I dreamt of her last night, the first time in years. It felt so real. The cadence of her voice, and the way she looked at me with those eyes of sad pity, it felt familiar. It all seemed innocent, almost normal.
She called me unexpectedly and said she wanted to see me, was quite persistent, and I didn’t think to ask why. It didn’t seem so strange at the time. I agreed, and that’s where the dream begins to shift between private and public moments like slides out of order.
We first wandered Sheppard St. at night, hand in hand, headlights from stray cars streaking the road like long-exposure photography, the white and red glowing instead of the street lights overhead, dipping beneath that small bridge lined with graffiti.
Then we were somewhere different, a public park, bright green with life, lush like the first few weeks of spring. It was daytime, a cloudless expanse of blue, and again we seemed to wander aimlessly on paved paths of tar cut through the lawn, talking warmly of the past and the few times we actually smiled. There was always the feeling that we were moving forward, towards something.
It turned again, and we were lying in a bed, over a thick white comforter, white walls, a white night stand with an old-timey alarm clock of gold, it shined brilliantly. Light filled the room but I could see no source. It was not a bedroom I recognized, and the mood had shifted, the room was filled with anguish and regret, as we both explained things that were better left unsaid, miserable confessions that hit you in the joints, an ache, the splitting of marrow.
It all fell apart rapidly from there. The last turn, a different city, a small town, standing outside a red brick house, white shades drawn, a lifeless room behind, and I held her in my arms, pressed close together. As I looked down into her eyes, I told her I had missed her, I told her how slow time had moved without her, and the way everything still felt of her, but she began to cry, her body trembling as she shook her head, pulling away from me, holding her hands over her face. She kept saying,”I’m sorry.” I tried to get close again, but she only moved further. Suddenly the words began to pour out of her, frantically, as if they hurt as they left her lips. She had only wanted to see me because she needed something from me, some papers to be signed as if we were a married couple. She didn’t want to hurt me, but said it was the only way I’d agree to see her. She had been seeing someone new, said his name was robert, a family friend or something. She couldn’t face me as she told me all this, ashamed, or maybe she didn’t want to see my face as the words hit. I grabbed her shoulders rather forcefully at one point, so that she looked right at me, her eyes beet red, miserable, but she could only repeat that same tired line, “I’m sorry.”
She left me there on the street. It felt as if my heart had been torn again, that rekindled hope smashing against the concrete like glass. The words played over and over in my head, stirring another ache, a pain deep in my chest that didn’t move, only ate away at my soul. It was horrible. It stayed with me through the morning.