You Were Just A Dream

Chapter 1

Let The Dream Begin

I once heard a cheesy quote that goes like this: "We were given two eyes to see, two ears to hear, two hands to hold, two feet to walk with… But why only one heart? Because the other one was given to someone else for us to find."

As cheesy as it sounds, I do believe it's true. There is someone out there for everyone. I found my other heart. You just have to look. But in my case, I wasn't even looking.

It was the most emotionally draining week of my life. I was covering story after story of "teen suicides." Accidental deaths. There were already seven cases in three days. It was what they called "the choking game." I call it stupidity. I mean, we didn't do anything as crazy as that when we were kids. Toilet papering our neighbors, spraying whipped cream on car windshields, windows, and side mirrors, egging houses… But nothing as crazy as choking ourselves to death. It was depressing, having to interview the families. I actually walked out one time—I couldn't take it. Seven deaths in three days were just too much for me to handle. I've seen gore and guts, from traffic accident victims to murder victims. I've seen death in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I could take them. There was just something about these deaths that I couldn't take.

Then came my Cousin Jim's death. He had died saving one of his own under heavy fire. He was a good soldier. A brave comrade. But more than that, he was a great friend. We were more like brothers than cousins. Although we didn't grow up together, we were close. I would always get excited about our trips to North Carolina to see him and his parents Uncle Willy and Aunt Elaine. I guess we both felt a strong bond with each other due to the fact that I was an only child and so was he. And so his death, coupled with the depressing news I was instructed to cover, made me sink into a black depression. I felt as though I were being pulled down in a pitch-black sea, drowning. It affected me so much that I became catty and started fights with my coworkers where absolutely none existed. My editor at the time, Roger Gailey, suggested I take the week off, or however long it would take me to recover and get back in shape. I nodded, thanked him, and went straight home to my apartment. When I got home, I dropped my briefcase and coat, and fell on the couch. I didn't even bother taking off my tie. I fell asleep instantly. I wished I could sleep forever.

I was awakened by a kiss on my forehead, cheek, and temple. I stirred, wondering who it was. I know it wasn't my roommate Neil—he's as straight as an arrow. But I was having doubts. Could his manly demeanor be just a façade? (Not that I have anything against gays—I don't.) It was possible. Wasn't it? So to be sure, I opened my eyes.

I was surprised to find a beautiful woman sleeping next to me, snuggled against me so comfortably. She had blonde hair and was wearing skinny jeans, warm socks, and a light blue sweater over a white button down shirt. I didn't know her name. But I had a feeling I knew her. I was still shocked though. Where was I? Was I in someone else's apartment? I looked around. No, I was still in my apartment. The furniture was the same. But the whole place was decorated for Christmas, and instead of the warm May atmosphere that filled New York City, there was coldness. Winter. As I looked outside, I could see snow falling and ice crystals forming on the panes. There were three stockings on the mantelpiece. Neil's, mine, and… Charlie's? Charlie. So her name was Charlie… Or was that a nickname? She opened her eyes and smiled. I was struck by the beauty of her eyes. They were the prettiest green eyes I had ever seen. They looked so delicate—like porcelain eyes. Fragile. Breakable. They were light and hypnotic. Like enchanted jades. Inviting and intoxicating, like a glass of absinthe, the Green Fairy.

"Mmmm… You're awake," she said, kissing me. "You were sleeping so soundly."

Instead of panicking and calling the cops on her and calling her a crazy woman, I played along. I was somehow drawn to her.

"How long have I been asleep?" I asked.

"Six hours. You came home at one and fell asleep. It's already seven," she said, cupping my face with her left hand.

"That long?" I said, laughing.

"Yes, that long," she said, giggling. She got up.

"Where are you going?" I asked, grabbing her hand.

"To reheat our chocolates. They're not hot anymore," she said, kissing my hand and pressing it to her cheek.

"That can wait," I said, pulling her down and kissing her. The kiss grew in intensity until we had to stop to catch our breaths. She kissed me passionately, like there was no tomorrow. She held on tightly to me, never wanting to let me go. It was just starting to get hot and heavy when we heard the door unlock. It was probably Neil.

"Neil!" I said, sitting up. "I…we…weren't exp—"

"We?" he said, giving me a look that said he thought I was out of my Vulcan mind.

"We!" I said, "Charlie and I—"

"Who's Charlie?" he said, scratching his head in confusion.

"Charlie! My girlfriend? Our new roommate?" I said, looking beside me. She was gone.

"Dude," Neil said, worry written all over his face, "You don't have a girlfriend and we don't have a roommate named Charlie."

"But I… She—" I said, protesting.

"No buts," he said, cutting me off. Slowly, the scene faded into blackness and I was alone again.

"Sam! Sam, wake up!" Neil said, shaking me. I sat bolt upright like someone had poured a pail of ice-cold water on me.

"Where is she?" I said, looking around frantically, like a man insane. "Where is she? What'd you do to her?"

"Who? Do what to whom? What are you talking about, Sam?" he said, half concerned, half irritated.

