The Love Dream – Chapters 10-12

Chapter 10 – The Aftermath Part 1

We watched as they skillfully and professionally carried out their duties removing the man and the boy from the wrecked vehicle. We sat next to Nicky on the pavement in front of the house, safely away from the scene. The cops arrived shortly after the paramedics; I wondered what took them so long. I clearly remembered Officer Thomas as he was the cop who questioned us. Dad answered most of the questions with the rest of us contributing as needed. I felt exhausted; the image of the man and the little boy deeply etched in my mind. As the officer completed his investigation I relocated to the small couch on our front porch. My head was pounding profusely.

A few minutes later I looked up to see Nicky walking towards me with my phone; it was ringing. I looked at it and noticed Jason Emery was calling. I suddenly remembered I was calling Jason to invite him to my birthday party when it all happened. “Hi Jason, I am so sorry, you must’ve…….” Jason quickly interrupted, “Don’t worry about it, I actually answered the call and heard the crash and your initial reactions; I realised that something was terribly wrong.  I contacted Nicky and she was able to tell me what transpired. It was weird hearing and not being able to see what was happening. I felt helpless all I could do was pray.” Jason’s voice was filled with empathy and compassion.  I felt he genuinely cared and was concerned for our well being. I just wanted to be still and listen to his comforting voice. “Are you there?” Jason asked after a few seconds of silence.  “Yes I am. I guess I am still in shock over what we just saw. I’ve seen too much; it’s hard to digest what really happened.” Jason then asked, “Is it ok for me to come over?” Without the slightest hesitation I said, “sure”.

As I rested on the Sofa, I remembered Nicky and I were planning my birthday party. Gosh, the last thing I wanted to do then was think of my birthday celebration.  Here I was filled with anxiety and worry wondering if the man who I saw slumped over the steering wheel was alive and if the scared little boy was alright. I worried about their families and how they may have been affected. Nicky came and sat next to me on the Sofa. She too looked burdened. We shared many similar qualities and empathy was one of them; we deeply cared about others. “You good?” Nicky asked. “Nah, this one hit me hard girl. Really hard.” We discussed what we believed to be the activities that lead to this terrible accident comforting each other with hopeful words. Nicky looked at me and asked, “Weren’t we supposed to try to remove them, what if the jeep caught a fire?”  I wondered about that myself, was it correct to wait that long for the paramedics?  As we sat there in deep thought, we could hear Dad conversing with our neighbours and onlookers. Everyone was sharing their account of what they saw and heard.   

I must’ve fallen asleep on the sofa. I was later awoken by Dad calling me, “Maxine, Max, Jason Emery is here!” He really came, I thought. I felt happy to have his company. I began to see him as a ray of light and there was something about his voice that was calm and reassuring.  I stretched, rubbed my eyes and noticed Nicky was gone.  As I looked to the right of the house I could see Jason fully engaged with the small group of people gathered.  My head continued to throb, and I decided to go find a pain killer and water, with the hope that I can feel better and join the conversation.  As I entered the kitchen searching for medication, I thought about my mother and how she often nursed me to better health as a little girl.

Chapter 11 – The Aftermath – Part II

It was approximately two and a half hours since we heard the crash and hastened outside to see a vehicle perched on top of our broken front wall. The small crowd dissipated except for our family, Nicky, Jason, and Dad’s younger brother, who just happened to be popping by. Rena had prepared some chicken burgers and served us along with passion fruit juice. Rena’s show of hospitality was very much appreciated. Some of us chilled on the porch while others were on the lawn; everyone grateful for something to eat. I looked at my phone, and noticed it was 12:10 p.m. No wonder we seemed so hungry. “Thank you Rena!” Dad said. “Very thoughtful of you.” “Thanks Dad.” She replied.

