Part II – The Love Dream

Chapter 25 – The Chat

It was a slightly overcast Friday evening in October.  I sat at my desk staring at the computer screen.   I had just completed updating some records and I felt exhausted.  I looked at my watch and it said 3:10 p.m.; fifty more minutes and I will be heading home. I decided to take a walk around the office, stretching my legs a bit.  As I walked I began thinking about Nicky.  It would be great to hang out with her this weekend I thought.  

“Hey Maxine”,  I turned around to see Cassy waving to me from behind her tidy cubicle.  Cassy and I started working at St. Peter’s Community College on the same day.  She was employed at the Accounts Division and was responsible for updating students’ financial records.  Cassy and I respected each other, and she was always fun to chat with.  I walked over to Cassy and we chatted a bit.  As we chatted I thought to myself, I wonder if Cassy is mature enough to share my concerns with.  She seemed to be in her late thirties and experienced in such matters. It would be great to get someone else’s perspective on my relationship challenges, I thought. 

We chatted about work and then after what seem to be a timely pause, I said to Cassy, “I would love to hear your view on a personal matter, are o.k. with that?” Cassy tilted her head playfully and said, “Sure, go head, test my expertise.”  I then carefully shared my heart, not giving too many details.  “I have this friend; we have been friends since kindergarten.  We have always been close, best of friends.  We always share things with each other and never kept secrets.  Recently, however I have been feeling as if we are drifting apart. In the recent past we talked to each other daily, but now, on average, we would connect about once a week. I want to do something about it, but I don’t know where to begin.”  

As I spoke, I could not help noticing Cassy’s eyes, her eyebrows and her forehead.  She was fully engaged with my story, fully animated as she listened. Cassy did not fail me.  She looked directly into my eyes and said, “Sweetheart, you are growing up and changes would happen.  What feels like a distance is just you maturing and finally deciding what kind of future you want.  Remember, we have our individual paths to take, and we cannot act as kids or teenagers forever.  Things happen that creates distances at times; career choices, marriage and even our decision to follow Christ.”   My eyelids suddenly fluttered, and I quickly composed myself. Those words “our decision to follow Christ” hit me like a pebble in my mid-section.  I suddenly thought to myself, maybe Cassy is a “follower of Christ”, like Jason.  Why would she say that? It was not common for me to hear such phrases in my conversations with others.  I thought to myself, now who is Cassy and what is going on here?

Cassy continued to speak with deep care and concern, I could not help but listen.  “Whatever happens, try to keep the communication lines open and healthy. “Don’t try to read her mind or what she is thinking, you may perceive her or judge her wrongly. Have a chat with her about what you are experiencing and keep in touch. No matter what you may think, just do what is right at all times, love her.  If you do that she would always feel comfortable reaching out to you in difficult times. Remember, she too would be growing up”   I looked at Cassy shaking my head.   “Wow”,  I uttered with a sigh.  “Thank you Cassy! You are good at this; I am so happy I spoke with you.”   Cassy, looked at me and said, “One day I would tell you all about my story.”

I left Cassy feeling hopeful!  She really inspired me during those few moments.  As I walked back to my desk, my anxiety heightened, I could not wait to leave the office.   It was now 3:20 p.m., I quickly reviewed the work I had outstanding and prepared my to-do list for Monday.   Once that was done, I called Nicky to see if she was available and was totally overjoyed to find out that she was.  “Do you want to sleep over tonight.”  She asked.  “That sounds great” I exclaimed.  I was so happy I reached out.  I sat back and literally stared at the clock until it said 4:00 p.m.   I must have been out the door and into Dad’s vehicle by 4:02 p.m.  My Friday night was going to be awesome!

Chapter 26 – The Pit Bull

Popcorn, ice cream, tamarind balls and burgers.   I made sure to pack some of our favorite goodies and headed out to Nicky’s.  I was fortunate to have the use of Dad’s vehicle for the night.  As I drove, I began thinking of my future.  What kind of future do I want? I certainly wanted my parents to enjoy a long and healthy life and to grow closer to my siblings. Of course, I wanted Nicky, my best friend to be always there, and then my newest and dearest friend, Jason Emery.  My thoughts parked on Jason for a while as I savored memories of the time spent with him recently. I wondered what role he would possibly play in my life in the future. My imagination became alive as I envisioned a home where my family and friends would always be welcomed.  I saw a home filled with laughter, celebration and lots of great memories.  As I indulged my imagination, I heard a whisper resonating in my heart that asked, “Where is God in your Future?” I could not or did not want to think about the answer then.

I could see evidence of the start of a beautiful sunset as I continued up the final incline to the Apartment Complex where Nicky lived.  I chose to focus on the anticipated fun-filled evening just ahead of me and not too much on matters of God that have been stirring endless questions in my mind.  Somehow, on this night, I wanted to be free of the responsibility of thinking too much and finding answers.  As I parked next to Nicky’s car and stepped out on the pavement, I noticed something to the left of her apartment standing, just in front the picket fence.  It was not clear to me what it was, especially as the object was located in the midst of some humongous trees with huge branches that created a sinister line of shady areas in the back yard.  I was about to lock the door to Dad’s Jeep then thought, not yet I may just need to jump back in.

