Some stories lay out for you exactly what happens and why it happens and how you should feel about it. They leave little room for the reader’s interpretation and imagination.
The Sleeper Dreamed by Sela Carsen definitely expects you to read between the lines. To follow the subtle hints.
The heroine is lost in a chaotic world. Broken furniture. Thick dust. There is growling. A sense of fear.
She finds locked rooms and figures out how to get into them. She begins to discover treasures. Gifts. And soon she finds the greatest gift of them all. Knowledge and understanding.
And one of the most important things she learns is of a man who went away to war and was damaged by it. He returned to his home “as a beast”. He had become lost.
The ending is powerful and touching, especially to anyone who has been involved with a soldier who suffered from PTSD. It gives us hope that we can heal and renew, given time and faith.
The story can use some polishing, though. For example, there are instances where something important is said, and then only afterwards are we told what the tone should have been. It means we can easily read the words in the exact wrong tone, and then realize we got it completely wrong, and have to start the paragraph again. That really takes a reader out of a story,e especially when it is as short as this one is.
But the overall message is a solid one.