Evan Turner walked out to his mailbox to get his mail. It was another cold, yet beautiful, Massachusetts afternoon. Pausing to admire the crystalline blue sky and to breath the bracing air, his eye happened to catch his neighbor’s tree, naked of its leaves but still standing majestically out of the ground.
Was it just him, or did the branches spell out letters? He squinted, and the more he looked, the more he became convinced that there was at least a letter “B”. Mail forgotten in his hand, Evan continued to decipher on letter at a time: “U”, then an “S”, then finally a “T”.
Remembering back to all the bust-anxiety dreams that he had been having lately, Evan was sure that this was just another one of those. In these dreams, he often ran into accusations of bustdom in his everyday life – just like right now. There was no way that his neighbor would go out of his way to prune a tree so elaborately. And the letters could only be made out from one vantage point, which happened to be where Evan currently stood. All of this was more evidence that Evan was currently asleep.
But something wasn’t right. Any time he had become aware of dreaming while in a dream, the dream had abruptly ended. However, this dream had continued long past that point. Evan began to worry. What if he was stuck here forever, encountering endless reminders of how he had failed to live up to his draft position?
Desparately slapping himself in the face, his breathing began to get faster as the dream still would not conclude.
“Evan, what are you doing?” yelled his nextdoor neighbor, running out his front door to meet Evan in the driveway. “You feeling okay?”
“I gotta wake myself up,” Evan answered frantically, now pinching himself on the arms so hard that he drew blood. “It’s another one of my dreams where everybody and everything says I’m a bust.”
His neighbor laughed. “Oh, you mean my tree? That was just a joke, man,” he said. “I think you’re a great player, honestly.”
Evan immediately stopped his self-harm and stared coldly at his neighbor. Then, without a word, he picked up his mail off the ground and walked back into his house, slamming the door hard against the cruel outside world.