Chapter 1 – The Dream
His lips touched mine as he teased my senses; I felt chills running through my body. He stepped back, tilted my head and kissed me again; then I was all wrapped in his warm embrace. I felt safe and wanted. As he drew me into his well-defined chest, I felt myself drifting away to some unknown place, somewhere that seemed to promise me real happiness. My eyelids slowly slid over my eyeballs as I felt comfort and security in his arms. I breathed against his shoulder and desired to stay there forever. We stood there for a while, embraced in each other’s arms in absolute silence. I felt myself drifting into an unbelievable moment of perfection. Suddenly, I felt my legs growing cold and a shiver ran through my body. I opened my eyes, perplexed, disturbed. As my eyes adjusted to the sudden light in my face, I saw my sisters’ mischievous expression, with my cover sheet in her hands. “What the…!” I uttered. “Watch your language sleepy-head” she said, grinning down at me. I didn’t find it funny one bit. First, she stole the ending of my beautiful dream and secondly, she interrupted my sleep. Sigh, I was in no mood for joking around.
As my senses fully awakened and my sister left my room feeling accomplished, I could smell what seemed to be local cocoa tea. Dad must be whipping up some breakfast, I thought. Then I remembered my dream. What was that all about? I wondered. It was such a lovely dream. Was it a sign from God? The young man in the dream was tall, handsome, dark and had a beautiful smile. His eyes were warm and seemed to be able to see my heart and understand my personality. He seemed caring, firm and yet tender. It was a perfect dream and I found myself wishing it was true.
“Hey Angel,” said my Dad, rubbing my head as I eagerly prepared a mug of my favourite hot beverage. I was forced away from my dreamy thoughts towards real life. Dad seemed wide awake and happy. He seemed like this more and more these days. Today marked three years since his best friend died. Darryl was like our uncle; a regular presence in our home. I clearly remembered his Christmas gifts and the times we went fishing, Dad, my sister Rena, my brother Joel, Uncle Darryl and I.
Dad its Saturday, let’s do something fun. Dad paused and looked at me, “actually, that sounds like sweet music to my ear, maybe we can.” “Dad!” I heard Joel’s annoying voice piercing through the house as if to attack the peaceful moment we were enjoying. “We can’t go fishing, I have swimming!” “So, go swim with the fishes,” I snapped. Joel was the spoil brat in our home who walked around in a bubble of entitlement; we barely got along. In fact, the only person I got along with was my Dad; my sister was too bossy, and Joel was a showoff. “Joel! Why did you wake up? Go back to bed.” By this time my light brown-eyed bowed feet brother made his appearance with too wide of a grin on his face. As he entered, I escaped with my mug of hot cocoa, my platter of freshly baked bread from the bakery and fried fish.
My phone rang as I settled with my breakfast on the front porch. “Hey Nicky, what’s up?” Nicole was my faithful friend from kindergarten. My buddy, my pal; I was so happy to hear her voice. As my breakfast grew cold, I related my entire dream to Nicky. I felt special having someone to trust with my dream. Nicky was just as curious as I was. “Wow” she said, “What a dream! He seems so real”. “I know,” I responded, while exhaling. We grew silent for about fifteen seconds, then I said “Where did that come from anyhow? Why would I dream such a romantic dream that leaves such strong impressions on my mind?” I searched for context, for meaning. Nicky was such a good friend; she took my dream seriously. “Girl, let me go eat my breakfast. I would probably head back to bed to try finding my dream. I need to see this handsome guy again.” Nicky chuckled and we both said goodbye.
Chapter 2 – The Dining Table
It was Sunday Morning, I looked outside and noticed how beautiful it was. My eyes quickly scanned the calendar on the wall next to the window and I was reminded that my birthday was just ten (10) days away. I felt excitement creeping in; I couldn’t believe I was going to be twenty-three (23). “Maxine” I heard my father’s husky voice bellowing my name. “Great day for hashing!” “Yes!” I hollered back. I was looking forward to being outdoors, especially after not being able to go fishing on Saturday. My siblings couldn’t-care-less about hashing, which meant, whenever Dad and I went I got the opportunity to spend quality time with him.