I reached for my phone to alert Nicky that I had arrived while at the same time keeping my eyes on the location where the object was seen.   All it took was a few seconds of me looking away from the shadows and to my phone screen.  Before I knew it, there was a huge black Pit bull charging towards me.  Initially, my body froze, then I screamed for help with every ounce of breath in my lungs. I then remembered that I was still standing next to Dad’s jeep and it was still unlocked. I could see the dog closing its distance between us. I managed to order my brain to turn my body towards the door of the jeep, open it and heaved my bottom on the driver’s seat.  As I was about to swing my feet inside with one hand on the door handle ready to close it, I felt sudden pain jabbing me in my right ankle and loud angry snarls of an ugly looking animal.  The jaw of the pit bull was around my ankle. Fear gripped me and I screamed but no one seemed to hear me.

I felt helpless, alone and utterly afraid and cried out “God, help me!”.   The moment I uttered that cry, I felt blood flowing to my brain and I was able to think clearly even while experiencing excruciating pain.  The animal would not let go and it seemed to be tightening its grip and determined to gain more access to my body. Using my free hand I managed to start the vehicle.  My determination to survive suddenly surged. I revved the engine aggressively hoping for the dog to give up its hold; the bull would not budge. I then tried launching forward hoping to somehow get away from its grip.  After three attempts, it finally worked!  As it lost its grip, I slammed the door and turned off the engine.  My ankle bled profusely.  Remembering the training that my mother gave us, I took off my T-Shirt and quickly and firmly wrapped it around my ankle and placed my feet up on the next seat. 

I looked around me and no one could be seen; it was absolutely quiet. “What the hell is going on here?”, I said out loud, tears now flowing freely. I could not understand why no one came out.  “Where is Nicky?”  I suddenly remembered the dog and wondered where it went; it was nowhere to be seen.  Breathing heavily and feeling confused and scared, I managed to call Nicky on the phone. Nicky came out while answering.  I spilled the words as fast as I can. “Hey, I am here but don’t come out, there is a lose Pit Bull somewhere around, it just attacked me, and I need to get to the hospital.  I was screaming for help.  Didn’t you hear me?” Nicky froze in front of her door and immediately stepped backwards into her apartment. “Oh my God, Maxine, wh-wh-what…..p-pit bull?  I…….what, there is no pit bull here. Where did it come from? How come I did not here you. Oh God!” 

Chapter 27 – The Morning After

It was Saturday morning, sometime around 8:00 a.m., and I sat on my bed, my injured foot placed on a worn T-shirt as Reena changed my dressings. My foot was swollen and very tender. As she removed the old dressing I could see the deep teeth marks of the Pit Bull where it punctured my flesh; I felt sorry for myself. Thank God we survived the night, I thought.

After being severely bitten we were able to use our mobile phones to reach out to Mr. Powell, the owner of the Apartment Building, who in turn was able to identify the owner of the Pit Bull. After twenty painful minutes of waiting, we were assured that the Pit Bull was secured. Dad, Rena and Joel came to pick me up and brought me to the hospital where I received the care I needed. I was so grateful to have seen the dog early. I kept thinking, What if? What if I never saw it?

As far as my sleep over by Nicky’s, that incident had us all spaced out and all we could think of was getting me home. Dad suggested that Nicky sleep over by me instead and Nicky and I immediately went along. While we were all exhausted on our arrival home, Nicky and I found the energy to talk. Sleep eventually consumed us and we were out without saying good night to each other. That night we were able to clear the air on a number of things and re-establish our trust in each other.

So here we were looking on as big sis took care of me. We reflected on the night before examining every detail as investigators. Nicky confessed, saying that she remembered seeing the pit bull before behind the fence just two houses away from the Apartment building. She noted that it may have been a regular thing for it to be loose and somehow last night it managed to get out.

As we continued talking, I couldn’t help remembering the desperation I felt as I was at the mercy of this dread animal that seemed hungry and determined to drag me out of the vehicle. I remembered crying out to God. Somehow, I had the confidence that he was my only way out. I couldn’t understand, but there I was another time experiencing this overwhelming presence of love. As I sat there on the bed, for a moment I couldn’t here what Nicky and Rena were saying. It was as if I left there presence and entered into my strange place, the place where I searched for answers.

Chapter 22 – The Chat

We sat in the living room facing each other. Jason thought it was a good idea to read a bible verse and pray before we began talking. I remember thinking, this is different. Jason opened his bible and read from Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I immediately remembered the verse and smiled as I recalled the evening of my birthday when Jason presented to me the sweetest gift ever.  As he prayed he asked God to guide our conversation so that it can be fruitful. Wow! Who prays like that? I thought. I was now intrigued with his lifestyle; the more I spent time with Jason the more I became amazed with his way of living.

As Jason’s prayer ended, I started to share. “That is where it all started.” I said. “It was on my birthday when I unwrapped your gift and read that verse. I experienced a presence I never experienced before. It was crazy! When I read that verse something inside me was unleashed. I felt awakened to another world and I did not know what to do about it. Since that day I have been reading my bible and searching for answers through my daily experiences. Sometimes I feel like crying other times I feel like screaming. It is so weird.”  As I shared my heart with Jason and made eye contact with him, I could not help noticing the colour of his eyes as the sunlight escaped through the curtains an unto his face. Jason’s eyes were light brown, just as seen in the dream.  Wow!, I thought!  Now this is really corny.

