I always knew when I was dreaming.
But this dream was different: real, almost, like when I was a kid and dreamed that creepy blue men with wings would take my sister away.
“I’m lost,” Sunflower said. “I chose the wrong path, I think, a long time ago…”
I was still kind of mad at him for disappearing, and for not wanting to hold my hand, but I was still happy to see him, even in a dream. “What am I supposed to do about it?”
“Show me,” he said, smiling hopefully. “Show me how I should’ve entered your life. How I could’ve made you love me enough…”
That was weird, especially coming from a guy who didn’t even want to touch me and abandoned me in the middle of our conversations a lot.
“Fine, I guess. Just because it’s a dream, and it doesn’t really matter, and I dunno when I’m waking up anyway.”
A dream. I thought about all those dreams I had when I was a kid, when I spent all my time worrying about Lyanna, even though she loves Mr. Landon more. Loved. And all the times I was alone.
But just like she had Mr. Landon, and all the kids who teased her at school but really just wanted her attention, maybe I could’ve had a friend too…
We could’ve swum and played in the vampire-proofed pool next to the house, just me and my friend…
And he’d follow me everywhere. But because he wanted to, not because I threatened to punch him. And if I held out my hand, he’d reach for it, because he didn’t think I was creepy or gross…
“Run faster, Sunflower,” I’d say. “Grab my hand.”
And then I’d slow down a little so his hand could close around mine.
And we’d run like that all over Fangs Island, me and Sunflower…
But we’d explore everywhere together. Lyanna didn’t like to go too far from home without Mr. Landon because she’d get scared, but Sunflower was an explorer like me.
“I follow the wind,” he’d say.
“And me,” I’d add.
“And you,” he’d agree, as we went deep inside an underground ruin looking for treasure.
He’d tell me things about the ruins, like how fairies used to live there and how magic would make the flowers bloom until every last fairy faded away.
And I wouldn’t call him stupid, because he was my friend.
And when I grew up a little, he’d grow up a little too. Lyanna would still have the most friends in high school, but it’d be okay, since I’d have Sunflower.
And I’d finally have someone to play baseball with, just like Dad always hoped I would.
“Throw it already,” I’d yell. “I’m gonna smash it into the sun!”
“Please watch out for cars,” Sunflower would say, because he was a nice person who cared about crap like that. “And small children.”
And then he’d throw the ball, because he always tried to make me happy.
And I’d hit it really hard, because I was a vampire and good at baseball.
And then afterward but we’d take a friendly nap together, because we were friends who were tired from all that baseball.
And then there’d be a prom sometime, because high school was a never-ending nightmare.
I’d go alone, just to make sure nobody did anything pervy to my sister. And Lyanna would make me wear one of her leftover stupid pink dresses, because proms are stupid. The stupidest.
And I’d stand there all alone while everybody else danced, because who’d ever wanna dance with me?
“Dru,” someone would say, after sneaking up on me like a ninja. “Would you like to dance?”
And I’d stare at his hand like it was a raccoon, because that’d make more sense.
“Please,” Sunflower would say.
“I don’t want your pity dance.” I’d sound pretty mean, but only because I was trying not to cry.
“Take my hand, Dru. I want to dance with you.”
And even if it was a lie, I’d believe him, because he was my friend. And he’d take my hand in both of his and not puke all over it, because he was a gentleman, I guess.
And then he’d lead me onto the dance floor, and it’d be like everybody else disappeared.
I’d try to pretend like I wasn’t touching him and he wasn’t touching me. “Thanks for dancing with me, Sunflower.”
“You don’t have to thank me. I wanted to.”
“…Do you wanna go do gross stuff in a hotel later maybe? All the other kids are doing it, I guess.”
And then I’d look away when I felt his hand on my head.
“Later,” he’d say, his voice soft. “But not tonight. When we’re older.”
And then I’d get older again, and he would too. I’d do the same stupid crap in Starlight Shores and he’d be an underwear model because it didn’t matter what we did as long as we had each other or whatever.
We’d go running together after work, because I liked running more than punching. I’d always have someone to run with–to run to.
And I’d tell him all the stupid crap my boss wanted me to do all day and Sunflower would laugh, because he had a nice laugh and wanted me to hear it.
And sometimes he’d wait for me down by the pond after work (without a shirt, because he was an underwear model), and I’d sneak up on him like a stealthy creature of the darkness…
And then attack.
And then he’d smile at me, because he was happy to see me.
And then we’d kiss, because…because.
And then maybe I let my cold hands wander all over him, because it was hot outside and I wanted to keep him cool…
And he’d kiss me again, because it was the only way to distract me.
And then I’d drag him to our favorite bench, because maybe I wanted to do gross stuff on it.
“I’m ready,” I’d say, because I was.
And then I woke up, and it hurt.
It hurt worse than all the times Lyanna chose somebody else over me.
It hurt worse than spending so much time alone, without anyone who loved me the most.
It hurt because it was all a lie.
I’m sorry I couldn’t do that, Dru. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there.
“Sunflower,” I whispered, because it was all I could do.