Shortly after our welcomed lunch, I observed everyone glancing at their phones and watches. Jason stood up and told us that he had to run an errand before 1:00 pm and personally thanked Rena for the delicious burgers. Nicky and I simultaneously walked towards Jason’s direction escorting him to his…”Wait a minute! Nicky exclaimed. “You mean you came here with a motorcycle and we didn’t realise it! Mmmm, full of surprises eh!” Jason looked at Nicky and they both laughed. At the same time, my brother raced across to have a closer look at Jason’s bike. “Thank you for coming Jason.” I said. “We really appreciate it.” As Jason mounted his bike and started the engine, he looked towards my direction and made eye contact. “I had to be here, especially after hearing everything over the phone.” He paused, looked away, then said. “No problem Maxine.”

As Jason took his exit it dawned on me that I never told him why I was calling him earlier that morning. We began walking back to the porch and Nicky asked if I wanted to continue planning my birthday barbecue. Before I could respond, Dad belted out from the living room, “absolutely! Why would you allow this incident to stop you from celebrating your birthday?” Nicky and I looked at each other and smiled because deep down we wanted to feel better and we knew focusing on my birthday would certainly help.

Within the hour, we were done calling all our invitees; a total of fifteen persons. I sent Jason a message to tell him why I was calling as I assumed, he was still travelling home. I didn’t want him to receive my invitation too late. Dad and I planned to do the shopping later that day as we were cognisant of the fact that the weekdays could be busy. Uncle Shawn stuck around for a while and even tagged along with us later that evening to pick up items for the event.

What a day, I thought, as I slumped on to the living room rug searching for the remote for the stereo. I felt like relaxing with fine music playing in the background; it was an ideal way to unwind. Despite the unexpected happenings of the day, I managed to accomplish my tasks. I finally found music fitting for my mood and made myself more comfortable on the floor. My phone rang; it was Jason. “Hey, I just called to say “yes”, I would surely love to attend your birthday barbecue.” “Great”, I answered. “I do hope you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.”  I could hear Jason’s smile. “I will be just fine. I hope you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable at my birthday event, don’t forget my invitation comes first.” “Well let’s see, I am planning to be there for sure.” We said goodbye and I laid on the floor reminiscing on how crazy and interesting the day was.  As I closed my eyes, the various scenes of the day floated across my mind, from the crashing sound of metal and glass to a little boy’s whimper, then soft chatter of the small crowd and then finally the comforting voice of Jason Emery. What a day it was! I thought. What a day!

Chapters 7-9

Chapter 7 – The Secret

Since my last encounter with Jason Emery, I couldn’t get his invitation and his voice out of my mind. On Wednesday, I had promised him an answer in a couple days, and it was now Friday. Nicky and I met at Sammy’s bar after work that evening and of course brought each other up to date with the latest. Nicky was excited to share her success in finding a suitable apartment and I was so happy for her. My girl was becoming more independent and I looked forward to crashing at her place and chatting all night. I then informed Nicky that Jason had invited me to his birthday brunch and it was the day before my birthday. Nicky looked startled. “He did?” She paused for a second then said, “He did not mention it. Well, great, we will both be there. He has invited other co-workers as well.” “But I barely know the guy,” I responded, “We met only once, why would he invite me? As a matter of fact, I thought you may have been the one to put him up to this.”  

Nicky looked at me and for the first time I saw a distance in her eyes that made me uneasy, I knew Nicky so well. I got that gut feeling that she was refraining from telling me something.  As I considered the possibility, I looked away as a pang of guilt stabbed my mid-section; I remembered that I never explained to Nicky the reason for my awkward behavior, when Jason was introduced to me. I never revealed to her that Jason looked exactly like the young man in my dreams. All of a sudden I was confused and wanted to be invisible. Here I was with my best friend and for the first time I was seriously struggling, wondering whether I should reveal my secret.

We sat in silence for approximately fifteen seconds, then Nicky turned to me with a shrug and said.  “I believe Jason felt comfortable inviting you because he knows you and I are cool.”  As she spoke I felt a slight release of my inner tension as I thought, yes, we are cool. Nicky and I are just fine. It couldn’t be more than two seconds before Nicky blurted out “Was Jason Emery the young man in your dream?”  I turned to look at Nicky and immediately wanted to defend myself. I was caught off guard and instinctively wanted to evade the truth and the possible revelation of my secret.  Now more than ever I felt my secret was a threat to the quality of our relationship. I squeezed my eyes shut as Nicky stared at me, I could feel her eyes searching me, piercing into my soul. I felt terrible! 

