It’s a weird sort of half dream because I am still awake. I’m dreaming about a woman I once knew but I can’t see her face. The room is dark and lit by a single candle that’s on a dresser on the other side of the room. I know the body but I can’t put a face or a name or a date to the event. She was a strong woman, muscled and unashamed of it, and her legs were very long. Her skin had an odd reddish tone to it sometimes and when she was mad or excited it was more obvious. In the dream her face stays hidden in the shadows, there is no sound, except that of the rain from the real world and I drift back into wakefulness again.
I’m not sure she’s real but I’m not sure anything is real when I dream or when I first come out of it. I’m waiting for the day that the two world become indistinguishable and I wonder if the writing will look a lot like this when that happens. Clearly, I need coffee at this point. I decided to try again and this time the sleep takes and of course, I oversleep.
The coffee shoppe isn’t crowded yet but it will be because today is Saturday, the most glorious of all days of the week. There’s a couple in line ahead of me and espresso is only a minute away. The man is wearing shorts and sandals with socks. He has on a dress shirt and he’s clearly never drank coffee before in his life. Each and every coffee drink on the menu he asks the same questions, “Well, what is that like? What does that taste like? How big is that size?” and suddenly the realization hits me; I could die of caffeine deprivation before this man makes up his mind. His wife is trying to help but she is from another planet also. She’s telling him not to get anything with too much caffeine in it and I wonder how much caffeine is too much caffeine when too much caffeine is rarely enough.
The Gods are merciful and he chooses to get a very large cup of some sort of latte and he asks for a shot of espresso, because he’s never tried it, in a separate cup. He tries to drink the espresso straight and gags. But I have my order in and my espresso will be treated with the reverence that it deserves. Theses interlopers, these barbarians of the sacred bean, these blasphemers, may they all secretly all get decaf and spend the day yawning and tired.
As an aside there is a well dressed man who is sitting across the room watching people. He isn’t drinking coffee and he is trying to make eye contact with people. This ought to be interesting. He just stepped out to make a call on his cell phone. Let’s see if he returns.
It bothers me I can’t remember the woman’s face or her name, but only her body and skin. I remember a feeling about her, as if she belongs within a certain time frame, but I search my mind for her there and can’t find her. Uselessly, I scroll through the alphabet trying to get a hit on her name and this fails. I scroll through woman’s names and this produces a barrage of false hits and odd crossing memories like falling stars. The idea that cross referencing bodies to come up with one memory nearly lost in time isn’t productive at all. A long repressed memory of a woman I knew for one night surfaces and I realize that the last time I saw her was within a half mile of where I sit right now. Like the machinery in a vast and complex timepiece, with thousands of geared wheels and minute cogs, she and I meshed, separated, and would never meet again, for the cycle that takes the hands of the clock around and around will devour lives before it comes around again, I think.
It was winter, or at least cooler weather, and I remember that she told me that she loved the way it felt to be nude when there were no flying pests and exposed skin was safe, after a fashion. The voice in my head, her voice, is very familiar, and this is a clue that I knew her for a while. I can hear this voice in conversation, I feel comfortable with the sound, and I know now she was someone I loved. But was she someone who loved me?
The well dressed man has returned. He’s looking around the room and I wonder what the hell he’s doing. He goes into the bathroom and a bald man pushes against the door five seconds later. The bald man is confused by the locked door. What could it mean? A bathroom door that is locked! How can this be? The well dressed man emerges and goes outside again.
The dream or the memory came from an apartment I now think and this creates timelines as to when I lived in an apartment and who I knew who lived in an apartment and the computer in my head whizzes around trying to put the background into some context. Where were the windows? What did the ceiling look like? But the scene remains solidly fragmented. I see sheets and skin, candlelight and shadows, and I hear her voice. The mind returns with the idea that she might be fictional. This has to be considered as a possibility.
He’s back. The parallel between the man who comes and goes and the memory that does the same pops up and solidifies. He goes into the bathroom again and this is truly getting mysterious now. There is a toddler who is giving commands in what sounds like German. It’s odd how the very young sound very foreign. They speak a language that is new and wholly extinct in a very short while. The parents of small children become immune to the sound, totally exhausted with trying to turn a volume control knob that takes years to dial down. They assume the rest of us will eventually grow weary of giving them harsh looks and wishing triplets on them next time around.
The memory is being watered down, polluted, transmogrified, evolved, cloaked, and rolled around in the detritus of the present. My mind, in its attempt to identify her, adds and subtracts from her, changes her, reshoots the scene, and perhaps, will even accept a false positive rather than defeat. Like a video set on repeat, the woman begins to turn over, to look at me, I’m sitting up, my hand on her back, following the curves of her body, the curves of her body shaping into my hand, her body sculpting my touch, the my fingers, lightly placed, carving deep lines of warmth into her skin, her skin, and then she begins to turn over, to look at me, I’m sitting up, my hand on her back, following the curves of her body, the curves of her body shaping into my hand, her body sculpting my touch, the my fingers, lightly placed, carving deep lines of warmth into her skin, her skin, and the words are indistinct, even if the voice is heard, as if I’m in the bathroom listening to her speak but not hearing her wholly. The bathroom, it’s to the left, to the side of where she is, I have that now, but I don’t trust it. I think the dresser is dark wood, stained dark and real wood not the prefab stuff, but I don’t trust this entirely either. The mind repeats the idea that this is fiction and not a real memory. I cannot deny this, but still…
The well dressed man gets into a car and he leaves. He was here before I got here and now he’s gone. He didn’t buy anything, that I know of and whoever he was waiting on never showed up. I see Florida tags as he drives past the window. Now he is gone forever, like the woman in the dream.
There are no more current devices that support your search. The mind tells me that it is a bit tired of this and wants to move on. There comes a point in every mental exploration where tenacity turns into obsession. We have reached that point, I am told, and it is time to move on to something more productive. She could become truly fictional and I could use her in a story somewhere, but that is very much like using an heirloom for a door stop. That’s a clue, I realize, but it’s also not something I can use to define her.
Fiction, Mike, she’s a dream, she’s something you wrote, or saw in a movie, or heard about or… my mind tells me these things but there is something about her voice that stays this thought. More than the body or the skin, the sheets or the candlelight, there is something about the way a woman’s voice, when she loves someone that drives down deep into the mind, and stays there. The wheels turn, the hands of the clock move forward in time, and she is lost to me, perhaps forever, just as surely as if there was only one night. Yet there is no denying that night, that moment, that body, the leg, the touch, the touch, the skin, and the love.