Ready for Your Dream

Submitted into Contest #154 in response to: Write a story about someone who feels increasingly irrelevant.... view prompt

7 comments

Fiction Contemporary Holiday

My agency in West L.A. has vivid posters of wonderlands: the Ganges, Mount Fuji, Madagascar, and Galapagos. Never been to any. The wall behind me holds a gigantic world map with colored pins stuck throughout the planet. A desk in the corner is piled high with traveler’s literature, maps, and brochures. The smell of freshly ground coffee fills the air. 


I cherish my job; manifesting someone’s dream, by whisking them away to some far-off world. Better than that self-help book you got last month. 


I admit it; I get lost in my work; I am absorbed in wanderlust.

As I clack away airport and airline codes into my machine, my mind’s eye daydreams of the next exotic destination.


A traveler walks in; a wrinkled woman with hair whiter than snow. She carries a handbag and a heavy heart. Married for 30 years; never been away from the Golden state. She dreams of a trip to Rome; doesn’t know where to start. I see hesitation in her eyes, fear of relinquishing; of letting me arrange her dream.


“Rome is a city of stories,” I say, trying to reassure her of my expertise, to comfort her, although I’ve only been for a few days. “The Colosseum, the Vatican, the Forum, all have been there for centuries,” I say, “you’ll adore it.” I see the Tiber river in her green eyes. 


“What’s your favorite Rome story,” she asks. I tell her about a day I strolled down the refined Via Veneto. Savoring delectable Gelato Nero, hearing the thunderous Roman laughter spilling out of vino-filled cafes and the perennial Roman walls protecting my skin from the searing Italian sun. I smile and nod as if I’ve just landed back from a trip; giving her a fraction of my dreams, a tidbit of Rome, a taste of magic that lies waiting for her.


I tap away dates, airlines, and Rome’s airport code into my computer, ticking off the “Ready for Your Dream” box on my to-do list. 

“Ciao from Rome!” I say, full smile, as she leaves, her heart lighter than when she walked in.


Sometimes, in the quiet moments; in those stopovers between helping my travelers plan their dream escape and issuing tickets for their connecting flights, my thoughts take-off and I find myself wondering: what are they escaping? Is it their prosaic existence, the stress of their work, the uncertainty of tomorrow? Are they escaping their children and spouses with the pretext of a business meeting or the reminder that life will end one day? Or are they simply escaping to a place where they feel truly alive, where they can be themselves, without the fear of disappointing anyone, full of joy?


Then, there’s the man who comes in every other day. With a rugged appearance, gray hair and eyes, in his early 50s, a frequent traveler in his own right. After greeting me, he tells me he has more than a hundred thousand frequent flyer miles; he’s been dreaming of going to Paris for the last 5 years; a surprise trip with his wife.


“Paris is beautiful this time of year,” I say, glancing at the calendar, “savoring a Nutella croissant in Montmartre at sunset, strolling-up the Champs-Élysées, hearing an organ concert in the centuries-old spaces of Notre Dame stained in the pink light of a French summer night; good places to start,” and with that, we get down to business; plotting out his trip, finding the best deals on different airlines and dates for the romantic escape his been looking for.


“What should I pack for a trip like this?” He asks, his voice sounding a bit anxious. I grin and tell him to pack as if they were going on a camping trip: comfortable clothes, sandals, toiletries, passport and always a good book.

“And what about you, what’s your favorite Paris story?” he asks.

I think for a second and then tell him the time I went to the Louvre just after midnight, dodging shores of Chinese tourists getting lost in the priceless paintings of Galerie Medicies; Mona Lisa winking at me from her guarded wall, behind an 18th century canvas. I smirk as I remember the gasps of the Louvre security trying to shoo me away; no amount of security guards was going to keep me from gazing upon Leonardo’s masterpiece, they would have to assassinate me.


“There is something about Paris, the streets, the people, the Eiffel Tower, the architecture, the history, the flavors, the noise, the goosebumps on your skin and the excitement. It is a place like no other.” He nods, looking at the map behind me. He is dreaming of Paris too.


I return to my computer, enter the cryptic codes in the green screen and issue the tickets; ticking off the “Ready for Your Dream” box on my to-do list.

“Au Revoir from Paris!” I say, full smile, as he leaves.


This is my last flight of the day, month, and year. No one comes through that door anymore. The coffee in the pot is cold and bitter; the posters on the wall are dusty and faded; my dream list is complete.


To dream, close your eyes and let go. Today, I let go of my dreams. 

People don’t want travel agents anymore nor the map behind me; that one is now blank, its continents fading, sinking into the violet sea; Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning know better, my boss told me; can they dream with the passenger? sad, I asked him. 


I let go of my job, the 12 hours a day, the fresh coffee aroma, the dreamlands on the wall. Even the escape I find in helping someone have a magical experience; I let go. I let go of my old life. Perhaps I’ll switch to a new one, where, with prose, paper, and imagination, I can once again help someone like you, escape their mundane life for a few days or months. Ticking off the “Ready for Your Dream” box on my to-do list.

July 13, 2022 01:32

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

7 comments

Tommy Goround
21:02 Aug 04, 2022

Clapping. It is like a Raymond Carver time capsule.

Reply

Ren B
01:21 Aug 06, 2022

Thanks Tom for reading and commenting, appreciate it!

Reply

Tommy Goround
15:08 Nov 03, 2022

You coming back?

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
20:56 Jul 21, 2022

This is certainly fitting the prompt, and you can add pandemics to the list of things killing that industry. Some lines of work seem to naturally be temporary, but that's little comfort for the people who work in those fields, and lose their jobs, like the narrator. The story isn't all dour though. Yes, there's melancholy there, but the narrator also recognizes that this is it, it's not likely to come back, and so he accepts reality and pivots. He seeks out something else to do, and still manages to base it on working with dreams.

Reply

Ren B
23:10 Jul 21, 2022

Thanks Michal for reading and commenting!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Marty B
17:58 Jul 21, 2022

You get across that the anticipation of a trip is half of the fun! A suggestion, I really like the passage that begins, '“And what about you, what’s your favorite Paris story?”...." What if you started your story with that, and then to the 'posters of wonderlands' passage? Looking forward to escaping to the next 'Ready for Your Dream' story!

Reply

Ren B
18:46 Jul 21, 2022

Thanks Martin for reading and providing feedback! I truly appreciate it. That is a good point, I will definitely experiment with the order!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.