Dreams. Some of us have them. Some of us do not. Sometimes. All the time. Somewhere and everywhere. There are sometimes built over time with posters in bed rooms, movies running in our minds, and hope in our hearts. As with some movies, these can take unexpected and sometimes unfortunate turns. Because sometimes we get sick. We forfeit the championship game before the try-outs even start. We hang up our soccer shoes and remember things like the nick names we got while we attempted to fulfill them. Bruiser was my nickname and a part of my dream. Soccer was my sport, defense was my position. Then after eighth grade I got sick, and sophomore year called for no more P.E. period for me. Funny how some dreams bring other ones into light. The dream to create. Write. Compose. To be part of something bigger than yourself. To change views. How to be humble. My junior year I stepped into this new world and new dreams were pressed on fast forward. Dreams. You never really forget your dreams. To be a writer, runner, and Lover. They stay with you as you complete your morning jog, your bacon cheese burger, your chores, your romantic dinner, your fight with your roommate. As much as you try to alienate yourself from them. They call to you. To be social was another dream I never fully held on to but my bubbly personality came through and I have wonderful friends. Love, it seemed to always be slipping from my grasp when finally it seemed it had never existed. Perhaps this is the year. Now on the in-betweens, I’m trying to envision new dreams. Not to replace old ones. To be a smile now. You see funny thing about dreams. They never retire.
I cannot explain why. I love you with my entire heart. My dreams flow with you in them which once was okay but is now my living nightmare. I wait all day for the night to escape you and you appear like a curse in my thoughts. You led me thinking we were something we were not. You were so kind. Why were you so kind to me if it all meant nothing? I told you all my secrets and you did in all fairness tell me yours. I find it difficult to impossible to compose anything of significance for my broken heart wants peace. Why I still think of you is because you said we should no longer speak. The crazy thing is if you wanted me back I feel I’d bend. However, a man who doesn’t believe in my schooling or my dreams is not someone I should be with. I want to write everything down. But I’m not ready right now.
I ride the train dreaming of our future even though we have no present. I dream of sleeping peacefully in your arms. I dream of us together. God, how much I have to hold back tears. Currently I am listening to Human by Christina Perri, and I’m crying because you broke me. You conditioned my soul to believe things and they are not reality. I want it all to stop. I want my brain to stop functioning because it leads me to you so frequently I cannot bare it much longer. You are ever present in things you shouldn’t be. I love you so much. Maybe I am delusional and don’t know basic concepts because the louder your silence the louder my anguish. I want to put thinking about you away for now but I’m not ready right now.
Little things remind me of you. Foods and TV shows… burgers and the big bang theory… I am so torn up I’ve become shredded wheat. I think the healthiest thing to do would be to move on. My texts go unanswered and my hopes dwindle. I’ve heard it said that the first cut is the deepest. This severing of communication without closure hurts. The silence chokes me. The pain engulfs my lungs and I pray for a way to rid my being of these feelings that are shredding up my brain, my thoughts, my mind. I ASK FOR PEACE. GIVE IT TO ME< SPARE ME THE AGONY THAT CORRODES MY HEART, BODY, and SOUL.
I spoke with a friend and we have a true insightful conversation. I realize I am ready. Our dates were wonderful though they made me so nervous. I always trusted you when we drove in bad weather. At the end of each date we would both lean over and hug. After the third date which we spent eating boneless wings that gave me a stomach ache and burned your tongue to the core, we went to the bookstore because the movie The Book Thief was not playing for a while. We twirled around the store glancing at all the books. I was so happy that you loved Barnes and Noble the way I did. We stood silently shoulder to shoulder and carefully picked up various books that peaked our interest. We shared interesting, funny, or shocking passages. I remember most vividly the accessory selection and talking about nail polish and you saying you did not like pink. I showed you my hot pink nails and you said you did like those. I heard only sincerity in your voice. There were these carved wooden hands and I didn’t understand why the men’s hand was bigger. You put up your hand and we compared. It was a new feeling, maybe it’s because it’s just hands touching but there was something more. We watched the movie which left me in tears. World War 2 movies tend to have that affect on me. However, once we left I started wondering if we’d finally kiss that night. We hugged and I thought about just kissing you. I really did. I walked back to the house wondering. The next day was quiet but finally in the evening you sent me a message informing me of what a wonderful time you had. That is was the best since April something 2006. I remember with great certainty that was when you came to this country. What I don’t remember is how your feelings went from that to nothingness. I wonder about 2014 the year of confusion. The year we hung out, then spent the summer apart. We saw each other On October 25 when my purse got stolen. It was your protection of me that made me wonder if you didn’t like me, why care the way you seemed to? I’ll never get my answer because a few days later you informed me that we shouldn’t speak after a fight we had. You were mad I had feelings for you and mad I called you mean and cruel. I apologized so many times but it was too late. There are so many unanswered pieces to this puzzle. On December 23, 2013 we exchanged gifts and you caressed my cheek and I held your hand. Two days later, on Christmas you broke it off. I realize now that writing all this down only further confuses me.
