Hold fast to dreams, for if they die…

Jade Fender, Special Contributor

I sat and watched in horror as the exterior of my home and the temple collapsed on itself. The air surrounding it was foggy with dust and ash, the bright orange flames of the fire consuming the buildings and the trees around it. I heard the screams of my family in the distance unsure of where they could be. Their footsteps only faded the more I focused on what I was seeing.

The doors of the Monastery still sat wide open, the statue of our god stood in the middle. Just across from me. His face was smiling creepily as the paintings and curtains around him burned. The way he stood was as though he had done it himself, his head tilted slightly downwards and his posture was straight. And that sword in his right hand eerily shone orange from the flames.

“What have I done?” I whispered to myself.


“That’s an odd nightmare. The statue you guys have doesnt even look down,” my best friend, Sangha, said as he leaned against my desk as we spoke about the nightmare I had.

“Yeah, I know, my dad doesn’t ever pull him to the front of the house either. Only during celebrations.”

Sangha nodded. “Have you spoken to your dad about the nightmare?”

I shook my head. “Hell no, dude. My dad would call some kind of Shaman over to cleanse the house. Maybe even do an exorcism on me.”

I chuckled bitterly. Recalling the amount of times my father called priests over to cleanse the monastery.

Sangha rolled his eyes at me.

“All right, get in your damn seats,” Our advisory teacher said as he slammed his bag onto his desk. Quite the entrance if you ask me.

Sangha left for his spot. “Your assigned seats. Miss Li.” I watched as he glared at Srey Doung, my seat neighbor. I heard her groan as she dragged her bag to her seat. Parting from her best friend.

“Yo what up, Veasna!” She greeted me as she sat beside me.

“Wassup young coconut girl.” She glared at me. “Shut yo a-”

“Language!” Our teacher yelled at her again.

I smirked at her. “Don’t be mad at me. It’s what your mom named you. Not me.” She sighed and muttered, “It sounds better in khmer.”


Our classes passed us quickly, and so soon it was lunch.

“So what’re we doing for lunch boys?” Srey asked as she walked over to Sangha and I.

“We were thinking about grabbing stuff from the grocery store,” Sangha said as he pulled his keys from his bag.

“Pfft lame. Why don’t we go to that new sushi place?” Srey asked.

“The one that’s 20 minutes away?” I asked.

She smiles cheekily. “Yeah…”

“Absolutely not. I’m not going to be late to AP History for sushi!” Sangha immediately disagreed with her.

“Aw come on, dude, you have a 100% in that class. There’s nothing to worry about.”

“A 102.5%.” He corrected her, leaving me to roll my eyes at him. “But I’m still not going all the way down there.” She looked at him with pleading eyes.

“Sorry, Srey, your puppy eyes are not going to work on him,” As I said this I realized what I could do to convince him. “Yeah. Sorry, Srey, but if his dad finds out he might get beat or something.” I told her while shrugging. It seemed to work as he got irritated.

“I would not get beat. My father is not like that.”

I shrugged it off. “I don’t know if I believe you dude. He’s like hella strict on you.”

Sangha sighed. “Fine, we’ll go! We’re taking my car because the two of you can’t clean for jack.”

I smiled successfully from convincing him.

Srey holds out her hand for us to high five each other. Nothing better like teamwork.


The three of us groaned in pain as we sat in the parking lot.

“That sushi was good but I think we were poisoned.” Srey was lying on the back seats curled up into a ball. Sangha and I were in the front with the seats as far back as they could be.

“I knew that salmon looked a little weird…” I said thinking about the not so bright color it normally should’ve had.

“Welp. I don’t think any of us are going back to school like this,” I said as everyone nodded along.

“Should we head home?” Srey asked Sangha. “My parents are home, I need to avoid our neighborhood.” Srey and Sangha lived in the same neighborhood.

“We can go to my place. My dad won’t be home til midnight.”

