Rachel sat, along with her other dream companions, in a green hall. They sat against the wall while Eddie paced excitedly in front of them.
"Tonight the dream games officially begin." Eddie grinned. He seemed extremely happy....at least for the moment. "Our first game will be a vocabulary one."
"What's wrong with me?" Daphne murmured. "Why am I having these dreams? I'm not in school anymore. Do you hear that Daphne? You are done with school. You graduated. You did well. No need to keep testing yourself. Move on. Wake up."
David and Rachel laughed at her. A mutual laugh! Oh crap, not this again. She scolded herself. Stop getting caught up in the idea that all of this is real. It's a dream. Just a dream!
"Are you done?" Eddie asked Daphne.
"Well, I'm still here," Daphne said. "So obviously it hasn't worked yet." She stood up and yelled. "I'm in a dream. Wake up!"
Eddie ignored her. "Now here are the rules. I'm gong to give each one of you three definitions. If you are able to name the word that fits the definition, I give you 2 points. If you get it wrong, I take away 1 point."
Daphne continued to stand. The other dreamers continued to sit. Then Daphne walked several feet away from them and began to pace. She reminded Rachel of a lion at the zoo-just before feeding time.
"What's wrong with me?" Daphne said.
"Do you want us to make a list?" David taunted her. "Would that help?"
Rachel laughed, maybe a little too loudly. Oh, but it was all just a dream. No need to be shy in front of this guy. In fact, Rachel decided to use this as therapy. Overcome her shyness with gorgeous men. Okay. All men. Talk. Be brave. Maybe doing something outrageous would cure her. Lift up her shirt and show him her breasts. Pick her nose in front of him. Fart in front of him. Something like that.
She looked over at David and prepared to do something totally crazy. One little act that would prove a) she truly accepted this was all just a dream b) that she could do something super embarrassing and survive it.
"Are you okay?" David whispered to her.
"Yes," Rachel said, realizing she could not do anything humiliating in front of David...at least not right now. Or maybe she could do something small. Like ask a question. She never asked questions in school, even if she really wanted to know something. She waited for someone else to ask the question and if no one asked it....
Well, sometimes she'd go home and find the answer on the Internet. But if it was a question only the teacher knew the answer too. Such as, is the test multiple choice--well, then she never got to know the answer, until she took the test.
"I have a question," Rachel said. Her voice came out as a squeak. She cleared her throat.
"What?" Eddie said.
"How many points do we have already?"
"Zero," Eddie reminded them. "If the games ended now, two of you would have your worst nightmare come true."
Jason coughed as if trying to remind them of his nightmare. Rachel wondered if Eddie had caused him to do it. No. No. Not Eddie. Her. She. Rachel. This was all in her mind. How was she ever going to bang it into her brain...firmly into her brain that none of this was real? She kept remembering. But then she'd forget again.
"Okay," Eddie said. He reached into the air and pulled down a dictionary. "Who wants to go first?"
Daphne stopped pacing. "I'll get this over with."
"Okay." Eddie opened the dictionary. "Definition: To talk in your sleep."
"I don't know," Daphne said. "Sleeptalking?"
"Wrong." Eddie said. "Somniloquy."
"Never heard of that word," Daphne said.
"Neither have I," David said. They were actually agreeing about something, almost a bonding moment between them. Rachel couldn't help feeling a little jealous...a bit threatened.
"Ready for the next word," Rat asked.
"I guess," Daphne replied.
"The Greek God of Dreams,"
"I have no idea," Daphne said.
Rachel thought she might know that one. Well, at least she used to know that. Now she couldn't remember it.
"You think you're the God of dreams," Daphne said to Eddie.
He ignored her. "Next: The act of teeth grinding during sleep."
Daphne shrugged her shoulders.
"Are you going to answer any of them right?" David asked her.
"Do you know the answer?" Daphne said. "If you're so damn smart, then you answer."
"It's not my turn."
"Actually, since you're just a part of me; then if I don't know the answer, you don't know the answer."
"Not necessarily," David argued. "I could be a different side of you, maybe a part of you deeply hidden from your conscious."
"Ah, so you admit it. I mean I admit that you're not real."
"Oh no," David said. "This is all just for argument's sake. I'm real. You're not."
Rachel was getting so confused.
"Anyway," Eddie said. "Let's move on. You guys drive me nuts. You're at negative three points now."
"Oh, how awful." Daphne snickered with sarcasm.
"I'll go next," David volunteered.
Eddie flipped through the pages. "A disorder where one momentarily stops breathing during sleep."
"Apnea!" David said.
"Correct!" Eddie seemed like a proud parent. "You now have -1 point. You're on your way up."
"Go David!" Daphne said and rolled her eyes.
"Next definition: Eddie said. Having gloomy and depressing feelings.
David didn't say anything.
"Hurry," Eddie said.
"Sad," David said. Then quickly changed. "Melancholy."
"No," Eddie said. "Morbid."
"Morbid is about death," David said. Melancholy fits your definition better."
"Who is the boss here?" Eddie asked.
"Me." David and Daphne said at the exact same time.
"Keep telling yourselves that," Eddie said, then to Rachel and Jason.
"I'm grateful for your humility." Back to David: "A psychological term involving ways we protect ourselves from things that might make us anxious and fearful."
"I don't know," David said.
"That's -5 points now."
"What's the answer?" David asked.
"I knew that," Daphne said.
"Who's next?" Eddie asked. "Rachel."
And suddenly she felt extremely shy again. Not that she had stopped feeling extremely shy. But now her feeling of shyness had doubled. Maybe tripled. She could manage to only nod her head.
Eddie flipped through the dictionary. Rachel found courage to speak. "I'm not that good at this." She figured it was best to apologize ahead of time.
"That's okay,” David said. We'll catch up on our points another time. I don't think any of us have really great vocabularies."
David spoke as if there were four individuals instead of truly just one. Did he also forget that this was just a dream? No wait. If this was just a dream, then David was just a part of Rachel. He was just another part of herself forgetting it was all just a dream.
"The largest living bird," Eddie said. "It can't fly."
"Good!" Eddie said. You guys are back to -3 points.
"Good job," David said to her. Rachel stopped herself from beaming with pure joy, reminding herself that this was just a figment of her own imagination congratulating her.
"The scientific term for bedwetting."
Rachel knew this once. Unfortunately-from experience. But now the word was gone from her memory...probably forced out at some point in her life.
"Do you know it?" Eddie asked.
Rachel shook her head. "Sorry," she said to David.
"Don't worry." He grinned. "No problem."
"The Egyptian God of Dreams," Eddie continued the questions.
Rachel had no idea.
And then it was Jason's turn.
Eddie talked slowly to Jason. "Jason, I'm going to give you a definition. Then you give me the word that matches the definition. Okay?"
"Fine," Jason said.
"Yes, I do." Jason said.
"Something that is stiff and inflexible," Eddie said.
"Rigid." Jason smiled. "The answer is rigid."
"Ah, good!" Eddie seemed surprised. Rachel was also. "You're not as senile as I originally thought. He pointed to Jason's head. "You still got stuff up there, don't you?"
"Can I go home now?" Jason asked.
"Two more questions," Eddie said. "The action of halting or stopping."
"Difficulty in falling asleep," Eddie gave the last definition.
"Insomnia," Jason answered.
Eddie laughed happily. "Good job! And here's the point situation."
"Do I care?" Daphne said.
"Do I care if you care?" he answered back. "If the games ended here, two of you would get your nightmare."
"I hate you," Daphne said.
"Right back at ya," Eddie replied. Then he suddenly shrunk and transformed into a snake. He slithered away.