Thomas Wictor

One of these dreams again

One of these dreams again

I had these dreams almost every night for years. This one’s different in terms of the emotional ambiance.

Back in San Francisco, I went to Lola’s row house to spend the night. She wasn’t home, but I let myself in and stretched out on the sofa where I slept when I visited her. Dark outside, it was daytime in the house.

After a while I became aware that Carmen occupied another sofa across the room, which was now full of wooden Greek columns painted glossy white. Carmen lay on her back, waving her arms and talking. She wore a purple blouse with puffy sleeves. I couldn’t understand what she said.

Being with her produced a wistful, melancholic nostalgia, nothing more. It was the same feeling I get when I look at old model airplane kits from my childhood.

Dad used to bring them back to Venezuela from his trips to Miami. He’d come home, sit on the sofa, and we’d gather around as he opened his briefcase and distributed little model airplanes to each of us.

Watching Carmen lying on her sofa, gesturing and talking, I decided to leave. Lola wouldn’t come anytime soon; she was chronically two to four hours late for everything. Staying in her house with Carmen would be pointless. Our shared history had been erased. Nothing connected us anymore.

As I sat up, so did Carmen. She brushed back her long hair, and I felt a pang. She was still so beautiful. When we were together, she was terrified of aging, but at fifty-two she was stunning. She’d had nothing to worry about. My wistfulness grew into deep, muted sadness, the sort of resigned acceptance I had about Dad’s death.

Carmen stood and came over to me, looking preoccupied. Her purple blouse and designer jeans were perfect. She was too thin, as though she’d been starving herself. Her cheekbones were far more pronounced than when she was with me.

“Here. I have to give this to you,” she said as she thrust a bus ticket at me. “Don’t ask me about it.”

I took the ticket; she frowned and left the room. I knew she didn’t want to go but had no choice. When forced to do something, she always adopted a bustling, impatient persona. It was very specific to actions she carried out against her will, the only time this special briskness appeared.

My sadness intensified, but I was under no illusion that I should go after her. If I tried to talk to her about being coerced, she’d deny it. Either she’d get angry and accuse me of trying to control her, or she’d tell me with great amusement that I’d misinterpreted everything. How strange it was that I’d think such things! In a flash we’d be back in 1992, when she became the permanent stranger of the past twenty-one years.

Since I no longer had a reason to leave, I just sat on the sofa, staring at the wooden Greek columns. Then I remembered the bus ticket in my hand. I looked at it without interest. It was pale pink, one of the tickets I used to buy in the Netherlands in 1975.

When I turned it over, I saw a message on the back in Carmen’s lovely, rounded handwriting:

Louise Racharde. Union Transformé.

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