That night, Canada dreamt of walking forever in a lonely grey forest. From time to time, he caught fleeting glimpses of lights flickering somewhere in the distance, but they would always fade to darkness before he could chase them. After what felt like a thousand false starts, Canada fell to his knees and let the cold earth begin to consume him. He disappeared, as if vanishing into quicksand. When he was up to his shoulders, a comet blazed over head. Shocked, Canada leapt to his feet, leaving the hungry earth beneath him. He ran like lightning after the comet, which seemed to slow down as though it were asking him to pursue it. As Canada burst out of the woods, the comet morphed into a little yellow bird.
“Excuse me,” said a familiar voice. Canada opened his eyes. He startled. Kuma... Kuma... Kuma-junction was standing over him.
“What is it?” Canada mumbled.
“I need your help, Canadoodly-doo,” said the white bear. “I poured myself a bowl of cereal but we seem to be out of milk.”
Kuma-jasmine waved his paws in Canada’s face, demonstrating his sharp claws.
“I can’t put a new milk in without piercing the bag, so I need you to do it for me.”
Groaning, Canada pulled himself out of bed. He put on one of his slippers. Then he searched around his bedroom floor for the other. Unable to find it, he traipsed down the stairs.
It was dark in the kitchen. Canada decided to do his pupils a favour by not turning on the main light. Instead, he flicked the switch on the light over the stove. It offered meager lighting; dim enough not to blind the sleepy nation but still bright enough for him to see. There, in the middle of the kitchen table, was Kuma-jumpy’s abandoned bowl of cereal. Squinting, Canada opened the fridge. Just then, Kuma-jungle bounded into the kitchen behind him and flicked on the main light.
“Maple!” Canada squeaked, squeezing his eyes shut.
“What’s wrong, Canopy?” asked Kuma-jostle.
“Hey, alright!” shouted America, who had just appeared in the kitchen doorway. “Let’s have some midnight cereal! Yeah!”
America bounced around the kitchen, grabbing a massive bowl and a spoon. He filled his bowl with cereal and then squeezed in beside Canada at the fridge. Canada cringed at his brother’s burst of energy interrupting his sleepy introspection. He wished he could go back to his dream, not really remembering it but feeling that it had tremendous significance. Unable to think of what he had dreamt about, he busied himself with getting the milk for Kuma-jargon. He opened the outer bag, retrieved a 1.3 litre bag of milk, and slipped it into the milk pitcher. Then he turned to get the scissors, and became aware that America was staring at him.
“What is it?”
“Dude...” said America. “You’ve got some crazy-ass milk technology in your country.”
Canada sighed and snipped the corner off the milk bag. America gawked for a moment more before retrieving a heavy plastic milk jug from his half of the fridge. Once America and Kuma-joker were settled in with their cereal, Canada plodded back toward the stairs. On his way, he heard America turn on the TV, and the overly-cheerful sound of informercials filled the air.
As he turned away to face the stairs, the memory of his dream returned to him. Canada felt like he was escaping from a lonely forest, and finding... and finding what? Sighing heavily once more, he made his way up the stairs to his bedroom. In the middle of his floor, he noticed, was his missing slipper. He kicked off the one he was already wearing and collapsed back onto his bed. As he faded, he said a quick prayer that things would work out for him, and also that America wasn’t currently on the phone buying a Snuggie.