With Friends Like These

April 26, 2008
“Who would like to speak first?”
It was silent as everyone sat in their chairs with their heads down low and their eyes disguisedly fixated on their fidgety feet. The man stood facing the circle of people. He was tall and had a warm look upon his face and the wrinkles, the few he possessed, flaunted wisdom and compassion.
“Robert?” The man’s eyes staggered across the room and met awkwardly with those of Robert’s.
“Would you like to go?” Robert sat quietly and apprehensively, counting his fingers and bouncing his knees.
“Okay.” He stammered softly. Everyone looked at him, sitting there, waiting. And just as he reached the climatic stage of his counting, he stopped. His legs were motionless and his arms were now limp against his sides. And like a child he whimpered gently, with his lips taut together and his eyes tightly knit in a shameful manner. But he pulled himself from the seat and walked unhurriedly to the center of the circle, a circle that consisted of nothing more but multi-colored, people inhabited chairs.
“Well…” he paused to bite a nail. “I had a dream last night, and uh well I’ve been getting these dreams a lot, actually.”
“Do you care to share with us what happens in the dream?”
“I’m in a meadow…surrounded by tall…skyscraping trees…the land is shaded, entirely, by hills….that drown the landscape for as far as I can see, but then…” he paused temporarily to surface himself back to reality, “…I wake…and, and I find myself standing on the dock near my house. Everyday it keeps happening, over and over and over again, constantly. And everyday I keep getting closer and closer to the water. I’m afraid to go to sleep because I’m afraid I’m going to wake up in the water…” he cringed, “…or I might just not wake up at all.” His hands catapulted towards his face, masking the pathetic tears that slid mockingly down his cheekbones and off his chin. The others sat their concentrated on nothing more than the man on center stage, their faces lit up to that of one watching a Broadway play.

The tall man raised himself from his seat on a near desk. And like Jesus immerging from his grave he approached the man like a last breath of hope and told him to face the people around him and so Robert did. The women sat with their legs crossed and the men with their hats in their laps.
“Can you swim Robert?” One gentleman asked.
“Is that why you’re afraid?”
“Well yes.”
“From your dream could you explain the sunrise?” a younger, timid woman asked.
“Oh, it was beautiful…I just couldn’t.”
“Well what happened after the sun rose? You just…woke up?”
“No actually, well, yes but not immediately after the sunrise…It’s like…everything changed. Things, people, places all around me turn brighter and brighter until I can’t see. And then I wake.”
“Robert, don’t fight this dream.” The tall man said instructively. “We have seen this many, many times.”
“Well, then what do you want me to do?” His perspiration led to desperation as his knees gave way to the stress-infested gravity that tried so intentionally to crush his back.
“Trust me.” And with these words Robert collapsed on the floor and cried his way through the unwanted seconds of his life.
“You know what you have to do Robert.” The man laid a comforting hand on his shoulder. “We all want happiness Robert. So many people are in ruts just like you but so many of them deny the only way out, the only true way out. They deny it because they are afraid. They are weak. But you, Robert, you are not afraid, you are not weak. You know the way, you except the way. Say it with me.”
Robert laid fetus position on the floor with his arms protecting his head, bellowing and crying and scrapping for words.
“Say it with me! Say it with me, Robert!” The compassion seemed to melt away and harden into black molten rock. “I except the way, say it!”
“I except the way!” he cried.
“I except the way!”
“I except the way!” and with that final cry he then fell abruptly into unconsciousness. As the heart-pounding tension that swelled the room died down it began allowing minor intervals of awkward silence to surface solely to remind the brainwashed persons exactly where they were.
“Goodbye Robert.” The tall man stood to his feet and erectly faced the room. The molten rock that had once engulfed him began to cool away.
“Well, come on now, let’s not be so callus. Say goodbye to Robert…”
“Goodbye Robert.” The room chanted as one.
“He was a good guy.” The man smiled warmly as he did so many times.
“I guess we should carry him away now before he wakes up. I would very much hate to see him suffer in the water.” Robert laid there his eyebrows still tense and his arms still above his head.
“He won’t regret it though, I’m sure.” He chuckled softly to himself. “There’s nothing like waking to bitter lake water in your lungs.” And in less than ten minutes the room was left with nothing more than the lingering insecurities of life and a circle of naked multi-colored chairs.

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