Dreams of the Past
An Origin Story
by John Andreula
edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
Dreams can offer strange and unique perspective of reality.
Oftentimes, what appears in a dream as one thing may, in actuality, signify another entirely.
The contents of dreams can offer understanding that, while awake, the dreamer may miss.
Dreams make people aware of life stresses, situations that need addressed, and many other signals that something is awry.
But it’s not really about the dream, is it? The real story is in what the dreamer does to address the information that those dreams are attempting to communicate to them.
The miner’s boys returned that afternoon after school let out; this time Ty was on E.J.’s shoulders. E.J. was nine years old back then. Ty was six. Ginny was the same age as E.J. and James was a year and a half older than them.
Those days the farmer’s children required a lot of attention and energy. Despite his many financial blessings, those were both things he did not have in excess.
If it weren’t for that fact, he would have been more reticent to let the miner’s sons around his children as much. However, due to his heavy work demands, the miner’s boys turned out to be quite the blessing. Ty and E.J. kept his children occupied, so he was able to work the land uninterrupted.
While he worked the four kids played. They ran in the fields. They played around the house, and they climbed trees in the orchard. The farm was substantial. There was no shortage of things for the children to do as long as they had each other to keep them company.
The kids also played down by the brook, near where the horses were stabled and watered. Down the path from the farm-house there was a small wooden bridge that crossed the brook to the where the steeds and mares rested at the end of long days working the fields.
Charity was always last to leave at the end of the day, as the boys stayed and relished in their kinship with the farmer’s two children, Ginny and James. On most evenings, E.J. would lead the faithful horse to the miner’s humble home with Ty on her back.
A handful of years passed by in what seemed a blink. The older three children were now teenagers; Ty would soon be one as well. The four kids grew up close friends. They knew each other as well as they knew their own sibling. It was almost as if all four were in fact siblings.
While the quiet country mining town slowly welcomed the future, not much changed in the farmer’s or miner’s families’ lives.
The miner still worked below ground. He had since been promoted to foreman. Even so, the improvement in status and title only modestly improved his pay. The meager additional money he earned would be squandered much the same as any other he had previously received. Unfortunately for the miner and his sons, that was just his way.
The farmer still ran his vast farm. He had acquired some extra land and hired on more employees, and he still continued his business dealing with the miner for the use of Charity, his horse.
The farmer never truly cared for the miner’s sons, or even liked them much, but he tolerated them. He enjoyed the cheap labor Charity provided him. The farmer was as shrewd a businessman as the miner was not. The farmer knew the miner was spending as much or more as he consigned the horse for to feed and board her at home.
The farmer never made any attempts to hide his subtle condescension of the miner or his boys when he spoke to E.J. or Ty. He spoke more overtly when he speaking about them to his own brood.
In the ensuing years, a wealthy out of state family purchased the land up the road from the farmer’s estate. They didn’t buy their land to run a farm, as the farmer did. To them it was just a symbol of their prosperity and status. They just wanted to own the land. There was a lot of this societal transition happening in these parts. Whether or not the town and the men resisted, the future was approaching.
The new family up the road had twin boys. They were a few months younger than the farmer’s son, James. The twins were not nice to the poorer miner’s sons. They felt E.J. and Ty were beneath them, a fact they were not shy in sharing with James, Ginny, and the miner’s sons themselves.
The twins attempted to exclude E.J. and Ty from play. They teased them about their financial situation, as well as the fact that their mother had walked out on them. Occasionally, they even threw stones and brandished sticks at them in imperious games of their own creation.
Ginny resisted the twins’ consistent pushes to pick on E.J. and Ty. She regularly defended her close friends. Countless times in the past they had proven themselves to the girl, so she stood up against the twins’ incursions. She would suggest that she and the miner’s sons abandon play with James and his two bully friends.
