The Woman From My Dreams
A Timeless Meeting of Dreaming Lovers.
Darkness asserted itself like a solid force gently pressing me into my bed. Autumn’s cool breath drifted in through the open window. Curtains danced somewhere near the window, filling the darkness with the whispering of their skirts. My eyelids grew heavier and slower with each blink. Nearby, the purring of my feline companion washed over my consciousness like a little living motor. There was a moment in which a waking thought conjured an important memory; then the waking thoughts were no more.
Sunlight warmed my face, and a bee buzzed nearby. I opened my eyes to grey low hanging clouds broken in places to reveal sunlight and sky beyond. I sat up with a start. My pajamas were damp with rainwater. I had somehow come to be outside. Had I walked in my sleep, again? A relief passed from me in a long sigh as I noticed my house was missing.
A musky, spring petrichor hung in the air in what was clearly a quite vivid dream. My house was gone, and the old barn looked a little less old. The bee’s buzzing little motor stopped as it landed on my pajama shirt. It danced across the ship engraved in my pewter button before taking flight again. The bee’s buzzing was drowned out by a scream from the barn.
Cautious, I stalked toward the barn noticing the differences in my small farm. Trees stood where there should be none. My beehives were gone and so was my garden. The grass grew thicker and longer than ever before. This farm was my own, but different. Only the old barn lent evidence to my conclusion of my whereabouts. I had to remind myself this was only a dream, albeit the most vivid dream.
The web of a barn spider glimmered high in the doorway. The spider lingered near the edge of her web as a hundred small raindrops shown like diamonds against her silk lace. The tiny prisms of cascading light enhanced her already skilled, woven art. I ducked under her anchor strand with all the respect of one artist to another. As I came into the barn’s dull shade movement sounded from the hay loft above.
A mirror hung out of place on the stairwell, dusty and brass framed. The creaking of the wooden stairs sounded loud and unwelcome. My reflection passed in my peripheral vision as I ascended. Black hair, dark eyes, and medium toned brown skin with white pajamas.
“Did Benny send you down to find me, Al, or have you finally decided you care?” a female spoke from the loft above. I climbed the final steps and came into the loft.
“Oh,” she said with a shy smile, “It’s you.”
“I’m sorry ma’am,” I told her, “But do I know you?”
Her words, smile, and demeanor indicated she was familiar with me, though I did not know her. Even so, her appearance evoked such a peculiar sense of déjà vu within me. Her brown hair fell around her narrow face in a messy layered bob that seemed reminiscent of another time or place. Her striking green eyes held a mild amusement as she fixed me with a knowing stare. A bruise colored the fair skin of her left cheek only half concealed by her hair. Her blushing lips quirked into a half smile as she watched me struggle to remember.
“I’ve seen you before,” I said as I realized. “In my dreams, although it has been a while.”
“Are you sure you are the one dreaming?” She asked amused at my confusion, “Poor little bunny, I’m having too much fun.”
“I’m James,” I started, then had to catch an oil lamp I almost knocked over. She laughed and I apologized.
“Sarah,” she introduced. Sarah sat on a rocker near the large open window of the hayloft. She wore a green cotton dress with butterfly sleeves. Her feet were bare, but a pair of leather boots were wet under the rail. Above the boots hung a vintage button-down raincoat dripping with rainwater.
“I’m sorry, Sarah,” I told her, “but I heard a scream.”
“I slipped on the top stair, luv,” Sarah said. She had the remnants of an almost forgotten accent, and I couldn’t quite place it. “Benny went to see a man about a dog. He will be back soon. He knows to check the barn when I’m not in the house.”
“Who’s Benny?” I asked, “And there is no house. I’m sorry Sarah, this is all confusing for me, but I think I’m only dreaming.”
“Benny is my husband,” she said solemnly. “This time I intended on running for good, but a storm’s coming in. The house is up by the road; we’ll be dry enough in here.”
Her quirkiness faded into a solemn sadness that broke my heart. To see her sadness cast a shadow on her beauty did nothing to temper her lure. Her green eyes found mine and held them for a long moment. There was a sadness in her gaze that stoked a memory.
“When I first moved out to the farm, I dreamed of you,” I recalled. “You were the woman crying and sitting in the snow with that red hat on. You were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I painted you, how could I have forgotten?”
“It’s okay, luv,” Sarah said, simply. “You dream and forget; I dream and remember. How many times have we done this, bunny?”
