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By Christy MunsonPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Runner-up in 3:00 AM Challenge
Copyright ©️ Christy Munson. All rights reserved.

There's a toad in my dream. There's always a toad. Stone still. He ignores the impertinence of nothingness. He sits. Silent. Bug-eyed and blank-faced. Sat upon a pristine lily pad. In my pond. In my backyard. Unaware, unconcerned, that I call this haunted acre home.

Always, just after theta waves take hold, when sleep paralysis settles in, there arrives a long stretched note, not Beethoven or Bach or Debussy, but Mozart. That one strong upper register A that dances in the bright clear kiss of blue mid-summer sky, held high and steady and sure, well above the bassoon and the obo. The toad cares little to none. But I try. From my bedroom window I silently scream: the timpani lies in wait! Hear the ominous.

Squat, bumpy skinned, and wide nosed, the toad sits croaking. Every moment of his life he's croaking. His wide amber eyes blink away the beauty, blink away my warnings, blink away time itself. He sees me, perhaps. Or perhaps not. But either way, he won't heed my warnings.

And in my dream, this recurring dream, I watch him. My mind boggles to see how he watches, oblivious, to the fact that nothing ever changes. He cannot blink away the beauty. And yet he cannot be part of it either. He's squat, bumpy skinned, and wide nosed.

He spots a fly. Zaps it with his long tongue. Swallows it in a gulp. It's enough for him. He turns to me and suddenly I am arrived, beside him, languishing alongside my precious, perfect pond and the world's tiniest toad. He smiles, half a wing dangling from his taut lips. All bristles, veins, and membranes. I smile back, all pointy yellowing teeth and these unruly blue-gray eyes, mirror opposite of myopic, never able to truly see what's right in front of me.

In the dream, the dream I have with or without you asleep beside me in my bed, I see myself less clearly than I see the toad. But I do see myself, I'm always there, always trying. I tell the toad to watch for danger, to listen up. To hear the music. Try to teach him to brace for impact.

I see myself, and like the toad, I am perched atop a waterlily, waiting for life to begin. In the dream I comprehend so much. This cannot be my life. The toad looks at me and blinks, proud that his lessons are finally paying off.

I tilt back, allowing my gangly body to slip away from the lily pad, slipping sublimely down. Into the water I go, slumping and whooshing downward, tumbling effortlessly, not resisting, coiling into the cool water's gentle stranglehold. I dare not invest in flailing. What would be the point? There's no splash. No sound. No disturbance. Sinking, I slink and slump, drop and drift, fall and fall and fall, mesmerized. There is no end to the effortlessness of accepting the effortlessness of nothingness becoming nothing to me now.

Then I realize. It's not me whose arms outstretch, ornamental sacrifice, awash in hand-me-down robes, soaping my liar's skin in this small town pond. It's not me, living a foolish life carved of earth's weeds and seeds, barley, corn, rye, and wheat. It's not me who calls indifference a crown. I'll not live, a bloody sacrifice on the alter of my youth.

It's you. It's always been you. You're drowning. Because you choose to. And I cannot save you. All my love, it cannot save you.

I startle. No alarm awakens me. I've awoken myself. I've snapped out of this dream, this nightmare. And reality hits. All I've been denying.

I fumble for the light switch. Dash to throw on an old tee, those cut-off shorts you said fit me perfectly, once, and my Converse high tops. Grab a few things from the bowl sat atop our dining table, and I run. I run flat out until I find you. Where you always are. Where you live now. Where your life takes off in the wee hours. Without me. With blind indifference clinging like your choices.

You're there. At the corner store. Buying another bottle. Jack or Jim.

You kind of see me when you spot me, but kind of don't. I'm out of context here. This is your world. And you can have it.

I find your palm, return your ring, and with a kiss upon your cheek my last bittersweet tears shed a final good-bye. This time, I truly mean it.


Copyright © 05/24/2024 by Christy Munson. All rights reserved.


About the Creator

Christy Munson

My words expose what I find real and worth exploring.

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Unofficial Challenge Winners:

Homecoming | Ask Me in December | Story of Humanity | Strangely Art

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Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (19)

  • Poppy 14 days ago

    Oh. My. Gosh. I've been meaning to read this for ages and so glad I finally did, but so sorry I didn't sooner. I was really enjoying it straight away, revelling in the flowery, alluring language, admiring how beautifully it's written. AND THEN I read this: "It's you. It's always been you. You're drowning. Because you choose to. And I cannot save you. All my love, it cannot save you." Oh my gosh (I literally said that outloud), had to pause, take a minute and also reread the paragraph before it. That was beautifully devastating. Then when the main character was running I was so invested, felt like i was there AND THEN when he was at the corner store (where he now lives), buying alcohol... omg my heart just broke but in the exact way I want it to when reading something. And that ending was perfect. The gentleness making it so much more heartbreaking. Big congratulations on your runner-up, so so so well deserved! This is a masterpiece.

  • Well deserved win!💖 So poignant! The toad was a unique focus of the dream. I especially loved: “ Always, just after theta waves take hold, when sleep paralysis settles in, there arrives a long stretched note, not Beethoven or Bach or Debussy, but Mozart. That one strong upper register A that dances in the bright clear kiss of blue mid-summer sky, held high and steady and sure, well above the bassoon and the obo.” 🤩

  • D.K. Shepard20 days ago

    Congrats, Christy! Loved it even more reading it again!

  • JBaz20 days ago

    An extremely well crafted story, the bend of reality and dream is beautifully done. Congratulations

  • The Dani Writer20 days ago

    Excellent writing Christy! Really graphic and sensory-rich. Kudos on your win!

  • Wooohooooo congratulations on your win! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Rachel Robbins21 days ago

    Wow! Well done. This is deliciously disorienting.

  • Babs Iverson21 days ago

    Congratulations on the runner up win!!!💕❤️❤️

  • Paul Stewart21 days ago

    Oh, wow, well done Christy! Congrats on recognition and placement! so happy for you!

  • John Cox21 days ago

    Back to congratulate you for placing in the challenge, Christy. It was an awesome entry!

  • Caroline Jane2 months ago

    Oh yes! This is fab. I love how disorientating it is and how it seamlessly becomes reality. Clever stuff and a wonderful play on a classic fairy tale. Great entry!

  • D.K. Shepard2 months ago

    Have to echo John! The transition from the dream into immediate action was a superb choice that kept the reader tethered to the protagonists emotional experience

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    Sometimes dreams point us in the right direction, don't they? Great job!

  • Whoaaaa, you blew my mind with this story! How'd you even come up with this? I'm truly amazed! Loved it so much!

  • TheSpinstress2 months ago

    So beautiful and sad. The toad dream is fascinating.

  • Caroline Craven2 months ago

    Normally the frog turns into a prince… this was excellent Christy. Felt like I was holding my breath until she broke free and had the chance to start over.

  • John Cox2 months ago

    I love how you let the protagonists actions reveal the meaning of the dream without spelling it out. Very deft touch, Christy! Exceptional entry for the challenge.

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    This is amazing Christy. It truly reads like a dream. The descriptions are so vivid and the happenings so strange that it couldn't be anything but a dream. And then that ending. Oh my. Great job on this one.

  • Excellent and original take on the challenge

Christy MunsonWritten by Christy Munson

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