not let the old man leave if he tried. He shot me a confused look, but obliged.

As I said before, we often understand things in our dreams without knowing how we came about that understanding. At the moment, I knew this girl’s parents lived in the house directly across from the old man’s, which would make her my next door neighbor. Much more time had passed (time is funny in dreams); it was late into the night. I pounded on the front door as hard as I could. The outside lights turned on and the girl’s father opened the door with an angry expression on his face. I had woken him up.

I don’t quite remember what he said, but it was something to the effect of, ”What do you want?”

I spoke over him. “Come quick,” I said, “HE has her,” and I said it just like that.

The man’s angry expression quickly softened to something of sadness mixed with shame. I heard weeping coming from behind the door. He looked in the direction of the weeping, which I came to realize was the girl’s mother, and then looked at my shoe before finally meeting my eyes. With a heavy sigh, he said, “Well, $50,000 is a lot of money,” and slowly he closed the door.

That was when I woke up in a film of sweat. My room was as bright as can be—it was going to be a beautiful day. I honestly don’t recall if it was $5,000, $50,000 or $500,000, so I went with the median for this story. But, really, it doesn’t matter. No dream has ever had such a lasting effect on me. Not even the three visitors dream, which I think was extremely eerie in how descriptive it was.


About authorphilpartington

Phil is a writing enthusiast of many years, having been published in numerous online and national print trade and sports publications over the past decade. He has spent the past five years delving back into the world of fiction writing, focussing on the fantasy, horror and suspense genres. Deshay of the Woods is his first novel.
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