James, however, took to the twins immediately. They were speaking his language. He had grown bored of babysitting his younger sister and the miner’s boys, as he put it. The twins were shiny and new, and that was the way the world was becoming off the farm, away from the children’s time together. The twins gave James glimpses of a life outside of his own on the farm through their lavish material possessions and constant reminders of their elevated status.
James grew apart from his sister and the miner’s boys after the twins came on the scene. He and the twins would go off to shoot pellet guns and .22’s at the wildlife around the estate. Sometimes they even shot the pellet guns at each other. Yelps could be heard from a distance as one or the other would get a BB to his buttocks or some other random limb.
On occasion the three would turn their barrels toward the miner’s boys. Again they pretended it was in jest, but it was obvious the behavior was derived out of maliciousness. They mocked it as just another game, but the twins and James were the only ones enjoying the action.
James continued to grow increasingly distant and callous as the kids all grew older together. He seemed to take his father’s apathy and disregard of the poor boys as permission to treat them cruelly. Be that as it may, James was much worse than his father, especially when no one but the kids were around. His treatment was only exacerbated and encouraged in the presence of his newer friends.
E.J. and Ty would have abandoned the farmstead long ago, had it not been for their their affinity towards Ginny, and their attachment to the horse their mother had loved so dearly.
An ever-increasing fondness grew between E.J. and the girl he had known and grown up with for so long. The two were no longer seeing each other as brother and sister. Their friendship had grown into something else entirely. Their connections had become more flirtatious and much less platonic, although their feelings toward each other were never vocalized.
James inevitably became irritated and angry at his sister choosing the side of the poor boys. But he would always stop just short of becoming physical towards her, or in her presence. He cared about his sister. Plus, if he ever laid hands on her, he would feel his father’s wrath, as he had many times prior for far smaller infractions.
School let out one muggy afternoon and the six adolescents returned to the farm as usual. James and the twins walked ahead, snickering amongst themselves. Ginny, E.J., and Ty ambled behind, enjoying each others’ company and the fall day.
When back to the farm, the farmer’s daughter and the miner’s sons decided on throwing stones into the brook from the farmhouse-side. James and twins loaded their .22 rifles, deciding to hunt some rabbits that had been eating the fruit crop. James’ father had recently been complaining about losing some of the fruit to the vermin. The boys brought their guns to the top of the hill between the brook and the farm-house.
At first the twins and James kept to themselves. One would point to something out of view and the three would proceed to pull triggers and hoot and laugh until they had struck or missed whatever it was they had struck or missed.
One of the twins grew bored. He stared off in the direction of the rented horses that were resting on the other side of the stream down the hill. He raised the barrel of his gun in the direction he had been looking and pulled his trigger. The bullet clipped the roof of the open-air stable and ricocheted off in some random direction. His brother and James guffawed encouragingly.
Ty, E.J., and Ginny’s eyes shot up in the direction of the stable, where the sound had emanated. Then they glanced up the hill to the three other boys, malicious smirks on each of their face. The twin who fired the shot stared directly at them, unapologetic. His eyes dared them to say something to him.
Ty was first to react. “Hey!” he yelled, “What you trying to do?”
The young man raised his gun again and settled into his aim a bit more than before. Ty sensed he was going to hurt one of the horses and took off at a sprint across the small bridge toward the stable.
E.J. concurrently took aim with the rock he was holding in his hand. He pulled his hand behind his head and pitched the stone in the twin’s direction. Seconds later the rock struck the side of the offending twin’s neck and his gun flew from his hands just as he pulled the trigger. The small caliber bullet fired into nothing in the distance.
The boy let out a yelp. He grabbed his neck where the rock had struck and howled again. He let out a stream of cuss-words that were not uncommon within his vernacular. However, they were pronounced in a much different tone this time.
James decided to act in defense of his buddy. He lifted his own rifle in the direction of the stable as well. He gun aimed directly at Charity.
Ty was just reaching the pen, and he stopped in front of his horse. The youngest boy threw out his arms and legs wide to block any further incoming shots at his treasured mare. “Don’t shoot her!” he called out. His face was furious, but tears were filling the bottoms of his eyes. “She’s all we have of our ma,” He continued, much quieter than before.
