He was squeezing her so tight. Everything around her was black. There was only she and him, with his brilliantly blue eyes that stood out-no lit up, in the darkness. She didn’t want him to stop. She was not afraid. In fact, she wanted him to hold her like this. She had been craving it. He was whispering something in her ear…but she couldn’t make it out. She wrapped her right arm around his back up near the nape of his neck and she kissed him. He squeezed her tighter, as she closed her eyes, and allowed herself to drift in the splendor of how wonderful it felt to be held by him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him as tightly to her as she could. Her heart beat heavily within her and felt as if it would explode at any moment. Every inch of her tingled, but it was her center, her core, that was alive with overwhelming love and happiness, and a little sadness too. It was if he was someone she had loved very deeply, and had lost, had now come back to her again. Or maybe he had been away for a very long time. She did not want to let go of him and was ready to fight any attempt he made to let loose of her. Only, he did not seem to want to let go of her either. He was holding her just as tight. Is this what they call bliss? She wondered to herself. This was not about desire. At least not the kind that led to nakedness and sex. No, this was something more. Far deeper than that. This was the nakedness of their souls, and it was as if they were almost touching each other.
She felt him moving away from her ever so slightly and she pulled harder to keep him close.
“Don’t worry.” He whispered. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Yet, she could still feel him pulling away from her, and this immense sadness began to over come her, as she realized she could not keep him there. She tried to grab on harder, but it was almost as if he was dissolving, like smoke, right within her arms. She choked back a gasp of desperation and just as he was gone, her eyes also opened.
“What the hell!” Brooklea Turner whispered loudly in the quiet of her room. She was alone, except for Andy, her German Shepard. He looked at her as if to say, “I didn’t do it! Are you ok?” She patted his head and rolled over to try and go back to sleep. But it wasn’t as easy now.
What the hell is HE doing in my dreams? She thought. Is he haunting me? No, that’s impossible. He hasn’t given me a second thought since junior high. Sure, we are friends on Facebook, but I’m not sure he even really remembers who I am. Tears began to roll down her face as she tried to understand this dream.
Brooklea almost never dreamed about people she knew in real life. Sure, there were plenty of dreams where she knew the people in the dreams, but would wake to wonder who she was sharing this alternate reality with. So, when someone she actually knows pops up in her dreams, it always gets her attention.
She lie there on her bed, wrapped in her peach colored linen sheets and pushed away the urge to believe it had to mean something. He was married to someone else, and she was not the kind of girl who would give in to cheating. Besides, while she admittedly had thought about him more often lately, it certainly wasn’t THOSE kind of thoughts. Or was it? Am I lying to myself when I say nothing’s there? Was I lying back then when I told him the same thing? No, surely my subconscious is trying to tell me something else. But what?
Brooklea had now had dreams about two different men from her past in as many weeks. The first time it happened, it was a young man she was once engaged to, when she was nineteen or twenty. Kaleb Pierce. He was wonderful to Brooklea, and she loved him very much; but he wanted to take her away from Wyoming and move her to Washington state.
Brooklea had done that before. She had moved with her first love from Wyoming to California and then he turned into this person who didn’t treat her very well….and she was a thousand miles away from anyone who gave a crap about her. She remembered the night she had run out of the house in Twenty-nine Palms, in just her pajamas and no shoes. She walked up the block and wondered around, stepping delicately so as not to hurt her soft feet too much. She noticed what looked like a motorcycle gang across the street. Several bikes parked in a line and a few guys stood outside in their leather vests and no shirts, tattoos and piercings and bandanas on their heads. They were smoking and stopped talking, eyeing her as she walked. She was too naïve to think they were staring at her because she was so out of place. She only knew they were staring at her, and she was scared. One of them actually asked, “Are you ok, lady? Do you need help?”
“No, I’m fine.” She yelled back, afraid to make eye contact. She began to move more quickly and carefully so she could hide somewhere.
Brooklea shook her head determined not to think about that time in her life, and remembered her newly betrothed she had all but left at the alter. She knew she had absolutely no reason to think he would ever be unkind to her…yet when it came down to it, she was not able to give him that much power over her. She just couldn’t do it. She was too afraid.