Nicky knew me too well; my silence was loud and undoubtedly provided the answer she was looking for. After bracing myself, realizing I was cornered, I looked at Nicky and said, “It was my intention to tell you all along, it’s just that for some reason I wasn’t comfortable.” “Why wouldn’t you be comfortable Maxine, it’s me? You told me all about the dream, remember?” “Yes” I answered. “But… for some reason I held back. Girl, you had me wondering.”  By then, I had shaken off my reluctance reminding myself that I was speaking to my best friend, someone I knew and trusted for a long time. “I was wondering if you had a thing for Jason.”  Nicky looked at me with a smirk on her face.  “And if I do, he is the man of your dreams, right?” “Nicky!” I snapped and stared at her with a playful scowl. Nicky laughed and looked at me, “Jason is a Christian Maxine, and I am not.”  I looked at my best friend, a little surprised with her answer and thought to myself, neither am I.

Chapter 8 – The Answer

Saturday morning I woke up staring at the ceiling as I remembered what transpired the day before. I could not help pondering for a while on Nicky’s Statement “Jason is a Christian and I am not”. These words possessed my mind and I began thinking deeply about the meaning of Nicky’s utterance. I sighed to myself, pulled out my journal and started to write.

“Dear journal here we are again. I think I need help, help to exist as if this dream never happened. Before this dream life was less complicated. I am focusing on this dream too deeply. Nicky doesn’t make it easier with her conclusions. Yes, her conclusions seem to indicate that she is attracted to Jason Emery and is a bit disappointed that he is a Christian. What does it mean to be a Christian anyway? Aren’t we all Christians? My soul searches for answers.”

Placing my pen on my tummy, I closed my journal and whispered to myself, “Who is a Christian?” I started searching to the left of my room scanning my bookshelf for my bible. I couldn’t recall the last time I saw it. I thought to myself maybe if I read it, I would find answers. My bible was no where to be found. I sat up scratching my head, “boxing my brain” about its possible location.

As I tried to figure out what may have happened to my bible, I thought of Mom and called her. I remembered receiving the said bible as a birthday gift on my sixteenth birthday. It was a beautiful bible and very special to me. I kept it in the box and in the gift wrap and never let it out of my sight. It was royal blue and had a yellow suede book marker. My countenance lightened as mom’s voice could be heard at the other end. We chatted for a while and I reminded her about the bible she gave me. She was overjoyed to hear that it still meant the world to me. She wasn’t too concerned about me not finding it and said, “Ask your sister”.  Oh yes, Mothers know best, I was convinced that Rena had it.

It was fun to update Mom on activities at home. My mother was average height, a little chubby and of light complexion. She wore a very low-cut hairstyle and was simple but tasteful in her dressing. She was a go getter and loved to achieve. Hosting and entertaining  friends and family brought her immense joy; she was a great hostess. I often remembered great times socializing with our friends and family. It was usually a Barbecue or a cook-up of some sort. When my mother left, our social life suffered. I missed her in a thousand ways.

Before we said goodbye, I asked Mom if she thought I should accept Jason’s invitation to his birthday brunch. Of  course, Mom was updated on the Jason Emery story as well. Mom responded and said, “I see no danger bumble bee (her pet name for me), I think you should”. Having mom’s approval was it for me; I was finally comfortable and ready to give an answer. I was also inspired by her to hold a barbecue party for my birthday the following day. She  thought It would be a great way to bring back music, laughter and hospitality back to our home. Oh, how I wished she could be present.

Immediately after Mom’s call I contacted Jason to give him “the answer”. Unfortunately, the call went unanswered so I quickly sent a text indicating to him that I would accept his invitation; I said “yes”. My tummy grumbled and I was surprised to see an entire hour had passed since I woke up. Next up for me was some breakfast. As I advanced to the kitchen, I noticed a text response from Jason Emery which said, “Great, I am looking forward to having you.” I responded with a thumbs up. I was relieved that it was finally settled.

