Fiction Drama Contemporary

My name is Amanda Jennings. I’m 32 years old and have lived my life as a maladaptive daydreamer, meaning that I spend more than half of my waking life daydreaming. My parents died in a car crash when I was 16 months old, so my grandmother raised me. When Nana took over parenting me, she was a diminished grief-stricken woman who never recovered from the loss of her husband, my grandfather, in the Viet Nam war. When her only child, my mom, passed away 15 years later, she probably wouldn’t have been able to function if it hadn’t been for her responsibility to me. We’ve had a quiet life together without a lot of interaction with others. We’ve never enjoyed boisterous Sunday dinners and holidays with immediate and extended family. I was lucky enough to grow up with a wonderful yellow lab mix named Nick though. He was my brother and best friend all rolled into one. Also, when I was a child, Nana read me fairy tales which inspired me to create my own in my mind.

When I think about my near or distant past, my most vivid memories are daydreams. I discovered the fascinating world of daydreaming when I was no older than three. I remember riding my white unicorn named Ariadne over the Delaware Valley countryside and exploring portals that took us to magical lands filled with fairies, houses made of candy, and talking animals. Any chance I had, I allowed myself to get sucked into my daydreams and still do. In my adult life, the land of candy houses has morphed into a more realistic configuration of brick and mortar, and I ride a white mare instead of a unicorn, but many of the characters are still with me and have aged at the same rate as me.

Being a maladaptive daydreamer can be enjoyable, but it also requires a lot of skill to straddle the daydreaming and waking world. You can imagine the looks I get when I’m talking to one of my daydream characters on the real streets of Wilmington. I’ve recently started wearing earbuds, so people just think I’m having a phone conversation when I’m talking to one of my daydream characters. People often accuse me of being a bit of a space cadet because I often zone out into my daydream world, especially when a situation or conversation in the waking world is boring or uncomfortable. In the waking world, my only family is Nana and Nick the second (another yellow lab mix). I don’t have any close friends, but now that I’m working on an MFA in creative writing, some of my classmates are starting to gravitate towards me. That’s because I came out to them as a maladaptive daydreamer, and they are fascinated by my imagination. It’s uncomfortable, though, when they ask me to daydream a story line for them. It doesn’t work like that. Many of my characters have grown with me for years. They’re personal. I didn’t just pull them out of the air. The characters in my daydreams are my living mom and dad, my brother Nick (who is a human rather than a dog), Nana, my extended family, friends, and fiancé Jackson.

I first met Jackson Newlin in the waking world, four years ago, when he moved in down the street from us.  As a friendly gesture, I took him a plate of brownies to welcome him to our neighborhood. He kindly accepted them and thanked me, but he didn’t invite me in, nor did we talk for more than two minutes on his front step. Since then, we really haven’t had much interaction even though I’m sure he’s as attracted to me as I am to him. He’ll give me a friendly wave if I happen to be out in my yard when he drives by, but that’s about it. I have noticed several different young beautiful women come and go from his house. Each one would be there for a few months; then I’d never see her again. I suppose Jackson just likes to play the field. I’m still holding out hope that one day I’ll be one of the women he welcomes into his home, but I’ll be the one that stays.

In my daydreams about Jackson, that has already happened. When I brought the brownies to his house, we were instant friends. He invited me into his home for a cup of coffee. “Would you like a cappuccino or just plain coffee?”

“I’d love a cappuccino with extra foam if you can do that.”

“Coming right up,” he said directing his warm smile towards me. “Foamy cappuccinos happen to be my specialty.

When he handed me the tall white porcelain cup, I noticed he’d created a heart in the foam. This guy is a bit of a player, I thought, but he sure is hot. He sat down in the kitchen chair next to me, and we talked for about an hour. He told me he was 34 years old, and he’d never been married. He also said he had dated a lot of women but hadn’t met one he could fall in love with. “Maybe you’ll change that, Amanda.”

My brown eyes met his dazzling olive-green ones for a moment until I broke away to study my hand holding the coffee cup. “Are you saying, you want to take me on a date?”

“What are you doing tonight?” he said.