“I don’t even have a memory of her anymore…” his voice got even lower at this. Salty-water ran down both his cheeks at his thoughts and the rush of emotions.
James pointed his gun lower slightly. The barrel was pointed lazily at the ground in between them. He and the second twin guffawed at the youngest boy and his foolish heroism. James raised the gun again in the direction of boy and the horse. Ty held his ground, and his rage.
E.J. and Ginny ran up the hill toward the three boys. E.J. didn’t think, and he didn’t hesitate. He ran full-out up to the boys on the hillside. When he reached them he cocked his arm back and punched the second twin in the side of his face. This caused him to drop his lowered rifle to the ground.
James attempted to round his barrel in E.J.’s direction, but the miner’s son was too fast. E.J. grabbed the rifle with one hand by the end of the barrel. He yanked it with ease from the farmer’s son’s relaxed grip. James attempted to resist and hang on to it, but his footing slipped. He then fell forward face-first into the grass.
E.J. repositioned the rifle in his hands as the twins each went after their expelled guns. E.J. pointed his sight at one and then the other and said, “Don’t even,” thoroughly menacingly.
As James was getting up to his knees, E.J. booted him cleanly in the center of his chest. He fell over backwards, this time with significantly more force.
“Ty, c’mere!” E.J. hollered down to his brother by the stables. He was now moving the barrel of the rifle from one to the others of each of the three boys’ heads.
“Step away from those, you two.” he said coolly to the twins. The twins backed away from the guns on the ground slowly, one held his hands high above his head.
“Git!” E.J. bellowed as he sent a warning shot into the sky above the boys’ heads. The twin who fired the first shot at the stable took off toward the road without looking back. The other hesitated for a brief moment, considering the situation. He looked down at James before running off in the direction of the farmhouse.
“E.J.!” Ginny cried out to her friend, taking in the gravity of the moment, “they were just playing. Don’t shoot him!”
Ty arrived up on the hillside. Struggling between short breaths he said, “Thanks, E.”
“Grab those rifles there,” E.J. nodded towards the guns on the grass. His concentration and gun stayed steadily on James. “You were going to shoot,” he stated to his ex-friend. It wasn’t a question. It was a conclusive statement.
For once, Ginny was forced to her brother’s aid and defense. “E.J., let him go. Please.”
Ty got to E.J.’s side after retrieving the guns. He held the rifles awkwardly across his chest. “Here,” E.J. said as he placed the last rifle on the top of the others. Ty had to adjust the arm over the top. “Go stash these.”
Ty ran off back down the hill and across the bridge towards the stable. James, Ginny, and E.J. were all alone on the hillside. James felt emboldened now that he didn’t have a loaded gun pointed in his face. “You think I don’t know about you and her. You’re not worthy of her. You and your brother are nothing!” he continued, but turned his head toward Ginny. “She’s slumming…the slut.”
Ginny’s face went beet red. All the sisterly defensive emotion of just seconds ago escaped her. She walked up to her brother, who was still clutching a hand over his chest where he had been kicked. Ginny raised a hand to her side and swung it into a cracking slap across her brother’s face.
James didn’t flinch. He had hardened against the strike. Despite the obvious force and hatred within it, he pretended not to feel the blow. He immediately raised his own hand and swung a backhand across the face of his younger sister. His strike was louder and much more violent than Ginny’s. The girl let out a whimper and fell to the ground. Silent tears followed for the girl.
Enraged further, E.J. dove at James. He wrapped his arms around the older boy’s midsection. The two tumbled to the ground. E.J.’s eyes went blank as he mounted James and proceeded to pound the farmer’s son. He clobbered the boy’s face with alternating fists. One after another of E.J.’s punches landed. A few went wild and missed James, merely grazing his face, but the majority were on their mark.
