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Day to Dream

The Midwestern sun is high in the cloudless blue expanse of the sky. The empty highway slices through the center of an ocean of sunflowers, their golden faces craning skyward for light. The air is dry and heavy; the air conditioner inside the car is on full blast.
I haven’t seen another person for miles. The last twelve hours have been the longest of my life. I haven’t stopped to rest and my eyelids are heavy and the road is blurring from time to time. I cannot drive like this for much longer, but it would be unbearable to sleep in my small, over-packed car.
A large oak looms over the sunflowers a short distance from me, close to the edge of the road. Beneath it, shade and thick grass appears comfortably cooler than the stagnant air of the sunflowers. I park, turning off the engine of my old car, and dragging myself from the seat. My legs are heavy. The blood rushing back to my numb feet causes a prickly sensation under the skin. I stumble toward the tree, my leg muscles constricting my movement. Once I reach the shade, I stretch myself out on the ground and relax in the cool grass. I am relieved that I finally get to sleep. Within moments I am unconscious, in a patch of grass, under a tree, in the middle of nowhere.
Inside my head, I am sinking through a heavy mist. Images blur together, feelings wash over me, childhood memories flash by, morphing with those from recent times. I am asleep, but my brain is still working. Seconds tick by, maybe minutes or hours.
Something rustles by my ear, and I open my eyes, in completely new surroundings. There are no sunflowers, no oak tree; the grass here is short and springy. A tall dark hedge materializes through the mist. To my left the living green wall stretches into the distance, the same to my right. An arch opens up in the hedge. I step through the arch, the moment I am on the other side it disappears, trapping me in. It doesn’t trouble me. I peer down the path where there is an even larger expanse of green. I take off running, sliding along the grass. The turns I take never seem to end and I soon find myself coming back to my trail. I am hopelessly lost within the maze. I round a corner and run past another opening, just like the one I entered through before. A golden light is cast upon the ground. I step through the hole and again the opening closes. I am momentarily blinded by the brightness. Around me there is row upon row of golden daffodils and at the center of this golden sea is a bed. I step through the flowers toward the bed. Admiring the beauty of the strands of yellow trumpet flowers entwined into the beds framework. Turquoise butterflies sit, wings closing and opening, on the sheets. The closer I step, the more visible a person becomes, curled under the sheets. It is a girl, a blonde. I place a hand upon her shoulder.
Excuse me...I’m sorry to wake you, but do you know how to get out of this maze?
The girl rolls onto her back and stares at me for a moment with her green-brown eyes, sleepy confusion. Then shock and surprise set in and she screams. In her fear, she throws off the covers, sending the butterflies into the sky in a cloud of blue fluttering wings, and jumps away from me, the bed separating us.

How did you get into my room?
She screams at me, but then she notices the flowers, the butterflies, and the hedge enclosing us. She sunk to the ground into the mass of flowers. It is odd seeing this girl. I know her. I have spoken to her only in passing at school. She is friendly. I have seen her every day in class and I have been smitten instantaneously. She knows my name, she knows my face, but she doesn’t share my feelings. She’s beautiful sitting in the golden flowers, in a white V-neck and a simple floral skirt. It is odd how she’s in my dream, but I like her here.

This isn’t my room…none of this makes any sense.

It doesn’t have to make sense if it’s a dream.
Where are we?

I don’t really know. I’ve never been in a hedge maze before; I don’t know how my imagination came up with this or with you, for that matter.
She doesn’t have any shoes. I feel bad and I remove mine, placing them beside the bed. I sit with her, in the flowers, the yellow reflecting into our faces. We sit there and talk, and listen and say nothing at all. Suddenly she surprises me.

Let’s play a game!

All right! What game?

I don’t know…you pick. This is your imagination, now. Isn’t it?
I step over to her and help her to her feet. I take her hand; it feels natural, like it actually exists. It’s odd how real this dream feels. I then place my hand on her shoulder and whisper.

Tag, you’re it!
I then take off running, sliding through the flowers, flattening them underfoot. She is always close behind me. Damn she’s fast! I lose my footing in a patch of grass and slide into the hedge. She is there right behind me, like she has been, and places her hand upon my head.