After listening attentively Jason looked at me and said. “I am so happy for you.”  He was smiling ear to ear.  In response to my facial expression of disbelief, he continued to explain. “What you are experiencing is something good. I cannot explain everything about it, but I can identify with it. I have had similar experiences; I completely understand.” I moved to the edge of my seat as I continued to listen. “The presence you felt on your birthday was God. I believe that was an answer to my prayer.”  “What do you mean?”  I hastened to ask.  “I prayed that he would reveal himself to you.  I have been praying for you since the first time we met.”

I looked away from Jason and down to my interlocked fingers. “Wow! Jason! Were you really praying for me, all this time?”   “Yes! All this time!”  Jason proudly declared. This was really strange territory for me. All I had was some Sunday School stories about creation, a few popular bible stories like “Jonah and the Whale” and  “Daniel in the Lion’s Den”.  Added to that was the emphasis on giving to the poor and attending church. I never heard about the presence of God in this manner and my idea of prayer was something you do when you found yourself in trouble or as part of a religious ceremony. I felt honoured just knowing that I was being prayed for by Jason even before he got to know me.

The conversation with Jason was filled with such revealing and exciting moments.  It seemed unreal, or was it? I pinched my arm discreetly as I leaned back on my chair.

Chapter 23 – The Prayer

Jason continued to enlighten me as he explained Jeremiah 29:11. “That verse in Jeremiah shows that God has a plan for all of us and His plans are always good, even when it does not seem that way. First and foremost is His plan for everyone to be repent from their wrongs and to worship Him. I believe if you are patient and choose to believe in His plan for your life you would get to experience greatness” “How do you know for sure?” I asked. “Why would God be that interested in me. What makes me so special?”

Jason set out to provide answers. “Look at this,” he said and reached for his phone which was in his pants pocket. A minute later he passed his phone to me and asked me to read what was on the screen. I read it aloud, “Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “Check this one out too,” Jason urged as he retrieved a second verse. I read it to myself. It said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” It was taken from John 3:16 a verse I heard before.

Jason then said, “Imagine even before you were born, God sent His son Jesus to die for your sins. “Yes, yes, I responded, I am very familiar with the story of the birth of Christ and why He came but never understood it in such a personal way.  What I experienced that day felt like a personal touch from God and it is unforgettable because it was on my birthday. Jason you speak about God as someone who desires to have a relationship with us, to know us.  Someone who planned for us over two thousand years ago.   I never saw God that way.”

“Maxine,  when Jesus Christ died on the cross He died with you in mind and His grace is extended to you and everyone else.  He gracefully extends eternal life to anyone who believe.  But it is more than just eternal life.  He empowers you to live successfully on this Earth. He gives you a peace and a joy that no one has ever fully explain.  He changes your desires, your interests, and your will, He transforms you totally.”   I looked at Jason as he shared with deep conviction and wondered if it was all true.   I have grown quite comfortable with my life as it is.   I felt pretty good as an educated citizen who sought to treat my family and my friends well.   I was no law breaker and certainly not a hypocrite as some of my church friends.   Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed, scared and confused.

I knew that something was going on with me, something I could not explained.  I felt turmoil inside and desired to understand clearly what was happening.   I looked at Jason and somehow believed that even though I could not fully understand what he was sharing with me, he could be trusted.  I got up from where I was sitting and walked to the living room window.  I could see it was moonlight as the reflection of the moonlight could be seen on the windshield of Dad’s vehicle.  I felt lost and without a compass to direct me.  I turned around and looked at Jason who was now standing where he once sat, looking at me, in silence.  “Could you pray for me? Please?”  I asked. I detected the tremble in my voice and sought to quickly compose myself by taking a deep breath.

Jason walked towards me, placed his hand on my shoulder and prayed.  “Dear God, please reveal yourself to Maxine and give her peace. As she searches for answers please open her eyes and her heart to receive from you. In Jesus Name, Amen!.”   That’s it? I asked, looking up at him a bit perplexed.  “Yes, that’s it!  Accepting that Jason had just prayed for me, I relaxed, opened the front door and made my way to the front porch; Jason followed me.  “Please be sure to tell your entire family thanks again for me.  My evening was wonderful.”   Jason smiled at me as he said good night and walked towards his vehicle.  As he drove out of the front yard I re-entered the living room and closed the door.

Chapter 24 – The Change

As the weeks went by my life slowly changed; it felt like maturity and it felt good. I spent less time hanging out with friends, watching television, and liaising around. I continued to develop an interest in God and spiritual matters. I became more enthused about learning, pursuing my dreams and building healthy relationships with my family. My life felt more meaningful, even while still having unanswered questions.

I enrolled in a Marketing Degree at St Peter’s Community College, my Employer. It was always my goal to further my studies in Marketing after achieving my Associate Degree from the said College. I was always intrigued by the power of Advertisements, and company branding; I loved designing and creating content. As an employee of St. Peter’s Community College, I enjoyed a 40% discount on tuition fees, a benefit I no longer wanted to take for granted. Classes were both in person and online. I implemented a study schedule that demanded me to manage my time effectively.  I became more focused and very occupied.

