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The Dream                  by: Anne O’Nonymous

 

It wasn’t the first time in his thirty-four years that George Foster had had a bad day! First, he got reamed out about "lack of enthusiasm" concerning the new sales quotas. Then, getting stuck at work on cleaning up his superior’s mistake--a new product, supposedly to be introduced next month, that lacked claims testing. He had to point out the flaws. What a mess! All he wanted at home was a little peace and quiet.

On the way home, the traffic was, as usual, a mess! A traffic accident required him to make a wide detour, along with other home-bound commuters, taking him through an unfamiliar part of the city. After twenty minutes of frustration, he finally made it back to the highway!

First thing in the door, Linda, his wife, said, "I need to talk to you about our son. After dinner, okay?"

"Okay, what’s he done this time," asked George. His fourteen-year-old son, Paul, was a very good kid, rarely in any trouble. The only serious problem he had was when he defended a girl against some bullies! He frowned remembering the incident, and smiled at how proud he was of his son’s actions--funny, how one little thing can bring up two different emotions.

"Let’s eat, then talk!" Linda gave him a smile that said, "it’s really not that bad!"

The dinner was fairly quiet, both Linda and Paul were subdued, and he was still steaming over the events of the day. Still, Linda was a superb cook, and the meal proved it!

After the dinner, Paul cleared the table putting the dishes in the dishwasher, after which he rejoined the family in the livingroom.

"Okay, let’s talk," George said, and finished his coffee.

Linda got up, went to a rarely-used liquor cabinet, got out a bottle, poured George a rather stiff drink, and gave it to him, saying, "You might need this!"

Linda stated, "I came home earlier and found Paul in my room. He was wearing a pair of my panties, garter belt, on the outside of my panties yet, and stockings. You know, those fancy, ‘sexy,’ patterned ones? Well, I was so mad, I couldn’t see straight. I screamed at him, ‘Get out of those things, you little pervert,’ and came down here to cry. I thought I had raised a son, not some . . ., some . . ., well, you know."

That was when the dam broke! All of the day’s events came crashing down, and he took it out on poor Paul! George started drinking, and using a few choice words. He was almost screaming at the end, he had run out of words and was almost in the prospect of using something else to get his point across. For once, he was glad that liquor tended to make him sleepy--that was what he really needed. After a good night’s sleep, tomorrow, Saturday, maybe he would see things in a different light.

"Linda, I’ve had a bad day today, and I’m about to do something that I’m sure I will regret for the rest of my life! I’m tired and I want to go to bed now, and in the morning maybe all three of us can sit down and discuss this as a family, not as a pair of screaming parents yelling at a defenseless boy. Remember, even Rapists get Lawyers to defend them!"

"I think you’re right. I probably acted too hastily, I’m going to bed too!"

With that, George departed the room, ascended the stairs, showered, toweled off, and went to bed. A few minutes later, Linda joined him in bed. She mused, "You know that Paul isn’t a bad kid. Maybe he was just curious. You know, maybe it was just the shock of seeing him like that. From what very little I know . . . , well, we can go into this tomorrow. Good night, dear!"

George was almost fast asleep, when it started.

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He was walking on a fogbound road that seemed endless. The feeling that he was "marching to something" was very strong in him. At last he came to another road crossing, at a right angle, the road he was on. On the left side, sitting on a rock was a man dressed in black robes, carving something on a wooden staff. There were several trees around with singing birds in them, flowers blossomed on one side of the road, but not the other.

The man looked up and said, "Hello, George. I’ve been waiting for you!’

"How do you know my name?"

The man laughed, "This is your dream, isn’t it?"

"Well, yeah, but . . .,"

"George, you are trying to decide what to do about your son. He has his own way to make in life, not yours. What you do tomorrow will decide his choices in the future! There are many roads he can follow, before you lies just two. Two different paths, two different futures, and you will influence both of them by your actions. Think carefully, act carefully!" Saying that, the figure vanished into the mists.

George decided to follow the path to the right. It led along a meadow, with flowers blooming, birds singing, and then into a dark wooded area. His feet seemed to be stuck to the ground, and it was difficult to move. Finally, he came to a small, rock-strewn clearing. There was a house in the middle, with a thatched roof. At the left-hand side of the house there was what appeared to be a weedy, neglected garden. George followed a strong urge to go to the door, and knock.

The door was, in time, opened by a very lonely old man.

"Come in, come in, please! I don’t get many visitors any more."

Upon entering the cottage, for indeed that’s what it was, George noted how dark it appeared. "Could you give me a little more light, it’s rather hard to see in here."

"I’m sorry, I only have a few candles, and I can’t afford too much! If you wish, we could go outside."

As they left the cottage, George noticed the man’s face. He was sure he had seen it somewhere before. "Have we ever met? I’m sure I know you."

"My name is Paul, I don’t think you really know me too well! Come, I have something to show you." Paul walked to the ‘garden,’ and said, "Here, look at this!"

