Have you ever had a dream that seemed so real, you felt surprised to wake up? A dream that delighted you to laughter, or scared you to screaming, or saddened you to sobbing? A dream that maybe inspired you so much, that if affected the rest of your life? As you think about your dreams, let’s quietly pan into the living room of our friend for the hour, Ned Theodore Ed, who was conked out on his living room couch in front of his little television and burning fireplace, dreaming up a storm himself. N.T., as we call him, was a special person—-well, special skeleton, more accurately. A skeleton who didn’t have any voice box, but had a giant heart, even if it was a metaphorical heart.
N.T. had fallen asleep while watching some evening television, an activity he rarely did because it always made him sleepy, and so the scenes from his sitcom flashed before him as he snored gently. The characters on the program all stood around their kitchen, and the father of the cast made a wise crack and the laugh track sounded. In the background, N.T.’s fireplace crackled, its warmth having added to N.T.’s sleepiness.
It was a cold evening, though, and outside of N.T.’s little log cabin among the pine trees, January winter blustered. Snow was falling sideways in the harsh winds, and the sky had turned dark early in the evening. N.T. had pulled an afghan blanket around him on the couch, and he drooled slightly as his head leaned backwards, rolling loosely in his daze. He began mumbling through his dreams, and a few moments later, he was shifting frantically in his sleep.
Suddenly there was a crash in the other room! A gust of wind accompanied the crash and the fireplace blew out, and N.T. shouted out, falling off the couch in fright and accidentally entangling himself in his blanket. He quickly fought himself free and looked around the room in a panic, blinking ferociously, before he realized he had just woken up from a dream by some loud noise. He saw that his friend, Talia the butterfly, was already asleep in her “suite”—-a hanging bird cage with a perpetually open door, that was in the corner of the living room—-and then followed the phantom noise and the crisp draft that now circulated, to his bedroom.
On the far side of his room, N.T.’s window was broken, and a giant pine tree branch stuck through the shattered glass and brushed up against his floor. N.T. stood there in shock, surveying the damage. Thankfully none of his furniture was destroyed, but shards of glass and other debris coated his bed, which was right next to the broken window, and snow and cold air rushed in through the gaps from the darkness and blustering snow outside. N.T., still drowsy from having fallen asleep, shook his head and didn’t know what to do. He had many drawings taped up on the walls and they flapped in the breeze.
His cabin was now cool and drafty, and so he put on a kettle and sat down at his desk with his winter coat and knit hat, and typed an email to his neighbor Margaret, who lived a short drive up their mountain road. He didn’t have a cell phone, so the way he communicated with Margaret was through email.
I THINK THE STORM BLEW A TREE OVER, AND IT BROKE THROUGH MY ROOM WINDOW. I’M GOING TO COVER IT UP THE BEST I CAN TO GET THROUGH THE NIGHT, BUT PLEASE STAY SAFE YOURSELF. THESE WINDS ARE FIERCE!
She was quick at replying, and by the time N.T.’s kettle was whistling, she had written him back saying she would be over shortly to help him board up the window, after she finished tidying up from dinner. He was thankful for her willing hospitality, although he would have felt better knowing she was safe indoors at her home. He was sipping his tea and trying to start a new fire in the fireplace when he heard a knock at his door.
“It’s a little too dark to see, but it definitely looks like a whole branch on the tree right outside came down,” Margaret said right away when N.T. opened the front door. He stepped aside to let her in, and some snow flurries blew into the dimly-lit cabin with her. The fire place remained dark without fire.
N.T. waved in greeting, and Margaret, her cheeks rosy, said breathily, “Good evening, N.T.! Quite some weather!”