Jason and I remained connected.  I continued to visit his Church. Each Sunday I visited I became more knowledgeable as many of my questions about faith and the bible were answered.  I felt uplifted by the music and the fellowship. I never felt pressured or judged but rather accepted. It was an experience I would often question as it seemed so unreal and so unnatural.  The response from my family to my regular attendance to church was positive and I was grateful for that.  While Rena appeared to have no interest in accompanying me, she would often enquire about how things went.  Dad and I would have numerous discussions about the weekly messages. Joel accompanied me most times and began making a few friends.

I missed my best friend, Nicky, terribly.  It was a while since we did something together. After moving into her new apartment, she seemed to become more interested in living a private and independent life. The anticipated sleepovers were not taking place as often as I hoped.  I too became occupied with my new friendship and had to admit that my interest in certain activities was dwindling, such as the after-work limes at our favourite bars. I struggled with this change that I did not fully understand. Nicky was my best friend, and I treasured her friendship wholeheartedly. I was scared that things between us may be changing and I did not know what to do about it.

Chapter 19 – The visit to Church

As planned Saturday evening Jason picked us up at 8:15 a.m. and we headed to Church. Joel wanted to come along, and I did not hesitate to ask Jason oh his behalf. The main worship, as Jason called it started at 9:00 a.m. or thereabout. We probably took about thirty minutes to get there. Jason escorted us to our seats and disappeared wishing us a wonderful experience. We sat in anticipation waiting for the service to begin. The service started with a welcome and a presentation of the morning’s activities. The young lady welcoming us was warm and jubilant. I admired her energy and zeal.

Her welcome transitioned into wonderful singing led by a small group of singers. I remember recognizing two of the girls who were part of the singing group at Jason’s birthday party. Joel and I soaked it all in. As song after song was sung, I noticed Jason walking unto the stage and to my surprise took hold of one of the mikes and began to sing. Joel and I instantly looked at each other. “Jason can sing. Damn!”, Joel blurted out as a whisper. “Shhhhhh” I whispered back. We are in Church!  After releasing a smirk, he settled down.

Jason sang beautifully, another wonderful discovery about my newest friend. The proceedings of the service flowed seamlessly. It felt as if everything was structured to arrive at a peak or a climax. The Speaker or Preacher was a young man, probably around Jason’s age. He spoke about meaningful living. I remembered thinking, I am quite intentional with my time and my activities and that I was o.k. But then the speaker said something that grabbed my attention.  “Many of us think we are doing well because we are measuring ourselves against society’s standard and not God’s standards.” He went on further to say, “Imagine all our good works are like filthy rags when God does not approve of them.” The statement resonated with me and I thought to myself, does God approve of my behaviour, or my good works?

I found my appetite growing for more discussions like those as I locked in all my attention to front stage. The Speaker was clear, lively and encouraged us to think. As he came to an end, he encouraged everyone to invest in a relationship with Jesus so that they can pursue a life with true meaning and purpose. Questions poured out of my heart, my mind and my soul. This was new territory for me and I suddenly began to feel afraid.

Chapter 20 – The Memory

As we travelled back home we enjoyed listening to uplifting  gospel music. Jason thanked us for accepting his invitation and we teased him about hiding his singing talent from us. We said very little on our way home; my mind was loaded.  There was so much to figure out, so many questions. My emotions seemed to be mixed up and messed up; I felt overwhelmed not understanding what I was experiencing. I could hear Joel’s fingers tapping the screen on his phone as he kept himself amused playing some sort of game.

I glanced over at Jason quickly who was softly singing along as he drove. As I looked away, I remembered the dream. It was my “Love Dream”, that’s how I called it. I saw myself in Jason’s arms looking into his brown eyes…. wait a minute, I thought, what’s the colour of Jason’s eyes? I suddenly became curious  and  I wanted to find out if that aspect of the dream was also true. Sitting next to Jason this dream felt so weird. I forced myself to think about something else removing the discomfort that began to rise within my chest.

I began to feel anxious and desperate to finally have Jason to myself so we could talk. I needed to talk to someone about my experience and I needed to do it soon. I felt loaded with the desire to know more. Something was stirring within me that I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t believe that I dreamt a dream and later found out that the character in the dream was real. I replayed everything that happened that night; somehow this dream was changing my life.

With my face turned towards the window the cool breeze caressed my face. I anticipated the time when Jason and I would finally talk. “Is everything ok?” I heard Jason ask. I looked at him somber and deep in thought. “Not really!” I answered after a long sigh. “Could we chat later?” I quickly asked. “Sure, whenever you’re ready.” I am ready right now! I thought to myself. My heart was full, I wanted to just let it all out and for some reason Jason’s ears felt like a safe place.

Chapter 21 – The Lunch invite

Dad was on the front porch when we pulled into the driveway. As we came out of the vehicle and Jason greeted Dad, Dad asked “Could you stay for lunch?” Jason had a big grin on his face but appeared hesitant. “One minute,” he said. He then pulled out his phone and made a call. A few seconds later he told us he could stay.