George looked down. What he thought was a garden turned out to be a grave. He knelt down to examine the gravemarker; it read: Here lies George Foster/ 1950-2002/ Rest In Peace.

"What the . . .," was all George could get out.

Paul looked at him with a pitying smile, "I don’t blame you for what you did, you just did not understand."

George looked at a fading image, and found himself repeating, "did not understand."

A mist started swirling around him, blurring all connection, as frail as it was, to the scene before him! It got thicker and thicker, then gradually, it cleared.

"Well, did you get the answers you sought? Or, did the answers raise more questions."

George turned at the unexpected voice. He was back at the crossroads, and the voice belonged to the carver. "You know, it’s easy to cut, mold and shape wood. It’s soft. Humans are a little more difficult, but it can be done in time." He watched as the carver lit a torch, and put his carving into it. The carver then said, "You see I can make it or, by burning, destroy it. I hold the future of my creation in my hands! There is still a path to follow," he said, with a wave of his hand, and vanished.

"God, I wish I could that when Linda wants me to go shopping," George thought as he walked to the crossroads. This time, he turned left. The road got rockier, steeper and more difficult to travel. In places, it seemed to vanish altogether. After a while, the road leveled off, and he soon entered a lovely meadow, with a gentle stream running through it. There was a profusion of flowers, of every color imaginable. The path was now grassy, but very easy to travel on. Soon, he came within sight of a large two-story house, with gardens all around. There were at least a dozen children playing all around, some working the gardens.

"Hello," said one of the children, very politely, "May I help you?"

"May I see the ‘master of the house,’ little girl," he said.

She giggled, and said, "Paula, is that who you mean? Come on, I’ll take you to her!" Saying that, the girl led him to the house, and into a bright, cheery area. There were several girls occupied in various chores. Against the walls were several filled bookcases, and chairs filled with girls reading. "What a lovely place this is," he thought.

She entered the room. "Well, looks like we have a visitor! Welcome, please sit and relax! Sandy, get our visitor a bit of juice to drink. Carol, a pillow for our guest. Are your feet sore from the journey? Nancy, get his shoes off and give his feet a massage."

He took a look at the woman giving the orders. She was about five foot, ten inches tall, with black hair, green eyes. Well-built would fit as to her shape, she could be a fitness model anywhere.

"Hello, my name is Paula, and I’m kind of responsible for this madhouse, George."

Again, another shock. She knew his name, although he should’ve suspected it!

"I guess I should’ve thought you would," he said, as he was being ministered to by several girls, all appearing to be in their late teens. "Are all these your children?"

She laughed, and explained, "Well, in a way. I’m married to a very loving and lovely woman. These are cast-offs--the unwanted. Nancy, massaging your feet, is really a boy. Carol was thrown out after she was raped. Tina was a runaway from an abusive home. Jan, Jennie, and Pat were all prostitutes, and didn’t want to be--they were forced into it. We take in as many as we can. And we’ve saved a lot!"

"Just how many do you have here?"

"About thirty or so, now, sometimes more."

George relaxed, then asked, "How can you afford to do all this?"

Paula answered, "We can’t! We care for as many as we can. Put your shoes on and follow me, I’ve something to show you!"

Doing as she asked, they went outside. He followed her along a flowered path.

"Over there," she said, waving her arm to the left, "we grow vegetables, berries, and grapes." As they walked, she indicated other buildings and their functions. They walked to a gravel path leading to a small marble building. Around it there was a profusion of flowers. "This is a place I hold more dear than anything in this world. I would never have had this life without him. Behold."

George looked. The building was, as far as he could tell, empty. He walked towards the door, and saw a marble stone set into the wall at the side. On it was inscribed these words: "Most Dear and/ Sacred to the/ Memory of/ Paula Foster/ GEORGE FOSTER/ Beloved Father/ 1950- / Rest in Eternal Love."

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George felt a shaking of his body, with a very cheery, "Rise and shine, sleepyhead."

Linda was sitting on the side of the bed, using a blowdryer on her hair. "Come on! It’s a beautiful day, and I feel great."

"I just had the strangest dream. It seemed, as they usually say, so real. I think the sleep cleared my mind about a lot of things. Well, I guess, today we can talk to Paul and really listen to him," George remarked.

"Well, I had a dream, too! It was about this road that was rocky and steep, and this beautiful house..."

George interrupted, "And a carver?"

Linda answered, "No, mine was a weaver. She made this beautiful tapestry, then she just burned it, for no reason. I thought, ‘what a waste’ until I understood."

"Looks like we’re going to have an interesting morning!"

"I’m wondering if we can claim an extra exemption on our income tax."

"And I’m wondering if it will be a tux or a gown at the prom."

"Why?"

"You only rent tuxes!"

Finis--That’s all folks, Annie O

 


2001
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