A Midnight's Dream (short story)

Hey peeps! It’s been a while since I posted a story, but here we are. I know I said I was gonna rewrite the diary, and that’s still the goal, but it’s gonna take a while to make it something that’s actually good. In the mean time, here’s a short story for you all.

Happy reading!

A Midnight’s Dream

ACT 1: Bedtime

Helen shut her book with a snap. She’d been reading the 1000 –page behemoth all weekend, but she was exhausted. The plan had been to finish it today, but that was now out of the question. She still had about fifty pages to go, but if she tried to read even a single page more, she would be asleep within seconds. She’d have to finish it tomorrow. What was left of her Sunday evening, would be used to relax. Helen sighed as she rose from the couch. Leaving the book on the table, she went to the kitchen, where her roommate was almost done making dinner.

“Look who returned to the living!” Mia said.

Helen chuckled. “Not for long. I’m exhausted.”

“Aww!”

Helen smiled. “Hey, thanks for taking care of dinner.”

“Oh, don’t mention it. I like taking care of people. It’s what I do. Did you at least finish the book though?”

“Almost…” Helen whined. Finishing that book had been her one goal this weekend. But in the end, she failed.

“Really? That thing is long, and you only started on Friday. How are you almost done with it?”

Helen chuckled. “Practice, I guess? At least I’ll be able to finish it tomorrow night.”

Mia nodded, as she went to take the lasagna from the oven. “Time for din dins.”

“Your inner babysitter is showing again.”

She shrugged. “Occupational hazard, I suppose?”

Helen was not surprised to find that her roommate had already set the table. As they sat down, she noticed a little vase with a bundle of lavender, adorning the table. “Oh, that’s cute.”

“Right? I figured we could do with some plant life in here.” Mia explained.

“How right you were.”

The girls were very quiet for the rest of dinner, which was a testament to the taste of the lasagna, as well as to their level of exhaustion. Helen swallowed her last bite, and let out a long yawn.

Mia smiled. “Bedtime.”

Helen checked her watch. The truth was that she was indeed getting rather tired after two full days of nothing but reading. On top of that, she would have to teach a bunch of teenagers about the poetic value of Macbeth all day tomorrow. She already felt like she was burning up the last bits of energy just to stay awake, and she was running out fast. She really had no reason not to go to bed. Helen groaned when she saw the time. “I can’t go to bed yet. Who goes to bed at seven?”

“Well…” Mia began.

“Of the people my age, smartass.” Helen stopped her.

“Language…” Mia mumbled. “But you have a busy day tomorrow, don’t you? Not to mention you’re falling asleep as we speak.”

“You make a good point.” Helen sighed. She started to collect their plates, to do the cleaning, before she would go to bed.

But Mia stopped her. “I’ll take care of it. You should go to bed.”

Her eyes were filled with a caring concern. Helen whispered. “You’ve done the cooking and everything all weekend. I can’t ask that of you.”

The girl smiled softly. “You’re not asking, are you? Hel, I insist. I’ll take care of everything. You just go to bed. You can repay the favour next week or something. We’ll figure it out.”

"Thank you.” Helen whispered. She ran her hand through her hair, as she left her roommate to clean up. When she sat onto her bed, she felt the exhaustion crash into her. She wondered if she should skip brushing her teeth tonight, but she decided against it, when she realised how many people she’d be seeing the next day. She had a standard to uphold. So, she dragged herself to the bathroom and back. With the minty taste of toothpaste still lingering in her mouth, she slipped into her nightgown on autopilot, and crawled into bed. It didn’t take long for everything to go black.

ACT 2: Playtime

A colourful haze of light crept in through Helen’s eyelids. As she opened them, the haze turned into an image. Stars and planets were looking back at her from above. She reached up, and discovered that they were dangling from a couple of white rods. As she sat up, Helen noticed that she was surrounded by wooden bars and next to her lay Sir Bearington, her childhood teddy. A smile crept onto Helen’s face. Her last lucid dream had been ages ago. She was going to make the most of this.