Chapter 9 – The Accident
On entering the kitchen I saw my sister and asked, “Rena do you have my bible? “It’s on your bed.”  “Wow”, I stepped back a bit surprised by her unfriendly tone. I suspected she overheard me talking to mom. This big sister of mine always seemed to be lurking around my safe place and often seemed to be aggravated by me, my life, my conversations and even my sweet sleep. I sighed at her response and refused to answer wishing she would be less hostile

As the day progressed, our family sought to be productive. Rena was cleaning her room, while Dad was in the kitchen doing a million things; Dad loved the kitchen. I could hear someone raking outside and I assumed it was my brother. I tried to get some washing done then proceeded to clean the bathroom. My favourite chores were washing, cleaning the bathroom, and cooking. I tried staying away from dusting and sweeping as much as possible and I didn’t like to mop floors.

As the evening drew near, I anticipated Nicky coming over to help me plan my birthday party. I was a bit anxious that we were just beginning to plan but I felt supported by my family and my close friends and was positive that it would work out. It was my intention to keep it simple and sweet. I heard the knock on the door and with high spirits welcomed Nicky inside. We quickly created our to do list and got to work. We had to decide on the starting time, invitees, eats, and other attractions. Dad had indicated earlier that he would take care of my birthday cake, drinks and the music. Nicky and I were making commendable progress. We sought to contact everyone on the invitation list right away. I suddenly had a thought and said, “Nicky I must return the kindness shown to me by Jason Emery, I must invite him.”. Nicky’s approval was important. She looked at me and asked whether I thought he would fit in. “Well…” I responded, “He may not come but at least I think he should be invited.” Nicky agreed and I proceeded to contact Jason.

My phone fell to the ground, hitting the tiled floor with a heavy thud as the house shook, following a heavy sound of metal slamming into a fixed structure, a blood curling scream, glass shattering and the sound of an engine rumbling. We all raced to the door calling out to Joel because we knew his last location to be outside. I felt numb and cold. As we opened the door, we were relieved to see Joel making his way to the front of the house, just as shocked as we were. A few feet away was a woman standing staring at the site of the accident trembling and shaking furiously. We concluded she must’ve been the one who screamed.

Our front wall was collapsed with a wrangler jeep on top of the rubble. The windshield was smashed in and we could see a man’s body in the driver’s seat slumped over the steering wheel appearing to be motionless. We could hear a soft whimpering of a child. Dad shouted, ” Call 911! Call 911!” My sister wasted no time and amidst the confusion and shock, managed to make the call.

My soul cried out for mom. If she was here, she would know exactly what to do. Dad cautiously approached the mangled vehicle and noticed a little boy pinned behind the driver’s seat. Dad motioned to us to come closer; we were so concerned for the little boy; he must’ve been around four or five. “Oh my God!” Nicky exhaled. It was too much for her. She slumped to the pavement and I encouraged her to stay there.

Dad searched for leaking fuel while Joel, Rena and I sought to comfort the little boy. He was fully awake, his eyes widely opened as fear gripped his little body. His whimper came out of his mouth as if he was experiencing intense pain that hindered him from crying freely. One of his arms fell limp at his side and he seemed to plead with his eyes for help. We continued to comfort him with words while we anxiously awaited the Paramedics. It was difficult to wait. I felt so helpless and weak.  I found myself kneeling against a nearby stone and positioned myself to ensure the little boy could still see me.

Do you think the man in the driver’s seat was the father of the little boy?

Next chapter will be posted next Saturday.

The Love Dream – Chapters 4-6

Chapter 4 – The Pokes

I heard the sound of a whistle and knew it was time for everyone to gather. I must have counted forty-eight hashers in total. Mr. Greenidge, the organizer, proceeded to do the usual; welcoming the first timers and providing information necessary for our safety. One thing I loved about our group was that the members were individuals who were really passionate about outdoors and nature; we had close to 90% attendance every time a hash was scheduled. I felt proud to be a member and loved the opportunity to keep active, discover new places and make new friends.

