I Saw You in a Dream

Submitted into Contest #113 in response to: Write about two people whose dreams are somehow connected. ... view prompt

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Drama Bedtime Fiction

I felt a momentary haze, a crowd of people surrounded me, and myself amongst them. I never liked places like these. The confusion and exhaustion it elicited leave me feeling thousands of miles away from people who are physically next to me.

For myself, there is a perpetual feeling of loneliness in large crowds. I’ve never cared for people, not in large crowds at least. I preferred the company of others as we sit across from each other in a quiet restaurant. In a Christian sense, my love for others was present, no matter how begrudging that may be. After years in my faith, the commandment to love was, not a feeling, but a goal that required personal and external work in multiple complex senses. Something that I personally failed at, more often than I would like to admit, even with those who I claimed to love and care for.

I took a drink of water and smoothed the wrinkles in my black sweater. I scanned the room for my mother who seemed to be my only source of solace at these parties. I probably looked rude to most people, but my emotional unavailability and irritation with small talk was my problem and not theirs. As I look up, I hear her voice carry a conversation with another. My mother’s voice sounds like mine, but brighter and less frigid. The other voice rocks part of my soul with its gruff warmth.

“We’re happy to see you!” I hear her say as my father stands next to her and nonchalantly nods.

“Thanks, it’s been a long time since I’ve been back”, the second voice says. I recognize it but I’m terrified to put a name to the recognizable sound. 

My eyes absorb the imagery in front of me. My parents' kind demeanor talking to a boy, no, a man now, who had a scar down the back of his head and a uniform on. My mind jumps at calling him a man, the last time I had seen him he was nothing more than a scared, petulant, little boy. I can still see his eyes looking at me like I was a black cat that crossed his path, and him a person fearing the omen that I represented in that time of my life.

I see his gaze shift from my parents to me, as his face looks less fearful and more comforted at the sight of me. That subtle calming smile climbing across his face felt like sunlight on a Sunday afternoon in August. The warmest peace in an eternal three o’clock as you lie beneath a window while falling asleep. Every part of me had longed for him to look at me that way. Still, I was fearful of this. There was a fragility in it that if I said or did the wrong thing, this little vision would turn into an embarrassing moment for me. I desired his gaze and still avoided it. As I tried to step out and move away, I bumped into him.

“It’s been awhile...” His voice was quieter. There was a mature sentiment to it that had not been there in earlier years.

“Yeah, it has...” I trailed off, feeling passive, and terrified to do anything. For years since I left, I had daydreamed of this. Spare moments between difficult classes and jobs had left me in prayer to God and daydreaming of what I believed I had missed. Though my prayers were not unfounded, my feelings appeared to me as meaningless drivel. I was a young woman, who spent her free time daydreaming and living in a fantasy, like any other girl would have done. Still, I would step out of it, and never fail to remind myself that it was a fantasy, something I made up to cope with monotonous everyday life. I can feel the tensity, we weren’t on bad terms, but for us, I didn’t believe there would be good terms. Just indifference of people we once knew, that we are unsure of what meaning we represented in our lives. 

He interrupts the stagnant silence, “How’s school? I heard you were planning on going into medicine?”

“It’s good, yeah. I am. I complain about the medical industry so much, I figured if I whine that much I should do something about it.” I stop, flattered he asked but still trying to only take it as a gesture of friendliness. “How's the military?” I’m trying to hold the conversation, I’m happy, though it seems more like I’m struggling. I have no idea what to do.

“Good, y’know it’s hard-but I signed up for it.” His tone even as a matured man had a sweet farm boy tone to it. Not pandering, but genuine and local. The way he spoke was polite and accommodating but if he knew the intensity that hid behind my words, I think he’d run away as though he’d seen the ghost of whatever emotion was between two twenty-year-olds. 

“I’m happy it’s going well for you.” The silence in me swallows everything in the vicinity as a thought walks across my mind like an actor on an empty stage, emerging into a singular spotlight. I pray for you often. How do you tell someone you’ve cared for them even if they’re no longer part of your life? How do you tell them they had some impact on you? How do you be vulnerable with a person? All of these words that wanted to spill out of my mouth could be wrongly intentioned and detrimental. I could only stand there, looking into his eyes. With whatever availability was left in me I let out “I have so much respect for you.” He smiled at this, it was pleasant and warm, I wanted to stay there with him. I could see him mouth ‘thank-you’ but the sound was gone.

[...]

I woke up in my bed, an alarm buzzing and my eyes tired. I hate my dreams. They are frequent and detailed. I never forget people because they show up years later as a passing face. Sometimes prophetic and sometimes emotional and fear-based. Part of me wants to go back to that dream, I want to apologize for feeling like I couldn’t reciprocate anything, for not knowing what to do, for feeling like I was too late. These were feelings though, hormones bouncing in my body, and nonsensical guilt that wracked me. I would love to see him again, but it would not compare to the thing my mind had cultivated as a comfort to sore wounds. It’s all a lie even though I wish it wasn’t.

September 25, 2021 01:00

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2 comments

Jane Linwood
21:16 Oct 04, 2021

Very interesting take on the prompt, I find your dialogue and setting of the scene is spot on. It was quite easy to picture while reading👍🏻

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L.J Sunwing
21:19 Oct 04, 2021

Thank you so much!

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