After a few strikes James was dazed, recognition had fled from his eyes. A few more punches and his face was bloodied and battered. The farmer’s son went unconscious.
Ginny got to her feet and regained her senses. She was witnessing the boy she had such deep affection towards pummeling her older brother. She called out to E.J. to cease his assault, but he could not hear her through his frenzied fury.
Ginny attempted to restrain E.J. from behind before he could harm her brother any further. She got hit in the face by his arm as it cocked back to rain down more blows. She ignored the new pain in her face from the punch as she wrapped her arms around her friend.
“It’s okay. I’m okay. You can stop now.” The girl’s voice was low, defeated, beaten, but her closest friend in the world inside of this berserk young man had heard her as his left hand rose for yet another hammer-fist.
E.J. held his hand in the air for a moment before dropping it limply to his side. He sighed, exhaling deeply. Blood had covered the face of the unconscious James below. Ginny’s arms stayed wrapped around E.J.
Tears were in the miner’s son’s eyes as well. Regret and guilt settled into the home inside him where the rage had just left. E.J. went still.
Ginny attempted to send love into her friend, but the gesture was as empty as the emotions now inside of the young man. She was too worried about James’s state. She left go of E.J. and they just sat there for another moment.
Acceptance arose to replace the regret inside E.J. He rose to his feet and used his blood-covered forearm to wipe the tears from his eyes. James’ residual blood burned more than the tears had moments ago.
“Ty!” E.J. called out without looking in the direction of his brother. He knew his younger brother had been watching from behind the hay stacks near the horses. “Grab Charity. We’re leaving.”
Ginny exhaled then and began to sob. She tried inhale deeply, but her breath was choked by her anguish. Acceptance of the situation entered her body with the weight of the humid late spring air. The two knew their relationship would never again be the same.
With fists sore from the beating he had just doled out, E.J. slowly rose to his feet. “I won’t be coming back, Gin. I can’t…not after this. Come with me, please?”
“I can’t,” the girl replied between sobs. “They need me here.”
“Please…,” the miner’s elder son pleaded again, but this time much more weakly. He already knew her answer. “We care way more about you than they ever will.” His last words were spoken with a dried blood covered finger pointing down towards the red and swollen face of the girl’s brother below.
“They’re…they’re all I’ve got…”
“You’ve got me…You’ve got us, me and Ty.”
“No…I can’t…I won’t.”
James knew the girl didn’t see things as he did in this moment. They were no longer on the same page, as they had been for so long before.
He turned his back on his old friends and clambered slowly down the hill in the direction of the bridge, his brother and horse on the other side. E.J. was confused, and lost in his thoughts. His mind had become a jumbled mess. He didn’t hear the farmer running down the hill from his house to where his son now layed. His daughter was kneeling over his boy, a few steps away.
The grizzled man paused briefly, appraising the situation. The twin who had run toward the house had informed the farmer of the altercation. He was arriving much slower, walking simpering behind him.
The farmer looked down upon his bloodied son on the ground, and his daughter with her swollen, bruised face. Rage boiled in his veins and his face went red. He went to go after the miner’s son who was just arriving at the small wooden bridge below. Ginny grabbed his arm. “Let him go, pa. James and them started this.”
The farmer yanked his arm free of his daughter’s weak grip. “And I’m here to finish it.”
E.J. had just reached the bridge when he realized the old man was coming down the hill behind him with a larger rifle of his own in his hands. “Ty, go hide yourself.” The miner’s son turned toward the farmer and put his hands out in front of him.
Ty did as his brother bid for a fourth time that afternoon. He returned to hide behind the stacked up hay, a mere twenty-five yards past the bridge.
“You!” the farmer yelled after him, “Look what ya did to my boy!” E.J. backed slowly onto the bridge’s old weather-beaten planks.