Lunch was great! Once more, I was impressed with the handy work of Dad and my sister Rena. Jason appeared impressed as well and honoured to share our dining table experience.. The conversation was lively and interesting. Jason shared a lot about himself and his family. It was great to feel the connection around the table. Rena was at her best! It was clear that she was growing fond of Jason.

After eating I told Dad I would do the dishes; I thought it would be a great time to chat with Jason, providing he didn’t have to run off and my family gave us the privacy needed. At first it looked like only wishful thinking. The conversation migrated from the dining room to the kitchen with heated opinions being hurled around about who is the best NBA Team. Rena, although she hated sports, was an avid basketball fan. In fact, we all loved Basketball. The three main teams in our conversation were the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Utah Jazz. The Lakers were an all-time favorite of our family.

Finally the battle of opinions ended and we were by ourselves in the kitchen. By this time most of the dishes were washed. Jason looked at me and said , “Do you want to talk now? I can spare another fifteen minutes.” “Sure! Maybe we can move to the living room.” No one was there and it seemed like the perfect place. On entering the living room, I felt a little nervous and I immediately pushed back the feeling saying to myself, nothing is going to hinder me from talking to Jason this afternoon, nothing!  I needed to exhale! I needed someone to know what I was experiencing.

Part II – Chapters 16 – 18

Chapter 16 – The Presence

It was Wednesday evening. I was blessed to receive two hours off from work that day; a welcomed gift from my Employer. Nicky, my dear friend, Brad, Dad, Rena, Joel, and my Aunt Sharon were all part of the planning team. Everything was in place for my birthday celebration and I was anticipating the arrival of my Guests. Despite my attempts to get involved in the final details, Rena and Nicky wouldn’t have it. My bossy sister and determined best friend were no match for me.

I gave in and decided to bask in the special treatment by dancing to some of my favorited songs. The living room was sparkling clean and decorated, and It was all mine. I was dancing my heart out when I heard the first guest arriving. It was my twin buddies from Community College, Becky, and Bailey; I was so fond of them. They were light spirited and eccentric. They brought positive energy the moment they walked in. Once they arrived, everyone else showed up within a few minutes of each other. Jason was the last to arrive and as usual accompanying him was his contagious confident and positive demeanor.  

The evening turned out blissfully wonderful. It was filled with warm intimate moments with my friends and family who did everything possible to make sure I felt special. Unlike other birthday parties I was able to witness, the last item on the evening’s programme was the presentation of gifts; I was totally blown away. Gifts emerged out of bags and pockets and even from cupboards and corners within my own home. Lost for words and overflowing with gratitude, I received them one by one; I was so overwhelmed with appreciation.

With Jason Emery being my newest friend, I was not expecting to receive anything from him and was astonished when I saw the exquisite gift he presented; I still treasure it to this day. As I carefully unwrapped his present, I felt my heartbeat accelerating. Something in my gut told me this gift was no ordinary gift. As I removed the last bit of the wrapping, I realised how right I was. I stood there staring at the most beautiful gift ever. It was a picture of me standing next to “Whisper Bend River”. My back facing the camera as I stood looking across at the river. You could see the clear water, the smooth rocks, and the sunlight glistening through the trees. It was a captivating picture. Below the picture was a brief history of the River, as Craig explained it that day when we went hashing. The picture was enclosed in an acrylic covered frame with words inscribed at the back which read “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” 

What happened next would always be seen as one of the weirdest and unforgettable moments of my life.  As I read the words, I felt as if someone was speaking directly to me. Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming presence of someone or something hovering over me and my hands began to shake, and I shivered.  I could not understand what I was experiencing because there was no one physically close to me at the moment.  It was just me and what felt like a supreme being lingering over me.  I then began to feel a warm sense of comfort and assurance, of love and acceptance. Something shifted within my breast and it was as if darkness escaped and light entered.   I must have stood their staring at the gift for at least twenty seconds before I felt arms all around me, hugging me.   I came out of my trance and to my senses and saw that those hands belonged to Dad, Nicky, and Jason.  I felt safe and loved and somehow believed that the moment just experienced was unnatural.

Chapter 17 – The Psalm

The remainder of the week mesmerized like water on the streets on a very hot day. Since my birthday I have been walking on cloud nine and cloud nine seemed to have several steps to another cloud which I wanted to explore. I yearned to understand what I experienced that day; “the presence”. It was Saturday morning and I laid on my bed with my journal seeking to capture my current thoughts and mood.

As I wrote in my journal, I heard the pitter patter sound of light rain on the roof. Without hesitation, I pulled my cover sheet up to my waist. Come rain come, I said to myself. Let me bask in your presence. After updating my journal, I decided to read my bible. Since that unforgettable experience, I have been reading my bible almost daily, starting with Jeremiah 29:11, the verse that was transcribed on my gift from Jason Emery. I later began reading the book of Psalms and was enjoying the journey through the pages. As I read, I found my thoughts drifting back to that moment, at Jason’s birthday celebration, when I looked up to see him staring down at me as if he saw me beyond the surface of my skin. I wondered what made him so different. Why did he seem so deep, so grounded, so hopeful, and so peaceful?

