There was that dream again. Buddy sat up in his bed and looked around the room for more pictures like those still fresh on his mind. Black and gray images depicting deep emotions of sorrow, pain, shock and desperation. People he knew: crying, moaning, screaming. There were strangers among them: motionless, speechless, sad. And the hundreds of black flowers on a bed of stars, stripes, and brass buttons made him feel trapped, isolated, helpless, and afraid.
Slowly he awoke to the real world where there were encouraging signs that his life remained unchanged. Bright sunlight beamed from a window in a hallway casting a brilliant glow through the open door to his room. Just beyond the foot of his bed was a dresser and above it hung a mirror where he could see his reflection. A quick scan of the room revealed that everything was still in its place, just as it was.
“Time to rise and shine,” called his mother from the bottom of the stairs. “Don’t want to be late for your last day of school.”
9-year-old Charles Polk, Jr., nicknamed Buddy, was so consumed by his recurring nightmare that he had forgotten that this was the day to bid farewell to the Fourth Grade. But as he dressed, he still couldn’t get the nightmare out of his mind. Who was the kid playing with a toy cowboy and horse on the front porch? Too young to be him. Whose photograph was his mother holding against her chest while weeping uncontrollably? And who was that strange girl clutching her hand?
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