In that particular dream, with Kaleb, it was kind of the same thing. Everything was black. She was getting ready to say something to someone in this dream, when all of the sudden, “SPLAT!” His head just plopped down in front of her. It wasn’t bloody or gory. In fact, there was no blood at all. It was just his head. His bright brown eyes were tightly shut, and those dark circles he always had were still there. His blonde hair was cut short like back when they were young. It wasn’t so short that she couldn’t pick up his head by his hair though….and feel the weight of it-even in her dream.
Then she woke up. That was it. Just this head slamming onto a counter in front of her with a thud, except the counter wasn’t even really there, because everything was black. She picked it up, and looked at it, almost unemotionally, and then woke up. I’ve been saying WTF a bit lately…but seriously….WTF!
Kaleb had haunted Brooklea most of her life though, so Brooklea was not all that surprised that he had eventually showed up in a dream, except for the WAY that he showed up. There had been plenty of occasions that she knew she had made the wrong choice to walk away from him. Plenty of occasions that she had looked for him….and actually found him a couple of times.
The first time she just called information in Roy, Washington and made the call. The greeting on the answering machine gave no indication as to if he was attached, or not. It was his voice saying he wasn’t home and to leave a message. Brooklea’s voice shook as she said hello and left a number for him to call back if he chose to.
Within just a couple of minutes her phone rang, and she answered it excitedly. It was a woman’s voice saying something about Kaleb.
“Um, yeah, hi. Did you just leave a message for Kaleb?” She asked with an accusatory tone.
Brooklea immediately felt as though she had committed a terrible crime and was being interrogated.
“Yes.” She said timidly.
“Well, this is Danielle, his WIFE.” She said, emphasizing the wife part with disdain towards Brooklea. “What did you want?” She asked with snippy words.
“Oh, I just wanted to see how he was and what he was up to these days.” Brooklea said, trying to sound as casual as possible.
“Well, ” She said with a huff. “He won’t be calling you back.”
“I understand.” Brooklea said and hung up the phone.
THAT went well. She said aloud. What the hell was I thinking?!?!
Kaleb had taken her to meet this “friend” of his one time in Seattle, when she had gone to Washington to visit him. This “friend” showed up at the door, in the middle of winter, with the shortest shorts on you could imagine. She also had on a tank top, no shoes, and Brooklea was sure there was a heat bill she couldn’t pay stuffed in the cushions of her couch somewhere. I can’t remember her NAME! Was it Danielle? That bitch definitely fits the profile. She certainly didn’t like the fact he showed up with me in tow that night. Probably aren’t even really married. A woman like THAT would have made sure it was obvious to the world they were married on the answering machine greeting…but he’s obviously at the least involved with this woman, whoever she is. Married or not, I’m not going to pick a fight with her.
It would be a lot of years before she attempted to call him again. It was a little more difficult to find him this time, but he was still in Washington. A woman answered the phone and Brooklea asked if she could speak to him. Like any woman who’s protecting her man, she made sure to get Brooklea’s name first, but was at least civil enough to also give Kaleb the phone.
“Hi, Kaleb, it’s Brooklea.” She said hesitantly.
“Who?” He asked.
How many Brooklea’s do you know? She thought. Maybe I have the wrong guy.
“Do you have parents named Derry and Carolyn French, and a brother named Kevin?” She asked tying to verify she had the right guy.
“Yes.” He said, as if he wasn’t sure if he wanted to affirm the questions.
“Yeah, it’s me. Brooklea. You know. We were engaged back in our early twenties?”
“OH! OK! Now I know who you are!”
Yeah, I must have left quite an impression. She thought to herself. Here I wanted apologize for leaving you hanging a week before you were supposed to come get me and help me move to Washington, and that somehow seems like a really dumb idea now.
Kaleb told her how he and his new wife had just had a baby girl, and he was holding her as he spoke to her on the phone. He sounded so damn happy…and Brooklea was happy that he was.
She never called an old flame again.
