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I'll See You in My Dreams
Danica sat on the beach, digging her feet into the sand. It was the end of fall and it was cold out, but she just bundled herself in a coat and blue scarf. As the wind blew, making her long blond hair fly everywhere, she shivered, wishing she brought a heavier coat.
It seemed foolish to most to be on a beach at this time of year, but she had a reason. He was supposed to be there today, he’d promised her last night. Danica didn’t know his name yet, but she knew she loved him.
She waited patiently for an hour, observing the occasional flock of birds making a late trip down south for the winter, or seeing a boat in the distance and watching it fade away through the fog again. At around two o’clock, she finally stood up after sitting in the same spot for four hours.
Slowly, she made her way back to her small house. It wasn’t much, but it was home. It was better than the cramped and crumbling apartment she used to live in with what was once her husband in New York City.
Every day, she tried to block the painful memories from her head. At one point, it seemed like she’d had everything. A decent job, a loving husband, a baby on the way, plenty of money to get by with, and a supportive family back in her hometown.
But things changed quickly in one horrible night. Danica was on the bus on the way home from work, reading a magazine and blasting her favorite band, The Cure, through her headphones. She was excited to get home and see her husband, Joel. The highlight of her every day was finally getting home to him and feeling his touch again, she was so in love with him.
Every time she though about him, her baby kicked, and he did again on cue. Danica already knew it was going to be a boy, her and Joel found out as soon as they could, she just couldn’t stand not knowing.
Looking up from her magazine and out the window, she saw that the bus was almost to her stop. Beginning to gather up her things, she stood up and grabbed on to one of the poles down the center of the bus.
All of a sudden the bus lurched to a sudden stop, its tires screeching. Danica let out a long scream along with everyone else on the bus, they were about to go through a red light. Closing her eyes, she fell to the floor, and kept her eyes closed, not wanting to see what was going to happen.
Something huge hit the bus, sending it tipping over. Danica opened her eyes finally to see blood dripping into her eyes. The source of it was a big gash across her forehead, and she sat surrounded by broken glass and crumpled metal.
She felt dizzy and lightheaded, about to pass out. Her baby kicked one last time as she closed her eyes and her head slumped to the ground. She woke up in a hospital hours later to find out that her baby had died.
Joel was beyond upset when he found out. He couldn’t even bear to look at Danica anymore, and one day, he just took his stuff and left, filing for divorce a week later. After that, Danica moved to this small town in Massachusetts.
But that was the past. And now she was laying down in her bed for a nap, smiling to herself as she fell asleep.
She was on the beach again, bundled in the same scarf and coat. But this time there were someone’s arms around her, providing warmth. Looking up, she saw the towering figure as usual.
“Why didn’t you come to the beach earlier?” Danica asked, turning around to look him in the face.
“I’m sorry, I was busy.” he apologized.
“Okay…” that was enough of an explanation for her. She shivered once, sending her jaw chattering. He reached out and took her in his arms again, keeping her warm.
Wrapping her arms around his torso, she kissed him. When they broke apart, he was smiling his perfect smile. She loved the way his green eyes twinkled whenever he looked at her.
“I love you…” she whispered.
“I love you too.”
“You still haven’t told me your name.”
“Well, what’s yours?”
“I’m Danica Blackburn.”
“Well I’m Evan Schroeder.”
Danica’s eyes flew open, and she gasped. Schroeder, she knew that name. That was the man and woman that owned the gas station down the street. Evan was probably their son…
Jumping up, Danica quickly grabbed her coat and scarf, putting them on again, and practically ran down to the gas station.
Opening the door, the little bell tinkled, and she found Mr. Schroeder.
“Hello Danica, how may I help you?” he asked kindly, smiling, his green eyes (identical to Evan’s) twinkling.
“C-can I speak to your son?” she asked, gasping for breath, a stitch in her side.
His face slid from a smile to a troubled look, “You mean Evan?”
“Yeah, Evan.” she trembled, she was finally meeting him.
“I’m not sure how you know about him, because it was before you came here but…Danica, I’m sorry, Evan is dead.” he explained, reaching out to her trembling hand which sat on the counter, patting it comfortingly.
“Oh…I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” she replied, looking down at her feet. Was this some sort of practical joke?
“Yeah. It was about three years ago now, on July 17th. He was with some friends, and they were just being kids on the beach. His friends don’t exactly recall what happened, but next they knew he was floating in the water, face down…” he began to tell the story of what happened to his son.
That was funny, three years ago on July 17th was the day of the accident…and as she thought back, that was also the day she’d first met him in her dreams a few months previous…
“He was a great boy, he had so much potential. He had dreams of becoming a big-time journalist, and he wrote columns for the local newspaper, but he really wanted to go to New York City. He was about your age…his twenty-sixth birthday is actually in a few weeks…” Mr. Schroeder’s voice shook, and Danica could see the tears swimming in his eyes.
There were tears in her eyes, this was too realistic to be a joke, “I-I’m so sorry Mr. Schroeder.” she said, “I’ll…see you around.” slowly, she walked out of the store, walking straight back to the beach, collapsing in the sand, waiting until it got dark out. When she got home, she ate a small bowl of plain pasta for a minimal dinner and crawled into her bed, under the warmth of her comforter, but feeling colder than ever.
“Evan…” Danica whispered, tears in her eyes again, reaching out and running her fingers along his jaw line, “Your dad told me a very interesting story-”
He cut her off, putting his lips to hers, “Don’t worry Danica, I’m here.” he said, kissing her eyelids and wiping her tears away, “I’m sorry I wasn’t at the beach today. Tomorrow, I promise.”
And she woke up again, getting out of bed, taking a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast, bundling herself up, and walking down to the beach, hoping Evan had kept his promise today. He hadn’t.
Many years later, it was Danica’s fiftieth birthday. Instead of celebrating it surrounded by friends and parting, she was sitting on the same beach she’d been coming to every day since one crazy summer day as a young adult.
Throughout the years, she dreamed about Evan every night, it never stopped. She was always young in her dreams too, never the same old woman with uncountable wrinkles on her face and graying hair. In her dreams; she was young, free, alive.
Oh, how she longed for those days again…
Thirty years later, she sat in the same spot. She knew she was nearing the end, she could just feel it. But still, every morning, she wheeled herself here in her wheelchair, hooked up to her oxygen tank, and sat there every day. She still hadn’t lost hope of meeting Evan. As usual, Danica was pretty tired. As the sun set, she didn’t go home. She was staying tonight.
Looking down at her oxygen tank, she saw that there was only 5% left...perfect. Slowly, the oxygen ran out, and she struggled to breathe. Coughing and sputtering, she was happier than ever. Her eyes closed just as the sun slipped below the horizon, and she was finally at peace.
Opening her eyes, she was on the beach again, and the sun was rising. She was laying next to Evan. Sitting up, she threw back her long blond hair, watching the sunrise.
A pair of strong arms wrapped around her shoulders, and Evan put his lips to her ear, “I’ve been waiting my love.”
She turned around, throwing herself on top of him, touching her lips to his, “Forever?” she asked.
And he nodded, “Forever.” he responded