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the dreamers | short story #2

Here's the thing about dreamers: they aren't always the obvious ones. People like Antonio, who worked in the restaurant for as long as he could remember, his knuckles large from the arthritis that always came at the most inopportune times.

He'd had a dream once.

It was one of a better life: a family and a more fulfilling job and a snug house in a neighborhood of trees ripe with secrets. But he got caught in the grinding machine of life, and one day he woke up and discovered wrinkles etched deep in his weathered face and bones that ached more than usual. And the sad truth was that he'd turned old, too old to pursue the dream he'd built for so long.

Antonio wasn't the only one with a dream he didn't pursue: the man trapped in his office from nine to five every day, doing the same pointless work he did the day before; the tired-looking woman standing behind the cash register at the grocery down the street, scanning the milk, the vegetables, and finally the eggs; the girl with one too many kids than she'd bargained for at this age and a house on 2nd Street overdue for a cleaning the past three years. It was in the lives of these people that dreams were most alive. They were the dreamers, the hopers, the wishers; they all wanted something better.

Chase your dreams, they always said. But there is something you have to understand about dreams: when they are in their rawest form--just dreams--they are free to grow and morph and open imaginary doors. Chasing them in an attempt to make the dreams come to life, though, is a herculean risk. While the dreams are still kept alive in a mind, there is hope. But when the dreams attempt to come to fruition, there is the nagging thought: what if the real-life version isn't as wonderful as the dream? Sometimes it's just as wonderful, or even more so. But if it's not, hope is gone until a new dream forms (easier said than done), and living without hope is the start of a long, slow, painful suicide.

In leaving dreams as dreams, there is hope in what could have been or what could be. And sometimes...sometimes hope is the only thing that carries a man like Antonio out of bed each morning.