"The Dream Thief," written by Kidsday reporter Charles Beers and...

"The Dream Thief," written by Kidsday reporter Charles Beers and illustrated by Max Tunney. Credit: Max Tunney

'TIM F. HEADER, you're going to be late for school!"

His mother's voice snapped Tim back to reality. He realized that his adventure was over -- the first real dream he had experienced in a long time.

"Get down here! I'm not asking again!" his mother yelled.

Tim was about to protest, but then he remembered everything he had been through during the night. There was nothing left to fear. Tim took his journal and threw it into his drawer, locking the darker memories out of sight and out of mind.

Tim tried to remain hopeful as he got ready for school, going through the routine that would surely become a regular pattern throughout the year. The day started out well, as he met his friends on the bus and talked about how next summer would be even better than the last.

Tim opened the school doors and found himself in the same hallway where he had encountered the Dream Thief. He went to his locker to drop off his backpack. Just as he was finishing up, the door to his locker crashed shut with a loud slam! It was Butch, with an evil grin on his face.

Any other day, Tim would have been quivering, thinking of ways to flee. But something inside Tim had changed. He stood up to Butch and folded his arms across his chest. "I'm not afraid of you."

Butch laughed. "When did you grow a backbone? I'll tell you what. I'll give you 10 seconds to run, because I know how much you love to."

"No!" Tim said firmly. "How about this, Butch? You turn around and never bother me again, and I don't tell the principal about all the times you threaten me during the day. I'm pretty sure she's gotten over the whole football thing by now."

Another laugh. "What do you think the principal can do? Suspend me? I'll always come back! And when I do, I'll come for you!"

Gathering all his courage, Tim collected his belongings and walked right past Butch. For the first time, Tim had the strength to walk away from Butch's threats. Tim knew the problem wasn't over yet, not by a long shot. But Tim had finally taken a stand, and for now, that was enough.

The rest of the day went well. When he got home, his mother surprised Tim with a brand new journal, and he got right back to work. New ideas leapt onto the pages as Tim created vivid new worlds in his mind. That night, Tim went to bed happily, ready for a good night's sleep and the endless possibilities of his own imagination.


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