Sangha nodded. “Sounds good. Let’s go grab your cars. Then we can work on our homework.”


We got to the monastery. I had everyone park in the back so no one would see their cars. We walked into the side building, which is basically my family’s home, slightly apart from the temple. “

“Y’all need to repaint the temple. It’s starting to look haunted or something,” Srey said as she stared at the dark looking temple.

“Yeah, my mom and I keep bringing it up to my dad, but he doesn’t want to pay for it. Maybe I’ll repaint it for him, the New Year celebration, has got to be better this year…” Last year was absolutely terrible.

“Oooh! I have an idea, can we do our homework in the garden? It’s always so pretty during this time of the year,” Srey asked me as we walked inside the house.

“Yeah sure. We can grab some snacks, I’ll leave the back door unlocked so we can go in and out.”


“Wait, you had a similar nightmare to me,” Srey said. How we ended up talking about my nightmare is beyond me. The two of us do anything but our work. Sangha, though, was engrossed in his history papers.

Surprised, he hasn’t told us to shut up and do our work. “Really? Tell me about it.”

“Okay, okay, so my nightmare had a statue of Arun in it as well.” The mention of our god’s name had caught Sanghas attention. Srey and I were never ones for religion, but Sangha was.

“You had a nightmare about Arun as well?” Sangha asked, his books were now closed.

Srey nodded.

“Yeah, it was like that one movie on Netflix. I think it was called Incantation. But basically, we were in the prayer room in the temple—like us three and a few others—I think one was Sangha’s brother, but I can’t remember who else was there. But anyways, we were sitting in front of the statue of Arun. He looked normal at first, like sitting there like Buddha, but we started talking about something, then you got mad, Veasna. Like really mad.”

My eyebrow quirked up, waiting for her to continue.

“Sangha then stood up to talk to you to calm you down or something, so the two of you left the room. But the second you guys left, the temple started to rot. Like paint started peeling off; the paints around us fell onto the ground. And eventually the place caught on fire. I couldn’t move so I was stuck kneeling in front of the statue. I think the others were too, because I faintly remember them next to me. But as everything fell apart next to us, the statute of Arun started to smirk. Like an evil smirk. And you guys have seen his face. He doesn’t even smile!”

“I wonder why the two of you are having such nightmares about him. It doesn’t make any sense,” Sangha said, thinking about why the two of us were having this dream.

“Yeah it’s weird, but I have more. So there was a change of scenery, and we were in a different worship room. One I’ve never seen before. And Veasna, you were the only person in there besides me. But your back was facing me with a ring of fire around you. I tried to talk to you but you just muttered: ‘What have I done?’”

“Huh, I muttered that in my own dream. It’s probably nothing though,” I said as I leaned back against my seat.

“Eh, you should ask your dad. Maybe we were cursed by Chantrea. Spooky stuff man. Spooky.”

I rolled my eyes at Srey’s comment. “As I said earlier. Hell no. Getting my dad involved in stuff like this will only lead to more prayer sessions. Which wouldn’t just be me, but you as well, Srey; your mom would force you to.”

“That’s a good point. Nevermind don’t say anything, please.”

“Maybe the two of you could use it, though. You’ve both turned pretty devious over the years,” Sangha said glaring at us.

I could only imagine he’s pissed over us getting him in trouble several times before.

“Yeah but you’d have to join us cause if we go down then so do you. We go down as a team.”

Sangha just shrugs. “It’s not a big deal. I wouldn’t mind joining. The two of you are just lazy.”

“Damn right!” Srey and I said in sync.

We chuckled.


“V, you better be taking care of yourself. Sangha’s mother was telling me about how a bunch of students have been needing cleansings,” my mother softly spoke as she laid food in front of me. My friends left a while ago and soon my mother and little brother came back from school.

I had wanted to roll my eyes at what she said, but this was my mother. I can’t do that to her.

“Yes, of course, Mai. I go to Wat whenever I get the chance.”

