Bryan was placed in a crowded room, where the other boys who worked in the factory slept. He was given five minutes to change into the factory uniform before he was shoved into a room with labels and tins.
“Stick these labels on the tin, don’t stop until I tell you to,” Mr. Richards ordered before he left the room.
The room had a strong scent of burnt machinery. Old junk machines were chucked to the back of the room, and wooden tables were set from left to right. The walls were peeling off and the only light in the room was coming from the glass windows, high above his head.
There were other boys in the room too. They looked as though they had not had a shower in days. Unsure on what to do, he watched them for a while, and then he started on his pile of tins.
“Hey new boy, it’s faster if you stick the glue on to the labels first, then stick them on to the tins,” a red head boy, at the table beside his, said.
“Oh, ok. Thanks,” Bryan replied with a nod, and did as the boy suggested.
“I’m Henry by the way,” Henry introduced himself, as his hands automatically worked on the tins.
“I’m Bryan,” Bryan replied, trying hard to multitask.
“Where are you from?” Henry asked, and a few curious faces took quick glances at him.
“Wellton’s home for boys. How about you?”
“I’m from the streets. They picked me up and forced me here. Didn’t even put me in an orphanage first,” Henry answered.
“But we’re still the same, parentless and all,” Henry added.
“Yea,” Bryan muttered as he was more determined to change his status now.
The conversation ended there, but Bryan sat with Henry during lunch and dinner, which were just scraps of bread. When night came, he didn’t want to sleep, but his heavy eye lids forced him to. And the next moment, he saw light; the ceiling lights of the factory.
“A dreamless night,” Bryan said happily to himself.
“You don’t get a chance to dream here. Exhaustion takes that privilege away,” Henry said as he stood hovering over him.
“Best you get up now, you overslept. Mr. Richards will whip the late ones,” Henry added and Bryan immediately scrambled to his feet.
The clock tower was still stuck, and people were starting to notice it. Though most of them did not know the significance of the clock, Anna found it strange when she met Matthew again, this time by the clock tower.
“Nice seeing you here,” Matthew said with a smile.
“Fate?” Anna asked.
“Surely!” Matthew answered immediately.
“Well, if we can remember this then I guess it truly is.”
“We most probably will. What time is it?” Matthew asked.
“Five forty five,” Anna answered after looking at her own watch on her wrist.
“Yea, well, I’ll see you in a bit then,”
“What do you mean?”
“Promise me lunch and I’ll share with you my theory,” Matthew said cheekily.
“Fine, if I remember,” Anna replied and in an odd dreamy state, she watched everything watered away.
The alarm clock by her bed rang for her to wake up, and she did. She headed to work as usual, but when lunch came, Matthew was at her office.
“Lunch? As promised?” Matthew said the moment he saw her.
Strangely, she remembered agreeing to it, and decided to go along the fate premise of their random meet ups.
“How do you know I would remember your offer?” Anna asked, after she handed their menus back to the waitress at the diner.
“I have this theory that our dreams aren’t just dreams. It’s actually another world by itself. A world we visit when we fall asleep.”
“What are you? A scientist or a writer?” Anna laughed.
“Not a scientist.”
“A writer with an overactive imagination then,” Anna stated.
“Actually, I’m a reporter. NOW employed by the town press,” Matthew corrected. “But, I want to be a writer, its part of my dream.”
“Which dream? Normal dreams or parallel universe dreams?” Anna jokingly asked.
“You don’t believe me don’t you?”
“No, not really.”
“Then how do you explain us meeting in our dreams?”
“Fate? As you suggested?”
“Fate is one thing, repetitive people and dreams are a different thing. Tell me you have not had a repetitive dream before.”
“Well, not really repetitive.” Anna wasn’t sure if meeting Bryan every year was considered repetitive.
“No revisiting of the same places, or the same events, and even the same people?”
“Well, I see my son every year, on his birthday,” Anna said softly.
“You have a son?”
“Yes, but he’s not with me. I don’t know where he is, really.” Anna paused, thinking if she should share this part of her life with a man she barely knew. But deep down inside her, she was hoping his theory was true.
“Well, maybe now you can find him. But you have to do it after five twenty seven.”
“Don’t you realize we remember everything after five twenty seven?”
“No, not really.”
“Well, we do. And if that’s the case, we don’t have much time, because we usually wake up before six.”
Anna was starting to think Matthew was a nut case, but what he said made sense, or at least it gave her hope that maybe, just maybe, she could actually remember information to find her son. And if so, she might just have to take a sick leave one day and sleep in.
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