“How is it possible that I’m dreaming of you in such detail when I’ve never met you?” I asked.
“Are you truly dreaming?” she asked, seriously. “Or am I the one dreaming. It makes perfect sense for me to dream of a kind man with loving words. Take me away from this place back to your waking world? You promised me last time.”
“In a heartbeat if I could,” I told her surprising myself. My passion was upon me, and I wanted to whisk her away to another time and place. My familiarity felt ridiculously like love. How could that be? I had dreamed and forgotten. I had promised and broken.
“You said you would remember me if you painted me,” she said. “I was so excited I told Margaret about you. She thinks I’m crazy and told me they’d lock me up if I went on about you.”
“I’m so sorry Sarah,” I told her as my heart broke, “This is a dream that I will soon forget, but my love for you feels so real. How many times have we met like this?”
“Oh, six or sixty,” she replied flippantly, “What does it matter if each time is only the first for you?”
She spoke and looked with a downcast glance at the floor. Unable to bear it any longer, my passion compelled me to touch her. I moved forward and reached for her hand. She took my hand easily and stood with me. Thunder sounded as we held each other dancing to some internal melody linking our hearts.
“Take me with you, James,” she said against my neck.
“I don’t know how,” I told her. “I don’t understand any of this.”
“Then I’ll wait,” she said, “This time do not forget me, bunny. You promise?”
“I promise,” I told her as I tried to piece together the memories of meeting her in this place between two times.
“He’s been threatening to kill me, you know,” Sarah said in a small voice as we danced to the drumming of the rain. “He keeps saying he’ll bury me under the barn, and no one will know. Maybe someone will bury him there instead. I think he could really do it, bunny. You know…kill me.”
“That’s horrible,” I told her, “You have to get away from him. Call somebody.”
“That’s not so easy in my time,” she said. She sniffed and forced a smile, “Take me back to your time and show me how to call somebody.”
“I won’t let go of you,” I told her fiercely, “He cannot hurt you while I’m here.”
“Poor, bunny,” she said, with a sad smile, “I have to wake from this dream sometime.”
“But I…” I started.
A shout sounded from outside and Sarah grew rigid. She released me saying, “Got to go, bunny. Do not forget me. My heart will ache until we meet again.”
“Sarah, don’t,” I said reaching for her. She danced away and ran down the stairs. I ran down in time to see her run out into the rain. As I rounded the banister, my shirt caught the rail and set free my top button. I pursued Sarah with the intent of keeping her away from him. As I stepped into the wall of rain lighting struck blinding me.
I woke to a sore dryness in my throat and the taste of an Autumn breeze on my tongue. Though the room was cold, I was drenched in sweat. I crawled from bed and turned on the lamp. There was something important I needed to remember, and it was evading me.
The image of the most beautiful woman with green eyes lingered in my imagination. I began to recall pieces of my dream. The cool breeze chilled my chest as I slid the window shut. The top button of my shirt was missing. I checked the bed but was unable to find it. My feline companion had departed sometime while I slept.
Remembering the painting I bolted to the attic. I located it among other forgotten works. I gasped as I observed dozens of paintings bearing the same face. Fair skin, blushing lips, short brown hair, and sad green eyes. The realization of my missing memories lay over my chest heavy and solid. I was breathing hard and trying to piece it all together. There was a box there with the painting labeled, previous inhabitants. Inside I found a black and white picture of Sarah. The date on the back read August 21, 1937. Then I could be still no longer, I dropped the photo and fled the attic in fear.
Down through the big empty house I ran out to the barn. The grass was cold and dead under my feet. I rushed in so fast I walked right through a spider’s web. Panicking, I danced around and pulled at the strands to untangle the web from my hair.
A shovel leaned against the stairs temping my curiosity and fueling my fear. I took it and broke earth in the back corner of the barn’s dirt floor. I dug until I found human bones that looked to be several decades old. Dropping the shovel, I scampered away from the hole in despair. My foot ran across something rough and metallic on the dirt floor. Half buried below my foot; I found a small, rusted button with an engraving of a ship on it. It looked to be ancient, much older than its companions on my shirt.
Panic paralyzed me there at the bottom of the stairs for several moments. Cold rain began to patter on the dry leaves outside. I heard movement and looked up. She stood at the top of the stairs looking half a century older, but with the same green eyes. She smiled and said, “Oh, it’s you.”