When N.T. moved into his log cabin several years ago, he had quickly befriended Margaret, who owned most of the pine grove that densely surrounded their houses. Together they had converted her private property into a public park where people visited to take walks through the pines and go for hikes up the mountain. They had become good friends; Margaret took on a mother-like role for N.T., as she was a woman in her sixties with no children, and N.T. had met her only weeks after her husband had passed away, so he provided a great emotional support. He liked Margaret because she had a restless energy and a youthful determination, but also an abundance of wisdom. She had faded white hair, a thin face, and in this weather, she wore a giant red parka with a fur on the hood. Her boots were heavy and thumped as she moved around on N.T.’s hardwood floor.
“You said it was your room?” She pointed at the door to his bedroom. “May I take a look?”
N.T. nodded. He followed her lead as she stepped into his room, the water from her boots squeaking on the floor, and they looked at the damage together.
“I guess the first thing is getting the tree branch out of your room, although it does give it some fun ‘jungle’ vibe,” Margaret assessed, hands on her hips, turning to N.T. He walked over to his desk and scribbled something on a piece of paper, then handed it to her; I HAVE WANTED TO GET SOME MORE HOUSE PLANTS IN HERE, N.T. joked. I SHOULD BE MORE SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT I WISH FOR! Margaret chuckled and then helped N.T. push the branch back out the window, careful not to cut herself on the glass. Since N.T. was mostly cartilage, he could handle the glass without receiving any injury.
Soon they had cleared the window of the branch, and the wind blew more freely through his window. They were both wearing coats but still shivered a little. Quickly, N.T. went down to his basement to grab his tool box and some wood, while Margaret grabbed the broom from the kitchen.
“Needless to say, you will spend the night at my house,” Margaret said, as she swept up the pine needles and glass from the floor, and N.T. hammered planks of plywood over the window. He whipped around to face her, but she held up her hand as if to stop him from saying anything, as though he could say anything.
“I know, you will resist, but I insist. Even with the boards up, it will be cold in here, and first thing tomorrow we can go to the store and get what we need to fix it up right. It’s lucky you had those boards in your basement, but it’s still a broken window.” She swept the debris into a dustpan. Now she was really sounding like his mother. N.T. knew she meant well, but he was an adult and could take care of his problems on his own. He told himself it was nice to have someone looking out for him, though.
N.T. finished hammering the plank in his arms and then walked over to his desk, writing, THANK YOU, MARGARET, BUT I’LL BE FINE HERE. I CAN SLEEP ON THE COUCH—–I WAS DOING THAT ANYWAY WHEN THIS HAPPENED.
She shook her head when she read his message. “Nope, you’re coming over.” Margaret set the broom and dust pan against the wall and thought a second. “Do it for me. I need company during the storm or I’ll be frightened.”
N.T. knew she wasn’t afraid of any snowstorm—-she was one of the bravest people he knew. But still, he could tell her maternal desire to protect him was more stubborn than he was, and N.T. was tired enough that all he really wanted to do was go to sleep. He had spent the entire day earlier chopping firewood, and was physically exhausted, which was yet another reason why his tired bones had drifted off during television. He could almost feel himself growing a little grumpy as he wrote back, FINE, I’LL GATHER A FEW THINGS AFTER I PUT UP THIS LAST BOARD.
Margaret, N.T., and Talia the butterfly all rode up to Margaret’s house in her truck. Talia wore a little butterfly-sized scarf, and she perched on N.T.’s rib cage underneath his coat, for warmth and protection from the harsh, blustery weather. Her truck bumped along the uphill road, and only its headlights lit the shadowed, snowy road. As they pulled up to Margaret’s log mansion, it looked like something out of a magazine, the warmly-lit interior and the tall snowbank outside.
They entered through the garage, where Margaret parked her truck, and they stepped through a small coat room, where they kicked off their snow-caked boots and dropped off their coats, and into the kitchen. N.T. had been over many times, and he had to admit that he did feel very comfortable being in her warm, luxurious house. The kitchen had granite countertops, an island like the family in his TV show, and wooden cabinets that matched the hue of her entire log cabin house.