“Hey sweetie! Did you enjoy your nap?” A lady walked over to Helen’s crib. Before she could get a good look, Helen was out of the crib, and onto the lady’s hip. The hazy face soon morphed into a smile, which the little girl knew rather well. Mia was some inches shorter than her in the waking world, but the dream didn’t seem to care. In that moment, Helen was no bigger than a two-year-old, so she sat on her roommate’s hip rather comfortably.

“Oh, I think someone is a little wet. Would you like a change, cutie?” Dream-Mia cooed, as she felt the girls wet bum. Helen felt herself go red. She hadn’t even realised that she was wearing a diaper, let alone that it was wet. Then she realised that she was just a baby in this dream, so she had nothing to worry about. Helen chuckled. Dream-Mia took that as a yes, and carried the little girl over to a changing table. A giggle escaped from Helen’s mouth, as her roommate removed her diaper. The absurdity of this dream was almost too much for her, but she was enjoying it immensely. She felt a shiver running down her back, when the girl she lived with, wiped her bum clean. Before she knew it, Dream-Mia had taped a fresh diaper around her, and was fastening the buttons on the purple onesie that she was now wearing.

Dream-Mia hoisted her baby roommate back onto her hip, and looked her in the eyes with a wide smile. Helen couldn’t suppress a giggle. “You know what I think, cutie?”

Helen shook her head. How could she know what this big girl was thinking? Dream-Mia chuckled, and whispered in the little girl’s ear. “I think someone is a little hungry. Aren’t you, little one? Shall we go put some yummy in your tummy?”

As if to answer the question, Helen’s tummy rumbled, making both girls laugh. Dream-Mia wasted no time in walking over to an area with colourful tables. They would be uncomfortably low for her in the waking world, but now they seemed too big for her. Dream-Mia didn’t take her to these tables though. Instead, she walked over to the one bigger table in the room. What was Dream-Mia playing at? Then the little girl saw the highchair.

Dream-Mia sat her in the highchair, and put a bowl of green mush on the tabletop. Helen was certain that it hadn’t been there a moment earlier, but it didn’t matter. Dream-Mia tied a pink bib around the little girl’s neck. Helen didn’t get a good look at the picture. She caught a glimpse of what may have been a purple flower, but when she looked down, it looked more like a fairy. She was distracted when Dream-Mia brought a spoonful of the mush to her mouth. “Open up sweetie.”

Helen looked at her and raised an eyebrow. Why did Mia, or rather this interpretation of Mia that her dreaming mind had made up, think that this would be good enough? Helen was a baby now, and she wanted to make the most of it. She wanted Dream-Mia to do the airplane thing. She stuck out her tongue. That made her roommate laugh, which in turn made Helen laugh. “Now that wasn’t very polite, young lady. But you do have a point. You’re a good girl, so you deserve the airplanes.”

She began blowing raspberries, while she traced a flight pattern with the spoon, ending in the hangar. As more and more planes landed in her mouth, Helen wondered what the mush actually was. It didn’t have any specific taste that she could identify. She spotted a flash of orange entering her mouth, so she deduced that it was probably carrot. Immediately, she was surprised by a strong flavour of carrot filling her mouth. It made her giggle.

Helen felt herself going up, and found herself back on Dream-Mia’s hip. She couldn’t remember her face getting very dirty, but her roommate wiped it clean with the bib anyway, and cooed. “Good job sweetie! Such a hungry little girl you were.”

Dream-Mia booped her nose again, and carried her into the play area. The little girl looked around the day-care from her roommate’s hip. The playmats were filled with babies and toddlers, playing with toys and dolls, under the supervision of other babysitters. All their faces looked hazy and indistinguishable. The dream seemed to be more concerned with their presence, then with their identity. Helen didn’t care. It was her dream after all. She got to be the protagonist if she wanted. “What do you want to play with, sweetie?”

Good question. What did she want to play with? Each time she thought of a baby-toy, Helen spotted it laying around, the moment she thought of it. But none of them actually appealed to her. Not even the ball. And then she thought of something. She was about to say it, but Dream-Mia already knew. “Oh, I know what you want, cutie. You want to play with the blockies, don’t you? Do you want to build a tower?”

Now there was an idea. The little girl nodded and giggled as Dream-Mia sat her on the mat. As fast as her hands would carry her, Helen crawled to the collection of blockies in the middle of the mat. She sat on her knees, and carefully chose a block. She placed it in the most stable spot of the mat, and then picked out the next block. One by one, she stacked block upon block, higher and higher. Dream-Mia clapped. “So good sweetie! Go on, one more.”