"Charlie! She was here!" I said, sweeping my left arm in the direction of the fireplace.

"All this stress is going to make you lose your marbles," he said, shaking his head.

"Neil, I am not insane!" I yelled, raising a warning finger at him.

"Maybe not right now," he said, sighing, walking away. "But you will be, pretty soon! Get some sleep."

I threw the throw pillow at him and went back to sleep.

"But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?" Romeo said, hiding behind some bushes in Castle Capulet. "It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief, that thou, her maid, art far more fair than she."

"Be not her maid, since she is envious," I whispered softly in Charlie's ear, as we sat there in the theater, hand-in-hand. "Her vestal livery is but sick and green and none but fools do wear it—"

"Ssshhh…" she said, cutting me off with a kiss. I felt someone tap my shoulder. I turned. It was an older man.

"Excuse me, sir," he said, "Can I ask you to refrain from doing that? We're trying to watch the play here."

"My apologies," I said, embarrassed. I don't know if he was referring to our kiss, me quoting Romeo's lines, or Charlie shushing me, but I felt embarrassed.

"Thank you," he said, sitting back down. Charlie and I went back to watching as well. We watched till the play ended—and cried. We stood with the rest of the audience and clapped enthusiastically.

"So," I said, smiling, as we sat down for ice cream after the play. "Did you like it?"

"Uh-huh," she said, nodding. "Did you?"

"I liked it. I liked it a lot," I answered with a grin.

"Did you cry?" she said, giggling.

"Me? Cry? Are you serious?" I said, laughing. "Heck no! Never!"

"What is it with you men and your lack of emotion?" she said, rolling her eyes and folding her arms across her chest. "I mean, come on! It doesn't hurt to shed a teardrop or two. I swear you men have the emotional capacity of a rock!"

"Sssshhh…" I said, holding her close. "It was meant to be a joke."

"It wasn't a very good one," she said, smirking.

"I know. I'm sorry," I said, kissing her forehead. "Now, let's eat before our ice creams melt completely."

We had a wonderful night. After eating our ice creams, we took a walk in Central Park then went into a bookshop to buy some books. That was one of the things I liked about her. She was a reader. From the bookstore, we went to her apartment, where we made love for the first time by candlelight. We did it over and over again until the morning light seeped in through the space between the blinds and the sill. Over and over again until we couldn't do it any longer and were too tired to move.

"I think I love you," I whispered, kissing her cheek as we lay awake later that morning, facing each other.

"I love you," she said, clearly hurt. She got up and walked to the bathroom, naked. I got up to follow her, hoping to shower with her, but I heard the clicking of the lock. I shouldn't have said "think." But what was I supposed to do? I was still fighting my own demons—like Melissa, my ex from Michigan, getting hurt and burned again, being cheated on like she cheated on and lied to me, the fear of loving again, and of course, a part of me still loved Emmylou.

I woke up and sat up, blinking. That dream felt so real. Maybe Neil was right, I thought. Maybe I was losing it. I turned on the light and checked the time. 9:00. So I had been asleep for two hours. Eight if I counted from one. I got up off the couch and transformed it into a bed for the night. I decided to sleep some more. Part of it was escapism. To escape life. To escape depression. The wails of the inconsolable mothers. The doors slamming in my face. The stress caused by our trade. Jim's death. But part of it was also because of Charlie. Maybe I could get more clues as to who Charlie was, and why I was dreaming of her.

I couldn't sleep that night, however. All I could think of was her. This whole thing was driving me nuts. Could it be possible to fall in love with someone you've never even met before? I tossed and turned, thinking of her. I did not sleep a wink. I turned the TV on to see what I could watch. Nothing good. Then I sat up in bed and turned on the light to read a novel. Still, I couldn't get her out of my head. I grabbed my sketchbook and pencil and started drawing her—how she looked in my dream. I was satisfied when I finished. She was beautiful. Her face looked like a combination of Taylor Swift and Scarlett Johansson. Her hair, eyes, and lips were like those of Taylor Swift, while her nose and the shape of her face was that of Scarlett Johansson. I smiled and stared at the drawing until I fell asleep.

"Bonjour, mon amour ... Joyeux anniversaire! Avez-vous bien dormi la nuit dernière?" I said to her, kissing her shoulder, her nape, and the side of her neck, wrapping my arms around her. There she was, standing in the balcony of our French hotel room, enjoying the sunrise and the sounds of the city as it came to life. She was wearing her favorite cream-colored terry cloth bathrobe that she packed for the trip. I was wearing only my boxers.

"English please," she teased, smiling.

"I know you understood every word of what I said," I replied, tapping her nose once, playfully.

"Happy anniversary," she said, kissing me on the lips. "The wine was good. And yes, I did sleep well last night. After all, you wore me out."

I laughed.

"If someone investigated in this room, the bed would be glowing like a galaxy," she said, laughing merrily as though she had just heard a really good joke. It was a good joke.

"But the bed is only a galaxy," I said, kissing her forehead. "You're the whole universe to me."

"That is so corny, you know that?" she said, giggling.