She reconnected with a man named Kadence Dillinger many years after that on Facebook too. But she never gathered to courage to call him. Maybe that was why. She knew all too well how badly that could go. Kadence, or Kade, (said Kay-Dee) as she and some of his family called him, was the one who haunted Brooklea the most. Though she’d never had a dream of him, she thought about him a lot. There were times she almost missed him, even though she knew she didn’t even have a clue who he was now. She decided she still missed what they had. There were times she wished so hard to get it back, that she swore it had to come true this time. But no matter how many times she wished, or how hard she wished for it, it never happened.
Life went on without Brooklea. It often did. She thought about dinner with the family the other night and how she was telling this story about something that had happened to her that day, only to look around the room and realize that no one was even listening to her. They were having little conversations with each other while she was trying to tell her story. I don’t know why I bother to open my mouth at all. She stopped talking, even though the thought wasn’t complete, and no one even noticed.
Hot tears stung her face as she thought about how irrelevant she often felt, even among her own family; and how much this dream of Kyle might be related. I’m just lonely. She said to herself, as she closed her eyes and tried to roll over in her single bed.
This small act was now a dance between Brooklea and Andy. He would have to move in order to give her a place to put her legs as she rolled over, and he was often grumpy about it. Sometimes he even growled. Sometimes, he would jump off the bed entirely and wait for Brooklea to settle in to her new position and then he would jump back up. He always wanted to be right up next to her butt and the back of her thighs.
Brooklea’s mind kept wandering back to Kyle. So interesting that I would dream about him, of all people.
Kyle Bircher was her boyfriend, of sorts, way back in Jr. High. Her first boyfriend, actually. It was a relatively short romance, but it was one, nevertheless.
Brooklea lived in Lander, Wyoming then, and they had just moved into a modest house on McDougall Street. They moved there just in time to start the seventh grade, and Brooklea shared a few classes with this cute boy, named Kyle. Kyle had often said things to Brooklea that hinted around at him liking her, but never really did anything about it. Especially when she had PE class with him. If she wore her T-shirt that had the mountains across the front of it, he’d tell her, “Nice mountains!” with a wink. He’d comment on how nice her pink shorts complimented her legs. He was always making some kind of flirtatious statement, but he never acted on any of it. So, Brooklea never took him seriously.
One day, Brooklea and her friend, Shannon White, were talking to Kyle Bircher and his friend, Jimmy Jackson, in science class. Somehow, it was decided that Brooklea and Jimmy were “goin’ out” and Shannon and Kyle were “goin’ out.” Does anybody really know what that MEANS?!?! So, all things being considered, Jimmy was probably Brooklea’s first so-called boyfriend. Except that she and Jimmy never even talked.
This was on a Friday, and by Monday, a new “arrangement” came to pass. Shannon informed Brooklea that she and Jimmy liked each other and that Kyle actually liked her, so she was wondering if Brooklea would be willing to trade boyfriends. Brooklea thought this was weird, and was a little uncomfortable, but she did like Kyle and everyone seemed happy that way-so she said yes. Thus, Kyle became Brooklea’s first official boyfriend.
Kyle was very….enthusiastic….about Brooklea. This made her a little nervous. He was about her height, with dark brown hair, darker skin, and a mouth full of braces. Attractive, but not stunning. He had these eyes, though. THOSE were the stunner. Bright and blue….no, grey, actually. They were like the sun coming out on a cloudy day. They didn’t have the glint of mischief, or spark of conceit that many women might be attracted to. They sparkled with playfulness, a good heart, and an unassuming appreciation for what he saw in front of him when he looked at Brooklea.
She remembered kisses stolen out behind the field house during football games when she remembered Kyle. He was very excited about kissing her too. Brooklea remembered that. He made no secret about it and he didn’t play games. He was TOTALLY into her and he let her know it. Where HAVE all the cowboys gone? She wondered. Oh, yeah, on to women who actually appreciated them. That’s where!
She felt a stinging in her eyes and refused to let the tears develop. Three men from her past that were now haunting her. They all have names that start with a “K,” …is there a connection?
