This story is a continuation to one I wrote in August, 2005. It’s my attempt to show that sometimes dreams do indeed come true.
Angel awoke early in the morning, in the middle of a dream that was both bizarre and fascinating. She immediately realized the story of her dream was unfinished and tried to force herself back to sleep so that she could see how the story playing in her subconscious ended. “If only dreams where like DVD’s,” she thought to herself. It was 5:47 and already there was something on which for her to dwell. “Another great start to another great morning,” she sarcastically sniped to herself.
Then Angel turned and saw him. The familiar face of the man lying next to her, his eyelids fidgeting as his mental movie was still playing in his head. She thought to herself to be quiet. No need for both of them to have their dreams prematurely interrupted. So she sat and stared, gazing intently at the facial features she’d come to know so well. The chiseled jaw line that terminated in that distinguished cleft chin. The cheek bones that sat perfect and symmetric in his face, making his appearance seem almost presidential. The smooth, silky hair that hinted at the idea of receding but still provided a youthful and boyish look. This was her man, and every morning she pinched herself just a little bit at the sight of him.
How was it that someone so handsome and wonderful and thoughtful came into her life? It seemed not so long ago that Angel battled the demons that haunted her and her thoughts. The lonely nights, the desperate feelings, the sense that everything and everyone in her life was against her. Yet there she sat staring at the one thing that turned her life around. The one person that saved her. It all happened so fast, yet there she was nonetheless.
As she gazed at this man who occupied not only her bed, but every aspect of her mind, heart and soul, she recounted to herself the unique series of events that lead them to meet. She narrated a story in her mind. A story that included a prologue recapping that dark time in her life and the dangerous flirtations she had with suicide. She recalled a late night visit to her pharmacy after having convinced her doctor she needed a refill of anti-inflammatory pills for her still aching shoulder. It was not her shoulder that ached but rather her heart, and that evening would be the last time she would ever need a prescription filled.
Angel remembered feeling uncomfortable at the sight of the young and relatively healthy-looking man sitting in the rigid and sterile chairs of the pharmacy’s waiting area. He appeared worn and distressed, as if he’d been crying for days and was just now catching his breath. Angel was all too familiar with that feeling. Perhaps she could share her Tramadol with this man and create quite the headline for the local newspaper. Nevertheless, she cast aside any desire to be social and proceeded with her transaction.
As the pharmacist rang up her pills, Angel opened her purse to grab the $10 for her co-payment. “At least I have great medical benefits” she ironically thought to herself. She fumbled through a collection of keys, mini-makeup kits and two year-old receipts searching for that little piece of green paper with Alexander Hamilton’s face. She swore she had thrown it in her purse earlier that day. She found $8 in cash; a five and three one’s. Angel replayed in her mind the afternoon’s events, and the proverbial light went off when she remembered the diet Coke and gum she bought at the newsstand just outside her office building.
A habitual soda drinker, Angel was always teased about how diet Coke would be the death of her. She smiled at the idea that at that moment, her lack of funds resulting from that diet Coke purchase might actually save her life. For one more night, at least. Her comedic moment quickly faded into anger and frustration. Surely she had enough spare change at the bottom of her bag to complete this transaction. It wasn’t bad enough she had left her license and ATM card in her other purse, now she didn’t have enough money to kill herself!
His hand floated in quietly, his voice low and deliberate. “Excuse me.” She was startled at first, wondering why this man who moments ago was sitting across the room staring blankly at the ceiling was now invading her personal space. In his hand was a worn and well used $20 bill. Her eyes followed up his arm, across his sunken shoulder and up to a face that was attempting to be presentable. Perhaps it was the perplexed look on her face that begged the question, but he answered before she could mutter a word. “It looks like you’re a little short,” he said. His voice was gentle, yet engrossed in a childlike tremble reminiscent of a toddler hoping not to be in trouble with his parents.
Angel did not intend to stand there with no reply. Nor did she mean to look at him as if a second head had just grown out of his neck. Yet she stood and stared, as if looking right through him, all the time trying to make sense of this moment. “I’m fine, thanks. I’m sure I have some extra cash in here somewhere.” Angel’s struggled response was an attempt on her part to portray confidence and self reliance, all the while allowing herself to be the subject of such a chivalrous gesture. “Please. I insist,” he said. His eyes caught hers and for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime he smiled.
Angel recalled how that moment at the pharmacy counter was the first domino in the long string moments and events that lead her to be in that bed that morning. She recalled how his offer to pay for her prescription allowed her to let her guard down just long enough to follow her instinct to be social with him. Angel’s “Thank you” was followed by a reciprocal “Are you okay?”, which lead to the stereotypical guarded chit-chat between two strangers reeling in their own misery and longing to have someone with whom to share it.
Angel still could not believe she did not turn and run when he dropped the movie-scene invite for a late cup of coffee. Yet she knew in her heart that $.89 cup of Joe saved her life and probably his as well, for it was at that all-night diner where he explained to her the soap opera that was his life. He went into overwhelming detail how he was filling a prescription for anxiety pills and anti-depressants, a prescription written for him by his therapist. His therapy sessions were a result of a relationship, or better yet a lack thereof, with the woman of his dreams. It would take him 15 months to see past the infatuation and through the web of lies this woman had strewn around him, but Angel was there for him when he finally broke free.
And unlike the other times in her life where Angel would be the rock and source of strength for a person in need, only to be cast aside once things became better, this man for whom she made herself available – and against her better judgment, vulnerable – did not abandon her. Instead, this man became her rock. He became her sense of strength. His words of encouragement and understanding quickly turned from foreign concepts to common and familiar reminders of his love for her. Every time she expected to be hurt and disappointed, he surprised her with a resolve to disprove her notion that this could never happen to her. It was almost as if Angel had grown so accustomed to pain and heartache, her soul no longer knew how to process pure joy.
Angel gently slid out of her bed and tip toed into the bathroom. The brightness of the lights caused her to squint and she shushed herself in a hurried fashion as she nearly tripped over the scale on the floor. As her eyes began to acclimate to the bathroom light, she found her way to the sink and splashed her face with cold water. She patted down her face with a towel and her eyes caught sight of the medicine bottle hiding just behind mouthwash. The anti inflammatory pills in the bottle were now well past their expiration date, but served as a fresh reminder to Angel that her dream did not end when she awoke. Rather, she was living her dream every day.