Write On!

A Telling Dream

In Responses on January 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm

By Tara Wiley

Lisa Green stood in front of the fireplace, hands gripping the mantel. She feared she might collapse if she let go. Every fiber of her being ached and trembled as the shock and adrenaline of the past 36 hours seeped out of her, leaving her feeling like the squeezed out teabag on the saucer by her cup. She didn’t remember when she drank that tea, or how the cup came to rest on the mantel here, next to the photo of Marie.

Ah, next to the photo of Marie. She had returned to it over and over again today, staring at the beautiful, smiling face of her daughter, searching for clues in this most recent snapshot. A lovely young woman. Thick, wavy hair tumbled around her face, dark eyes twinkled, plump lips curved into a mischievous grin. Strong features matching her strong spirit. She was never one to back down from a fight. So why was Lisa surprised when the mother-daughter blowup ended with Marie slamming the front door, running out to her boyfriend’s clunker, and disappearing from sight… for nearly two days, now?

A hand touched her shoulder, an electric current jolting her back to this moment in front of the fireplace. The surprise took the last bit of energy from Lisa, and she found herself collapsing into her husband’s arms. Dave scooped her up like a child; she didn’t resist. He wordlessly carried her back to their bedroom, tucked her in to their kingsized bed, kissed her forehead.

“Lisa, honey, you need to sleep. The police, the neighbors, and countless people from church are searching now, around the clock. You will be no help to anyone if you are exhausted. Please, try to rest.” He knew it was probably a pointless request, but he had to ask. She smiled weakly, and he turned to go, to check his cell phone for the hundredth time in the past hour, to step away from the guilt-ridden, sunken face that barely resembled his wife’s.

“Don’t go yet,” she asked, and he turned back. “Just… just sit with me for a minute, please.” He obliged, stroking her thick, wavy brown hair – his daughter’s hair, plus a few stubborn gray strands. Mother Nature’s highlights, as she called them.

Lisa felt her body sink into the mattress under her husband’s gentle touch, and her mind almost went still – until the ‘why’ questions began again. She willed them away with prayer, just a few words with each exhale, a quiet waiting with each inhale. Exhale: I need your peace, Lord; inhale. Exhale: Help us find her; inhale. Exhale: Keep her safe tonight; inhale. Heart races. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale: Peace, Lord, Jesus, please; inhale. And finally, the blessing of sleep. Within that sleep, a dream…

The sun is streaming in the windows, brushing every surface of the kitchen with a golden glow. Music streams from the iPod speakers on the counter; it’s her ‘gonna be a good day’ mix, the one she turns on when it’s hard to wake up. She sees herself sitting at the kitchen table, steam rising from the freshly poured cup of coffee at her right hand. It’s her favorite mug; Marie gave it to her. One side states “Some things are worth fighting for. Good coffee, for example.” The other side of the mug holds the logo of one of Marie’s favorite causes, an organization rallying behind fair trade coffee, among other efforts – ending sweat shops and child labor in Asian countries, and some other things Lisa can’t recall.

Marie was quite the young activist; she had been since she was old enough to speak. Her strong sense of justice drove her loudly voiced opinions. She was not afraid to confront a smoker outside of the grocery store, listing out the ills of such behavior for all to hear, much to her mother’s chagrin. One time Marie went door to door through the neighborhood asking for spare change to raise money for the local mission; Lisa found out about this after confronting her about an inexplicable pile of cash she found in her room. Marie led food and clothing drives, volunteered at a house for pregnant teens, spoke at youth rallies. If she had her way, she would join the Peace Corps as soon as she was eligible. Lisa and Dave wished she would go to college first, but they knew there was no convincing her otherwise, so they tried to offer suggestions for other programs that might lead in more ‘promising’ directions.

There on the table, by the coffee cup, was a local magazine. The cover photo was of a group of young people at some rally or protest, a sea of faces and bodies pressed together into one mass, one voice. There was a sense of urgency in the expressions; it drew Lisa in to look more closely. And in the dream, like a movie camera slowly zooming in, the magazine began to become the focal point, and the kitchen faded away as the faces grew larger, larger, flooding Lisa’s subconscious until only a few faces stood out, and there! There was Marie! Angry, beautiful, fierce Marie. Just as suddenly the camera pulled back and the caption was instantly clear: Students gather outside city hall…

Awake, Lisa bolted from bed. The sun was up; how long had she slept? What time was it? Why hadn’t she remembered before now, the events downtown, some sort of Martin Luther King Day thing; the kind of thing Marie was always involved in up to her ears. What if – what if she was THERE? Today? Lord, was that what you were telling me in that dream? What if?

Dave had finally succumbed to sleep on the sofa. So deep was his dreamlessness, he did not even feel the rush of wind from the front door as Lisa raced to the car. Nor did he hear her as she rushed back in to get her keys, left again… rushed back in for her coat… left again.

A banner flew over Main Street as she neared the city square: A Call for Reconciliation. Another breath prayer: Lord, let Marie and me reconcile today.

Lisa nearly ran into a pedestrian as she careened into a parking spot on a side street. She leapt from her car, unaware of her crumpled slept-in clothes, her wild bedhead, her bare feet as she ran to the crowd, ran towards the woman in the red scarf and hat standing by the man with the black beanie, the people in her dream who were sandwiched in front of her daughter, her lovely daughter with the thick wavy hair and the fierce eyes.

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