Caleb thought back to that day. It was exactly three weeks ago.
He was sprawled on the lounge chair on the back deck, all arms and legs, his left leg dangling carelessly off the side of the chair. A glass of ice water rested a few inches from his toes. He looked up at the midday sky, the sun obscured at that moment by a single large cloud. He debated getting up, but didn't.
His younger sister, Amanda, sat on the floor of the deck with her feet crossed and her back pressed against the house.
Caleb and Amanda were two years apart. Both were wispy thin with sandy stick-straight hair. Everyone had always said they were "joined at the hip." And they were right. The two were rarely apart. Unlike most 16 and 14 year old siblings, they shared an unspoken easyness of being together.
She was sitting a few feet away from Caleb, aimlessly twirling a tulip she had just picked in her hand. The orange petals were descending and starting to brown at the edges, and they were fluttering off one by one in the small windstorm Amanda was creating.
It was a picture of suburban pastoral, and, at the same time, of teenage boredom. Depending on how you looked at it.
Anna finally tossed the flower stem and popped to her feet. "C'mon Cay. Let's do something."
But Caleb's eyelids had dropped halfway over his eyes, and then closed. He heard her voice, but it was far away, tinny and distorted. And getting fainter and fainter, like turning down the volume on the car stereo. Until silence, sleep.
He knew he was asleep, but at the same time saw a boy walking down his street. The boy in the dream was much younger than he was, maybe 10 years old. But he recognized him. He was looking at himself.
It was night, and the street was empty. No moon, but the light from the streetlamps formed dull pools of light. A small girl, a younger Amanda, was skipping just a few steps behind him. She was holding a neon orange flower in her small hand.
An odd chill passed through him. He somehow knew that he was watching a dream. His dream. He felt a panic stir in his stomach. This had happened once before. He kept watching.
He heard a horrible gnashing sound and saw the ground sway under his feet. The streetlights bent towards the street. And then everything went silent and colorless, the world turned black and white.
With a violent pull, the street split wide open, chunks of it shooting in every direction. Eyes wide, he glanced behind the figure that was himself, to Amanda. She screamed. But no words came out. She looked at Dream Caleb, their eyes locked. Her chest was rising and falling. She was breathing hard. Unable to speak, she mouthed, pleading, "Do something. Please. Cay?"
But Dream Caleb just stood there. She turned and ran soundlessly away. Caleb and his dream watched her go. Her shape smaller and smaller - "come back, tiny Amanda" - until she was a dot in the distance.
And then gone.
Caleb's eyes opened. It was much later, now night. Cloudy, and with no moon. There was a chill in the air, and he rose out of the lounge chair.
His eyes adjusted as he began to walk around the side of the house and to the street. It was empty. And the streetlamps flickered. Something on the ground caught his eye, and his eyes narrowed in recognition. He bent down to pick up the broken tulip stem.
He was alone. And he knew she was gone too.