Disclaimer: "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" is copyrighted to Warner Bros. and Shoot the Moon Productions. No infringement is intended; I simply enjoy reading and writing about these characters. Names, places, situations and dialogue are borrowed from the series, specifically "The First Time", by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only, not for profit. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it, but please do not post any portion of it elsewhere without my permission.

Archive: smkfanfic

Summary: Whether therapeutic or unsettling, dreams are reflections of reality. Are they portents of it, as well?

Rating: G

Author's notes: Thanks to Kim and Dix for sharing their beta-reading skills. :-)

Feedback: is always welcome.

MANIFEST DESTINY by barnstormer (barnstorm_13@yahoo.com)

She stood, looking about, momentarily unsure of where she was or how she had gotten there. After only a brief hesitation, she relaxed and nodded in silent acknowledgement as she recognized her surroundings. She had been in this place before - many times before.

The sights and sounds of the midway, which should have flooded her senses, were opaque and muffled; even the air seemed tinged with sepia. The smells of caramel and popcorn and stale grease and humanity, though easily imagined, were not a part of this consciousness. Even the tactile sensation of the soles of her shoes adhering to the sticky asphalt was just outside her awareness.

It was as if she were surveying the scene through an old movie projector, frame by clicking frame, through dusty lens and dingy bulb, but she wasn`t troubled by its tone; it was always this way. Oddly comforted by a vague sense of uncertainty, she began her journey.

Looking around as she proceeded, she focused on familiar landmarks with anticipation: the enormous archway marking entrance to the midway, the gnarled old men hawking carnival games and impossible prizes, the garishly painted placards advertising the various plights of the curiously grotesque, and the hundreds, if not thousands of people, who were there to see it all.

Pausing, she stood on tiptoe, craning her neck, in an effort to see past the nameless, faceless throng. She knew that her goal lay just beyond her field of vision . . . just beyond the horizon of the carnival-goers' heads. Eagerly, she continued on her way, hoping that this time, she'd be able to find the attraction she sought and board it before she awoke.

She'd ridden it only once before, the first time she'd had the dream. Though illusory, she was sure it had been the most exhilarating experience of her life. The dream itself was one of few she ever remembered, and it was the only one she had ever experienced on a recurring basis. Perhaps it meant something. Perhaps she could learn its meaning, if only she could find the attraction and ride it again before. . .


She sighed in frustration as the vibrant timbre of her mother's voice shattered through the sepia shell, crumbling it as if it were cellophane, browned and decades old. Her goal had been in sight this time, and now, waking, she could nearly recall its appearance. `A roller coaster,' she mused. `But not exactly . . .' She snuggled under her comforter, desperately trying to recreate the obscure image. If she could only snatch a few more seconds of sleep . . . maybe she could get closer . . . maybe she could . . .

"Amanda," her mother's voice interjected again. "Have you overslept? Did you forget you promised Dean you'd give him a ride?"


He's listening, she thought, but he's only being polite. She'd been chattering, as they hurried along the tracks, about her inability to find a job. Surely he'd heard her. Surely he cared. He was probably just preoccupied with his trip, she told herself.

After receiving his lukewarm goodbye, she walked away, thinking, not about him, but about how badly she needed to find work. It was terribly important to her to provide for her sons, without relying strictly on their father's monthly support and her mother's generosity.

She wondered where she'd apply today, as she recalled her most recent interview. It hadn't gone badly, but it had ended rather abruptly. They had all ended abruptly, for that matter.

"Where do you expect to be, say, a year from now?" each interviewer had asked her. "Five years from now?"

She didn't know, she had told each one truthfully, but probably not arranging flowers/pressing shirts/checking groceries/keeping books. They had thanked her for applying, then, each one promising to telephone if a position became available. Disappointed, she had realized that their reticence was likely due to her apparent lack of ambition, and resolved that her next interview would end differently. It wasn`t that she didn`t have goals, she insisted to herself. It was just that, at this point in her life, they seemed so maddeningly unclear.

As she hurried toward the parking lot, her mind gradually registered the odor of a permeating mixture of coffee and pastries and diesel fuel and humanity. She became aware of the sounds of wheels and whistles and shrieking brakes. A gnarled old man was hawking newspapers in front of a red, white, and blue placard that announced departures to less-than-exotic locales. Funny, she thought, as she looked left and right at the throng pushing past her. This could almost be my . . .

"Just walk with me," the man who had jostled her said brusquely, grabbing her elbow and roughly twisting her around.

She argued with him momentarily, but as she looked into his eyes, sepia-tinged green orbs that flashed dark with desperation, she could sense his fear. She could almost see the reflection in his gaze as he watched his own life passing before him, frame by clicking frame. "What is it you want me to do?" she sighed, her subconscious making the decision for her.


As she stepped onto the train, she was immediately overwhelmed by a sense of deja-vu, which only intensified as the train began to move. She forced the dream, which had suddenly become very real, to the back of her mind, as she remembered her charge. She looked up, glancing in dismay at a sea of red hats, just as she was approached by a conductor.

"Ticket, please," he requested politely.

Instead, she offered him the truth. It was all she had, even though she suspected it wouldn't be enough.

"Where did you expect to be?" he asked, finally, in reply to her lengthy discourse.

She looked at him strangely, then looked down at the package in her hands. She didn't know where she had expected to be at that moment, she realized. But an image of herself, five years from now, an image that included the man with the sepia-tinged eyes, suddenly became crystal clear.

Keenly aware of the train's wheels undulating rhythmically beneath her feet, she heard in her mind's ear the mechanical clicking of sprockets and chains, and her thoughts turned again to the dream. It wasn't about an amusement park ride after all, she realized, nor was it about the train she'd just boarded. Instead, she knew suddenly, hugging the mysterious package to herself, it was about a new beginning.

She smiled to herself, and as the train lurched around a curve, reached up to hang on. It was going to be the ride of her life.