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I had a dream the other night.

At first, I thought it was a nightmare. The tunnel was dark and cold, and my feet were leaden weights. I had been so tired lately, and my dreams, it seemed, had decided to reflect my heavy heart. I could see a light in the distance, and in my dreamlike thoughts, I wondered hopefully if I had died.

Finally, my soul said. I can rest.

I was not able to remember what had made me so weary, nor why I was so elated to be dead. As I neared the light, I saw it was not at the tunnel’s end, but a point along the path. A shape began to form beside it. It was a person in a hood, features hidden by the bright glare. I felt no fear of the mysterious person, and I continued forward.

Perhaps this was Death, I thought, lighting my way out.

As I neared the luminescent source, I saw it was a normal torch, casting golden light and supported by the stranger’s hand. I looked and saw not the robes of Death, but a soft cotton hoodie. It was my hoodie, I realized, and when the stranger pulled down their hood, I saw my face.

My mirror image offered me a tired smile. “So much to do, still,” they said.

“But I’m so tired,” I whispered.

I felt the gravity of the dream’s despair pulling me down, but my dream-twin set their jaw and glared.

“Not without a fight,” they swore, and the pressure faded some.

My doppelgänger handed me the torch, and I took it with a shaking hand. They dwindled into shadow, but our voices intertwined.

“Not without a fight.”

Ariel Cross

Ariel Cross is a fantasy author and blogger with a love for representation and subversion. To them, happiness is a warm glass of mead on a cold day.

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