Dreams in Fifteen Minute Pieces
A Short Story
“I had a dream about you…maybe a year or so ago,” she said, taking a drag off the facility issued cigarette that had no tobacco in it, only a mixture of a handful of smokable herbs, laced with some chemical to keep the populace in the facility calm as Hindu cows. Everyone at the facility was required to smoke at least one cigarette each day.
“I also had a dream about you, and, now that you mention it, it was about a year ago too.” He shook his head a bit, and chuckled. “After not seeing you for fifty years, one night, there you are in a dream, smiling at me as we met at some restaurant where you laid a $250 dollar bill on the table, and kept repeating the date of my birthday over and over again. And then repeating a number…I think it was 950.”
“950…Hmmm, that’s an easy one, she said. “That’s the address of the home I was living in at the time. And in my dream, you kept saying 358 over and over again.”
“And that was my home address as well.”
“What was the name of the street,” she asked, gently taking his hand in hers.
“Oh Lord,” she began, tears welling up in her eyes, ” I would regularly go by your home on my way to the store, before I dreamed of it. And then after the dream, I would deliberately go by in hopes of seeing you outside. How could we have lived within a few miles of each other all these years and never stumbled upon one another?”
They both looked down, and then out the window of the facility.
“How many do you think are here,” she wondered.
“I’ve heard it to be as many as 5,000, with about 200 sectioned off in each quadrant. And they have hundreds of these facilities across the country, with many much larger than this. Why did they nab you,” he asked.
“Because of my writing. I had a website, with many followers, actually. I was becoming too much of threat or nuisance or whatever, you know, telling the truth and the likes. They nabbed me right off the street one evening. My husband, my children, my family have no idea what has happened. I assume they have concluded I’ve been killed or have just run off.”
She caught sight of an AI guard paying particular attention to the both of them, but could have cared less of whatever infraction that might have been issued.
And you?” she asked.
“Facial recognition. Only they nabbed me, mistaking me for someone else. From there, they did a series of brain scans and determined that I was pre-crime and would be held indefinitely.”
The morning sky was cloudless. The sun shining through the windows into the community room cast a light on the top of her head that she had buried in the palms of her hands. Her hair was still the same golden blonde it was when they were dating back in high school. Their first serious relationship – high school sweethearts – they were deliciously happy with each other for about a year, until he decided to move on for reasons that to this day, he never understood.
“In my dream, you kept repeating my birthday to me. It was as if you were assuring me that it was really you,” he said.
He inhaled deeply of his cigarette, “I’ve never forgotten what you did for me when we met on my birthday back in high school, baking me a cake, for a person you’d never met…and it turned out to be my favorite cake.”
“Strawberry,” she smiled through tears. “And every year when your birthday came by, I would bake a strawberry cake. My husband finally caught on a few years ago and asked why. I fluffed it off as something I did to commemorate the day I got my braces off. I don’t think he ever fully bought it.”
“My wish has always been that I would have one day with you before I died, only to tell you how sorry I am, and the sorrow I’ve felt all these years for ending our relationship as I did. Obviously, I’ve gotten my wish. And now, I can’t tell you how sorry…”
She gripped his hand tightly. “It’s okay, Henry…we were in high school. We didn’t know any better.”
“It was I who didn’t know any better.”
“Perhaps,” was all she could offer.
The 15 minutes of community time was about up for the morning. This particular internment camp for dissidents was a bit more lax than others, allowing the interred to visit with each other 3 times a day, 15 minutes each time. There was never an outside visitor, for no one knew the facility existed, and the fortress of militarized fences around the facility led anyone who might happen to drive by in this remote region to think it was simply some type of prison for criminals. The military presence guarding the prison, kept any passing by to a minimum.
“We’ve been told we’re here for the rest of our days,” she said, wrapping a few strands of her hair around her finger.
“Yes, I’ve heard that too,” Henry said, running his hand through his hair, still holding her hand tightly with his left hand.
Those black curls of hair is what first caught her eye some 50 years ago. From there, his gentle and generous personality won her heart. For each of these years, when Henry’s birthday rolled around, she would wish just for a glimpse of him, if for nothing else, but to know he was alive and alright.
“Genevieve, I don’t think we’ll be here the rest of our days.”
“I know Henry. Seems ridiculous from their sick and twisted way of thinking, that we’ll be happily housed here for the next 10…20 years.”
“I have a radio in my room. Only one station is available…a classical music station,” he said with a sarcastic grin.
“I remember how you loved classical music. I think I scored better in some respects. I have a TV with only one channel available…a cooking channel. Of course, I won’t be cooking anytime soon, I’m afraid. the torture continues…tantalizing us with the things we love, of which we’ll never be able to experience again.”
“15 minutes in the morning, the afternoon and then in the evening, Genevieve.”
“Perhaps they’ll make up, partially, for all the time we missed together…perhaps,” Genevieve finished, folding her head upon Henry’s shoulder, as the lights and sounds blared over speakers and monitors, that 15 minutes of dreams, was all allowed.
Tonight’s musical offering:
Ludwig van Beethoven – Piano Concerto No 5 – E flat major, “Emperor” (2nd & 3rd movements) – Hélène Grimaud, piano – Paavo Järvi conducts hr Sinfonieorchester
(the visual isn’t clear on this video, but the performance is sublime)