Dream on, dreamer


I was a fish, and so were you.  We were swimming together, alone in the ocean, surrounded by great, blue nothingness.  From out of nowhere, a large shark approached and quickly swam towards me.  He opened his jaws wide.  I was trapped.  Just before his teeth closed on me, I shouted, “I’m glad it wasn’t you” and then it was done.  SNAP!  His jaws shut tight around me and from inside the immeasurable darkness of his mouth I heard you softly whisper, “Me, too…”


I was wearing a pair of boardshorts and a beat up, old t-shirt.  I was sitting behind a desk; it was large, solid, and made of oak.  There were stacks of paper, disheveled and in piles, all around me.  Piles everywhere.  The room was gigantic, wide open, and surrounded by numerous large windows stretching from floor to ceiling.  Beautiful plants stood in the corner of the room, growing peacefully, proudly.  I worked frantically, yet appeared frustrated.  Suddenly, the President of the United States walked over to my desk, picked up the paper I was writing, and stared at it.  “Oh, really?” he asked me.  “So now something that should have been done in 20 minutes takes eight to ten hours to complete?”  He threw the paper down on the desk, turned, and quickly walked off in disgust.  I was angry.  How dare he question my effort?  How dare he estimate my diligence?  To me, the work did not require a time limit.  To me, the work did not come with an expiration date.  To me, it was work, yes, but it was my work, and it would be completed when it was done, when I had done the work required.  The work would be done when I knew that it was done.  Hours went by, and at one point, I nodded off in my chair.  I awoke with a start.  The President was standing directly behind me.  He looked down at me sitting in my large, leather chair and he asked, “Have you seen the monkeys?  They’re beautiful.”  I looked up sleepily, confused.  “Excuse me, sir?” I asked him.  “The exhibit out front,” he said.  “The Gibbons.  Go on and take a look.  The work will always be there.”  He walked away, and I slowly followed behind.  And off we went to see the animals…


I was in a pool and standing nearby was Nick Lachey, that dude that used to be married to Jessica Simpson and was in that boy band in the 1990s that imitated the Backstreet Boys – do you remember him?  He wore a whistle around his neck and a baseball cap on his head.  He was also wearing really short shorts.  He was dressed up as a coach of some kind and was standing next to the pool.  I was in the pool with six men.  They appeared to be my teammates.  We were holding onto the side of the pool and looking up at Nick Lachey, waiting for him to give us some kind of pep talk.  I assume I was on a water polo team.  Nick Lachey tossed each of us a volleyball and told us, “Count the shapes and let me know what you get.”  I glanced down at the ball and it was entirely transformed into some kind of diamond-like sphere.  There were hexagons and octagons and triangles and squares all over the ball; it was a mish mash of different rotating shapes.  The ball quickly became very confusing to look at, and extremely difficult to count.  Halfway through my count, the shapes began changing colour, some blinked bright white and others snapped into darkness.  I arrived at my estimate and I called over Nick Lachey and he bent down near the side of the pool and he asked me, “So, what do you think?”  I looked up and told him, “64” and he smiled and then it was his turn to look up, straight into the blue sky above us.  He said nothing.  “Was I right?” I asked him, excited and impatient.  “No, you weren’t,” he told me, as he smiled down at me.  “But the good news is that there is only one option for the right answer – it’s either higher or lower…”


I was in Arizona, for whatever reason, and your hotel room was next to mine.  One day, our paths crossed in the hallway.  It was early morning, the kind of day when you can almost smell the clouds as they slowly drift across the sky.  You told me about your new boyfriend, how he was an Olympic cyclist, how he was training for the Tour de France.  He was very successful.  “How great,” I said, “That’s really great.  I’m happy for you.”  I looked at my feet and told you, “I know how to ride a bike, too, you know.”  I looked up and smiled and we locked eyes for a second when, unexpectedly, you leaned in and kissed me on the cheek.  Taking a step back, you stared at me for a brief moment, just long enough for me to get lost in the past and for you to remember exactly what you wanted to forget.  Before I knew it, you turned and walked away.  You didn’t look back…


I was awake, startled and sweating.  The forklift that I had been driving through my neighborhood had just exploded.  The explosion was large, violent.  A few hours earlier, I had met this random couple on their honeymoon and they hired me to take them for a tour around Los Angeles.  We ended up driving down my street, but soon the forklift began traveling too fast and I could no longer control it.  I crashed straight into a house and the forklift erupted into flames.  But, right before the crash and just before the explosion, as we were speeding out of control, I glanced back at my passengers and saw them screaming in fear.  They were terrified and helpless.  They were also Asian – not that it matters…


I was standing there watching you.  You were painfully skinny but sexy, wore jeans and a wife beater, and tattoos randomly scattered along your arms like leaves in the wind.  I didn’t remember you having those.  They were unmistakably ugly, but on you they seemed beautiful.  You came to me laughing, smiling, and gave me a big, long hug.  You pulled me close, then pushed me away.  You kept your arm around me, lingering on my shoulder.  We talked for a while, you holding me close, when suddenly two students nearby started having a cook off.  We watched and smiled at each other as the vegetables stir-fried in front of us, splashes of grease collapsing at our feet.  Standing there watching the chefs do their thing while we did ours, life felt great.  Life felt right.  It was a few minutes before you slowly turned away without saying a word.  When I spun around to check on you, you were skipping off into the sunset along a random dirt road.  I’d never seen that road before.  I haven’t seen you since…


I was in a kitchen baking a pie with my dead grandmother.  She wore a peaceful smile and an old apron with a flower print.  I stood at the counter slicing apples.  She watched me, proud as can be, and then glanced out the window looking through into the backyard.  “Oh, we have a visitor,” she said excitedly.  Suddenly, the back door was thrust open and the Terminator entered the kitchen.  You know the one, that robotic cyborg killer from the movies.  The Terminator approached my grandma and reached out to her, both arms full of intent.  He grabbed a vase sitting on the counter beside her and then walked over to a small wooden table in the corner of the room.  The Terminator set the vase down, walked outside, and returned a few moments later with a bouquet of dead flowers.  Putting them in the vase, he stepped back, smiled to himself and whispered, “Perfect.”  I was surprised.  “Those flowers are dead.  Why don’t you get some live ones?”  The Terminator was aghast.  He shrieked at me, “The flowers are not dead!  The flowers are beautiful.  Beauty is everything.  Beauty is everywhere…”

And then?  I woke up?

And then I woke up.

And then I woke up…

Jeremy Goldberg