Mary pored over the catalog of extension courses offered by the nearby community college. Eddie watched her passively. However, he told her that he was going to feel foolish being the old guy in the class.
“First off,” Mary said, “We’re not old. Forty is not that old. In fact, a lot of different people take these classes. That’s what they are for.” She partly closed the catalog so she could push the cover up to his nose while she pointed at the words “continuing education.” “See? It says continuing. There will be all sorts of people continuing their education.”
“Okay, okay,” he said, “Whatever you say, hon. You know best.”
Mary smirked. “Gosh, it only took you fifteen years to figure that out?”
She perused the catalog. Eddie was an engineer, so she asked if he wanted to study another computer programming language. He sure didn’t.
“Home repair?” she asked.
“Are you kidding? I thought you said I needed to do something fun, because I have been so stressed lately.”
“You’re right,” she said and began looking for a class that might be more fun.
Eddie wondered if they had a class in spicing up your love life. He kept that to himself, though. He had always been uncomfortable talking about sex. Of course, it would have helped if he and Mary had a similar schedule. She was a nurse and they gave her all sorts of crazy hours. “What are your hours tonight?” he asked her.
“Graveyard. Ten to four.”
“Your boss is a complete jerk,” Eddie said.
“Bob is not a jerk. It’s not his fault. He makes the schedules according to needs and resources.”
Eddie shrugged it all off. He was not convinced. He didn’t like Bob. Period. End of story. And now Mary would be gone all night long. Eddie was suddenly depressed. No wonder their love life stank. He had hoped that when their kids were more independent, he and Mary would have had more time together, but instead they had just continued in the same routines that had kept the household functional over the years.
“Lucid dreaming!” Mary cried out.
Eddie screwed up his face. “What is that again?”
“It’s a way to stay partly conscious while you are dreaming, so you can participate with your dreams and even control them to some extent.”
Eddie firmly said, “That sounds weird.”
“I took it a couple years ago. It’s helped me sleep better. I have even solved a few problems in my dreams. You can learn to direct your dreams, control them.” She looked at him sweetly. “It could help you relax, with your stress. Maybe your blood pressure will go down.”
Eddie, as usual, gave in and agreed. Lucid dreaming it would be. Then he just watched as she filled out the application form for him. He was really fortunate to have married Mary, he thought. She was a great mother and loving wife. He told himself he ought to feel more grateful.
* * * * *
Eddie arrived a bit late to class, but sensed that they had started late as well. The teacher was just saying, “Lucid dreaming takes work, so, you have to be patient about your first results. I’ll help you with that and also talk about strategies to deal with the initial hurdles. And I have a list of resources for you to help you beyond the class, if you want to continue studying lucid dreaming or if you have to do any troubleshooting.”
Eddie had not been there two minutes and was already wanting to leave. How did he let Mary talk him into this again?
A nearby student was asked to distribute a stack of syllabi while the teacher did a roll call. Eddie’s mind was soooo somewhere-else. If you asked him later whether he had answered the roll call, he could not have told you. He was checking out the others in class, but mainly the women. He knew he shouldn’t be fantasizing about other women, but he couldn’t help himself. It was an old habit. He was a scumbag, he knew it. Mary would never be checking out guys. He didn’t deserve Mary. Eddie heard the teacher call out “Jenna Stenson.”
Jenna appeared to be in her late thirties. She had auburn hair, she was perfectly built — not heavy, not skinny, but just right — beautiful round face, deep-set eyes, inviting lips; she was radiant, but subdued, sexy, yet natural. She wore form-fitting slacks and a pullover top that hugged her breasts in exactly the same way Eddie wanted to. He concluded she was some kind of goddess. That’s the only explanation he could think of. A goddess who decided to take a continuing education course in lucid dreaming. “A goddess sent just for me!” Eddie thought.
Jenna suddenly turned and seemed to look directly at Eddie. He instantly pretended to be looking somewhere else, but since he didn’t know where else to look, he just looked stupid. “Damn! Now she knows I’m into her,” he thought. Finally, he braved a peek at Jenna, but she wasn’t aware of Eddie at all. She was saying something to the woman behind her. The woman handed Jenna a pen.
Eddie felt relieved, disappointed, and foolish — all at the same time.
* * * * *
In bed, Eddie rolled toward Mary’s side to look at her. She was drifting off to sleep. He was glad for her. He loved her, but sometimes he felt they were disconnected. He rolled the other direction, facing away from Mary. The entirety of his work day and his commutes and meals, oh, yeah, and that class — they all tumbled through Eddie’s fatigued brain. He wondered if he would dream and if he would really be able to interact with his dream. Lucid dreaming required you to be conscious while you dreamt. Awake and asleep at the same time. Impossible!
As Eddie was drifting off, he thought of Jenna, how incredible she looked. He felt an intense desire for her. He thought of Mary, asleep next to him, and was overcome with guilt. He tried to put Jenna out of his mind, but her allure had crept into every cell of his body and all he felt was lust.
Eddie tried to get his mind off Jenna by thinking of his job. He was supposed to be solving a complicated engineering problem at work. Jenna kept trying to get into Eddie’s head, but he fought her off. This struggle for his attention wore him out so that he finally fell asleep.
Eddie lost track of time, but very quickly, he found himself in the lucid dreaming classroom. But the room was different. There was low, multi-colored lighting, and soft music. Scarlet drapes hung from the walls. A bed with silk linen was in the middle of the room. Jenna was in a simple red dress, but much tighter than the clothes she had worn in class.
Eddie’s jaw dropped as Jenna slinked toward him.