"I guess love makes people corny," I said with a smile.

We made love again for another hour or two, took a bath together, dressed, and got out of the hotel to tour Paris. We went to see the Moulin Rouge and people gaped at us as we sang songs from Baz Lurhmann's romantic musical of the same name. Some clapped and cheered. Some clapped and cheered louder when we kissed. We took pictures and had our picture taken. A kind, old Frenchman offered to render a sketch of the two of us in front of the Moulin Rouge. We accepted and paid him. He refused. Said it was for free.

For lunch, we ate at a French restaurant, where I taught her how to eat snails. She was grossed out and we ended up laughing our asses off. After lunch, we went to see the Louvre and the Paris Opera House (where we sang "All I Ask of You"). We saved the Eiffel Tower for the night. As they say, save the best for last. It was a memorable anniversary (two years, I think—I don't quite remember). We went to Britain after that and spent a couple nights at Hever Castle, in Kent, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's ill-fated second wife. Our last stop was in Whitby, in Yorkshire. We had to fly home to New York after that because she got called in to report to work.

That was an amazing dream. I wanted more, but I had been woken up, which irritated me. I didn't want it to end. The clock read 1:45. I tossed and turned then sat up, sitting on the edge of the futon, my face buried in my hands. Why was I so crazy about her? I thought with a sigh. What was it about that girl—who might be a figment of my imagination—that makes me fall for her? Why was I falling in love with someone from a dream? This was all crazy. I had no answers—but I knew one thing. I had to get back to sleep. I had to see her again. Unfortunately, it took a long time for me to fall asleep again. I stood up and paced, sat back down, turned the TV on and inserted my Hetalia DVD into the DVD player, and watched my favorite Hetalia episodes. After awhile, I turned it off, read a novel, paced, lay back down, and kept tossing and turning until 4:00 in the morning. At 4:03, I finally felt sleepy again. Finally… I could see her…

"Do you remember how we met?" I said, smiling, as we sat in the corner table of a little coffee shop called Nino's. We were waiting for our order to arrive.

She smiled back. "I was walking down the street and I heard the snap of a camera. So I turned…"

"And I saw your face for the first time," I said, kissing her hand.

"Then you took another picture of me and said, 'Whoa! You're beautiful.'" She said, giggling, as she recalled our first encounter.

"And that was the start of a beautiful love story."

"Yes," she said, taking my right hand and putting it on her left cheek. "Yes, it was."

"I love you," I said, taking her hand and kissing each of her fingertips. I was able to say it this time (unlike in my other dream).

"Say that again?" she said, astonishment written on her face.

"I love you," I said, happy to repeat it.

"Really?" she said, her eyes gleaming with joy.

"Yes!" I said, squeezing her hand. "I swear, this time, I mean it."

"You know that's a song, right?" she said, giggling.

"It's actually one of my favorite songs," I said, chuckling.

"Really?" she said, gasping. "I had no idea it was a favorite of yours. We still have a lot to learn from each other."

"We have a long time, babe," I said, kissing her palm.

"We sure do," she said, giving me the smile that made me fall in love with her.

I woke up again, depressed. Why couldn't Charlie be real? I sight, got up, removed the sheets and pillows, put them back in the closet, and folded the sofa bed, turning it back into a couch. I sat in the easy chair, deep in thought for I don't know how long.

Neil broke through my thoughts and called my attention. It was already 8 in the morning. He threw his camera over to me.

"What's this?" I said, curious.

"Go out. Take some pictures if you like. Use my camera."

"Wouldn't you be needing this?" I asked.

"Captain Gailey rents out cameras, remember?" he said, smiling. I nodded. "Hey, it's your staycation. Enjoy yourself. Seize the day, Carpe Diem."

"Carpe diem," I repeated, nodding.

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may; Old Time is still a-flying; And this same flower that smiles today; Tomorrow may be dying," he said, quoting a verse from Robert Herrick's To The Virgins to Make Much of Time.

I didn't feel like seizing the day. I told myself I wasn't going anywhere. How could I?

However, an hour later, I remembered the last dream I had.

"Do you remember how we met?" I said, smiling, as we sat in the corner table of a little coffee shop called Nino's. We were waiting for our order to arrive.

She smiled back. "I was walking down the street and I heard the snap of a camera. So I turned…"

"And I saw your face for the first time," I said, kissing her hand.

"Then you took another picture of me and said, 'Whoa! You're beautiful.'" She said, giggling, as she recalled our first encounter.

"And that was the start of a beautiful love story."

This was it! Maybe Charlie wasn't a dream, after all. She was real—and she was out there! All I had to do was stop whining, take Neil's camera, and get out of the house. Then I'll get to meet her. I looked at the invitation that Emmylou and her fiancé sent me, then looked at the camera. Finally, I decided to screw Emmylou, crumpled the invitation, and loaded the camera. It was time to forget the past and look forward to the future. It was high time I let go of Emmylou and catch Charlie. Emmylou was in my past — and it was a beautiful past. But I had to move on. To move forward with my dream girl.