You’re it!
I scramble to get up. I am not hurt, and my clothes are not even stained from the slide. I look around just to see her disappear into a new opening in the hedge. I follow not far behind. Around every bend I can see her blonde hair and the bright color of her skirt disappear. She manages to stay one foot ahead of me, until she runs out of luck and becomes trapped at a dead end. I open my arms wide to cut off any chance of her squeezing by me. We are overtaken with excited giggles and a rush of adrenaline. Our chests are sore and our mouths are dry. She tries to escape under my left arm, but I swing around and catch her. She and I both fall to the ground laughing and breathing hard. We lie still for a while. Her hair is splayed out over the grass. Her head is on top of my arm, I have my other arm clumsily over her waist. I want to move it, but I don’t want to give away my embarrassment. I felt her arm around me, and her wondering eyes gazing at me. There is silence between us. I listen to her breath, in and out, in and out, the rhythmic expanding of her lungs. I hope in my heart that I will remember this when I wake. Of any given moment of this dream, I hope that this would be one that is seared into my mind. I gaze at her, studying her every curve and form. She is not perfect, in any sense of the word, but nor am I. To me she embodies everything that I can ever hope for. Her smile, flawless and vivid; her laugh, sweet and unrestricted; her eyes, unpolluted and free of judgment; her skin, soft and radiant; her confidence, strong and unrefined, her well rounded beauty is everything that I fell in love with.

Did you hear that?
She suddenly is sitting up, staring off past the hedge, and straining her ears to hear it again.

No. What is it?

I can’t believe you can’t hear it!
I notice the birds have stopped chirping. I listen harder, focusing to hear what had interrupted our peaceful moment. Then, like distant thunder, I hear the roar of water. It is not too far off, yet it is faint, but the intensity of the sound grows with every passing moment. She stands and walks back toward the path we had come. I am unwilling to follow; the water has ruined my perfect moment. We come upon a fork I do not remember passing. The grass hasn’t been trodden underfoot. She leads me down the path, and after some twists and turns and backtracks we come upon an arch, much like the one I had entered through two times before. We step through the arch and are engulfed by the mist. We walk through it, toward the rumbling water. The mist clears, and before us stands a rock face, tall and slick. The water plummets from its hidden top and shatters upon the rocks at its base, sending up plumes of mist and revealing rainbows. She scrambles over the rocks to the opposite bank. The pool at the bottom of the fall is deep and clear, the white sand that has settled on the bottom makes it glow. I watch her pull her shirt over her head and toss it into the grass. I want to give her privacy, by turning away, but I watch her out of the corner of my eye. She shimmies out of her skirt and jumps into the water. I pull my own shirt off and struggle out of my jeans, laying them neatly in the grass. I am self-conscious, standing in the sunlight in my underwear, her watching me. I launch myself into the clear blue water. I sink down, watching the water rush above me. My eyes sting from the saltiness. Not like the ocean, but like tears. Could they have been mine?
I surface, treading water, looking around for her. She has disappeared. I feel hands glide across my back and wrap around my shoulders, pulling me under the water for a moment. I am not use to this kind of gentle touch. Her hair brushes against my exposed flesh. Her legs bump mine as we rhythmically attempt to keep our heads above water. Her cheek is against mine, her chin on my shoulder, I feel her bare stomach against my lower back. I smile and feel the corner of her mouth curl up into a smile. We float for a long time, till the skin on our fingers becomes wrinkly, and our muscles are exhausted. I pull myself up onto the bank; the sand is fine and light in color.
She lies on her stomach, I on my back. The sand sticks to our wet skin. On the back of her arms and legs and in the small of her back, tiny water droplets glisten and leave shimmering trails, as they slid across her smooth skin and evaporate once they hit the sand. The overhead sun dries our hair. Her hand is close to mine, our fingers touching. I feel my face flush and my ears get hot. I hope she doesn’t notice, but she has. She repositions her hand, lacing her fingers in mine. Our heads are close. I take a deep breath, inhaling the smell of salt, warm sand, the faintest hint of damp earth. She smells wonderful, but I can’t place it. The waterfall rhythmically beats in the background. I wonder what her lips taste like. Would she taste differently? I am fine with just lying next to her, her hand in mine. But it appears as if something is bothering her. She looks over at me.

Do you think we’ll remember this when we wake up?

I don’t know if that’s possible. I can’t remember every dream I’ve ever had, but I really hope I remember this one. This is the one dream I never want to forget, ever. Spending time with you! Being here! Even if none of this is real, it trumps all first dates.

So that’s what we’ll call this?

What?

A date!

No…I…I didn’t mean….Is that what you want to call it?
I am blushing again. Somehow I can’t control myself around her.
Why not?
She is smiling softly at me. Her face is so very close to mine, our fingers are still knitted together. There are so many moments I want to replay, to relive.

