Dream Two: Phantom Letter

Written and Illustrated by Nam Tran

Cortimore was an aspiring novelist, notorious for her hippy hipstery ways, routinely carrying books with the imaginative scrawlings of Kerouac, Fitzgerald, Salinger, and Palahniuk along with her. The problem: beneath her vintage clothing and thick-framed glasses, Cortimore could only make it as far as that one first letter. It could have been an “A,” maybe a “Z” or a “Q,” but all too quickly the jolts of creative genius relinquished from her body and nothing but sparks of futile contemplations would remain.

Even so, Cortimore was not a woman without talent; she had an unfathomable intelligence hidden within her awaiting the most precise occasion in which to arise. However, Cortimore was never much the party type, and had a habit of prolonging such “occasions.”

At night Cortimore was often found snapping away in the jazzy scenes of “Midnight Circus,” a local favorite for audio sensations of trumpeting Alley Cats, blaring trombones, and fusions of rock intermixed along with it. Each night, she was left infused with inspiration, hoping to fulfill her role as the next great novelist, but yet again there was something restraining her, restricting her from reaching her full potential—an elusive element she needed to overcome. By day, Cortimore could be found lounging on beaches, reading her favorite stories while listening to obscurely stimulating music, which imbibed her with a sense of independence. However, this was not one of those days. This was a day Cortimore had forgotten to wear her sunblock. As the frozen, pulpy clouds of the summer morning yielded to the rays of death, Cortimore began to emerge from her drowsy, dormant self.

Scorching, scalding. Sizzled and a bit frizzled. Awakening blistering red and stinging all over, Cortimore made the very movements required to uncover a letter hidden beneath the beachy towel of her destiny. This crispy, decaying envelope was an unopened tomb yearning to be read. Twittle, twattling her fingers between conviction and indecision, Cortimore considered the possibilities, but she also had her morals, and did not dare to violate the time capsule of another’s belonging. Cortimore felt the overwhelming urge to play the role of the mailwoman by delivering the letter herself. So she hopped on her bicycle and after googling directions on her iPhone, started making her way to the place of residence.

Cortimore began pedaling, rhythmically bound by the tantalizing waves of her ever-growing, ever-wanting urge to satiate her curiosity of the contents of the letter. The tires of her bicycle grinding with the left, right, u-turning movements of excitement, as she made revolution after revolution with each pedal, drawing increasingly closer to her destination. But when she arrived, there was nothing there.

An empty lot filled with broken foliage and a few stones and bricks—traces of a once inhabited sanctuary. At the center point of the debris was a single unmarked grave. As Cortimore approached the grave, she felt an eerie intuition that the letter was meant for her all along. The atmosphere seemed to be commanding her to read the letter, and so Cortimore lifted the flap of the envelope, gradually exposing the letter to the pulsing pupils of her eyes and began to read:

This here lies the memories of a world, the ashes of the old reborn anew in the past, the present, and the future of time. A rising life. A new beginning.

—The Dreaming God

Upon lipping the last of the words, the phantoms and boogeymen that previously occupied Cortimore’s mind had dissipated. What was holding Cortimore back before was her inability to accept just how truly great she was. Cortimore was shackled by the fears and inhibitions of failure, subconsciously impairing her ability to write. But what are we but Dreaming Gods waiting to be awakened from the slumbers of stagnation, our truest selves seeking out the truest realities? Upon that truth, Cortimore liberated herself of the confinements of fear, and the words all—too—willingly . . . appeared.

Phantoms and boogeymen

Phantoms and boogeymen

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