a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
At the age of 15, citizens of the dark world would dream of a vision of utopia for the first time. That is because it's the age of adolescence. The way to enter this dream was to swallow a pill, and this pill required money to purchase, a considerably large amount of money that only the wealthy could afford. The body would fall into a deep sleep and of course, with freedom, come the price and sacrifice, a heavy set of misery and fatigue would be added every time one entered as a cost of the utopian experience, but it was seen as very much worth it because they could do things they never imagined of to go in more detail, everyone’s dreams were in one dimension, and that dimension was the place where they controlled whatever they did. no rules, no laws, no status, it was, to the citizens, a true utopia. But was it really?
Amber was a girl who lived in the dark, black and white world, where people continuously worked day and night, either in factories or carrying suitcases around, and to them, to be a business man or woman was what they were expected of. There was a factory in charge of all the dreams, there were many departments such as the Dream Pharmacy, where pills were made to allow people to enter the dreams, the list of names that entered their dreams every night, the Vanisher department which erased the people’s memories when they woke up. And there was a marble located in the Marble of Dreams department that controlled and provided the dreams for the citizens. It was like a world trapped in a box no one could escape out of. Amber’s parents were always pressuring her, she was constantly living up to her parents and the society’s expectations, which was to become a business woman. She was living just to make her parents proud and hasn’t found meanings to her life. However, she was born special, and grew up special. She loved drawing, although it was banned in the dark world, the rule was, that if you did anything that sparked rainbows in your mind, you know it’s banned, and if anything creative was made, done or even mentioned, you would be taken and locked in the jails beneath the factory, the sound of working machines constantly haunting you in your nightmares. But Amber dared to dream, she would imagine the million things she could draw on a piece of paper, though she’s never physically tried to.
At the age of 15, on Christmas Eve, she entered the dream, a mere vision of a perfect world. And they said “this is utopia, a time and place where everyone escapes from reality”. The “Utopia” was a place where everyone’s identity changed, you could do anything you want and it’ll all be forgotten once you wake up, and so what everyone thought was “utopia” turned out to be “dystopia”, but nobody wanted
to believe what it really was because it was like a place of freedom for them, It became addictive, to pay for happiness and freedom.
Amber liked the idea of it, partly because of the thought that only the upper class could enter and it made them feel exceptional. So everyday when she came home from school, she would take a pill at night and fall into a deep sleep and draw on pieces of paper for hours and hours, but in the end, no matter how hard she tried, it remained black and white.
At school, no one really talked. It was a place where people walked around lifelessly, but so was everywhere else. Amber, however, was different. She liked talking, though the only problem was that she didn’t have anyone to talk to. That was the case at school, however everyday after school, instead of going home she would go to her neighbor’s house and meet an older woman whom Amber supposed she got close to, and tell her everything that happened, and even though not much did happen, she could go on and on for hours. Her neighbor, Liz was a cleaning lady at the factory, however she didn’t want anyone to know about it, since it was considered a low status and she felt shameful about it. She had a husband who wanted to get rid of the dreams, because he felt that it was haunting him in a way that made the real world unbearable for him, he tried to warn Liz but on the contrary, Liz was someone who simply lived to dream, she reported him and he was taken away to jail, a few months later, he was reported missing, and no one has found him yet. Liz moved away because she didn’t want her husband haunting her, whilst she was moving into Amber’s neighborhood, Amber helped her, seeing that she was quite old and was struggling. That was how they got to know each other. Liz didn’t talk much, and that was why Amber liked rambling on to her even if she wasn’t sure if she’s even listening or not. But she liked the idea of having someone she could always rant to.
Amber pressed on the doorbell, and Liz frantically hid away her factory timetable underneath a piece of paper then went to open the door for Amber. They took a seat at the usual tea table and while Liz went to get some crackers for her, Amber saw a piece of paper peeking out showing the word “factory timetable”. She walked over and took a peek, she saw a few words “marble of dreams” before she heard Liz coming back and panicked to put it back to its original place. Amber was surprised because Liz had never told her anything about her having a job. She was curious and went to take a quick look, followed by a surprised reaction to realizing that Liz was a cleaning lady. She had always thought Liz was at least somewhere middle class or higher because of the way she dressed for an old lady.
“Ugh, i have to go to work early tomorrow, the workers said the vanisher (the memory storage deleter) had a little crack so I have to go as soon as possible.” Amber’s dad complained. He worked at the factory with a high status, so he was rarely at home because of work. On the other hand, Amber’s mom is a housewife so she’s stayed at home all day.
“Well that’s unfortunate.” replied Amber’s mom.
“Amber, when are you going to start working harder? You’re not going to get anywhere in life with that small mindset of yours.” she said whilst taking off her husband’s coat and putting it on the hanger after he just got home.
“Not like there is anywhere to go in life.” Amber murmured, just quiet enough her mom didn’t hear her.
