She woke up with no memory of her life, only of the dream that had seemed to last for years. But one day she came across someone who she thought she'd known in that dream.


Suddenly I notice a figure in front of me who looks oddly familiar. Their head is covered with a hood, so I can’t see their face or hair, but something about the shape of their body and the way they walk… I know I’ve seen it before. I squint and look closer.

Then the figure turns, and I see her face.


In the Dream, she was one of my best friends. That means…some of the things in the Dream were based on real life after all. But I have no idea which things about those people were real or which were made up or which were twisted into something similar but completely different.

I can’t talk to her. I can’t let her know what happened to me, and I definitely can’t get away with pretending like nothing happened. I don’t know anything about her anymore.

I start to turn away, but before I manage it, Thalia meets my eyes. When she sees me, her mouth drops open. She immediately turns and walks toward me as fast as she can.

No. This is bad. I can’t connect with people from my old life. I already saw how that went with Hayzel. Besides, how am I supposed to tell her I don’t remember her anymore?

“Ferne?” Thalia hisses when she reaches me. “Are you okay? What happened? How are you here? We thought…”

“I’m okay,” I say. “I’m here because I moved, remember?” I carefully avoid the question “what happened.”

“You moved?”

Darn it. Thalia must not have been one of my good friends who I explained the move to.

“Yeah,” I say. “My family left Elburne and moved here.”

Thalia is frowning and looks bewildered. “No, they di…” she begins. She suddenly stops and glances around. “You’re right. We should do this somewhere else. When can you meet me?”

I don’t know what’s going on, but she’s starting to freak me out. “I…I should go,” I say.

“Ferne, please, wait!” Thalia says, reaching out toward me. “We need a plan. You can’t just disappear again.”

Again? Oh, she means when I moved. But a plan? Meeting her? “I can’t do this!” I exclaim. “I…”

I sigh. I can’t think of anything that would satisfy her but the truth. So I stare at the ground and, after a pause, mumble, “I don’t remember you.”

Thalia draws in a sharp breath, then mutters a very unpleasant word underneath it.

“You don’t remember anything?” she says.

I shrug miserably. “I remember stuff, but I don’t know what’s real,” I say quietly. “A few months ago, I dreamed an entire lifetime, and in the process, I apparently forgot everything that happened in my real life. But you were in the Dream, so I guess some of it must have been based on reality.”

Thalia stares at me.

“I know, it’s weird,” I say, hunching my shoulders into myself and avoiding her gaze.

“A few months ago,” Thalia mutters. “What happened before that?”

“I told you, I don’t remember!” I snap. The entire point is that I don’t remember that.

If this is how it’s going to be, I should walk away right now, stop even trying to explain. Why should I put effort into getting to know someone a second time over? Those people, like Hayzel, aren’t my life anymore. It would only hurt both of us more.

“No, not actually before you…woke up,” Thalia says. “I mean, what happened right before that in the Dream?”

It feels silly to describe it, but I say, “It was the most intense part of the dream, I guess. See, partway through the Dream, when I was like fifteen, it started being this ridiculous dystopian story, and then at the end I got captured by the government. I woke up right after that.”

Thalia lets out another string of choice words. “And why did you think it was a dream when you woke up?” she asks.

“Because my entire life was different?” I say, frustrated. “My family, my home. And none of the dystopian stuff was there. I checked.”

“Let me guess,” Thalia says. “The date when you woke up was a few days, maybe a few weeks at most, after what the date was at the end of the Dream.”

I think about it for a moment, then realize with a chill that she’s right. “What does that have to do with anything?” I say defensively.

Thalia lowers her voice, but all the intensity is still there. “Do you remember when I told you that I’d lied to you about why I’d written that note because I needed to know if I could trust you? And then I told you about something else, something that I shouldn’t mention here?”

Yes—that had happened in the Dream. In the Dream, that was when Thalia had told me about the rebellion.

“How do you know that?” I demand. “Did you get them to tell you everything they found out from me about the Dream?”

But had I even told that detail to the people who examined me? I don’t remember.

“No. They didn’t tell me anything,” Thalia says.

Then how—

“And even if they had,” Thalia continues. “Did you tell them about the first time you came over to my house, when we dyed my hair blue?” Her hand drifts slightly upward, as if to touch the remembered azure strands. “Did you tell them about how we would pronounce each other’s names wrong just to be silly?”

How does she know this? My heart is beating too fast, and it’s hard to breathe. How does she know these memories that happened only in the Dream?

“Did you tell them about the day after Rodrik died?” Thalia asks. “When you skipped school without giving a reason for the first time in your life? About how when I noticed you were gone, I abandoned school to find you and stayed with you for the rest of the day? But I didn’t try to cheer you up, because we both knew—we alone out of the world—that there was nothing worth celebrating?”

“How do you know that?” I hiss desperately.

She’s described my memories perfectly. Somehow the real-life Thalia knows what happened in my Dream. But she’s right. I didn’t tell anyone about those things. How…?

“I know because I was there,” Thalia says.

What?” I can’t manage any other words.

“It was real,” Thalia says. “It was all real.”

“Stop messing with me,” I say. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it can’t have been real.”

“It was,” Thalia says. “I promise. Either I’m reading your mind right now, or we lived through those moments together.”

“Then why—how—” I can’t comprehend this. “If the Dream was real, then what was my ‘real’ life? Who’s my family? What happened to everyone after I got captured?”

Thalia looks away.

“What. Happened?” I say.

This girl may have once been my friend, but she’s not today. And I need answers now.

“They…most of them are okay,” she says.

“Most of them?” I repeat, dread thudding into my stomach.

She still doesn’t look at me. “They found our base,” she says. “We evacuated in time, along with all our important information, but…not everyone got out.”

“Who died?” I breathe. When she doesn’t answer, I grab her arm. “Who?”

“Mikah,” she whispers. “And Jayde.”

I knew them. In the Dream, I—no. In my real life I knew them. And both of them are dead now, because of me. Because I couldn’t see through a single lie.

Dead like Rodrik—Rodrik, whose death was real too, not just some horrible nightmare. And now I have to realize all over again that he is gone and that they are gone and that everything we have lost didn’t magically reappear when I “woke up.”

“It’s all because of me,” I murmur.

“No,” Thalia says.

“Don’t lie to me,” I snap. “They found you all because of what I told them. And you probably had to go into hiding, because I told them all about you. And Mikah and Jayde died because of what I said.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Thalia says.

I shake my head. “Tell me you’re lying. Tell me this is all some kind of messed up joke.”

“I wish,” she says. “But please, Ferne, don’t blame yourself. I know how easy it is, but there was nothing else you could have done.”

I close my eyes. “I know,” I say. But I don’t believe it.


Thanks for reading—I really appreciate it!! I'd love to hear any comments, and if you want to check out a previous part of the story which tells of when Ferne first woke up, click here to read The Dream!