What helps is knowing that well, I don’t know why. But I know that clearly we were wrong for each other somehow.
We were two pieces that didn’t fit. And I almost destroyed myself trying to make them fit…
The email I received from you after wishing you happiness was not closure but destruction. You sent hate towards me after I wished you all the happiness in the world.
Part 2 is short. Because I’m not destroying myself trying to make those puzzles pieces that were us fit anymore.
Part 2 is the end of our chapter. I shut it with all my power, but the winds open it so often. I hope one day it will shut forever. That I can forget all the awful things you claimed.
You claimed that I didn’t care, wasn’t sorry and didn’t know the meaning of the word sorrow, that I didn’t ask you to text me when you got home as a sign of my not caring. You claimed I thought the world revolved around me. Worst of all you saw me at the station for MONTHS, thought I saw you and I ignored you. I NEVER SAW YOU!
That I threw our friendship down the sink disposal. That I didn’t show affection.
I never saw you and I begged God that I would have.
We were always more than friends to me. So, I hope that the anger that caused you to write that email goes away. I loved you, and just because you couldn’t see that doesn’t mean I deserved the cruel set of sentences that I received.
I want to heal my heart. But, I worry about running into you at the station. And what I should do if we meet…
I on the phone
And he’s there
Taking off his sunglasses and talking to me. I don’t know what to do or say and much to my dismay no apology ever comes from him. I ramble on. I graduated, my twin is getting married, I don’t travel here often. Then I ask, what’s new with you. He holds up his hand displayed a silver band and says, I got married. I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel like I should be his and he should be mine. I only realize the relief much later. We talk briefly about weddings. He talks about a friend 60,000 in debt because of a wedding, but he is not in debt himself. God, I wanted to say bye and leave. Why did he approach me this time?
I am on the phone in front of Union Station, and before he even removes his sunglasses, I know. I know it’s Mike. I feel like I’m seeing a ghost. I feel alarmed, strange, and uncomfortable. I feel so many things that I’m numb. But I’m kind to him. Later I decide that’s just who I am. So is “who I am” a fool?
He says at the beginning that he never thought he’d see me again…that he didn’t know what to say… and so I ramble. Instead of getting answers. But why would I dig up the past? We hadn’t seen one another in 3 years. His last email was over a year ago. (I sent one in January 2016 reaching out for closure. He emailed back in March with a string of cruel letters, so I blocked him.)
I need more time to process this. But it felt like he wanted to say more. I don’t know what.
I know two things.
I don’t want him back.
I also don’t want to feel hurt anymore. And seeing him, I remember screaming in anguish. His words – flames against my bare skin. And God did I burn.
(My numb feeling, I recognize later is actually deep, piercing pain. I begin dreaming about him, thinking about him. It hurts so much and I cannot make it stop. I’m trying but you were in my dreams tonight and you kissed me. And I woke up in shook, realizing you will only ever kiss me in my dreams.)
The collection of Stars
Was not Midnight Blue
The trees encompassing us Reinz Green
The lights Lipstick Red
My father said “Give me your hand”
I walked across the ice and into the grass
A wall, now night, completely covered in Studs
There were haunting glints on the forest, quite distinct
My father and I spoke briefly about the food
And the wine (neither of us cared for the wine)
The forest was frozen Reinz Blue and Rice Brown
Now it was too dark on the path
“I don’t have my flashlight!”
“We don’t need one” he said with laughter
About the sky he sang songs
In Polish and I sang with him
“Wait look” I whisper and tug his jacket.