After breakfast, I immediately began prepping for our midday meal; it was my turn for cooking, and I had no idea what to prepare. After some brainstorming, my mind was made up. I finished my business in the kitchen, took a bath and headed to the supermarket for a few items needed for our outing. At the Supermarket, I quickly picked up what I needed and headed home. One of the items purchased was a lip balm. As I later transferred the items into my backpack, I couldn’t help noticing what was written on the label of the lip balm. I felt the corners of my mouth curling upwards slowly into a subtle smile as I read the words on the label “dreamy lips”. I found myself reminiscing on the dream I had in the wee hours of last Saturday morning. My heart fluttered as my memory rebounded and I felt a fondness of a familiar place. Of course, after all, I had been there before, it was my dream and it was real to me. Twiddling the lip balm between my fingers, I sunk onto the couch and for the first time I wondered what it would be like to be married to the man of my dreams.
A sudden outburst from my brother, Joel, startled me. Heaven knows what this crazy boy was up to, flying across the living room with a vocal outburst that was supposed to be singing. I guess I had to be thankful for the disruption, because soon it would be time for Dad and I to leave and we were yet to have lunch. Even though I didn’t really get along with my siblings, I looked forward to the few meals we shared together, and Sunday’s lunch was one of them. For some reason the dining table was the one place we felt happy in each other’s company; the one place we seemed to respect and value each other the most.
The table was all set; I prepared callaloo soup, baked chicken, baked pumpkin, a pasta salad, stewed pigeon peas, steamed plantains, and sweet potatoes and my favorite, a fresh green vegetable salad. One thing I was proud about, was my cooking skills; not many of my peers felt that confident about the kitchen and I was very much aware of that fact. As we took our places around the table, we held hands and prayed. While our family were not regular church goers, we had an awareness of the presence of God and valued our prayer time. Dad grew up as an Anglican and as kids we followed him to church until church going became a bore and seemed meaningless. Chatter consumed us as we entered our special zone of happy.
Rena initiated the series of discussion by telling us about her boss’s attempt to insult her recently and how she responded. Dad chipped in sharing with us about his first job and how naïve he was. Joel enlightened us about the younger generation’s idea of work, and then it was my turn; I too had my topic of interest which in no way correlated with the theme so far. Slowly drifting my eyes around the table, I asked. “Have any of you ever had a dream that came through?” Ouch, the silence was deafening as everyone appeared to be lost in thought. Dad looked at me and said, “well, some of my dreams came through, but they were not fashioned while I slept.” Dad looked at me as if he knew about my dream, but, no, how could he? Unless…uhh…I wondered if he overheard my conversation with Nicky. I felt exposed just considering the possibility that he may have overheard. Anyway, I wasn’t going to ask.
My question did shift the direction of the conversation and we sought to figure out why do people dream while they are asleep, sharing our weird theories. We laughed, talked and ate, cherishing the good food and the friendly interaction. By the time we were finished, I felt filled to the brim of my stomach. It was not just because of the food I ate, but it was the quality of time spent with my family; I felt grateful.
As we all cleared the table, I thought of Mom and I felt a pang of loneliness hit my mid section. Mom and Dad were divorced for over ten years now. The circumstances leading up to their divorce never made sense to me as a kid, and as a young adult I still struggled with it. “Dad, do you think you will ever remarry?” I asked. I felt Rena’s stare and turned to look at her, staring right back. “Don’t you ever wonder, Rena?”. Dad was observing us, completely quiet as he secured some of the remaining food into containers; I could see he was deep in thought. “Why did you ask?” He inquired. “Just missing mom that’s all,” I answered. I looked at Joel, then Rena, then back at Dad. Then I said, “To this day I still wish we were together under the same roof.” Rena then sarcastically commented, “Life and its complications.”
I observed Joel’s face and it was as if he was saying, “yea, me too.” I felt it was unfair to Dad to voice my selfish sentiments ten years after, but It was the truth, I missed mom terribly. Dad leaned against the kitchen counter and said, “remarrying is not always as easy as it seems; I truly loved your mother”. I was encouraged to see how relaxed he was talking about it; a discussion that was uncomfortable for him before. I secretly looked forward to more.
We had just completed clearing the table when the house phone rang, and Joel raced to answer, as if he knew who the caller was. “Mom!” He exclaimed. “We were just talking about you; we miss you!” Rena walked over to Joel and stood next to him as he and mom conversed. I looked at my sister, who was two years my elder, and I could see how eager she was to hear mom’s voice; it was usually the same response every time she called. Mom migrated two years after the divorce was made final to pursue her career as a Nurse. It was not convenient at the time for any of us to travel with her. Life with Dad presented a more stable option with my Dad being a qualified Teacher and us owning the property on which we lived.
We took turns (even dad) speaking with mom and then it was back to our chores. Rena and Joel headed to the kitchen, Dad took out the garbage and disappeared outside for a while and I escaped to my room with my journal. I had about thirty (30) minutes to spare before dressing and heading out. I thought to myself, I would love to hear more from Dad, I needed to hear more from Dad. I felt my interest in marriage suddenly heightened and anticipated more intimate conversations with my daddy. And then, as I settled with my pen, poised to write in my journal, memories of my dream returned.
