For the first time in as long as he could remember, Arthur woke up remembering the dream he'd had. He sat up on his bed with a groan finding it took more effort these days than ever before. In his dream though he'd been as he had when he was younger. It was not just the vigorous freshness of youth that caught in his waking mind but the vivid memories.
He'd had a happy childhood growing up in the city. Hot summers had meant no school, lots of ice cream and bathing with the fire hydrants shooting water into the street. In his dream it was like he was living it over again. He could feel the heat of the sun on his skin, taste the vanilla ice cream dribbling down from his mouth to his chin, feel the excitement of the fun he'd once had dancing and playing in the fire hydrant water.
There had been absolute joy in those moments. He'd been happy when he'd hit the baseball out into left field at age twelve. It had not been a home run, far from it, but it had landed between the outfielders and it had given two of his teammates enough time to run to home plate. He'd felt strong at fifteen when he'd beaten the bully in a game of arm wrestling, a witty trick really to make sure the boy never picked on others again. He'd fallen for his first love at seventeen, Suzie Carmichael, who he had thought surely to be the most beautiful girl in all the world, and seeing her smile at him in his dream again perhaps she had been.
The deepest yearning came from the time he'd met his wife. Alana had been introduced to him by his friends and had not liked him at first. She thought him simple in a complicated world. He'd thought her intense and kind of scary with the courage of her convictions. She had been a loud activist while he had always tried not to lean too hard one way or another. She had inspired a spirit in him of advocacy. He'd gotten involved and soon it was the two of them going out, hand in hand, posters and political buttons to share, telling the world just what they thought of injustice.
She had been his first love and his first heartbreak. The dream reminded him how angry he had been when she had thrown the glass vase at him, the delicate thing breaking to a million little pieces on the wall of their apartment. He'd thought the cops would be called on them for making such a ruckus. All that had happened was that she'd left in the morning. They found their way back to each other eventually and learned to communicate.
It had not always been easy but she had been the love of his life. Gone she was now, something that his mind reminded him of slowly as he rose from the bed, and he looked over to where she had once laid beside him. There was a longing in him he could not quite shake off. He got up and ready for the rest of his day.
The nostalgic feeling carried with him all day pulling at his emotions. He remembered finer little details of his dream, of his life really, things he had forgotten about. The smell of his wife's hair, a mix of shea butter and coconut, the feel of her fingers intertwined in his. The taste of smack bubblegum, a brand from his childhood, that he and all his little friends would pile coins together for in order to buy. They'd blow bubbles so big that, when they popped, their entire faces would be covered with the pink sticky stuff.
He was supposed to go on with his routine, but instead Arthur wondered if the corner store still carried that bubblegum. He wandered to it, veering off his set path. To his wonder and delight there the little pack of gum was. It was the same price it had been when he had been young! He chuckled to himself as he pulled out his wallet to get ready to pay. The bell on the door chimed and he watched as the cashier, a young kid maybe in her teens, turned their attention to the person that had just come in.
As Arthur turned to look as well, the feeling of giddy happiness of time's past that had followed him all day faded to something altogether more sinister. There was fear, an uneasy apprehension, yet there was no reason for it. Why was he scared? His heart was thumping in his chest as if something was wrong. He grew nervous and agitated. The man that had walked in was walking slow, poking at things on the shelf but not really picking anything up.
The cashier had turned back to Arthur, was handing him his change back, and only then did he turn back to them. Arthur knew it would take time to put his cash back in his wallet but a part of him wanted to drop it there and just run from the store. What had he come in here for again?
The cashier's face grew stark white, eyes widening so much they almost bulged out of her head. Arthur could hear the click of a revolver, could hear the man demanding all the money in the register, but mostly the resounding sound of the gun going off filled his senses. It was not just the bullet that hit him but the understanding of the dream.
Like someone had hit play on a paused movie, it all caught up to him at once. Arthur crumpled to the ground, bleeding and dying, as he realized he had not had a dream at all. His life had flashed before his eyes in all its beauty and wonder. It had been a good life, plain perhaps to others, but full and long for Arthur. The cashier had run, escaped the gunman, and maybe she would get to live since Arthur had been in the way of the bullet.
Maybe he had been meant to be there after all.
About the author
I love to write fiction stories of the supernatural, romance, high fantasy, or science fiction variety. A bit of a baby, a bit of a rolling stone, just doing my best to avoid getting arrested. @ziggyer5 on the instagram.