“Look at it” I say gasping
The North Star was the only one I could name
The Big Dance
But I loved all the little ones
Which are obviously gargantuan
They were infinite
I didn’t want anything
Didn’t want warmth
I didn’t want a shooting star
Although my father mentioned a telescope
I mentioned buying a family star that’s at least nine hundred years old
Because there are nine of Us
I wanted but could not explain
To my father what the fabric was in Polish
And as we continued listening to nature
And seeing the world frozen for the year
The marvel of evergreens
The sand and the lingering burning odors
Of someone doing something curious
I knew one thing For a fact
Too bad this would not be on the math test
I message you full of cheer because I want to make you smile
I think about you working too hard and I’m sad
I daydream about you walking through the windy city
I think about how long it’s been since we saw each other
I think about your mischievous smile
I recall your stunning eyes, no other eyes compare and
The way they used to look at me (maybe I imagined it)
The way you always protected me because you are a kind person
The way you always took me places and just talked to me
The way you could make me laugh and blush
The way you listened to me, it made my world so full of joy I could burst
The way you went through all my school books when we met
On that freezing cold day in the coffee shop
The way you answered all the quiz bowl questions, it was a breeze for you
The way you ordered me wine one time, and now that’s the only wine I drink
I think about how you took me to the soccer game even though you were sick
I think about how you took me to my school so I would know how to get there
I think about your perfectly pressed suits and your vividly colorful bow ties
I think about your Halloween costume and your brown leather brief case
I think about us sitting next to each other in American Lit years ago
And I wonder this :
Should I confess how when you walk into a room time stops and I can’t breath?
Should I confess how much I want to you to kiss me?
Should I confess how badly I want to be held in your arms?
Should I confess how when your eyes sparkle my heart sings?
Should I confess how I think you are my soul mate?
I must, I must but I can’t
I’m too scared of the outcome
So instead the circle continues
I message you full of cheer because I want to
I think about you working too hard and I’m sad
I daydream about you walking through the windy city
I think about how long it’s been since we saw each other…
Confess, I have to confess how I feel
Only then could our love be real
If there’s one thing I know, it is that telling stories is more difficult then telling tales. Telling stories is waiting for the moment when your friend is listening, I mean really listening and you pour out your feelings. Telling tales is adding or subtracting from what actually happened, and that is a lie. These “tall tales” or metafictional works of the imagination are what our narrator wants us to watch out for. O’Brien points this out right away- that metafiction is where truth and fake diverge. He indicates that when you see a horrid event, reality leaves you for a while. Sometimes the truth, meaning what actually happened, is so hard to digest that you want something pleasant in the story. The author indicts that those stories are half truth or less. This entire chapter in it’s self is a threshold between what really happened and what people want you to believe. Nature plays a key role in how “he died was almost beautiful.” Curt Lemon died, yes, but O’Brien toys with reality in my mind until the truth comes out. That’s the trouble with war stories, O’Brien declares. I agree, for when he says that they are supposed to hurt the stomach, I can attest to that myself.
When I was really sick in bed, last night actually, and I thought of a question, one I have wanted to know for years my dad was at my side. I was feeling nauseous, and in incredible amounts of pain. My dad stayed with me almost the entire night leading into the day. The question I asked him baffled him, I knew right away in his tone. His answer was even more shocking. Actually, the story he told is still intriguing me, how against even the evils of Hitler my grandfather, whom I never met survived the Second World War. The story translated into English went like this:
My father was the leader of about ten other men. (I ask how many) Ten, he says. (Then he pauses for a while lost in thought, and continues.) They were the men who gave information back to the Allies’ powers, but when the Russian men came, they knew. They knew that my dad was not on Hitler’s side, so they had a plan. A plan to kill the men, he said. (Then he paused, this time a different pause- a sad pause. Seeing my eyes in the dim light filled with intrigue he continued slowly though. I was scared of what was to come of the men. My fears came true when he suddenly told the rest of the story. I thought maybe the men…, when my dad seeing my imagination going went on too.) Four of them were caught the next day, taken to Siberia where they were brutally done away with. (Heads cut off or something worse I asked my dad.) It was probably worse knowing Stalin but not for your ears child. The next dawn, my father and his remaining men escaped quietly, quickly and most importantly ( my dad said) without a chase. (How far I asked?) From the tip of Illinois to the border of Iowa (for I needed an estimated route), and stayed there until they knew no one would come back to their hideout. My father just knew, child, he knew that it was safe, and so they came back and worked. More alert now, my dad says. He wasn’t taken ( he declared). To the working camp either, the death camp, he ran away from that also. (How, I asked) God, he said. He was a good man, Maria. (I wished I had met him.) Then my dad says he wishes also. After that, he was quiet and I swear I could see tears forming at the brim of his pale, tired eyes. Then I asked one final question, and asking it almost made me cry, so I cannot imagine what it must have done for him.
Do you miss your dad? Yes, too much his said. That is why child, I think of Poland less, or differently. Because I do not have a mom or a dad. Hearing him say that aloud at 50, for the first time baffled me, but just then I began rapid coughing once again. So he helped me. For hours, and his mind was on helping me, but his eyes felt strange. I think his eyes where in Poland.