I found my thoughts switching to the negative zone of my searching mind. Is Jason as sincere as he seems? What if he is not real? Maybe God was trying to warn me about him through my dream. As I laid there pondering, somehow it did not feel right thinking those thoughts. I immediately shook myself out of my foolish imagination.  I had to admit that Jason Emery had shown himself to be a well composed, respectful young man who, unlike most men I knew, was not interested in flirting with me. He acted as if he wasn’t aware of how strikingly attractive, he was. He portrayed a stillness and a rich character that appeared to be firmly planted. I became aware of my fingers playing with the edges of the pages of my bible and urged myself to get back on track, looking at the Psalm in front of me.  It was Psalm thirty-four. I read to my heart’s content.  It felt strange but wonderful. I found myself lost within the poetic and uplifting rhetoric of the psalm. The Writer appeared to be declaring his promise to praise God.  

As I read, I wondered what would stir someone to write such exalted and glorified literature to a God no one has ever seen; a God that seems to be sleeping when evil prevails.  It was another moment of doubt as I struggled with what seemed to be a desire to know more. After reading the entire psalm, I decided to call it quits for the day.  As I walked out my bedroom door, my mobile phone rang.  It was Jason Emery! Instant happiness flooded by spirit as I hastened to answer the call.

Chapter 18 – The Church Invitation

Jason’s rich mellow voice responded to my greeting, “Hello, Maxine, how are you?”  “Great, Just finished journaling and reading my bible.”  There was a brief pause then Jason said, slowly, “sounds…. good.”  His tone seemed to suggest that he understood exactly what I was experiencing.  This guy knows everything, I thought to myself.  We chatted for a while and then Jason invited me to accompany him to Church.  Instantly, I felt uncomfortable, as I did not expect the invitation.   I think my experience of church was limited to my childhood days since we all lost interest as we grew into our teenaged years. For me church seemed like a routine to be practiced so that you can appear as “good” in the eyes of others.  Except for the great moral values that we learnt during Sunday School, it felt very boring and lifeless and for the most part, I didn’t see any difference between those who attended church and those who did not. I considered though, that this was not necessarily the experience of others.   

As I took a brief trip down memory lane, I felt more and more uncomfortable. Jason waiting patiently on the phone for an answer.  I found myself tongue-tied for a few seconds, then blurted out like an injured puppy, “Yes!” “Is everything alright?”  Jason asked.   I nodded my head then erupted into laughter, “sort of.” Confused thoughts stormed my mind.  I was very uncomfortable with Jason’s invite, but I blurted out “yes”. What is wrong with me?  As if he sensed what was taking place, Jason indicated that he would touch base with me later that day concerning arrangements for Church and we said our goodbyes. Whew! I can breathe, I thought. I needed to seriously get myself together. I thought to myself, Jason must think I am a psycho.

I made my way downstairs wondering what everyone else was up to while I was up in my room being sane and crazy at the same time. Rena was nowhere to be seen, Dad was at the dining table with his laptop and eating what seemed to be breakfast. If was just about 9:00 a.m.; the rain ceased, and the sun came out in its full golden splendour. I walked over to the living room where I found Joel crouched on the floor over something that seemed to have captured his attention. “What are you doing?” I asked, with genuine interest.  Joel seemed happy to see me and shared every bit of detail concerning his school project. I fixed myself some cereal and joined Joel on the floor and immediately became involved with Joel and his project. He was attempting to create a model of the Solar System. “Do you know that Jupiter is the largest planet?” Joel asked, with his brown eyes twinkling with excitement. “I believe so, I must’ve learned that in school years ago.” I answered.

That morning, we spent about an hour and a half working together on Joel’s Project. For me it was time well spent and I knew Joel appreciated the attention and the support; it was a while since we did something together, just the two of us. Despite the fact that he can be annoying, I loved my brother so much and admired his determination to do well in school. If Mom was at home, she would’ve certainly been in our company.  Mom was always available for school related activities.

As we wrapped up for the day and began tidying up, I told Joel that Jason invited me to Church on Sunday and was completely moved by his response. “Yea? That’s cool! I like Jason! He is like the big brother I always wished I had.” From my bent position with pieces of construction paper in my hand, I stood up straight and looked at my brother straight in the eye. “Never heard you say something like that before, you know, about having a big brother. Maybe God is answering your prayer.” “I don’t know, maybe,” Joel replied. “Jason is a keeper though, he’s different.” Joel’s words forced me to sit and ponder for a minute. He was right, Jason was different and certainly a friend to cherish.

Do you think Maxine’s perspective on church would ever change?

The Love Dream – Chapters 13-15

Chapter 13 – The Guests

Jason appeared happy to see us and introduced us to his company, two of which were his sisters, Chanice and Charisma. Nicky and I presented Jason with his gifts and he responded with warm hugs and a haughty thank you. We hanged with Jason for a while as the other guests, whom he was entertaining on our arrival, moved inside the main building.

As we stood there, we chatted a bit about the accident. Jason told us that he did some digging and found out that the Driver succumbed to his injuries, but the little boy was o.k.; he suffered a broken arm and a few broken ribs. We found out that the man behind the wheel was his Father. I was saddened to hear that the little boy lost his Dad.

