The Dream was always the same. She always saw the woman, who was her at the same time, frantically packing. She watched the woman load and mount the horse-drawn wagon. Although she was always terrified in The Dream, the people who wanted to hurt her never reached the woman. Sometimes Jenna woke before seeing the burning house, but The Dream never went beyond the woman turning to see the night sky aglow from the fire of her home in the distance after her decampment. Some might consider The Dream a recurring nightmare, but it did not occur frequently enough to earn the clinical title of 'recurring'. However, what The Dream did do is always foreshadow a significant event in Jenna's life. The first time she remembered having The Dream was at three years old, a few days before her mother died. Since then, Jenna dreamt it a few other times preceding influential occurrences in her life, but The Dream never delineated between positive or negative experiences, it simply meant that something important would happen soon. Over time, Jenna learned to keep her guard up once The Dream reappeared.
She sat up in bed. Crap! she thought. Through the window, she could see the sun hinting its ascent from behind the horizon with the promise of a perfect Northwestern spring day. This can't be. I've been looking forward to this trip for weeks. Although The Dream was not specific regarding the event, Jenna's initial gut feeling was that the danger was associated with the camping trip. This assumption raised several questions though: Was she the only one in peril or did it extend to the group? Did the danger lie in cancelling her plans or could the hazard be avoided by going on the trip? What about Aunt Donna? Would she be all right without Jenna staying home? These were exactly the type of questions she hated after The Dream occurred. The Dream was a major contributing factor to the reason she felt square-peggish, and often felt it would be better not knowing something was on the horizon, like real people. Instead, she was given a gift in the form of a clue that something important was imminent but with no context. With little context anyway, since she always received a tingling feeling in her hands when the crossroad introduced by The Dream was reached. Yet, the tingling still did not give any indication of the best course of action to take or whether she should do anything at all, they just felt prickly announcing the situation was at hand.
Jenna donned her robe and walked down the hall to Aunt Donna's room. She gently rapped on the door, "Aunt Donna, I have a problem." No response. A little louder, "Aunt Donna?"
Donna was not a morning person and, after a few unflattering snorts, sleepily replied, "Wha...?"
"I have a problem," Jenna bit her bottom lip, which she did when she was unsure of herself.
"Yes Dear. What is it?"
"I...I had The Dream last night."
"Oh no." Donna was not a big fan of The Dream either because of its ambiguity. "So what are you thinking?" Donna was fully awake.
"I don't know." Jenna was almost in tears. "I hate The Dream. It's impossible to worry about everything, to guess what it could possibly mean," frustrated tears rolled down her cheeks.
Donna pulled her in for a hug and tried to give comfort, "I know. It seems impossible."
"The worst of it is that I always worry it could mean I might lose someone I love, like with mom." She cried in earnest.
"I know," she stroked Jenna's hair, "It's frustrating. Let's go make some coffee and think this through." Donna had to get all the neurons firing if she was going to be any help.
A couple of cups of coffee later, they sat at the kitchen table trying to figure out what to do. Jenna was torn between going on the camping trip to protect her friends at the outing or staying home to protect Donna. Another option was to scrub the trip altogether if she could get the other girls to agree. She tried to think of a way to tell the others they should cancel without sounding freakish or paranoid.
The sun had fully risen revealing a bright blue, cloudless spring sky, a Northwest rarity, meaning Jenna only had about two hours before the girls would arrive to pick her up. Donna tried to get her to eat some toast but she was not hungry. A sickening knot had settled in the pit of Jenna’s stomach as she went through the motions of preparing for the day. She cried out of frustration in the shower because she had no idea what she should do, but a decision had to be made soon. She got dressed and still hadn't decided what she would do, if anything.
Jenna was in a somber mood as sat on the front porch waiting for the girls to show up. The sun felt good on her face but did little for her churning stomach. After a bit, she could hear the rumble of Jessica's Jeep and she watched it turn the corner onto her block. As soon is it was in full sight, the tingling in her hands began.