The weather near the cottage was terribly sticky; there were rivers underneath his armpits for Christ’s sake. What a Christmas Eve this had turned out to be. Instead of the soft, gentle snowflakes to greet his tongue, the sun radiated a scorching ball of fire. The bugs were placed, good and thick; he was so saturated by the bugs their sounds were one with his own heart. He encountered some fresh tracks and decided, heck I have an hour left before chaos decimates my life, why not?
These were about the most curious worn tracks he had seen, and as he began his ascent his mind was reminiscent of the last Christmas before Dayle’s life was well, taken from him. His thoughts were about a clear, deadly shot but drifted to his brother. Dayle and Dustin were as different as a fish and a mustang can be and still be twins. Dayle was the football jock except not cocky. There wasn’t a selfish cell in his blond hair blue eyed body. He was known well I just you could say famous, a football legend at the school known as the “Caucasian Charger” to everyone in Manhattan. He was a straight A, president of seven clubs, and speaking fourteen languages type of guy. Dustin felt like he could use a different language right now to describe his feelings. His look drew the girls as well, but he cared only for one. The English language is so inadequate with word choice. Then to distract his thoughts, a squirrel staggered up an old Oak tree and just like his brother’s killer disappeared from public view.
He started to hyperventilate, like at the funeral two years ago today. He still gets a chill when he thinks about seeing his brother like that, vulnerable. He still remembered the speech he professed to the crowd. He explained that trying to replace Dayle would be like trying to replace Emerson or Walter Payton – it can’t be done. From his vantage point he took one final glance at those tracks. He considered it and continued his voyage through the underbrush that engulfed him in fear. The next glance was crucial but of course he didn’t know that yet. A pair of eyes met his, but they weren’t his uncle’s. A gargantuan snake was meeting up with Dustin’s pathetic “don’t kill me” position. The massive creature lunged forward and wriggled away.
All in a day’s work, he thought, spotting an immensely large tree in perfect center with the rest of the underbrush, thinking of his brush with death. He wanted right at that moment to climb the tree, maybe even climb to heaven and consult with Dayle on whether Lela would like the necklace he purchased for their grab bag this Christmas. Instead, a medley of track led him under the tree. An almost magical shape was suddenly created by the sun and trees working together on this theatrical spectacle. It seemed like Dayle smiling saying, don’t worry you’ll be in New York soon. God, how he wished Dayle was here. They could play football or just walk together as hunters and brothers. Instead, the sparrows and cardinals were having a heated argument, while the bugs were out in full swing, working too damn hard just like Dayle was before someone decided they could kill Dayle and plead insanity. The puffs of air were a prize, but thirst was hard to disregard. Luckily, some spare water was found and quickly disappeared.
He ran over a guy that was in his way during a daring escape. So creating a façade for himself being insane is useless and just plain screwed up! Okay. So maybe he was obsessed with his brother’s death. Tired of people asking are you ok? My brother is still cold in his grave, what do you think? He wondered to no one specific as he prolonged his chase on through the woods. Coming across some hollow logs, brushwood, and flying over boulders he decides to sort of race, just bolt like Dayle would. A race against himself, against time itself. Okay, Dustin had hobbies too- Theater Crew, watching movies, and volleyball. Excellently intelligent too but Dayle’s death didn’t change Dustin’s hobbies. It changed him. His cells, his DNA everything was off somehow. It could never be the same. The other half of his heart was gone, the sooner he understood that the better. Like a mother’s loving touch, the stream up ahead was not only appreciated but needed for Dustin. Out of nowhere, a shadow emulsified him. Before he processed it two things were happening: he was snapping pictures and a bear was so close its breath sent the chills that rippled throughout his body. Finally, like something out of a fairy tale the grizzly tapped Dustin’s hair and strolled away. Two near death experiences, what would Dayle have done? Dayle would have been fine, but that’s what Dustin thought before and nothing came of that. Now, he definitely couldn’t wait to get on that plane. He sprinted the three miles left to the cottage, not caring about how much this would hurt later.
After breaking the speed barrier, he screamed, that was for you Dayle, before collapsing into a sob on the threshold to the ranch. He took out a picture. Sophomore year, Dayle in all his glory. He loved that picture, when looking at Dayle and the gift Dustin had got him for their sixteen birthdays. The airport could wait. The world could wait right now. Right now Dustin had a moment that was all his own. And for a fleeting instant, Dayle was next to him. They cried and hugged, saying Hey long time no see at exactly the same time and insisting that Lela would love that necklace.