If this is a date then, am I allowed to do this?
I whisper and move ever so slowly, her eyes, kind; her lips, inviting; her posture, beckoning. I am nervous. I have every right to be. I am in love with her. She is so close to me now, almost within reach. I don’t want to screw this up. I am millimeters from her, our noses brush together. I have one last hurdle; one last gap to bridge, but my heart is beating fast. Her breathing is soft and so very close. She feels my hesitation. My eyes may be shut, but I know she smiles, that beautiful smile that makes me weak in the knees. She bridges the gap for my sake, pressing her lips against mine. I am relieved and happy and overwhelmed. It is passionate and exhilarating, but sadly it does not last long. I enjoy every second.
She pulls herself close to me. I pressed my cheek against her forehead, our shadows stretched out on the sand. My hand is still in hers.
You don’t have to go.
Her voice was almost a whisper.

But I do…eventually. As much as I want to believe that all of this is real, I can’t. It’s all just a creation inside my head, a figment of my sad, lonely imagination.

But what if this isn’t a dream? What if you and I were actually here?

Then I shouldn’t have ever given up believing in magic and unicorns and dragons.
At this, she laughs.

All right.
She manages to say, while smearing tears that have been forced from her eyes.

I’ll probably become really depressed once I wake up. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
She looks up at me with her beautiful blue eyes. I wipe away a streak that has been created by one of her stray tears.
Once we are dry, she brushes off the dried sand and picks up her skirt and pulls it on along with her shirt. I have to scramble back to the other bank to collect my clothes. They feel different when I put them on, like they aren’t mine, like they are new. I look at them and in fact, I have never seen them before in my life. What was only a short time ago, light blue jeans are now a dark blue-green, and my gray t-shirt is now a black and red striped sweater. I notice that her clothes are different now, too. Her floral skirt is a plain blue and her white shirt is lace, a sweater lay folded next to it. We walk down the grassy bank of the river, watching the large, rainbow colored coy fish swim lazily through the shallows. Beyond us, some distance back through the rolling green meadow, a tree line of aspen. Their leaves are a bright red and orange and yellow, giving the appearance the whole forest is in flames.
The air is warm, but clouds now hang low, blocking out the sun. A cool breeze blows over the tops of the trees and down across of the grass, filling the air with a murmur. Her hand is tightly held in mine. There is only the sound of nature, the insects chirping deep in the grass, the soft trickling of water over the rocks, and our footsteps. The river suddenly bends and nestled in the grass is a small boat. I help her in and shove us off, down the slow-moving river. There are no oars, no motor, just the steady, slow current of the water. Along the bank, wild flowers blossom and swans float in pairs. Beneath the water, the rainbow coy fish lazily swim under the boat. She trails her hand in the glassy water behind us. I am sitting across from her, smiling to myself, our knees touching. I am without words, so we sit silently, taking in the patchy sunlight, and the warm wind. I lean over the side of the boat, plucking a few of the flowers from the grass. I twirled them between my fingers, admiring their bright colors. She looks up from the water, and I sweetly place a purple flower in her hair, she smiles and leans over, kissing my cheek, her hand caressing my neck. We pass through the mist, the moisture sticking to our skin. Her lips are soft and her breath is warm. I can concentrate on nothing else.
The water suddenly begins to move very fast. I do not want to pull away from her, but the newly developed speed frightens me. Obstacles emerge from the water, rocks, and logs, things that didn’t exist before. The sky becomes very dark, and the wind picks up. We are scared. This beautiful dream quickly turns nightmare. She holds onto me, and I to her. The boat hits a log and spills us into the water. We surface, being pulled apart by the fast moving current. I grab a rock, trying to hold both of us together.

Take this!
She yells at me, squeezing a flower into my palm.

I don’t…

You want to know if this is a dream. There won’t be a flower when you wake up!
I clench my fist around it, keeping it from getting pulled away by the water. I feel my other hand slipping. She looks at me, love filling her eyes, and kisses me, for the final time, before she lets go and is swept downstream. I call out to her. Holding onto the flower with all my might, I will not let it escape me, not like she has. My arm is tired. The moss is slippery. I can’t hold on any longer and am swept under and tumbled in the water. I surface as the river begins to bend sharply, to see our boat in pieces on the rocks; the wind is even stronger here. A large funnel drops from the sky into the water ahead of me. I attempt to swim away, but am sucked into it. I clutch my fist to my chest, and secure it there with my other hand. Protecting the flower is my last attempt of keeping this dream alive. As the funnel takes me up and up and up, I lose consciousness, and everything melts away.
I am floating in nothing, the air is calm, and the sound is a soft whir by my ear. I open my eyes to the dark green leaves of the oak tree above me. The long grass is flattened all around me. My fists are still clutched to my chest. I slowly open my hand to see the flower in my palm. I am overwhelmed with emotion, I feel myself starting to cry, I am so happy. Suddenly my phone begins to ring in my pocket.

Hello?



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