by Branwyn

Dawn had a happy childhood. She is not ashamed of that fact, even in this era of dysfunctional-chic. Dawn has two loving parents, enough food, and a pretty house with central heating. She does not have the number of a good therapist programmed into her cell phone. If she's turned out to be...complicated as a teenager, it's got nothing to do with repressed childhood trauma. Some people are just born quirky. It's probably genetic: a theory she considers validated by the fact that her brother shares a lot of her weirder traits.

Like the nightmares. She never told her parents about her own dreams, although they woke her up crying, because his dreams woke him up screaming. And even as a little kid she had the innate sense that it was (tacky) selfish to compete with someone else's suffering.

Most of the time, though, her brother is as happy as she is, if Dawn has judged him correctly by the half smile that clings to his lips, and the way he punctuates long silences with sudden laughter. And besides all that, a girl knows things about her own twin. The dreams mean nothing--unless they are proof that there is no place for the world's darkness in their waking lives.

Although that--isn't completely right. Her own dreams aren't always dark. They are, in fact, often beautiful, radiant, filled with all the shifting colors of light. And she floats in her dreams, buoyed by those crystal colors. She rocks gently, like a falling leaf, until she touches the ground and sleeps....

There are faces in Dawn's saddest dreams, and she loves the people they belong to. But she does not know their names.

Her brother's dreams are different. Dawn has never asked for details, but she has heard him muttering about heaven and hell, angels and demons. He calls out things in his sleep that would make anyone think he was crazy, or that he had been raised by Southern Baptists. Sometimes Dawn comes to stand in the door of his room, caught between the agonized rictus of his face and the shame she knows he would feel if he found her standing over him, her eyes wide and worried.

In the mornings they are both cheerful. Dawn sits at the breakfast table and tries to memorize these images, this absolute confidence that daylight will not confuse her with pale, sad faces. Looks at Connor, and wonders if, like her, he soaks up the daylight and reassures himself that this is what's real: his sister, his parents, their house.

Dreams mean nothing. Dawn and Connor are happy. That is the truth.


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