The kitchen opened up into the living room, which had high ceilings, a fireplace, cushiony couches, a massive shag rug, and candles everywhere. Talia fluttered over to the couch and settled into a cushion, and Margaret plopped onto the opposite couch. N.T., however, did not want to join them, and pulled out of his messenger bag some paper.
“Would you like some hot cocoa?” Margaret offered.
N.T. wrote a reply, and handed the paper to Margaret, who took it from him and quickly scanned it. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR KINDNESS. I HOPE YOU DON’T CONSIDER IT RUDE OF ME, BUT I’D LIKE TO TURN IN ALREADY. It was about 9:30 PM, and Margaret waved him away with a warm smile.
“No worries at all! Get some rest, dear. Go ahead and make yourself at home in the guest room, as usual,” she said, and N.T. bowed in thanks and Talia fluttered her wings a couple times to say goodnight, and then N.T. headed up the grand staircase.
At the top of the stairs, N.T. took a right, and headed down the hallway full of doors until he reached the end of it: the guest room. He opened it and flicked on the light switch, which lit a chandelier in the middle of the ceiling.
N.T. set down his messenger bag on the floor and absorbed the room, shutting the door behind him. This was N.T.’s favorite room in the house, and if you saw it, it might be your favorite, as well. There were built-in floor-to-ceiling wooden bookshelves, and they wrapped around the right half the large room. A queen-sized bed with a canopy was in the corner, and giant windows stretched across the left half of the room, which faced towards the backyard and the pine grove. Right now, there were velvet curtains covering the windows, and the hardwood floor was softened by a massive, circular rug with swirling, golden patterns. There was a great wooden desk with a desk lamp, and a dark green-colored reading armchair with a foot stool by the door. N.T. found a candle lighter on the dresser next to the bed and lit some of the candles in the room, and clicked on a few of the lamps in the corner, making the room feel cozy. He pulled a sweater out of his bag because his bones were cold; there were a few vents blowing warm air, but the house was so spacious, it had the tendency to feel a little drafty as well.
Now that he was alone, N.T. didn’t quite feel like going to sleep yet. He felt more awake now than he had since he woke up earlier that evening, and looking around at all the book cases, suddenly felt like reading a book.
Something about the room that N.T. stayed in, that night, is that it wasn’t only the guest room, but it was also Margaret’s late father’s room. Her father, Noah M. Hadfield, was a Dream Scientist, or a Dreamist, if you like. He was a very intelligent man who studied dreams and the sleep process, and lived in that very house decades earlier. His room, although mostly the same, had been converted into a guest room for all to enjoy.
Maybe when you hear, “Someone who passed away used to live here,” you may start thinking of ghosts and scary stories, but N.T. did not get “creepy vibes” from the room at all. It was actually a very peaceful and intriguing room, and N.T. browsed the titles on the bookshelves, looking for something that piqued his interest.
There were many books of all topics, but then N.T. stumbled upon a grand, hardback book entitled The Encyclopedia of Dreams. It was beautifully bound, and N.T. took it off the shelf carefully, with both hands, because it was heavy, running his hand over the cover. It was an evergreen tone and had gold plating.
N.T. shuffled over to the bed and hopped in with the book, setting it aside so that he could shimmy under the covers and pull the comforter up around him. He sank into the soft, flannel sheets and smiled.
Then, he picked up the book. Giving it one more look at the cover, he held it before him and opened it slowly, and setting the night in a direction so contrary to his expectations…
To be continued, in next week’s installment!
To read more about N.T. Ed, check out these stories:
- N.T. Ed’s Pines
- N.T. Ed, Diplomat of Flowers
- N.T. Ed and the Jack of Tricks
- N.T. Ed Finds his Voice
- N.T. Ed on the Desk
Or browse the Tales of N.T. Ed page!
Also, be sure to check out my Slanted Spines collection on Bonfire! Wear N.T. Ed and promote Slanted Spines by purchasing one of the styles below! Sale goes until February 7! Visit www.bonfire.com/slanted-spines-diamond-design