We were so engrossed in our conversation that we didn’t notice the middle-aged couple walking towards us until they were a couple feet away trying to get Jason’s attention. Jason burst with excitement when he noticed them and fondly greeted them apologising for being distracted. He eagerly drew them closer to Nicky and I and Introduced them as his Pastor and First Lady, Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson. Nicky looked extremely happy to meet them; I assumed she heard about them before I did. I extended a hand of greeting to the Jefferson’s, with a smile, not too sure how friendly I should act. After all I barely knew Jason and I was just meeting them for the first time.

There was a few seconds of awkward silence as the Jefferson’s seem to be waiting to find out who we were. Jason picked up on the unasked question and explained that Nicky was his co-worker, and I was Nicky’s friend.  He informed that it was at my home the accident took place. Both Mr and Mrs. Jefferson nodded their heads as if to be putting previously received information together. They impressed me as warm and caring. Pastor Jefferson looked at us and said, “I heard all about it, we all should be grateful, it could’ve been much worse.” We all nodded our heads in agreement.

Jason looked at his watch and said it was time to start. We walked into the building which was nicely decorated. I must’ve counted about twelve (12) tables, each catering for three to five guests. As we sat at the table reserved for us, the Jefferson’s sat next to us. Mrs Jefferson smiled and said, “It seems like you guys are stuck with us tonight.” “Not a problem at all!” I said, as Nicky and I looked at each other and smiled.

I could see that the evening was shaping up to be a great one. I sat there with great expectations as a group of young ladies began singing beautifully. The harmonizing of the voices was heavenly. I found myself listening closely to the words; I noticed they were singing about God’s love. Interesting, I thought, a birthday celebration with a difference. For some reason, I felt my self relaxing; there was a strange stillness in the room, I felt at peace and honoured to be invited. As the great singing continued I anticipated the unfolding of Jason Emery’s Birthday Celebration.

Chapter 14 – The Story

The conversation at our table was light and relaxing; the Jefferson’s told us about their full-time jobs as Pastors. Nicky and I were curious about what pastors do all day and all week when they were pastoring full-time. Listening to them share about a typical day of a Pastor’s life was eye opening.  I always thought of Pastors living a boring life of prayer, counselling and preaching.  On that day I began having more respect for Pastors. The Jefferson’s were relatable, very connected with society and fun to be around. I could tell they were also persons of integrity by observing how they were greeted by others.

The young ladies finished their rendition then led everyone in a special birthday song written by one of Jason’s sisters. It was catchy and easy to learn, a song I will never forget. ” Today we celebrate. Today we lift our hands in praise. It’s his birthday! Come rejoice with us and sing. Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday! To you. To you. Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday! To you! To you! To you!”  I instantly fell in love with the melody.

Jason was beaming and walked up to the small platform at the front and started to speak. “Today, is a very special day for me because it represents continued hopes and dreams. Every time I celebrate a birthday, I feel blessed with another year of opportunities, opportunities to grow, to learn and to make new friends. As this birthday drew closer, I found myself becoming anxious about how I should spend it. I shared my thoughts with Pastor Jefferson, and he suggested that maybe I can just call some friends together and share my story. So that’s what I did.” As Jason continued to speak, I noticed a couple coming out of a backroom which seemed to be the kitchen area and right away I knew they were his parents; Jason was the split image of his Dad.  As they entered the room, Jason paused and smiled at them, introducing them as his Mom and Dad and the chefs for the night. He then continued his story.

“January 2nd, 1991, I left my home on my bicycle not knowing what I was about to encounter.  I was riding freely down Sendal Street about to ride up the incline taking me to the junction when a large boulder came charging towards me. I was riding fast and didn’t know how to escape it. All I could think was God please save me.  What I saw next was unbelievable.  Please understand that this boulder was massive and must have fallen from the cliff above; it was not moving slowly. The moment I uttered those words, I saw the boulder come to a sudden stop. Now let me tell you, this boulder was charging down an incline towards me and was about eight feet in height and maybe seven feet wide. I froze in my tracks afraid to move a muscle. I couldn’t believe that such a large boulder travelling at such speed could suddenly stood moving. I knew that everything that I just saw defied the law of gravity.”

I looked across the room and noticed how everyone was completely locked on to Jason’s story.  As Jason continued the intensity of his story deepened. I felt myself drifting away mentally from the present moment. I could no longer hear Jason’s voice. Before me flashed scenes of my dream, then the embarrassing moment at the Hash when Jason was first introduced to me, then I saw the little boy at the scene of the accident pleading with his eyes for help. I then remembered my prayer for God to spear the young boy’s life. I thought to myself, Jason’s prayer and my prayer were both cries of desperation that were probably answered by God. I felt myself whispering.  “God! Who are you? Are you real? Or are incidences just mere coincidences?”

Chapter 15 – The Mystery

Jason Emery shared much with us. All his stories ended with a miraculous save. It was as if it was all planned out to get his attention. That evening was certainly one with a difference. This young man who looked exactly as the man in my dreams was turning twenty-five and chose to celebrate it with gospel music and the sharing of what he called “his testimony,” and I was invited to take it all in.

