Title: Still In My Dreams

Rating: PG

Warning: lesbian relationships

Feedback: I'll bribe you. Reviews please, good, bad, indifferent.

Summary: A lesbian thinks about the girl she fell in love with once, but never let herself be near, and eventually, lost to memory.

Dedication: For Her. The girl I wrote this about. Even though she'll never see it. But it's better this way.

"Sometimes, you get second chances," she says in my mind. "Sometimes, you can start again. Sometimes…"

I can hear her voice again, but she's not there, not really. If I were a more poetic person, I'd say something like she's always with me. But I'm not a poetic person, and more to the point, she's not always with me. She never really was.

My eyes are still closed, as though I could still be sleeping but for the pain in my heart. The pain she's inspired, after all this time gone in between now and… and I don't know what, because there never really was anything. I sit up in bed, marveling at the sweat I've left on the sheets, even though it's the middle of winter, and normally, I'd be freezing. Reaching blindly, I flip on the bedside lamp.

I've often wondered why she's still in my dreams, why she was ever in my dreams. I've marveled at the clear ringing of her voice in my brain, when I shouldn't be able to recall anything about her.

Wiping some sweat off my brow, I reach down the floor and pick up my black T-shirt. Stretching it over my head, I debate what I'm going to do next, but I think I want coffee, and I think there's a coffeeshop open. I also think I might want a sandwich, but come to think of it, I don't really know. That's something I'm getting used to, the idea that maybe I don't really know.

I grab my discarded black cargo pants and pull them on, a mechanical motion. Pulling on shoes, I stand, wondering again how it all came down to this. To middles of the nights wondering why she's not here when she never really was.

"Sometimes, you get second chances," her voice repeats in my mind.

"Yeah," I reply out loud, bitterly. "But sometimes you never make it past the first one. Sometimes you don't even get that."

It would have been more poetic if it were snowing, I decide, stepping outside my door. Or maybe if it was raining, either one, it'd be more poetic than clear skies. I'd like to look up and see the stars, but you can barely see them in the city, and I think seeing just a few would depress me, just a little bit.

There's a sandwich shop by my house, maybe three or four blocks away, and its open until two in the morning, so here I am, half past eleven at night, when I meant to go to bed at ten, which I did, so I could get up at seven. Funny how she could get me to do things I hadn't planned on, even when she didn't know.

She never knew any of it. Never knew how I felt, never knew that… that maybe, just maybe, I was in love with her. She never even really knew I was gay, though I'd like to think she thought I was. I'd like to think maybe, somehow, I made my intentions that obvious.

I walk in the sandwich shop, the person looking up to see me as the bells clang annoyingly from the door.

"What do you want?" he asks blandly as I approached the register. To tell you the truth, I felt kind of bad for the guy, you know, it was almost midnight, and here I was with my desire for a turkey club on wheat. I'd have been bored and tired too.

"Turkey club on wheat, without sprouts… and a French vanilla cappuccino," I tell him, as politely as I can muster at this hour. I mean, how polite can you really be? "Please."

He nods, perhaps because its preferable to agreeing verbally or perhaps because he thinks it's the best movement. Or maybe it's just a reflex. "Six dollars and sixty-four cents," he informs me.

I fumble with my wallet before handing him over the bills and coins that he counts with a board look on his face. I'd study him if I were that interested in him, but frankly, I'm not interested in him.

Standing off the side I watch him make the sandwich, tossing the pieces together. "I loved her, you know," I say before I realize my mouth is moving. "I really fucken loved her."

He startles when he hears me say that, and I realize he's trying to figure out if he made a mistake on my gender, but there's no mistaken that I am a woman, albeit a butch one.

He shrugs, thinking I'm just another nut that comes in here late nights. Maybe he thinks I'm drunk, but then, maybe I am. Not from alcohol but from something. From missing you. Something, anything. "I'm sure you did," he says mildly.

I rubbed my shoulder with my hand. "I did," I repeat. "But I fucked it all up, you know." I sigh and run my hands through my tangled blond hair. "I was an asshole, and I fucked it all up."

He hands me my sandwich wrapped in the waxy papers with the name of the place on it, and my Styrofoam cup of cappuccino. "Are you okay?" he asked warily, as if he's not sure he wants me to answer.

I shake my head slightly. "No," I tell him. "Not at all." Clutching the coffee, I head towards the door and onto the dimly lit street. To my dismay, small flakes of snow have begun to fall. And it is poetic, it really is. I'm just not sure why yet.

I see a phone booth on the way home, and I think briefly about calling her, even though it's near midnight, and even though it hasn't occurred to me, I don't know her phone number.

The thought that does stop me is of course, what on Earth would I say? How could I tell her any of this, when it doesn't make any sense, not really. Because… everything I'm fighting for here, everything is just… non-existent. I never was anything to here, and she wasn't anything tangible to me.

What the hell could I say? Hey, remember me, we used to go to school together, then I went off to college, and you went off to boarding school? Yeah, me, the pretentious asshole from English class, that's the one.

Her voice echoes off the walls of my brain again, "Sometimes, you get second chances. Sometimes, you can start again. Sometimes…" she had said the night I told her all my dreams.

"Yeah," I'd replied. "But sometimes, just sometimes, that's still not enough." And I'd ran my hands through my hair, like I do when I get nervous, and she stared over at me with those blue eyes, and it had torn through me in a way I didn't think anyone could still.

And the thing is, I never told her all my dreams. I never really said it, and she never really said anything to me. It's not that it was just a nice fantasy, it's that we talked in different ways, and I like to think that maybe she knew, and maybe she even understood.

But I won't call. I think that much goes without saying. Instead I'll do what I'd always do, I'll keep my mouth shut and forget about it for now. I'll be a coward and let more time fall in between us, and I'll stand in the snow for a second, realizing just how much in love with her I really was. And I'll realize nothing will ever change that.

And I still won't do anything.

Because the fact of the matter is you can't make anyone want you, and even when and if they do, you cant make them admit to it, or go through with it any of it. Not one fucken thing. Because there's just too much. No matter how much you want it, wish it, spend every waking moment thinking about it. It doesn't matter. All that matters is how much you're both willing to do.

And neither she or I will ever do anything.

So we're doomed. Because I'm afraid, and I know I'm afraid. Because I think that falling in love with her is like falling from a great and gruesome height, and I didn't want to fall. But I did, the problem was I did it so slowly and so completely that I didn't even notice until…

Until she was gone.

And so now I'll just go home, and eat my sandwich, and drink lukewarm cappuccino… And I'll maybe page through the Gay&Lesbian Review, and I'll think about getting a subscription, but then I'll decide I don't need one, even though I know I'll be back at Barnes&Nobles picking up the next issue for twice as much. And somehow, I've come to the grim realization that it's… it's better this way. This is the way it should be.

And I'll go to bed, alone. Completely, and utterly alone. And I'll wake up in the morning, and I'll still be in love with her, and she'll still be gone, and she'll still probably not think of me, except in a passing memory. And I still won't truly matter to her, or more to the point, in the way I want to matter.

And I'll got to class, and listen professors lecturing about things that don't matter to me anymore when they used to be my passions. And I'll go to work, and not think for six hours.

But for now, I'll just stand here, holding a turkey sandwich in one hand and a cup of cappuccino in the other, and I'll let the snow fall around, and I'll let the streetlights cast their shadows, and I'll let myself cry, even if I don't really notice it. And I'll let myself think about her for a while. And I'll let the words she never said echo through the streets of a sleeping city that used to strangle her, so she ran from it, and lost me. And I'll let myself love her.

And I'll miss her even more.

Even though she's not mine to miss.

And she never was.