My introduction to Jason earlier had me uneasy; I felt as if everyone there could see my thoughts. As we received our briefing, Nicky poked me with her elbow with raised eyebrows. I ignored her but that didn’t help. “What was that all about?” she insisted. I just wanted to stay blank and continue ignoring her. I conveniently sought to focus on the information being provided by Mr. Greenidge. There was no escaping however, Nicky wasn’t about to give up.

Nicky was tall and slim. I always told her she had the perfect body, well apportioned. She often blushed at my compliments but never allowed them to make her proud. She was a humble, honest individual, who was always ready to share with others. Nicky was also a determined young lady whose persistence could annoy you at times; that girl was just too stubborn. Nevertheless, she was my buddy and I cherished our relationship greatly. After receiving all those pokes in my ribs, I decided to move away because the next thing coming for Nicky would be a “poke back” that may have caused her great pain. I smiled to myself as I moved away. Nicky edged closer, placed her hand around my shoulder and said “okay, okay, no more pokes, but please talk to me. I turned to my persistent bright-eyed friend and said, “I promise, I’ll tell you all about it later.” “Yes, you will,” she replied, acting like a bully.

Our briefing ended, and we headed off; we were finally on the trail. Our group moved swiftly. I could hear the sound of leaves and twigs being crushed as we made our way into the bushes, expecting a river to emerge. In the distance, we could faintly hear the sound of moving water. There were occasional light chatter, laughter and exclamations resulting from a small stumble, here and there, or a near-missed fall. We shifted our order as we walked. Nicky was right ahead of me with her co-workers. Craig and Lucy, two of my favorite hashers, were behind me and then, there was my Dad. For a while, I lost sight of Nicky, Jason and Shanta. After, 15 minutes of walking, we were all together at the river.

It was refreshing to look at the water as it flowed towards us, such a soothing sound. We paused there for approximately five (5) minutes during which Craig shared a bit of the history of the river, known as “Whisper Bend River”. I was intrigued about its history and the seemingly mystery surrounding it. Craig wrapped up his short speech and as we started walking again, I couldn’t help but notice Nicky’s eagerness to catch up with Jason as Shanta and I picked up the pace behind them. For a brief moment, I wondered if Nicky was attracted to Jason. A cold sensation lingered in my stomach, leaving me uneasy. I took a deep breath and  thought to myself, why am I even bothered about Nicky’s actions?  It is only a dream!

Chapter 5 – The Journal Entry

The Hash started promptly at 3:00 p.m., and by 5:30 p.m. we were heading back home. Despite my debilitating surprise, I had a wonderful time. My thirst for outdoor adventure was quenched for a few days, at least. As we drove around the final bend, I couldn’t wait to hit the shower and then the coziest place in the world, my bedroom.  On entering the living room, I could smell lavender; I knew immediately that the floors were recently mopped.  As I looked around it was evident that my sister was busy all day; the house looked and smelt clean.  While offloading my things on the dining table, my phone rang. It was Blake Horsford, Blake was my music friend. We met at a Benefit Concert about six years ago. Two years after that we were fortunate to be students of the same piano class; we have been in touch ever since.

“Hey, Maxine, what’s up?” I was truly happy to hear his voice. “Where have you been?” I asked. I can sense his smile as he warmly responded, “Where have you been? It has been ages.” “I know”, I answered, “I’ve been trying to accomplish stuff, soon I will be thirty and old.”  Blake laughed heartily reminding me of how much I missed our pure, warm and invigorating talks. We continued chatting for a while trying to make up for lost time. Blake was that solid friend I felt I could count on; the respect we had for each other was mutual.  Five months ago, his family went through a devastating divorce that literally teared them apart. With my experience, having divorced parents, I was able to offer support. I had to conclude however, that my experience was mild when compared to what his family went through.

