She spent long evenings mooning around dreaming she was Marilyn Munro. Then entire weekends grafting on her play, being Arthur Miller. Being Marilyn was a breeze. Everyone loved her and the gnawing on her insides was easily masked by a fifth of whiskey and a deeper shade of lipstick. Arthur was a bit more tricky. That damn second act was a bitch and the G-men were constantly banging down the door. And it seemed so much harder to persuade people you are not what they think you are, than to cover up yourself what you yourself really know to be true.
I had a dream last night. Not so strange, some may say. But, as well you know, my darling, there are men who never dream. Your father was one, and his father another, blissful souls who entered into sleep as innocents to the grave, blameless and unknowing.
I counted myself among them, for fully forty-three years and seven months, but last night, I had a dream.
Should I tell you? Isn’t that what lovers do when they awake from a dream? Does the telling make it real, or does it flap it away, a feral cat from an old woman’s doorstep? But my dream was already real before I dreamed it, I suppose, and it can never be gotten rid of, so I will tell you it now, my darling, and hope that, for me at least, the telling will prove a talisman against any more to come.
You took me by the hand and walked through the doorway. We were happy. You were laughing at something I had just said and you were exhilarated, ready to go. I pulled back on your hand because I wanted to shut the door, but you pulled harder, told me to leave it open – told me we’d be back soon. I looked over my shoulder. It remained ajar (why did I expect it to close?) and at the last moment I saw our boys, the tousle-headed toddlers, not the almost grown men I have raised since, standing silent on the threshold. I turned back to look at you, saw a word half-hanging from your mouth, and the ground sucked us in.
I had a flash of excitement and I thought we could do it. I remembered a book, a manual, with line drawings of knives and knots. We had to relax, or flip on our backs, or both. And just as quickly, I knew that we were gone, that it was useless, that there was no saving us. But worse than this, far worse, I lost your hand. The cold sand closed over my head, and over yours, and I never knew where you went, only that you went there separately from me.
Then I woke up, and screamed at the empty space where once I held you.