That was the beginning of our relationship, and we’ve been together ever since. We still maintain our separate residences, but I usually stay the night at his. Nana knows we sleep together but doesn’t want us to do it under her roof until we’re married. Nick is pretty laid back about it all.  But going back and forth between houses is about to change because Jackson asked me to marry him last night. He hasn’t bought me a ring yet because he wants to take me to Paris to pick one out. We’ll be flying there at the end of the month for a two-week vacation. I can’t wait.

A firm knock shakes me from my reverie. I rise from my sofa, smooth my skirt, scrunch my hair, and move towards my front door. It’s Jackson holding a blue folder.

“Hi, Honey. I thought you said you had a dinner meeting tonight and you wouldn’t get back till late.”

I don’t know why, but he looks at me like I’ve sprouted another head. He shuffles nervously and says,” I don’t know if you know this, but I sell solar panels for homes. I’ve spoken extensively to our HOA about making our block solar. Since the solar panels will alter the appearance of the outside of our homes, the HOA needs to get the approval of everyone on our street. Could we sit down for a few minutes so I can give you the details?”

“Sure, but why didn’t you tell me you started selling solar? Does that work well with your real estate business?”

Once again, Jackson looks at me strangely. “I’ve only dabbled in real estate but selling solar is a really lucrative field.”

I’m not sure why Jackson is downplaying his commercial real estate career. Just last month, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association presented him with the Developer of the Year award. Maybe I’d been daydreaming too much when he talked about work. I’ll have to make a conscious effort to do better with that.

For some reason, Jackson just stands in my foyer, so I direct him to my living room sofa. Perhaps he’s role playing so his next presentation is flawless. I decide to play along.

“Can I get you something to drink, a beer, glass of wine, water?”

“Water would be great.”

Of course, he doesn’t want to drink on the “job.” I stifle my laugh by placing my hand over my mouth.

I bring him a glass of cold water and snuggle in next to Jackson. He shifts uncomfortably. Then, I remember that I’m the “client”, so I move about a foot away from him while he does his presentation. When he finishes, I tell him he did an excellent job, then ask him if he’d like some dinner. “Nana is out tonight, but I was about to pull some of her homemade chicken pot pie out of the freezer. I know how much you enjoy it.”

He looks confused but says he’d love some chicken pot pie if it’s no trouble. Nick gazes up at me with those pleading brown eyes of his and barks a couple times to let me know that he’s fine with us eating chicken pot pie if he can have his dinner now. Jackson seems especially tense, but when I ask him if he’s had a stressful day today, he just looks at me strangely and says no. Luckily, he acknowledges that he’s done working for the evening, so he agrees to share a bottle of Malbec with me. That seems to loosen him up a little. Rest assured; I know exactly how to destress him a little later this evening. We linger at the table a while after dinner, as we always do, sipping more wine and talking. Then, Jackson announces that he’d better get going because he still has some paperwork to catch up on. It seems weird that he doesn’t help me with the dishes, but he’s probably preoccupied. Me criticizing him for being fixated on something else would be hypocritical, so I don’t say anything.

We stand in the foyer, and he says, “Thanks for dinner, Amanda. It was delicious. I’ll have to repay the favor sometime.”

He’s still playing salesman but is adding flirtatious neighbor to his role. I giggle and say, “Sure, that would be lovely, Jackson.” I stand up on my tiptoes and plant a big kiss on his luscious lips. Still in his role, he acts surprised.

“Amanda, I may as well be straight with you. You’re a nice lady, and you’re pretty

and sexy, but I’m in a relationship right now. She’s away for a couple days, but I want to stay faithful to her. Thanks again for dinner, and I’m glad you want to go with solar. I’ll be in touch.” Then, he shuts the door behind him.

I chuckle as I pack my overnight bag. I must commend Jackson for how much he’s into his role playing. Maybe he should pursue a career in acting. I don’t think I’ll make that suggestion though because theater doesn’t guarantee a steady income. We must think about our future, especially if I want to become a published author and have a boy and two girls. Nana is dying to be a great-grandmother, and I know Nick would love to be a godfather.

October 14, 2022 19:53

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