Caleb's eyes snapped open. He was in his bed, with the early morning sun shining through the window and into his eyes. He rolled over, with a groggy and confused, and then gathered himself and rose. He didn't remember going to sleep. How am I waking up, when I wasn't sleeping?
The memory of his father slapping him across the face was fresh. His hand reached up to his cheek. Had it even happened? The song from his childhood lazily drifted into his head, his mother's quiet voice: "Merrily merrily merilly merilly. Life is but a dream."
He sat up. His father *had* slapped him. And then Caleb had told him everything. They had come up with a plan. He promise to delve into himself to find his mother and his sister, and his father had proudly smiled. It would work. When he met them in his dream, as he surely would, he would grab them and pull them back.
Wasn't that right? What had happened? His head was woozy. Everything seemed melted together.
He would have to check the notepad.
Caleb had began to record every dream he had. He would wake in the middle of the night, grab the spiral notepad from his bedside, write, and then fall back into deep sleep.
He looked to his nightstand and grabbed his notepad. His hands were shaking as he opened to the last page, to read his own words:
1. 2:24 AM: I swallow them up in separate dreams, first Mom and then Amanda. I tell Dad. Then, he hits me, and I fall to the ground.
2. 4:50 AM: Standing before Dad in a strange room, reporting that I had failed to find them. I had searched my dreams. But nothing."
Caleb put the notepad down.
All a dream, he allowed himself to think. He imagined walking downstairs, finding his mom cooking breakfast in the kitchen, Amanda setting at the table, and his dad reading the Sunday paper. He took a deep breath. All a dream? For the first time in a long time, Caleb smiled.