It’s been an interesting week. Everyone has the flu except me, so I’ve been chief cook and bottle washer and nurse for a couple of guys who think it’s unmanly to admit to not feeling well. So I’ve not been much of a romance writer the last few days while the wilderness outside beckoned. I’m glad I already had part two of my short contemporary romance, When Dreams Come True, all ready to go. So here it is, and expect Part Three on or about next Friday:
When Dreams Come True
I chose to return to the dream, even as another person joined the small group around me. All I could do was hope they’d believe my story about a headache and leave me alone.
With my eyes wide open and staring at the people before me, I returned to my dream and a little girl who was a figment of my imagination but who seemed so real.
My dream self grabbed her hand hard while the real me said, in what I imagined was a defiant voice, “A migraine,” to the people in the park. A woman, the newcomer, asked if I wanted some medication. She suffered from migraines, she knew how bad they could be and she always carried medicine with her. I shook my head and said I’d be okay, I just needed quiet for a moment. For a moment, I thought it wouldn’t work, that they’d call someone, stop the game, dial 911. But the woman who suffered from migraines made shushing motions with one hand and they seemed to get the message. They left me alone. They moved on.
With a sigh of relief, I leaned close to the little girl. No matter that this was a dream, she was so frightened that I felt compelled to reassure her. “I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.”
“I wasn’t sure.” Her voice was tiny and afraid. “You got light and fuzzy, I could hardly see you. I thought you were going away.”
“I’m not going anywhere. Not until we find your daddy.”
She smiled and took my hand and hers was warm and grubby and solid. Looking at her was seeing the sun burst above the trees on a beautiful morning. I took a deep breath and looked through her to the baseball game and then back at the forest clearing, and I made a decision. I would forget the people in the park. And the baseball game. I would ignore anyone staring at me. Let them come, let them stare, let them think I was having a migraine. They weren’t important any longer. All that mattered was the frightened little girl in my dream who was growing more real with every passing second.
In some remote corner of my mind, I knew I’d have to eventually deal with whatever was happening to me. I’d have to deal with a lot of things. The fact that the baseball game was real and the little girl wasn’t. That this was the weirdest thing that had ever happened to me. That I’d carry what was happening to me to my grave because I’d never, never dare tell anyone lest they call a psychiatrist.
But I’d made my decision. Taking away the fear in those china blue eyes was the most important thing that had happened to me in a long time. I would not leave this lovely dream child alone and afraid in a place where I’d played happily years earlier. I wouldn’t.
I knew the area well and everything in my dream was where it was in real life. The spring wasn’t far from the bluestem patch, and the spring was where we’d find water. So, hand in hand, we walked until we reached the boulder that formed a basin for an almost unnoticeable flow of water from a moss-covered hillside. When I’d showed my secret place to my uncle, he’d explained the mechanics of water dripping on stone. I’d told him he was wrong and that a fairy had made the basin just for me. He’d thought a moment, then gravely acknowledged his mistake.
“See?” My dream self pointed to the boulder. “It’s a fairy kitchen, and there’s the sink.”
She believed me totally. “I suppose I should wash before I have a drink. My daddy likes me to stay clean.”
I eyed the trickle of water filling the basin. If she washed first, it would take the better part of an hour for the basin to refill with clean, drinkable water. “Seeing as you’re quite thirsty, perhaps this one time it’ll be it’ll be okay if you drink first and wash afterwards.”
“Think so?” When I nodded, her face plunged into the basin and didn’t come up until most of the water was gone.
“There’s enough left to wash with.” She scrubbed at her face until it wasn’t quite as dirty as it had been, then wiped it with a shirt that put enough dirt back on it that there wasn’t much difference. But she couldn’t see herself. “You look fine.”
“Now can we find my daddy?”
I nodded and we set off through the ghostly Jackpine forest that didn’t block out the end of the baseball game. As the little girl and I followed a deer trail that had been there since forever, I watched the park emptying of people. My cousin started towards me and I worried what I’d do when he came close because I didn’t want the little girl to become frightened once more if my dream image blurred, but someone stopped him before he reached me and said something. Probably explained that I had a migraine. I waved a hand and he nodded that he understood and eventually he left.
The park was now empty. I could concentrate totally on the dream and the child I’d promised to take to her father. I leaned back against the tree and closed my eyes. The feel of the rough bark disappeared as the Jackpine forest of my childhood became even more real with no baseball game and no park to compete for it in my mind.
The bluestem patch and the cool spring water and the campground we were heading for were as real and as familiar as the park and the baseball game and I could touch out and feel the prickles of the Jackpine needles. But they weren’t real, I knew that, so as the little girl and I walked I kept reminding myself that this was a dream and I was leading a dream child to a dream father. By now I was determined to see the dream to its conclusion even as I feared becoming trapped in some imaginary world. I knew nothing about dreams, didn’t know if I could become so lost in my dream that I’d not be able to find my way home.
Still, I couldn’t leave the little girl alone. I couldn’t. So, taking a deep breath, I deliberately left the real world, the world I knew, the world that consisted of the park across from my apartment and stepped completely into the dream world that was rapidly becoming as real as the real one. Then I took hold of MaryLynn Abigail Smith’s hand, and began leading her to a campground that wasn’t all that far away in the forest of my dream, a campground where I hoped we’d find her father.