Kaleb and Kade’s were situations that Brooklea could understand. She had once felt very deeply for them and most likely always would. But Kyle was someone she never really took seriously and didn’t have very strong feelings for. She cared about him, of course. And he would always have a special place in her heart for him. But she didn’t have feelings for him that were all that intense. Certainly not like in the dream, that’s for sure! Not even close! Of course, she never really gave him the chance.
But this was always Brooklea’s problem. She always thought something that meant nothing, meant something; and that something that actually meant something, meant nothing. Her compass was always off. Her needle didn’t point true North when it came to picking the right guy for herself. She could not trust herself to make the right decision if her life depended on it, and this has been demonstrated through many failed relationships and projects throughout her life. There was a trail of destruction and broken hearts, (often hers) behind her a mile long. Sure, there were times she got it right, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. She thought about how much she was akin to Bridget Jones. Yet, even Bridget Jones is luckier than I am. She said to Andy, who gave her an uninterested look.
Brooklea was always stuck in her head. She thought about how nowadays, people talked like falling in love when you were young was a simply ridiculous concept. Even though it wasn’t all that long ago, when that’s what people always did! What were Romeo and Juliet? Thirteen? Fourteen? People act like they need to do all this “living” first and should put off getting married until later in life. But what if you miss it when you do that? What if it really is possible to meet the love of your life in Junior High?! What if you’re so busy chasing butterflies and other lies that you miss it???
She thought about all the things she chased in life that she didn’t even really want or need. The lies and half-truths she bought into and the inconsequential matters she let distract her. Sure, she had changed a lot over the years, but had she really? She rolled over onto her back and put her hands behind her head and pulled her hair up and held it. She looked up at the ceiling that was reflecting the morning light and searched her soul for that ONE person she thought she loved beyond measure.
That was hard to do. She couldn’t decide who that would be. She knew who she gave her all to. She had even been lucky enough to marry him. She gave him everything. Her heart, her soul, her very identity. But that had played itself out and she left it all back in California. By the time that was over, she was nothing but a shell of a woman who had no idea who she was, or what she wanted anymore. Out. She wanted out. That was all she knew. But was that even really love? You were obsessed with him, sure. But he was rarely good to you, and you refused to acknowledge it. You let him walk all over you on a daily basis, and he was all too happy to do it! How can that possibly be love?!?!
Maybe that’s the thing about young love. When you’re young, you can’t even really be sure what love IS. Yeah, but you’re over forty now, and you still don’t know! It’s very easy to accept love is something you had with somebody you never really gave a chance. And that included Kyle, Kaleb, and Kade.
Brooklea thought about how, as she got older, the good guys she met were fewer and further between. How rare it was to find one who was even willing to commit, let alone open up his heart like Kyle did when he was young. Or treated a woman so well, like Kaleb or Kade…and they weren’t afraid to show you how they felt. Yet, you were the one who pushed them away. Not the other way around. And maybe it was girls like you with guys like them that made the guys like the ones you kept running into the way they are. Maybe we spend so much time hurting each other when we are young, that it’s a wonder we can connect at all as adults now. So….another argument for young love, then?
Brooklea considered the fact that love always had a way of coming around and finding her. That it would always show itself to her in the most unexpected, amazing ways. She thought about the very fact the sun came up today was God’s way of showing love to her and everyone else on the planet. She thought about the strangers smile that seemed too hard to find anymore, but it was still there.
She knew that love could still find her again. It was not impossible. But Brooklea was a hopeless romantic. She wanted that GREAT love! A love that made her feel the way she just felt in her dream with Kyle. And she feared that she had never found it.
Maybe I want something that does not exist? Or maybe I have doubted it’s existence for so long I have settled for less when I didn’t have to? She made a mental note that if she ran into a man like Kade, Kyle, or Kaleb again, she’d pay closer attention next time. Maybe it was as simple as that.
As the alarm next to her chirped like a cricket, she decided she had to push those thoughts aside for now. Andy jumped down off the bed and stood by the door sniffing through the cracks, ready to go out; while she found her slippers and something warm to put on. It was a new day full of possibilities, and Brooklea had a way of always finding hope in the knowledge that while she still didn’t have all the answers, anything could happen. It probably wouldn’t, but it could!