Clara walked into the room, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand and yawning. She groaned and fell face first onto the bed opposite me and slowly turned to peer up through a scattered pile of hair.

“Did you have a good night?” I asked.

She blew into her hair and while it slowly drifted back down she said, “Not really.”

“Did you have any dreams?”

She sat up and ran a hand across her face. Then she avoided the question. “You know. I used to really like dreams. When I was younger, I mean. But now they are just…” She shrugged.

“What changed?”

“Well.” She stared at the wall. “When I was young, I used to think that my dreams were real.” She sighed. “But now I know they are not real. And what good is that?”

I nodded and turned to look at the wall where she had been staring. It was blank, but somewhere deep in the texture I could almost make out shapes moving as if behind a thick white veil. Something seemed to be struggling, far away through a dense snowstorm, stomping, and calling out, voice lost in an invisible and inaudible wind. Was there something there? Was it a silhouette of a little girl, six-years-old? Five-years-old? Four? Collar turned up, hat pulled too tightly against her head, arms lost in the sleeves of an oversized coat? Clara? I blinked away, feeling something tighten in my chest.

When I finally turned back to look at my bed, it was empty. My daughter was already gone, moving chairs around in the kitchen and laughing with her sister and brother.

Dreams will become real again someday, little girl. Enjoy your time knowing they are not.