Helen hadn’t noticed being picked up, but now Dream-Mia was holding her up above her head, so she could build higher. The little girl giggled and put the block on top. Unfortunately, it didn’t stay there for long. This last block proved too much for the tower, and something slipped. Helen’s heart skipped a beat, as she saw her tower collapse slowly. The blocks hit the floor one by one, but Dream-Mia hugged her, soothing her softly. “It’s okay sweetie. You can make another tower. Do you want to build another tower, sweetie?”

Helen didn’t want to build another tower. She wouldn’t let this dream turn into a nightmare, when the next tower collapsed. Besides, the stacking had been fun, but it was time for something else. What else did this day-care have to offer? Before she could think of anything, Dream-Mia smiled and carried her to what could only be described as a mountain of pillows. She set the girl down, and Helen watched as Dream-Mia pulled several pillows from the pile, and build a comfortable nest. She then picked the little girl up, and got cosy in the nest, placing Helen between her legs. She then pulled out a thick cardboard book. The girl could see that there was writing on it, but she couldn’t make out what the letters were actually saying. She remembered that this was one of the tell-tale signs of being in a dream, so at least she could confirm that, if only for her own benefit. Babies weren’t supposed to read though, so Helen contented herself with looking closely at the pictures. They appeared to depict the story of Macbeth, which seemed like a strange choice for a baby book.

Mia started reading the story to her. It didn’t exactly match the story of Macbeth though. Not at all, actually. Then she realised. This was the book she’d been reading all weekend. The book she failed to finish last night. Her brain was mixing up the two books she’d been reading lately. The little girl chuckled. She curled up against her roommate, and listened carefully to the story. If she was lucky, she might just get to the end. Helen heard a chuckle, followed by a soft hand carefully pulling her thumb out of her mouth. The girl hadn’t even noticed it slipping in. The thumb was replaced with the rubber nipple of a pacifier. She felt how her mouth started to suck happily on the rubber, as she heard the sounds of a cardboard book being closed carefully. Everything turned into a colourful haze again.

ACT 3: Time Out

A buzz brought Helen back to the waking world. She groaned, cursing at the alarm clock past her thumb. Wait, why was her thumb in her mouth? Had she been sucking her thumb? She pulled it out, and wiped it on the blankets, hoping no one had seen it. As she did, her dream started to come back to her. The girl giggled, realising that it had clearly been a little more real than she’d thought. Helen yawned, and got up. Reluctantly, she started her morning routine. As usual, Mia was of course still asleep. Mia…

Helen shivered, thinking of her roommate. She took a breath, and decided to forget about the dream for now. She had classes to teach. In the shower, Helen went through the material she’d be teaching today. Hopefully the brats decided to cooperate for a change. She sighed. She knew she shouldn’t be thinking that way. As she chewed spoonsful of cereal, Helen thought about how much better it had been to be fed the mush. A shiver rolled across her back. What was with her today? The girl put the empty bowl in the sink, then she dashed over to the coffee table, and pushed her book into her bag. With a little bit of luck, she would be able to finish it during her lunchbreak. She closed the door behind her, and went on her way.

During the day, Helen had little time to dwell on her dream. She was preoccupied by a roomful of seventeen-year-olds who all seemed to be doing their very best to make her job impossible. Shakespeare was entirely wasted on these brats. The worst part was that she had to teach the same lesson over and over again. She was Sisyphus, condemned to push the same rock for all eternity. She tried to read some pages between classes. During lunch, the girl stayed in her classroom, determined to finally finish the book.

But she couldn’t focus. The dream kept coming back to her. The main question she had, was why? Why had her brain brought her to a day-care? Why had she been a baby? Why had Mia been her caregiver? The more she thought about it, the more she realised that it must have had something to do with what had happened last night. Rather, with how her roommate treated her. That is, very caringly. Caring was Mia’s nature. It was her job. When Mia had cared for her last night, Helen’s brain reproduced that in her dream. That made some amount of sense to Helen. What she didn’t understand, was why she liked it so much.