We later said goodbye and I headed to the refrigerator in search of something refreshing. On opening the door, it was evident that Rena was able to get someone to pick coconuts since there was a mug of coconut water beckoning to my thirst. Rena came in as I was pouring myself a huge glass. Before she could utter a word? I said, “Thank you sis” and scurried away to my safe place, laughing. I knew the lecture about asking before partaking was about to start. and I wanted to skip the drama. All I desired was to enjoy the pleasure of cool coconut sweetness flowing through me. I needed sustenance and the coconut water was perfect. I smiled to myself and nestled on my bedroom floor anticipating my bath.

After my bath I collapsed on my unmade bed with my journal and a pen. I was ready to exhale after a wonderful day. My pen made contact with the blank pages and magic began. My thoughts flowed out as I breathed my expressions, unboxing my every feeling while analyzing the day’s experiences. The sun disappeared as in my journal; I wrote;

 “What a day it was, my day was filled with surprises, adventures, pleasant conversations and good food. I feel blessed. If I were to describe today in one word it would be “gratitude”. I feel as though I have entered a new season of my life or I am preparing for something new. I am fully alert and ready to embrace the opportunities that may unfold. There is something on the horizon, but it is not clear. I am trying to position myself for a better view, but it is difficult to find the right spot. My dream, Jason, Nicky, Blake’s unexpected call.  Jason, yes Jason, such a handsome guy. Man, I really had a dream, shared it with my best friend, who later introduced me to her co-worker, who looks exactly like the man in my dream. Excitement and confusion rise in my soul. What’s next? God of the Universe, are you there? Are you seeing me right now? Do you care about my thoughts?” I closed my journal and stared at the ceiling.

Chapter 6 – The Applicant

It was a new work week and I had a great start. The fabulous weekend sent me off to work with a positive vibe. The weekdays were passing quickly; it was already Wednesday. I felt more and more excited as my birthday drew closer. While I sat at my workstation, I tried picturing the perfect birthday, but no ideas came. The office phone rang forcing me to shift my focus to the customer calling for assistance.

I had been employed at one of our local community colleges for approximately four years, working as an Administrative Assistant in the Registrar’s Office. I loved interacting with the students of the College daily. One of my responsibilities was to manage our student database, updating records of new applicants. Our College was one of the top colleges in the Caribbean offering a wide variety of courses with great flexibility in its scheduling of classes.

After assisting the customer, I proceeded to update the database. There were over two hundred new applicants so I knew I would be busy for a while.  There were so many different names, Meagan Thomas, Caleen Farray, Lyndon Paul.  One by one I inputted the personal data of the new applicants into the Database. As I proceeded to the next person I paused, jaw dropping. Next in line was Jason Emery, Maxine’s co-worker. I had no doubt it was him as his profile picture was included.

Wow, I thought to myself, information literally at my fingertips. Jason had six siblings, his Father was a Builder, his mother a Nurse. Current address was Viewforth, located approximately fifteen miles from Point Rivers where I lived. His hobbies were listed as mainly outdoor adventures: diving, cycling, hiking and fishing. He also liked painting and drawing. Jason was twenty-four and had applied for enrolment in the Architectural Design Degree Program. I was amazed considering how details about my dream character were unfolding right before my eyes.

I continued reviewing his form to ensure all the needed information was included and later observed that a contact number for his parents were omitted. Finding his telephone number, I hastened to call Jason on his mobile phone. As the phone rang, I felt my insides turn to Jelly.  I stared at his online application form waiting for Jason to answer. As I did, I noticed Jason’s motto in a finer print, “Dream Chaser – Conquering all!”. I must have read the motto the same second, he answered his phone and there I was, caught off-guard and unprepared. After a slight delay I responded, “Ahhhh…good morning, so sorry for the delay but this is Maxine Palmer from St. Peter’s Community College. Is this Jason Emery? ” “Yes, it is!” He replied. I went on to explain my reason for calling and quickly obtained the missing information. As I prepared to thank him and end the conversation, he asked whether I was Nicky’s friend, the one he met during the Hash on Sunday. I confirmed that I was and to my surprise received an unexpected invitation. I indicated that I would need a couple days to think about it, hung up the phone and wondered what just happened. 

The Love Dream – Chapters 1-3

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 favourite, 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.