The farmer stopped and raised his barrel to the sky and fired a shot into the air. It made the sound of thunder that wasn’t thunder as it blast overhead. Some black birds yelped in protest. They batted their wings and scattered from the treetops. E.J. ceased his backpedaling. He lacked the energy to fight anymore. He was completely drained
The farmer lowered his barrel and pointed it directly at the boy’s head. Anger still covered his visage. “Sir, I meant no quarrel. Yer boy hit…” The thunder that wasn’t thunder interrupted the boy mid-sentence, as the farmer pulled the trigger of his shotgun again.
The back of James head blast apart. Brain, skull, and blood shot out in all directions behind him. E.J.’s body sank to its knees before falling over sideways. It slumped lifeless off the bridge and into the brook.
Ty was peering out from around the side of the stacked up hay, barely hidden. He witnessed his brother’s murder and couldn’t contain himself. He let out a yelp. He had caught himself by putting a fist into his mouth, but it was too late. The farmer heard him. Now the man was looking right at the spot where Ty’s head was just a moment ago, peeking out from behind the stacked hay.
“Hey you, boy! C’mere.” the farmer called, attempting to sound calm.
Ty stayed put. His eyes refilled with salty water. He quickly reviewed the previous moment in his head. The boy knew his brother was dead.
The man crossed the bridge, stepping past E.J.’s face-down floating body. The back of his head no longer resembled anything like a human head after the close-range buckshot impact. The old man proceeded towards the hay bales.
As the farmer rounded the corner of the stacks another loud crack pierced the air of the farm. The farmer dropped his shotgun to the ground. He lifted his hand to the hole that had just appeared in his sternum. Blood immediately spurted out of it.
Ty had grabbed one of the boys’ guns that he had stashed earlier between in the hay as the man was coming after him. A look of surprise came across the farmer’s face briefly before he dropped to his knees. The surprise was immediately followed by the look of grief as the farmer recognized he was dying.
The farmer opened his mouth to say something, but no words escaped his mouth, only a stream of blood. It cascaded down the side of his face and into the collar of his plaid shirt. He fell against the hay stacks just before his life exited his body abruptly.
Despite his young age, Ty was aware he needed to act quickly. He picked up the farmer’s shotgun and one of the .22’s, and placed them in the bag already slung behind his horse’s saddle. The horse had been spooked by the gunshots, but the boy’s presence had calmed her just enough to not run off.
Ty ran over to the fence gate, unlatched it, and flung it open. He ran back to Charity, grabbed the reigns and slung himself over the old mare’s side and onto the saddle. It was the first time he done so without the assistance of his brother or his father. The boy rode out of the farm and away from the town.
Ty rode for two whole days before stopping. He didn’t break to eat, or drink, or even piss. On the night of the second day he finally stopped; partly due to his falling asleep from exhaustion while riding, and partly because he knew Charity was spent as well. She had been such an amazing, obedient, and good horse to him.
Ty saw to Charity getting some water. He nicked some carrots from a farm they had just passed. He gave a couple to Charity before sitting against the fence with the last carrot, uninterested in eating it. For the first time since he watched E.J. get shot, he cried again.
Ty’s crotch was sore from riding for so long. It had become red and raw. However, it didn’t hurt him near as much as his recollection of losing his brother. Nothing would ever hurt him as much seeing E.J.’s head blown apart.
After their rest, Ty and Charity traveled on some more. They survived off the food Ty dug out of trash cans, as well as what he could steal without getting caught. The two rode for another year. The horse had already lived for many years, and had become weak and weary from the many miles. She couldn’t travel with him any further.
Ty buried the last remnant of his family, and his past, and continued on. No matter how far the young man traveled to escape his memories, he could never evade his recurring dreams of that day. The nighttime recollections of that scene from the farm played out over and over again when he drifted to sleep.
Ty wouldn’t sleep much after that day. He knew he would never escape those dreams of his past.
Dreams of the Past is part of an ongoing fiction epic called The Dreamer.
Look out for more of The Dreamer in two weeks on 5280Geek.com.
In the meantime, if you haven’t read the beginning check it out here.
John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.
More of his works of can be found at:
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