On a nearly empty stomach, she went on with her day. While her mind was trying to figure out why being a baby had been so appealing to her, Helen went on autopilot teaching the class about Macbeth. She wasn’t sure that what she said, actually made sense. It may have been utter gibberish. It didn’t matter. No one was listening anyway. When the last bell rang, and the class emptied, Helen sat back in her chair with a sigh. Time to go home. Back to Mia. There was no way that Helen would tell her roommate about any of this. Things were going to be awkward, but she was not about to make it worse.

On her way home, Helen walking by a pharmacy, and stopped in her tracks. She had an idea. While she didn’t fully understand why, she had spent the last night as a baby, and for some reason, she liked it. She had even been sucking her thumb when she woke up. There was clearly something to this. So, Helen walked into the pharmacy, and went straight to the baby aisle. With her heart beating in her throat, the girl looked at the pacifiers, and carefully picked one out. She held it closely, as she walked to the checkout. At this point, she wanted to get out of here. Having paid for her new pacifier, the girl turned away and stuffed it into her bag. Then she went home, trying to act normal. Helen was certain that she looked red as a tomato.

If she did, Mia said nothing about it. Helen tried to act natural, while she hurried to her room. Her heart was racing. Curiosity got the better of her, as she dug into her bag, and brought out the pacifier. She sat on her bed, and ripped off the packaging. The girl turned the pacifier in her hands. It was completely white, except it had a cute pink line drawing of a bunny on it. The nipple was a hard rubber, shaped kind of like a thumb. Helen wondered what it would taste like. She couldn’t even remember when she had last used a pacifier. It must have been decades ago. But the urge got too strong. The girl opened her mouth, and the nipple went in.

Something in her mind clicked. Everything was right in the world. As if by a reflex, she began sucking on it immediately. Her mouth knew exactly what to do. Helen had to do nothing, except let it do its job. She felt saliva building up in her mouth, waiting to accept a stream of milk, which wouldn’t come. As she suckled on the rubber nipple like a new-born baby, she lay back on her bed, resting her head on the pillow. She imagined being held by a mother who would rock her to sleep. A smile appeared behind her pacifier, as her eyes slowly closed.

A knock on her door brought her back to reality. Her eyes shot open, but before Helen could do anything, Mia had already opened the door. When she saw her roommate, Mia’s eyes grew wide. She said nothing. Panic struck Helen, and she ripped the pacifier out of her mouth, throwing it across the room. How could she possibly explain this to Mia?

“It’s okay sweetie.” Mia closed the door, and picked up the pacifier. She sat on the bed across from Helen, and smiled kindly. She examined the pacifier carefully, and then held it up. “Do you want to talk about this?”

Helen sighed. “The thing is I don’t fully understand it myself.”

The other girl nodded. “Take all the time you need, sweetie.”

She exhaled slowly. She might as well tell her now. “Basically, I had a dream last night.”

“A nightmare?”

“Not at all. But it was a… an interesting dream. In this dream…” Helen paused for a second, and then whispered. “I was in a day-care.”

“Oh.” Mia looked at the pacifier. “Something tells me you weren’t there as a caregiver, were you?”

The girl shook her head. “I was a baby.”

The other girl smiled. “How young were you, cutie?”

She shrugged. If she wasn’t red as a tomato before, she certainly was now. “I don’t know. Just a baby.”

“So pretty young then.” She left a silence. Helen was scared to break it. “Any idea why?”

“Why I had that dream? I guess I’ve just been stressed out lately.”

“That makes sense.”

“I mean, I’ve been reading so much. And then the teaching and everything. It’s just been too much recently. And then there’s you taking care of me last night. I suppose my brain just went all the way with that.”

“I see.” Mia smiled. She looked at the pacifier again. “I suppose you were intrigued?”

Helen nodded. Mia chuckled, and booped her roommate’s nose, as she brought the pacifier to the girl’s mouth. “Open up.”

The little girl opened her mouth, and started sucking instantly. Mia dug into Helen’s bag, and pulled out the book. There were only about ten more pages left. Mia wrapped an arm around the baby, and softly started reading the story. Little Helen curled up against her, and listened to the tale, blissfully suckling away on her pacifier.

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