Amber started to feel frustrated, she wanted to remember what she drew in her dreams, she wanted to remember the feeling of happiness even when she woke up, a feeling of greed for more happiness even in the real world, she wanted to remember her dreams. Because all she could remember of, was the way she laughed and smiled when she drew on a piece of paper. Then she had a sudden thought, what if she sneaked into the factory and broke the vanisher? At first, she thought it was crazy, she’ll get sent to jail, but she didn’t want to live her life like this, she wanted real happiness. So she went into her dad’s room whilst he was out on his way back home, and got his backup ID card. Amber told her mom she’ll be out to get a library book from school and left. She got into the factory successfully with the ID card, but looking around, it was much more complicated than she thought. There wasn’t just one way or two ways, but around ten, she panicked a little, but found a map stuck on a wall. She walked over and traced her fingers from where she was to where the vanisher was located. Just as she was about to go on her way, a security stopped her and asked,
“Excuse me, lady. Why are you here at this hour of the time?”
“I’m just here to wait for my dad to get off work.” Amber quickly replied whilst showing him the ID as if her dad gave it to her.
The security took a look and said “oh, alright.” and left.
Amber got to the vanisher department and went inside to find machines and large screens filled with what seemed like names. There were so many things in the department that Amber didn’t know what to do even after already researching many times beforehand. She looked left and right, and saw a book written with big letters “MANUAL” for beginners. She flipped it open excitedly and read the instructions and read,
“Names of every person that has ever entered the dream are recorded on the laptop and stuck upon the screen, they are sent through the vanisher where one’s memory of their dream is wiped clean the moment they wake up.”
Amber talked to herself, “so.. if I just..” she walked over to the laptop beneath the screen and looked up her own name. It appeared on the screen and she reached for it, as it sparked a little she jumped away surprised, then tried again and successfully ripped her name off the screen.
That night, Amber began to remember her dreams little by little, of what she did in her dreams. It was everything she wanted, until a tragedy happened. She witnessed a murder right in front of her eyes. As her curiosity flooded her, she opened the door, to find what seemed like an old couple arguing, the man kept saying and warning her that the dream is dangerous, shockingly, Amber found that the woman had a knife in her hands. Not seconds later, blood splattered across the floor, Amber found that the murderer looked so familiar, once she woke up, she gasped, and recognized the killer as Liz, her neighbor, and she realized that she knew nothing about her, what she’s thinking, who she was, and Amber lost the hope of having anyone in the world she could connect and talk with.
But it wasn’t just this one incident, more incidents followed, more secrets revealed. Amber discovered that her dad had cheated on her mom in the dreams, after all the things Amber’s mom did for him yet he betrayed her like she meant nothing. The people in Amber’s daily life, the people she cared about, were not people she knew of and were horrible at heart. They were out of control and had no conscious of what they were doing once they woke up. She realised that it's not utopia, it's a chaotic addictive world. And she wanted people to realise that, to save others, so she told everyone she knew of, but people thought of her as a sociopath.
Amber didn’t want this to be her fate, she wanted to change her life and escape this never-ending time loop of misery. So she planned to sneak into the factory once again and break the marble of dreams. Although from last time she went to the factory she saw that only the workers that worked at the marble of dreams get to enter. Then she suddenly remembered that the last time she went to Liz’s house, she saw that she had to clean in the marble of dreams. So she went next door and rang the doorbell, fortunately Liz was at home. They sat down for quite some time, and Amber waited until Liz left to the bathroom to start looking for her timetable. It was easy to find because the house was small, and there was barely any drawers. A few looks here and there and she found the timetable and started finding a day where Liz is to clean at the marble of dreams, tomorrow night. Amber put it back swiftly just in time when Liz came back.
The next day came, now that Amber knew Liz could be a way for her to get to the marble of dreams, she pondered on how exactly she was going to do so. An idea came up on her mind, though it was quite ridiculous like something that only ever happens in cartoon movies. She could hide in the cleaning trash can Liz is supposedly going to push. The last time she went to the factory she saw a cleaning lady pushing a huge cart. She couldn’t think of any other ways and thought, why not try, after all, it's a chance to save herself and hopefully everyone else.
And so that night, Amber went to the factory a few minutes before it was time for Liz’s cleaning time. She opened the huge trash lid and to her surprise, it didn’t smell.
“Well that’s quite a pleasant start.” she thought to herself.
She saw Liz in the far corner and quickly threw herself in. A few minutes later, she felt the cart started moving and her heart was beating quickly in hopes that Liz wouldn’t open the trash lid. After a while, she heard Liz opening the door of one of the departments, assuming that it’s the marble of dreams, she
took a deep breath, then proceeded to burst open the trash lid and punch Liz in the face just hard enough so she fainted. She took a look around and to her luck, it's the marble of dreams department. She walked over to the marble, it was a color white as snow, a glow that brightened the room, but her goal was to destroy it. She took it away from whatever was keeping it floating, and threw it as hard as she could, on the ground. It felt like a diamond was she was holding it, but like glass when it shattered into pieces. She expected herself to fall back into her bed but instead, she found light in the world, all the colours of the rainbow.
People from the light world are the ones that have managed to find themselves among the chaos, and are brought to the world of peace. The business men and women had a smile on their faces, Amber was filled with laughter. Her mom, dad, classmates, teacher and Liz, were living a whole other life, a whole different person. It somehow made Amber pity the dark world version of them. It made her ponder whether they really deserve to be that miserable, but then she remembered how none of them listened to her, to her thoughts, and she did her best to save them but they didn’t care. In the light world, the people around her were the sweetest people she has ever met. Amber grew up to be a beautiful person inside and out, she became an artist who created artworks that represented her true self. She did everything she had wanted to, finally, not everything was black and white. It was the true world and not an escape from reality, she was finally happy.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.