Lydia could fly. Lydia flew over nameless cities and ripening grain fields and out of a storm to sunny open water. Once she looked behind her and saw that someone else was accompanying her. That being caught up to Lydia and said, "Guess what."
"Well, what?" Lydia asked.
"That can't be," Lydia said. "How could that be possible? Can't you see that I'm flying? If I'm flying, I don't have time to sleep. If I did, I'd fall."
"On the contrary," Someone said.
"How on the contrary?"
"You will fall if you try to fly when you aren't dreaming. Try to remember the rule: if you're flying, you are not awake," Someone said. "If on the other hand you are awake, you won't fly."
Dimly, Lydia began to remember something, as they flew through a flock of twittering sparrows. But she really didn't want to remember it.
"Drink this," someone whispered. But it wasn't Someone, it was Father. Lydia drank. and then she pulled the down quilt over her ears and again began dreaming uninterrupted. She slipped from one dream to another, and there was nothing Father could do about it. Not even the doctor could do anything about it.
That was how it had been throughout the autumn. Scarcely had Lydia awakened but she was dozing off again. She slept on the way to school and during classes and on the way home from school and at the lunch table and while trying to study. She seemed to want always to sleep. She would have liked the night to go on and on, but the darkness always ended. Day dawned, and when the lights were turned on, the dreams were turned off. The morning was bad. It wanted to drag her out from under the covers and force her to stand up and get dressed and remember that Mother was dead.
Father spoke to her through her sleep: "Do you want to sleep your life away? It's all going to waste. You must go to school and grow up and do everything that people do in this world. And you can't do them in your sleep. Now be a good girl."
"That's what I am! I'm always doing all kinds of things," Lydia thought she grumbled. "Don't you see me flying right now?"
She was free and high in the sky. Someone was once again flying beside her.
"Were you the one who once said that we were sleeping?" Lydia asked.
"You are sleeping," Someone said. "I am actually awake."
"But your rule stated that if a person is flying, that person is not awake."
"The rule applies to you," Someone said, "not to me. I'm a different story. I can fly and still be awake."
"That's not fair," Lydia said. "But if you're awake and I'm asleep, then how can we be having a conversation?"
"Easily. We can only converse when you're asleep and I'm awake," explained Someone as they glided over the city lights.
"I don't understand that," Lydia said. But she went on with her flying and sleeping.
"Then again, when you're awake, I dream," Someone said, but Lydia didn't understand at all. It didn't worry her.
Lydia slept day and night. So it seemed to her father, who kept a worried vigil at her bedside. Lydia appeared to be lying in her bed, pale and with eyes closed. But from her own point of view, Lydia was not there but somewhere else altogether. Which of them was right, or were they both?
Maybe there were two Lydias. One was asleep, but the other was flying happily under the dream sun over dream landscapes. She glided lightly and far like a paper airplane over green meadows. What fun such a glider has anywhere in the world! Over the deep blue waters! Over the city lights! And in the moonlight, when Venus twinkles and twinkles.
Lydia had no idea that she was dreaming. If she had known, she would have already awakened. But while her dream body, hale and healthy, adventured [seikkaili] in other worlds, her small, motionless real body grew weaker and weaker.
"When you go to sleep there, you wake up here," Someone said. They were flying over a snow-covered plain, which was full of beds like a hospital ward. But they were all empty.
"Where have they all gone?" Lydia asked.
"Into their dreams," Someone said.
Often in her dreams Lydia met her mother. "How strange. They told me that you were dead," Lydia related.
"Nonsense," Mother said, laughing. She showed Lydia her little garden, which was full of big blue flowers, dark as ink.
But then Lydia flew off again.
"Remember the rule," Someone said.
"If I were asleep, you would be my dream," Lydia said. "But I don't want you to be just a dream."
"In dreams, dreams are true," Someone said.
"But if someone is just someone's dream, he doesn't really exist," Lydia said, as they flew over a dark lake, smooth as a mirror, that reflected the stars.
"If he thinks he exists, then he exists," Someone said. "Then he is alive. There is no mistaking it. That is life and that is truth. There is no life other than that."
"Do you think you are alive?"
"In principle, yes," Someone said. "But now you must go back."
"Why?" Lydia asked.
`Take turns, Lydia, take turns!" Someone whispered
"What do you mean, take turns?" Lydia asked. She noticed that a storm was brewing. She felt very restless. She found it hard to stay aloft.
"Day and night," Someone said. "Asleep and awake. Night shift and day shift. Being and not being. Truth and untruth. You can't have one without the other. And each becomes the other. Sleep wakes you. Being awake makes you dream. There you have another rule."
They descended through a swirling cloud toward a small, familiar house.
"So which one is this?" Lydia asked. They were now standing in a yard that Lydia knew well.
"It's just now changing," Someone said. "Now comes the day shift."
"You've got me all mixed up with your talk," Lydia said. "Pinch me so I can be sure I'm not asleep."
Someone pinched her arm. "Ouch," said Lydia. "That hurt. Of course I knew that this was real. And you're real too."
Lydia looked triumphantly at Someone, but Someone wasn't there. Where Someone had been, a Someone-shaped hole had been torn, through which Lydia saw Father's face. The hole kept growing larger until she could also see the doctor and the whole room. The world now filled the place where Someone had just been. Lydia had awakened, and a new day was ready and fresh.
Now it was the day shift, the day's turn.
Her arm stung a little. The doctor stood by her bed holding a hypodermic needle. He had just injected Lydia in the arm with it, in exactly the same place where Someone had pinched her.
"Good morning," said the doctor. "It's high time you got up."
Lydia rubbed her hands, stretched and said to the doctor and her father: "Good morning!"
"It worked!" her father said. "The shot woke her."
"No," Lydia said, "not the shot, just the pinch. Didn't you notice how Someone pinched me?"
"What someone?" the doctor asked. "Must have been me."
"No, it was the one who-" Lydia started to explain. But she could no longer remember what Someone looked like or what they had talked about.
"You were dreaming," Father said. "You just woke up from that dream."
"Yes," Lydia said. "I awoke from one dream, I awoke to another."
© Leena Krohn