A Dream Becomes a Nightmare...#9 of my spooky stories series
I was a high school English teacher for five years, and I got to really know so many young people. (For you St. Louisans, that's Marquette High School in Chesterfield below). I was fortunate enough to hear about the lives of teenagers - the good, bad, and lots of ugly. Life happens to all of us, but it affects adolescents in a deeper way.
One of my favorite students was Carlo, a freshman. He was not an 'A' student, nor was he particularly studious. Carlo just had such a great personality, and he was liked by everyone. Although soft spoken, he had a ton of friends.
I had another student, Erin. This girl loved to talk. Erin was good friends with Carlo, but she was in a different class period. One day we were reading the Langston Hughes poem, "Dreams" when she raised her hand. I grudgingly asked her what she wanted, as Erin was notorious for trying to get me off topic.
"Do you think dreams can come true? I mean, like you have a dream, and what you dreamt actually happens in real life."
What did this have to do with Langston Hughes? I thought. Of course, Erin had to continue...
"I had, like, the worst dream ever. And I've had so many dreams come true, that I'm scared this one might come true too."
I was intrigued, and I could tell by her face that she was sincerely troubled. "What was your dream?"
She closed her eyes. "I dreamt that there was a big car accident. I wasn't in the car, but there were four of my friends't inside, but I couldn't make out their faces. I saw the car all messed up, near some trees, and I heard a bunch of screaming. One of my friends died, that I know for sure. I tried to see who it was, but for some reason, the dream wouldn't let me see. I woke up crying. It was horrible. It was SO real."
Erin continued talking about the repercussions of the death at school. Students were crying, word of the death spread throughout the school, and her active mind kept trying to find out whom had died. The dream apparently kept that fact from her. It was a morbid dream, a nightmare really. The class had fallen silent. I assured her all was ok, that it was just a dream. She didn't buy it, I could tell. But we had "Raisin in the Sun" to begin reading.
Four weeks later, I received a call from one of the assistant principals on a Saturday night. There had been a terrible car accident. A car with four Marquette students had slammed into a tree, and Carlo was in critical condition. He was in an induced coma, as he had severe head trauma. Doctors literally kept him in ice, but the brain swelling never stopped. Carlo was declared brain dead three days later. His parents removed him from life support and donated his organs on May 1, 1998.
After the funeral, I hadn't connected Erin's dream with Carlo's death. It wasn't until we were going over "Raisin in the Sun" again for final exams when one of my other students, Matt, blurted out, "Do you remember when Erin told you about her dream? You think it was Carlo's accident she saw?"
I looked over at Erin. I was too stunned to say anything, as I had forgotten all about her dream. She decided not to do her usual stunt of getting me off topic, and she remained silent. I let the class murmur die down a bit before taking a deep breath. "Yes."
Carlo was only 15 years old when he died.
"Hold fast to dreams..."