• Sahar Abdulaziz

Perhaps it was a Dream ...


"Perhaps it was a dream, she thought. Perhaps if she pinched herself, she would wake up. But she didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay in this dream world where" *

her brittle body no longer felt pain. A place where her strained, aching limbs stopped hurting and where her muscles — long past their utility were forced without imperturbability to exist against their will. In this dream world, she no longer battled bones and skin. Her eyes no longer stung from the constant dryness, and her fingers no longer locked or cramped. In this world, she tasted and smelled and heard and touched, gloriously free to swirl, tumble, and spin. For the first time, unstoppable. Henrietta did not want to be forced awake. She was too wonderfully anxious to experience these many exciting places, full of textures and sensations that for so long had alluded her. Once no longer held captive in her body, nothing but a plethora of endless possibilities flashed across her mind’s screen, playfully calling to come to life albeit in her imagination.

“Henrietta?” called the nurse as she entered the room pushing a wheelchair. “Wake up, dear. The doctor wants you to get a bit of needed fresh air today,” she said, yanking open the curtains to fill the room with natural bright sunshine. “Besides, how could we keep you all cooped up in here on such a beautiful day?” Nurse asked, fully aware that besides the occasional blink or flutter of an eyelid, there would be no other response emanating from her young charge.

“Let’s see here."The kindly nurse placed her foot on the pedal to lower the bed. "Ah, there we go.” Pulling back the bed sheet, she leaned in, bracing her weight. Skillfully she lifted the frail, unresponsive body up and over, gently placing Henrietta into the awaiting wheelchair; prudently placing each atrophied limb in its protected cocooned metal holding. When all properly tucked, belted and secured in, the nurse positioned a soft lap blanket over and around Henrietta's limp shoulders to protect her from the afternoon’s slightly cooler breeze.

“There we go,” Nurse exclaimed, rather accomplished. “All comfy?” She then pulled a tissue from her pocket and wiped away the string of drool sliding down the child’s cheek. “When we come back in, I’ll do your hair up nice and cute, just the way you like it.”

How Nurse ever knew how Henrietta best liked to wear her hair remained a constant mystery, but gratefully one that never had to be heard or repeated in Henrietta’s Dream World where her hair and the choice of style, like her body, was permitted the independence and dignity of self-sufficiency.

Without any added chatter, Nurse rolled Henrietta out of the room and down the short, almost soundless hall. Already situated on the first floor, the back secured metal door opened easily enough when Nurse pushed the EXIT button. A small but lovely courtyard filled with too many unused benches and pathways greeted their arrival.

“Only a few more days of warm weather to count on before autumn arrives,” Nurse muttered. “Then the leaves will begin to drop, leaving the trees bare and sad.”

Henrietta strained her eyes. She desperately wished to memorize and absorb summer’s last display of beauty, even if only as an encapsulated image. After today, the chances of coming back outside were slim. In all likelihood, it would be months before she’d be permitted to return – if ever again. Pneumonia always being the unspoken, lurking concern.

Nurse continued to wheel Henrietta around the courtyard a few leisurely spins before finally parking her patient under the shade of an oak tree. Little did Nurse realize, but Henrietta would have much preferred to feel the full weight of the sun’s intense rays warming her chilled cheeks. However, unlike the predictability of her fancied hairstyle, Nurse didn’t seem equipped to foretell all of Henrietta’s preferences.

Slowly, Henrietta’s eyes drew closed. The energy to maintain them awake had become too taxing. Her breathing labored and stilted. As her faint breath thinned, her locked mind sprang forth allowing her dream world to emerge once again, beckoning her forward.

“Enter dearest friend,” the Whisper Winds called out. “We have been awaiting your return, Princess Henrietta.”

Henrietta rose from the tiresome shackles of her interned body and soared like a falcon, her arms spread wide, riding her soul up into the confines of the seven skies where her bejeweled throne awaited her.

“Will you stay this time?” her loyal friend, The Wind asked upon her return.

“It seems so, oh Wise Wind. My unearthly home is here with you.”

“Then cast off all that pulls you back into that nether world and let us serve you,” commanded the soldier leaves, lined neatly in rows, hundreds thick.

“No, my cherished friends. I no longer need serving or saving, for I am finally free now, to do for myself …” but before Henrietta could make her final leap of faith, she was rudely jarred back to the World of Awake, sensing the pull and thrust of her wheelchair carting her back into her prison.

“No, no, stop, please,” she cried,” but her trapped screams could not be heard by anyone. Henrietta was alone again, stuck in her vapid shell.

“All back, safe and sound,” chattered Nurse. “Time to get you settled into bed.”

Henrietta wanted to fight, push, pull or even bite her way free, but her body refused to cooperate.

Nurse picked Henrietta up, blanket still somewhat wrapped around the lifeless limbs and placed the child gently on the bed. “Like I promised, I’ll do your hair up all pretty and nice," she said. "Have you looking just like a sleeping princess."

Helplessly enveloped in desperation, Henrietta's small body and mind merely existed. Her dull, open eyes stared into a vat of nothingness. The words she searched to use remained once again, imprisoned inside the confines of her head. But I already am a princess, thought Henrietta, angrily as she waited for a final undisturbed sleep to overcome her and carry her home to the Wind.

*Story Starter From: Complete The Story by Piccadilly [Story starters]

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