She nodded and smiled. “Good, good. Where is your brother by the way?”

I just shrugged.

“Didn’t he go straight to his room?” I asked her.

“Hmm, I’m not sure. Can you tell him to come down?”

I nodded. I pulled out my phone and pulled up Raksmei’s contact. Texting him, “get your butt down here before I eat all your food.” We soon heard him running down the stairs. He might’ve even tripped over himself, judging by a large thump we heard.

“Sweetie, are you okay? What was that loud thump?” My mom asked the ten-year old. “I’m fine. I didn’t fall.” I shook my head at him. Smiling as I passed his bowl to his normal seat.

As I ate my food, my mind fell onto what my mom said. We grew up in an area where most of us believe in the same thing. But what was this about cleansings, or whatever they call it. It just doesn’t make any sense.


A loud buzzing came from on top of my night stand. The noise woke me from a blissful sleep.

I groaned as I reached over to grab it. I waited a moment to fully wake up, so I didn’t blind myself from the screen. When I turned it on, the time was around three in the morning.

It was a text from Sangha. The message read: “I’m sure you’ve already heard about this. But those cleansings happened to people our age. Have those same dreams as us. And yes, us. I just had one that’s why I’m texting you so late. Oh, and those dreams were about us three.”

“What the f-” I muttered to the empty room. I quickly started to type back, “what the hell do you mean us?”

“They had dreams of the temple burning. And us three, as well as a few others, were in their dreams. They said they could only make out the two of us, and Srey looked different in their dreams. But they knew it was her.”

I sighed. This was getting too weird. “Well things aren’t going to be good when our dads find out.”

“Agreed. I believe mine already knows, but he hasn’t spoken to me yet. They may accuse us of doing something evil.”

“Yeah I know. We haven’t done jack though. I don’t know man, if my dad brings it up I’ll try to sort things out. I’ll let you know.”

“Alright, I’ll do the same.”

I placed my phone back onto my nightstand. Making sure it’s charged enough not to plug it back in. I stared at the ceiling just thinking about everything. “This is all just weird coincidences.” I whispered to myself as I slowly fell asleep.


“No freaking way. He needs to tell us what he had dreamt about,” Srey said, sitting on my desk.

“Yeah I know, I haven’t seen him yet. It isn’t just us dreaming about the same situation, though.”

I continued to explain to her what I was told last night. She was shocked to say the very least.

“So what do we do about that?”

I shrugged. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

We sat in silence for a moment before Srey decided it was too awkward.

“So, the New Year celebration is coming up. Isn’t it?”

I nodded.

“Are you excited to throw baby powder at kids?”

I chuckled. “Always. This year I was planning on getting a bunch of water balloons to chuck at them.”

Srey smiled. “Hell yeah!”

Our conversation continued, but was interrupted by Srey’s phone. “Huh, it was Violet. She said she had a nightmare about Sangha’s brother and I.”

“Sangha’s brother? That’s a new one.”

She nodded. “Yeah he might’ve been one of the people in mine but it’s hard to say. I know Violet could’ve been the other girl I saw, too.”


“Veasna, I need to speak with you.”

I froze at the sound of my father’s voice. I was simply trying to walk to my room to peacefully do my homework, or more like slack off, but you get the idea.

I slowly turned around to face him. He stood in front of his office door. I ended up following him into his office.

“I’m sure you’ve heard of everyone’s nightmares about you and your buddies. Even a few adults have been having these dreams, myself included.”

I sighed.

“There’s nothing that can be done about this, but for the safety of everyone attending New Years, I’m going to have to ask you to not be present; you and your friends.”

My eyes widened. This was so stupid! I can’t argue with him or else things could get worse. But this doesn’t make any sense. It’s all just a big coincidence.

“Yes, I understand. I’ll speak to my friends about this. We won’t attend.”


The day of the New Year Celebration came. But nothing that they did would stop what’s going to happen.