Welcome to the Museum of Unfulfilled Dreams…

January 23, 2016 § 5 Comments

But before we begin our tour, I see many of you are carrying Unfulfilled Dreams you wish to donate. Please leave them with our Acquisitions Curator, Miss Havisham.

Museum RopeAlthough we can’t guarantee they will be added to the collection, by signing the paperwork releasing them into our care you become eligible to trade those dreams for more practical plans such as working toward a financially sound retirement.

Now, follow me.

Our first stop is the Hall of Not-Quite-Flight.

Recognize the pair of balding wings in the first case?

That’s right. Icarus. I’m sure what gave it away was the residue of wax where the wings once attached to the boy’s shoulders.

You will find his father, Dedalus, featured in the Hall of Failed Parental Dreams, but moving right along…

On our right you will see two boards nailed together. No, it is not a cross. It is young Ray Faass’s airplane, tested by straddling the plane and heel-shoving it out of the hayloft resulting in bruises and a family story that would not go away–which is not bad by Icarus standards.

That shred of fabric, edge-burnt? The Hindenburg.

In this glass case that seems to be filled with smoke and flickers of light are millions and millions of flying dreams. They are so vaporous they take up little space and so ephemeral we must restock regularly.

Through this next door is the Hall of Incomplete Exploration. Not much to see but thick, fur-lined coats, stiff with cold, pitiful flags in the pockets. A crushed submersible. An eight foot sailboat named “Wind’s Will” last seen in the U.S.leaving Venetian Shores Marina in the Florida Keys. The attempt to claim the title of smallest vessel to circumnavigate the globe, although valiant, failed.

Broken Marriages? Through the door hung with old shoes, tin cans, and “Good Luck!” signs, but I noticed that several of you were carrying broken romantic dreams of your own to donate so perhaps we’ll bypass that hall–don’t slip on the rice as we walk past.

Ah, you’ll like this one. Dreams of Derring-Do, or more accurately, Derring-Don’t.

Here in the spotlight we catch Eddie Polo, executing his signature feat, the Slide For Life, attached to the metal wire by nothing but his hair. You see him suspended in the moment just before the wire snapped. The look in his eyes says he is expecting a screeching but routine trip down the wire. He is thinking about the thick steak he will eat after the show.

The skinny kid on the bridge rail just passing his glasses to the kid who dared him to jump, well, let’s just say the rocks under the water below are hard to see and that many, many kids before and since have jumped off the Black Devil Bridge and surfaced with a brag to last a life time.

You will find the same kid in the Hall of Almost World Changers. Had he lived he would have discovered an alternative energy source involving beet greens.

Gold fish swallower.This gentleman, holding the fish by the tail, is about to set a record for swallowing the most goldfish. Sadly, his stomach will rupture when that last fish goes down the hatch.

There was some debate over this acquisition since he did swallow the record-setting fish.

I leave it to you do decide whether or not this is a failed dream.

You cannot get to any other exhibits unless you pass that dusty velvet curtain behind which are the Singers Who Couldn’t. Please cover your ears as their screechy and off-pitch attempts can be painful.

Yes? You in the back with the raised hand? No, that nasal voice is not Bob Dylan’s, but we do hope to acquire his voice in the near future.

Don’t breathe in this next room, or, if you must, cover your nose and mouth with a sleeve. We have collected just a few of the many farming dreams that died in the Dust Bowl. I apologize in advance for the stinging sand and the mournful howl of the wind.

That completes our tour of the first floor. I leave you here at the elevators. Please dust off your clothes.

The rest of the tour is self-guided because staff attrition has been high lately. One docent left to compete on Top Chef, another to pursue a career in scrap-booking; sometimes I think Miss Havisham and I are the only ones who take our duty to preserve unfulfilled dreams seriously.

Blank canvases.On the second floor you will find loftier failed dreams.

Cures for incurable diseases that didn’t.

Unfinished novels.

Blank canvases.

Many earlier failed political dreams are housed there as well. The newer ones, I’m afraid, will be stored in the basement as they smell bad and tend to leak. Fortunately, they are also stunted and small so they will take up little space.

Before you take the elevator up you might, or might not, want to visit the museum cafeteria. Today’s special is chili-cook-off losers and cakes that failed to rise.

And be sure to stop at the gift shop on your way out for an assortment of failed dream mementos such as Leaning Tower key chains, UFO Cameras, and the Cigar-protecting mini-umbrella. Miss Havisham will check you out.

What? Oh yes, I see that you are curious about the immense new addition being added. It is a gamble really. There is a small chance The Habitable Planet Dream may survive, but you can’t start building for such an immense exhibit at the moment of acquisition and the hall is not completely empty. We are already warehousing vast tracts of old growth forest, coral reefs, and prairies, but as that hall is still under construction our lawyers have advised us to restrict access to staff only. Which would be me and Mrs. Havisham.

Wishing well.One last suggestion. If you make it to our rooftop display of impossibly quaint landscapes—most visitors turn back somewhere around The Hall of Good Intentions—toss a penny in the museum’s unfulfilled-wishing well.

And have a nice day.

Note: As an assignment at a recent writing retreat I passed out a list of unlikely museums such as The Repository of Missing or Forgotten Passwords and The Nightmare Registry.

This was my response to the assignment.

Ray Faass, the kid who built the two-board airplane is my husband–he still claims that had his mother allowed him more tools than a hammer and nails it could have worked.

Eddie Polo, who was known as Superman before D.C. comics’ Man of Steel, was Ray’s uncle, a noted circus performer.

Ray and I were, as far as I know, the last people in America to see Bill Dunlop as he took to the sea in Wind’s Will.

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§ 5 Responses to Welcome to the Museum of Unfulfilled Dreams…

  • Gina says:

    This may be one of my favorites of all your retreat writing prompts!


  • April D Penton says:

    Really great short story!! Thank you for posting.


  • Adrian! this is HILARIOUS.

    And may Isteal this writing prompt “any old time.”

    Plus –
    so cool to learn even more tidbits about Ray’s alluring, historic, past.

    I can add an item – The unnecessary hike, represented by
    a torn backpack, mauled by a bear on the trail in
    Tennessee during a hike I wasn’t well-prepared to take.
    Because the bear mauled the backpack, it didn’t, me.
    This experience has helped inform my idea that
    the wilderness & the creatures who need to be there
    would hum along just fine without folks trekking thru it.
    (A city park, a coastal state park
    are fresh air & great vista-enuf for me.)


  • Luke Benson says:

    Dear Author/Authoress

    for quite the last couple of months i have been tossing in my mind the idea of a Museum of unfulfilled Dreams as a literary work or a real life building . It was my assumption that, noone else had thought of such a phrase. So, then,today I decided to Google search my idea as way of confirming noone has ever thought it, and guess what! Yea right you also went to write what was exactly in my mind.

    Thanks for the contribution,

    Mit freundlichen grüßen



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