Before he left the platform Jason shared a final story with us which left the strongest impression on my mind. “At the age of twenty-one, I met Mr. Glen Jefferson at Riley’s Airport preparing to spend my summer with my grand parents in the U.S. Mr Jefferson was sitting directly opposite from me, reading. The title of the book caught my attention. It read “Man’s greatest folly”. I kept asking myself, “what is man’s greatest folly?  Not making enough money?”. Several possible answers stormed my mind. Mr. Jefferson looked like a descent man, so I decided to go ask him about the contents of his book. I was that brave. I did just that and our conversation led to places I did not imagine.

Mr. Jefferson patiently showed me that man’s folly was to believe that he can enjoy good success without the intervention of Almighty God, the Creator of this World. Mr. Jefferson showed me that men in history have chased popularity, riches and power but have grossly taken for granted the wisdom of God which is available to all. Amid all their fame and fortune they never knew true peace or lasting joy.”

I listened carefully and observed Jason’s facial expressions as he shared the details of what he described as the beginning of his transformation. Jason’s excitement seemed to real to be true. He shared every bit of that conversation with Mr. Jefferson who he later began referring to as Pastor Jefferson. I couldn’t understand his excitement. Why was this encounter so big a deal to a young guy like Jason who was so strikingly handsome and sexy? I felt as if I was missing something. I didn’t get it.

Here we were sitting around listening to stories when we could be dancing to some great music. I wondered, was Jason one of those serious Christian freaks who believed in heaven and hell? Those who seemed not to be able to relate to this world. But, no, couldn’t be, I thought, Jason has been mingling quite well and been able to connect with every one while being very respectful and focused.

Jason credited Jesus, the Son of God, for his transformation. For changing his perspective on life, for setting him on the path of wisdom and good success. Everything about Jason’s encounter sounded unreal but worth coveting after. I wondered what others were thinking.Most of the guest that evening were young adults like me who all seemed to adore Jason. I looked across to Maxine who also seemed to be dazzled by what I chose to see as a performance. For some reason I doubted Jason’s story and felt he was pretending.

How could I know for sure that he is real? I leaned over to Nicky and whispered in her ear. “Is he for real?” Nicky, looked a bit startled then looked at me and said, “Why would you ask that?” I felt a bit ashamed of myself to ask that question. Oh God, I thought. Why do I not believe? I was so consumed with my thoughts that I didn’t realise the beautiful singing started again and Jason was right in front of our table. Pastor Jefferson commended him for sharing his story. I must have been staring at the table while entwined in my doubt.

As I looked up, I made eye contact with Jason and for four seconds we stared at each other. I felt as if he saw right through me sensing my doubts. I looked away and asked Maxine if she was ready to leave. Maxine looked surprised. “Nope, I am having fun.” I realized, I was on my own and decided to try to enjoy the rest of the evening doing my best not to make further eye contact with Jason Emery whose life now seemed a mystery.

We wish to advise all our readers that our Story will continue to develop. The “Love Dream” will return on February 1st, 2021, with Part 11.

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!

Chapter 12The Outfit

It was Tuesday evening, and it was just about time to leave for Jason Emery’s birthday celebration. I stood in front the mirror all dressed up wearing a mint green off-the-shoulder jumpsuit and a pair of brown leather sandals that had several straps around the ankle. The jumpsuit was one of my favourite pieces of clothing, given to me by Rena last Thanksgiving. Every now and then Rena would express her strange love for me by spoiling me with a new clothing item and no special occasion was needed. My sister was very fashionable and buoyant in her dressing; she paid attention to the latest trends and was often scouting the popular stores online.

As I stood in front the mirror, Rena came over to my room and looked at me from head to toe. I stood quietly patiently waiting for the inevitable feedback. “Not bad. Your hair though, it’s too neat, makes you seem tense.” I looked at Rena confused about her description. “What do you mean?” I replied. “You need to soften it up a bit, create a more casual and relaxing look.” My sister knew I was not the fancy type, she also knew that once I took a bath and had clean clothes to wear, I was happy. She realised how lost I was and before I knew it, Rena was adjusting my hairstyle. I allowed her to do as she pleased because I trusted her judgement. Added to that I really missed my sister; I felt as if we were growing apart and it was painful.

Rena made me look even more beautiful; instead of a neat bun she rearranged my hair into a ponytail allowing a few curls to drop at the side. I proceeded to retrieve my bag and Jason’s birthday gift and headed out the door after hearing Nicky’s car horn. We decided to travel together that evening and I looked forward to our time together.

Fifteen minutes later, we were at our destination; “The Sunset Club House”. As we drove towards the parking area, I noticed Jason at the front of the main building entertaining some of his guests. I found myself staring at what he was wearing feeling that there was something pleasantly familiar about it. I quickly looked away trying not to make it too obvious. We came out the vehicle and as we started walking towards Jason it hit me. Jason Emery was wearing a khaki-coloured long pants and a white linin long sleeve shirt. This was the exact outfit the young man in my dream was wearing. I took a deep breath and rubbed my palms against each other. Alright, this is absurd, I thought, perhaps I need to see a Shrink. My mouth and throat suddenly felt dry and I struggled to swallow. All of a sudden it felt extremely weird being there and exactly as experienced when we first met, I wanted to disappear.

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.