April opened the closet door. The shoes weren’t there. Eyes still full of sleep, she rubbed them to be sure. Still no shoes. She couldn’t imagine them not there. Of all her beloved collection, those had been her most cherished. They had become her life. Last night, as vivid and colorful as a dream, they were perched atop her shoe rack, the same nightly resting place since wearing them the first time. Without them, she had no way to get to where she was going. She thought to herself to retrace her steps from the previous night.

After readying herself for the night before, she had laid in her bed reading. When she finished her chapter, she turned off the light and rested her eyes. Sleep didn’t come, as it never did. She rubbed her eyes and ambled over to the closet. Opening the door, light filled the room and her mind sprang to life. The shoes, angled invitingly towards her as they always were, shone so brightly a low hum resonated in the room.

Slipping on the shoes, night turned to a bright, blue morning and her room to a vast meadow ringed by a forest of pine. A small breeze caressed her face and carried her to a familiar cottage. Her brother and sister were outside tending a garden, while her mother swept sunlit puffs of dust over the threshold. With the last sweeping motion, her mother put a hand on her back, stretched and noticed April.

“Hey, my April,” she said in a somber, heavy voice despite her smiling face. “We’re right here for you.”

April smiled in reply. Her brother and sister didn’t notice her, engrossed in and bickering over the garden’s wilting azaleas, April’s favorite.

“This is the best thing to do; it’s the best thing for her.”

“I just don’t know. I just wish it were different.”

April grinned, rolled her eyes at them, and entered the house. At the dinner table, her father was writing. He lifted his graying head up to think, made a face to laugh but a sobbing sound took its place. April beamed at him, loving her father for his creativity. Out the back door, she saw the black tree line framing a golden orange sunset. She sat down and found herself near a pond, enveloped by the rhythms of fireflies and grasshoppers and cicadas.

She stayed there for a long time, as she always had. Night came again and the moon coated everything in ghostly blue. A light breeze stroked her hair, and she was back in her room. She opened the closet door, removed her shoes and set them on her shoe rack. Closing the door, she readied herself for bed.

Now, as she stood at the closet sure that she had put them there, sleep was blanketing her mind. Sleep had never come, ever since, ever since… But here it was. Her eyelids grew heavy, and she was in her bed. She could hear her mother, again.

“Hey, my April, we’ll be here until you go to sleep, baby. We love you.”

April closed her eyes and fell into a deep, peaceful rest.

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