Chapter 3 – The Co-worker
We lived on a beautiful Island in the Caribbean where natural beauty was at its best and Dad and I were about to enjoy some of it. We were finally on our way to hashing, driving out to the Western part of the Island. Our hashing track promised to take us along one of the largest rivers, ending our journey at one of the old plantation houses on the Island. The sun was out but it was cool; there were clouds in the sky that seemed permanently positioned to soften the effects of the sun.
As we made our way to the meeting point, in Dad’s vehicle, we enjoyed the view of the lush vegetation while soft music played in the background from the radio. I was able to think; the silence between Dad and I was comfortable and accommodating. As my eyes beheld the sceneries, I thought about the unmatched beauty of our Island and by extension the entire Universe. I was taught as a child that God created the Earth and I was also taught that the Earth came into being through the process of evolution. Somehow, I couldn’t conceptualize evolution being responsible for such complex designs, such splendor, and so, I was more comfortable with the thought that such magnificence was the responsibility of a supernatural being.
Ha-ha Ha-ha! Dad’s laughter broke the silence as he slowed down for a young boy and his goats to cross the road. Instead of proceeding across the road swiftly, two goats decided to test each other with their horns, totally ignoring our presence. Dad slowly progressed and with the help of the young shepherd, they were safely herded to the other side. What was most amusing was the site of the young boy with a belt in his hand in the place of a stick or rod; Dad thought it was so funny and had a good laugh.
The encounter of the goats and their unique shepherd jolted us into a lively discussion about animals and their intelligence. We then began to compare animals with human beings; again, we didn’t care for the theory of the evolutionists who believe we are also animals. In our conversation, Dad and I were able to identify a number of reasons why we didn’t believe. The exchange was solid and captivating. One of the major differences we identified was our ability to reason. It was at that juncture that our conversation progressed to an even more serious level. Dad looked at me and he said, “You know, one of the things your mom and I struggled with was communication and the ability to sit down and reason together.” I took a deep breath and braced myself for more; I felt a sense of joy as I envisaged a conversation I always wanted with my Daddy, especially now when my interest in marriage was growing. Dad continued by saying “I believe that there are underlying beliefs, perceptions and even undisclosed hurts that can hinder couples from communicating freely with each other. The skill of effective communication is very critical in a marriage.” As Dad spoke, I could see how passionate he felt about what he was sharing and I sat there, taking it all in. Dad was telling me about his experience with such control and wisdom, I knew it was intentional; he was teaching me. As we arrived at our destination, I looked across at Dad and said, “best conversation ever.” I knew that meant a lot to him as he smiled back at me.
We gathered our belongings and headed out of the vehicle to assemble with the others already on site. I quickly scanned the growing group of persons, counting about twenty-five individuals. Oh yea! My adventure juices were flowing. “Maxine”, a very familiar voice uttered my name. Immediately I knew who it was and turned to my left to see Nicky and two other persons. “I would kill her, she never told me she was coming.” I whispered to myself. As I walked over, Nicky left her company and walked towards me. “Surprise!” said Nicky, with a mischievous look on her face. We hugged and erupted into the usual updates of our lives. “Who are you with?” I asked. Nicky responded indicating that they were both co-workers who wanted to experience hashing for the first time. Nicky worked as a Customer Service Representative at one of the telephone companies on our island. We walked over to her co-workers, where I was first introduced to Shanta. Nicky then called out to the young man who had found a beautiful stone to relax on while waiting.
As we approached the young man and I got a clearer look at him, I froze in my tracks, I felt my eyes widened and my heart skipped a beat as there was no denying that this young man was the explicit image of the young man in my dream. I struggled to act normal as Nicky said, “Maxine this is Jason, my co-worker, and Jason this is Maxine my best friend.” My tongue clinched to the roof of my mouth as I felt my brain freeze. I wanted to hold on to the imaginary rope at my side, for support, as my knees buckled. What is this? I thought to myself. This is crazy! I managed to pull myself together and think and very awkwardly lifted my hand and said, ” hi, nice to meet you”. I breathed a sigh of relief while noticing Nicky’s curiosity; I was so embarrassed about my reaction. I felt helpless and exposed. I turned around in search of my Dad; I wanted to escape. The discomfort was unbearable. Is this a coincidence? What is the meaning of all this? I felt confused, there were so many questions, and no answers.