In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Just a Dream.”
Running down the hallway, I reach an intersection. A door in front of me and one to each side, where do I go? There’s nothing special about one door over the other, simple wooden doors like those found in a million homes throughout the land. My mind tries to figure out if one shows more use than the others, but again it is as if they were brand new. It was feeling like those books of my youth, “Choose Your Own Adventure”. Open the wrong door and the path you walk leads to peril.
For some unknown reason I’m being drawn towards the door to me right, so wanting to fight that urge I open the door to my left and enter. It’s completely dark, not a beam of light in front of me. Almost as if a magnet were pulling me forward, the door closes slowly with a hard clicking of the latch. My decision apparently one I can not go back from. Oddly I can smell garlic. I start moving in that direction, feeling my way through the dark until I see a table setting with two chairs.
My host smiles at me and motions for me to take the seat across from them. I can’t make out the face, but the hands are delicate, nails painted a simple purple. For some reason I don’t feel worried, almost familiar with my surroundings. The chair comfortable, I notice a cup of tea on the table. Whoever this is knows enough to pick something I would drink.
“How was your journey?” The voice soft, not a hint of accent to tell me who this might be.
“It was a little rushed, but I’m so glad we could get together.” Why would I say that?
“I was hoping we could talk about how you wish to proceed.”
Proceed where? What have I agreed to? I keep searching my brain, but any sense of anxiety is absent. It’s as if I were being asked what I wanted to watch next on television.
“I’m hoping we could just sit here and talk for a while. Tell me what the funniest thing that happened to you today?” My voice calm, tender towards this person. It was as if we had spoken many times before.
“There’s this guy in my sculpture class who keeps asking me to go to his art show next weekend. He seems really nice and is always very polite about asking. I just don’t know how I feel about him. I don’t want to give the wrong impression.”
“Sometimes I doesn’t matter, you just have to take a chance. You didn’t say no, so maybe your open to the idea?”
“I knew you would say that! He’s really nice, I just don’t know. But I could use your advice about my economics class. I tried to use your theory on my paper, but the professor wasn’t having it. Told me it was the wrong way of looking at things. It took a lot to leave out that you gave me the idea. We’ve talked about not using you as a reference.”
Now I’m completely confused. I obviously have spoken at length with this young lady. The advice simple, let her decide what to do. Maybe tell her how I would look at something? We talk for what seems like forever.
What she remembered about going to camps, friends growing up; some of the people she mentions are names that are feel familiar. I asked where she picked up the food, only to get a scolding reply about how she knew I would always prefer someone to cook over going out somewhere. The way she says this makes me think of conversations I have had over the years with family, friends. I’m completely comfortable.
That feeling fades quickly with the arrival of a darkly dressed man saying that it was time to go. Which one of us? Fear takes over, panic moving my voice to shake as I beg for more time. Five more minutes, I just wanted to ask a question.
Our new companion’s gravelly voice croaks out “Five minutes, no more. Ask your question!” But he doesn’t leave, tapping at his watch.
The only thing that I can think to ask is “How do we know each other?”
The shadows start to pull away from her face. The baseball cap that had been holding back her hair now resting on the table. This pair of blue eyes now clearly staring back at me. Moisture pooled in the corners, as she pushes the chair back from the table. She walks over to my side and kisses me on the forehead. I’ve done this so many times to friends and family, it feels like someone mimicking my patterns.
“I’m ready to go. Maybe we can do this again?” Her question more directed towards our interloper than to me.
“I can’t answer that for you my dear”, grabbing her hand and starting towards the darkness.
As they fade into the distance I can hear heavy footfalls coming back in my direction. Hands reach up, wrapping around my neck.
“I love you!”
“I love you too!” Why did that just fly out of my mouth? So natural, no hesitation.
“Thanks for dinner, Daddy!”
“You’re welcome, Bug!’ A nickname only one person could have! My daughter, how could I not know my own daughter? Panic taking over again, her footsteps fading into the darkness.
I’m left alone at the table. Where do I go next? There’s no light left, no one showing me how to move forward.
Setting my hands down on the surface before me, I just wait.