Tom’s arm stretched across Jessica’s back, her shoulder cradled in his right hand. Her head nestled into his chest. They had been watching a movie together, but now that the movie was over, neither of them wanted to move. It was late, and the two of them should have been heading toward their respective beds, but inertia, stronger than their will-power, had claimed them both.
“I thought about you last weekend,” Tom murmured into her ear, “though that’s not at all unusual.” Tom had been visiting his hometown, Victoria, over the weekend. “I went for a walk, and I remembered a dream that I had years ago—long before, well, you know, before we were together like this. In the dream, you and I and some other people from the office were taking that same walk. Guy was out in front, as usual, and you and I were behind him, and then some others followed us. We were walking past the school….”
“Wait,” Jessica interrupted. “This is a dream you had?”
“A dream, yes, a long time ago,” Tom said.
“I had the same dream. It’s been three or four years, I think. But I was walking with you in a town I didn’t know, and Guy was in front of us. This school—is it a one-story brick building, with several wings in different directions?”
“Yes, and there’s a playground between the school and the street.”
“I remember this dream. We were talking to each other—I’m not sure what we were talking about—and then we went around the corner.”
“To the right or to the left?”
“To the left, and we went up a little hill.”
“”That’s my dream exactly! And that’s Victoria. What was at the top of the hill?”
“There was a train going past—I think it was a circus train.”
“Exactly! We had the same dream, but it was my hometown. I wonder what that means, that we dreamed the same dream.”
She cuddled closer to him. “It means that we were always meant to be together,” she told him.
Tom smiled in his sleep and rolled onto his right side. Jessica was not with him, and they were not “together” yet. He had dreamed, years ago, of walking with her in Victoria, but she had never dreamed the same dream. In the morning, Tom would have a vague recollection of dreaming about Jessica, but the conversation about dreams would be forgotten with the chiming of his alarm.
Before he fell asleep, Kirby told himself about twenty times, “I’m going to dream about Michelle tonight. I’m going to dream about Michelle tonight.” He had read that a person could control one’s dreams, and he wanted to make it happen. He had not seen Michelle for weeks, not since she went off to college. From time to time he dreamed about her, but it had not happened recently. He missed her, and if she would not answer his emails, the best he could do was visit her in his dreams.
The dream began with a tiger that had escaped from the zoo. Someone had left a door open, and the tiger had gotten loose. The tiger was still in the building, but if it got past Kirby, it would get outside, and many people would be in danger. Kirby saw the tiger walking toward him, and he shouted at it, telling it to go back. Snarling, the tiger turned away; but then it changed its mind and began stalking toward him again. Looking over his shoulder, Kirby saw that two other people had joined him to block the hallway. The three of them shouted at the tiger, and this time it stopped, turned around, and headed in the other direction.
Then Kirby was standing with a group of people at the entry gate to a pavilion. A live program was going to be performed, and the entry fee was only thirty-five cents, but they demanded that they be paid in exact change. Kirby had a quarter and some one-dollar bills. As other people were paying and entering the pavilion, Kirby searched the ground, hoping that someone had dropped a dime. Luck was not with him, though. Looking into the pavilion, Kirby saw that Michelle was in the audience. She was taking care of a little girl, a blonde-haired girl, who appeared to be two or three years old. Kirby desperately wanted to enter the pavilion, but he didn’t have what was required.
When the others had paid and entered, the young woman selling tickets took pity on Kirby. She accepted a dollar bill from him, handing him his ticket and his change—a fifty-cent piece, a nickel, and some pennies. Kirby held the change in his hand, not stopping to count the pennies, as he walked to the pavilion. Michelle was not seated where he had seen her a moment earlier. Scanning the audience, he saw her walking to the other side of the group. She did not appear to have seen him yet. Kirby walked up to her and said her name. She glanced his direction, frowned, and began walking away. “No. Wait. Stop. Please,” Kirby blurted. Then, as she hesitated, he stammered, “I just want to tell you something.” What he was going to say was unclear in his mind. Still grasping his change, he tried to form an interesting anecdote about his struggle to enter the pavilion. Michelle turned and looked at him. A smile appeared on her face, an ambiguous smile that reminded Kirby of da Vinci’s painting of the Mona Lisa.
At that instant, Kirby awoke. He lay in bed for a few minutes, wondering what he would say to Michelle if he had the chance. Even in his dream, she didn’t seem to be interested in being his friend. Yet she had been willing to give him a chance, if only he knew what to say to her. Kirby had no illusions that, in real life, he would be able to capture Michelle’s interest. He wished that he had stayed asleep just a little longer. He was curious what he would have said to Michelle, and whether her smile meant that she was willing to listen to him. Kirby figured that, since it was just a dream, he would never know the answer to his question.