The dream came at least once a week. Sometimes it was the only dream Iris could remember for an entire month. She kept a journal by her bed, wrote what she could remember every morning, but there were rarely new details to be had.
She didn’t talk about it, at least not with friends or family. After all, there was little as boring as listening to someone else’s dreams, and given some of the content, well, it was best just to never mention it to her family. So she talked about it with her therapist, and felt at least that gave them something to discuss. It wasn’t like it was the only thing they should be talking about, but Iris found it easier to talk about the dream, to refer to her notes, than to discuss any of the rest of it.
It was her childhood home, the location of the dream. She knew this, recognized the old farmhouse with its fading white paint, dust on the siding, and peeling grey roof tiles. She knew it from the covered porch with the wooden swing seat, the battered boards beneath scuffed from dragging feet over decades. She knew it from the old barn, dilapidated and crumbling, where they were not allowed to go.
Iris had always listened to the admonishment. She was convinced of that. But in the dream she didn’t. In the dream her older brother dared her to sneak into the barn, find something inside to prove she’d done it, and to bring it out. In the dream, Iris, who had been smarting over being called a ‘fraidy-cat after not wanting to go into the cellar of the old house late at night, accepted the dare.
It was mid-afternoon, when their parents were busy in the fields. Iris and her siblings were called upon in harvest time, of course, and when repairs were required, that sort of thing. On a regular day, though, when they just had to make sure no blight had infected the crops, make sure no beetles or other crawling things were eating it, well, their parents trusted their own judgement over that of children who wanted the chores out of the way for the day. This part, at least, had been as true in real-life as it was in the dream.
So her parents were not around when Iris left her siblings on the swing and stepped out of the porch’s shade. She could hear the creaking of the swing as she walked through the heat toward the old barn. There seemed to be a buzzing in the background, the sound of some insect she would normally have blocked out by habit, and the world shimmered in the heat waves rising from the ground.
The barn squatted on the edge of the property, a relic of bygone years. It had been falling apart when her parents had bought the place, might even have been huddled there and crumbling when the previous owners had first set foot on this section of land, and yet no one had it torn down. It might have been an issue of money. Her parents never seemed to have enough, she knew that. The farm survived, made enough to keep them and to justify its own existence, but never more than that. Never enough to take care of all the safety precautions that would have been required to demolish a far-too-old building with who-knows-what inside to cause complications.
Iris had never seen either of her parents enter the barn. It was possible they’d looked in when they first came to see the farm, but she’d spent her whole life convinced they hadn’t. That the previous owners had pointed to the barn, told them never to enter it, just as they had later done to their children, and that had been that. As far as she knew, no one had entered that barn in a hundred years.
But in the dream, Iris did.