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  • Charlie Ledbetter

A Dream About Teenagers and War


From January 11, 2019

I found myself inhabiting a world that was real and solid, but existed as a parallel universe staged to simulate a Medieval village during an ongoing war between two opposing groups of teenagers and their older superiors. Everyone around me was understood to be taking part in this spectacle as if it was a school sport, but there were real casualties. I appeared to be part of the lower class, the scrappy side comprised mostly of teenagers and children, though I mostly observed from the sidelines. Armies ambushed other armies, peasants were covered in dirt and bore the brunt of injuries and loss, devastated in the ruins.


The ruling class had a popular princess whose brother had died (maybe our side had killed him in battle?), and they were in mourning, plotting to attack us in revenge for his death. We were terrified at what would happen and constantly on edge. Living in this perpetual state of ambiguous fear was too much for anyone to bear. The group decided that enough was enough and broke Universal Laws to shift between our parallel existences to summon elements from contemporary life. Being in that world must have created some kind of amnesia for most people, because no one seemed to know what was going on as it was happening. Ubiquitous fragments from ordinary life began popping up all over: A shiny red fire hydrant next to a smouldering pile of destroyed wagons. A lavender and pink makeup kiosk from a mall, set alone in an untended field. The last scene before I woke up was someone sabotaging the princess and her army as their attack was under way, their faces dropping in dismay as I was snatched up from the battlefield by a garish yellow school bus screaming over the chaos.


Then, as if they were closing out the season, everyone still alive from the war would go back to high school (including the older people as teachers) in the fall. Fighting took place only in the summer, as a way to settle scores. The amnesia of battle seemed to go both ways, or maybe there was just a dedication to keeping these worlds separate so neither could be fully tainted or disturbed. No one ever discussed it openly, yet there were shadows of recognition here and there as the popularity contests of youth played out in their myriad ways.


The war continued on both fronts.



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