Today, she sat at the very edge of the primary school’s playground, her back to the hedge that marked the border. She had tried sitting in more comfortable spots before, but she always got in the way of other children and then was driven away. Her skirt would be dirty afterwards, she knew, and she had to wrap her arms tight around her knees to keep her legs locked so that nobody would see her panties; it was quite uncomfortable.
The girl had hidden her face behind curtains of hazelnut hair, so that the others wouldn't see what she was looking at. Her name was Anne, and her doe eyes were unfocused. She was dreaming her dreams - because even at the tender age of 10 she knew that life and dreams are two very different things, and she liked her dreams better. There she was a powerful witch, in a world not unlike her own, and all the other children liked or at least respected her. It was a wonderful world that she could easily get lost in.
“What you doing?”
Anne squealed and toppled over to the side, trying desperately to keep her skirt covering her knees. Lying on the ground, she turned her head and stared at the face that grinned at her out of the hedge.
The face said “Hi.”
“Oh, Brian, what do you want?” she asked, for she had recognised the boy, who was only a year older than her and wasn't often seen around school.
“I have watched you, and seen your dreams. You want to visit your world for real?”
Grumpy, Anne got up and brushed herself down. “Huh? My world?”
“The one where you’re the powerful witch.”
Shocked, the girl took a step back, where a stone caused her to stumble and almost fall over again. “How do you know that?”
“Told you. I've seen your dreams.” He pushed his neck and shoulders out of the hedge to look at her expectantly. “Want to go there?”
He offered her a dirty hand. “I know of a short cut, and that's the path we're taking now. Come with me.”
Hesitant, Anne took his hand and allowed him to drag her through the hedge.
It was the most peculiar sensation, like electricity cursing through her veins and lightning dancing at her fingertips. She let go of Brian’s hand and raised her own before her eyes. There was lightning jumping from her fingers.
“Wow...” Anne whispered.
“That’s your powers,” explained Brian, helpfully. “Your body still needs to get used to it.”
Anne lowered her hands and stared at the street she’d walked down thousands of times before.
“But, how can this be? Nothing has changed.”
“Nope. Everything has changed.” Brian shrugged at her confusion. “It’s different, leaving the playground through the gate or through the hedge. This is a different place. Your place.”
“Have you been here before?”
He grinned. “Almost ev’ry day. It’s more fun than the usual world. You get to learn a lot, here.”
Anne shook her head. “You've been to my world almost every day? How is that even possible?”
“You have strong dreams that want to live. They came to life here. Let me show you.”
Again, he took her hand. Together they walked around the hedge, to the gate that leads into the playground and the school beyond. Children, the children Anne knew, were playing there, but when Anne and Brian entered the playground, they stopped and turned to look at them. The girl shrank back, knowing that so much attention could only be bad news.
Then the cheering started. Suddenly, people were clapping her back in a friendly way, and some of the girls even tried to hug her. Brian let go of her hand and faded into the background.
“There you are!” the children shouted, and “We were waiting so long!” “We need you here!” “Good to see you!” “Finally!”
Anne turned around desperately, searching for Brian.
“I'm right here,” said his voice in her ear.
“What’s going on?” she whispered.
“They are happy to see you. They need you. You are the powerful witch.”
“It’s scary, Brian. Please, can we go back?”
Anne let him guide her away slowly, out of the cheering crowd, away from the playground.
“What’s the matter with you?” The boy stood before her, hands on hips, dirty fingernails digging into a dirty T-shirt, but still not unlike her mother in a bad mood.
They were back on the street, and all was quiet.
“These dreams were never meant to come true! I just wanted to feel better... Now I feel worse!”
“I'm sorry,” said Brian, carefully wiping a tear from her cheek. “Let’s go back then.”
“And then this will never have happened? This world will go away, right?”
“No. It has been born. It has to die to go away.”
“Then it should die! It’s not right! Dreams are only dreams. Nothing but dreams...” Anne was so beside herself with terror that Brian had to take her by the arm and lead her back through the hedge, into her own reality.