“Eddie,” she said with breathy sensuality.
Eddie tried to say her name, but only his lips moved and the only sound he made was like the wheezing of a dirty prank phone caller.
Jenna reached behind herself to unzip the dress and she moved into Eddie’s arms, guiding his hands to feel her body as they both slowly peeled the fabric from her skin. A dress this tight would not merely fall to the floor. It required slow, tactile effort, and an intensely felt goal. Jenna was like a shedding snake. She licked his lips and tongue and soon they were both naked on the bed — feeling, caressing, kissing, devouring.
Eddie became nervous at times, wondering how such a perfect creature could love him like this, but she must have sensed this and only writhed and wrapped her limbs around his more tightly, and their bodies undulated sensually for hours.
Eddie was never sure if he was lucid dreaming. Even if he could control this dream, he would have been afraid to, in fear of messing it up, as he had messed up so many things in reality. This was more than fine. This was perfect.
Eddie erupted as Mt. Vesuvius once did. And when he awoke, he was relieved to find that he had not flooded any Roman cities with hot lava, but he only required a hand towel and a shower to move on with the day.
He felt guilty about Mary, though: was he cheating on her? He didn’t know and wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
* * * * *
At the next lucid dreaming class, Eddie was embarrassed seeing the real Jenna. At first, he couldn’t bring himself to look at her. But he had to talk to her. He hoped he could muster enough courage to find out if she had possibly had a sexual dream about him, too. He could not fathom how his dream could be so real without her also participating.
At break time, he went to the snack table outside the classroom. He kept his distance till he saw Jenna reach the table, then timed his steps so that he could get in line right behind her. She was getting coffee, so Eddie did the same. Eddie grabbed some sponge cake, too, but Jenna didn’t even look at the sweets. He had lots of trouble building up his nerve but finally cleared his throat and said, “Interesting class, huh?”
Jenna was rather nonchalant toward him. She said, “I’ve always wanted to do lucid dreaming, but when he keeps harping on how patient we have to be, it sounds way less fun.” As they moved past the end of the food table, she stopped and looked directly at him. “I’m afraid I’ll never be able to do it. Imagine putting in all that effort, but having to wait weeks for results.”
“Maybe you’ll get lucky,” Eddie said. “He said some of us will pick it up right away.”
“Is that how you are?” Jenna asked.
“I didn’t think so, but last night I had a very vivid dream. I was conscious of everything that happened. I never tried to control it, though. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to control it.”
“Being conscious of your dream is a good first step,” Jenna said. “I guess you got lucky.”
Eddie remembered how warm and thrilling her body felt against his. “I sure did.”
Jenna looked at him quizzically.
“I got lucky, I mean.” Eddie said.
Finally, someone far off called for the class to come back inside.
Eddie clumsily said, “I’m Eddie.”
She paused, sensing his nervousness. “Jenna,” she offered.
Burdened with cups and napkins, they didn’t shake hands.
“I guess we gotta go back in,” she said. “Nice talking to you.” She turned and left without waiting for his response.
“Nice talking to you, too,” he said, mostly to himself, since Jenna was practically inside the classroom already. Eddie felt bad that reality with Jenna was so different from his dream. He still was not sure he was cheating on Mary, though. But, at least, with Mary, he had something real, flawed as it might be. Eddie’s anxiety grew.
* * * * *
As usual, Mary was already asleep. So, Eddie, eager to leave his anxieties and cares behind, fell asleep quickly and was soon dreaming.
Jenna, so lovely, sexy, alluring, was there waiting for him. He could hardly believe this was the same person he had spoken to in class that night. But she clearly was the same woman. Better yet, she wore a revealing negligee barely clinging to her fabulous body that inflamed Eddie’s desire. This Jenna obsession was quickly becoming an addiction. But Eddie was clueless about how to resist, so he just thought, “What a way to go.” And then he abandoned himself to his passion, and to Jenna. It was as though his whole being were light as a feather as his body floated back and forth through a slowly spiraling tunnel. Floating helplessly toward his true love. When he was nearly in Jenna’s grasp, he confided with some bit of distress, “It feels wrong. I feel like I’m cheating on Mary.”
“She’ll never know,” Jenna said. “She’s sound asleep.”
But Mary, no longer asleep, was whispering into Eddie’s sleeping ear, “Go to Jenna. Go to her. She wants you. She needs you.”
Jenna, in Eddie’s dream, was sensually beckoning Eddie. “Come to me, Eddie. I want you, I need you.”
Mary slyly smiled, quite pleased with herself. She swiftly got out of bed, throwing a coat over her night clothes, grabbed her purse and left Eddie to his fantasy life.
On the street in front of Mary’s house, Bob’s car pulled up to the curb. It was quite a nice car, indeed, since, being her boss, Bob could afford such things.
Mary got in. “Perfect timing,” she said. They drove off laughing, as they had in their youth, going off to their special rendezvous spot to spend the night trying new and exciting things in bed.
“Is Eddie really learning lucid dreaming?” Bob asked.
“Not a chance,” Mary said. “He thinks he is, but that’s only because he’s obsessed with yet another woman who makes him feel like a great lover.”
Mary slightly shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. In his dreams, he’s Casanova. As long as I control his dreams, he’ll never catch on. Let’s talk about us.”
They drove a few moments, then Bob remembered something. “I stopped by the post office. Your edible panties arrived.”
“Oh, really?” Mary beamed. “I can’t wait!”
“I ordered ‘tropical fruit.’ You know how I love tropical drinks.”
“Mm-hmm,” she purred.
# # #