There are two gates of dreams:
one, whence issue all deceptive and flattering visions,
being formed of ivory;
the other, through which proceed those dreams
which are fulfilled, of horn.
Darkness crept back in on Long Island quickly as the car drove along the narrow road way too fast for the current weather conditions. Mud swirled up the sides as the woman shortly lost control of the car and ran off the road. Her knees were shaking uncon-trollably from fear, making it almost impossible for her to press the gas pedal.
An approaching vehicle had its headlights either on high beams or just adjusted too high. For a second, the road in front of her disappeared. The rain made driving even more difficult with it forming an impenetrable barrier on the windshield. She jerked the steering wheel to the right and the oncoming car flew past her while blasting its horn. In front of her the street reappeared in the darkness, but the headlights of her pursuer still made it difficult to see. She squinted and folded up the rear-view mirror up so as not to be distracted by the lights of her pursuer. Soon, she would have succeeded; she only needed to drive onto the Robert Moses Causeway Bridge. Hopefully there would be enough traffic so that he would forgo the chase.
It was then that her car was struck from behind with a violent bang and her forehead hit the steering wheel. Brief pain shot through her head instantly. She grabbed for the seat belt, strapped herself in and reached for her handbag on the passenger seat. Those damned pouch bags in which one could never find anything. She dumped out all of the contents and searched wildly between toothbrush, eye shadow, pens, notebook, coins and camera for her cell phone. Finally, she felt the cold object in her hand.
Once again, her car was slammed forward and her cell phone flew from her hand, landing in the dark foot well.
Swearing, she hit the steering wheel with the palm of her hand.
On her right side, less than three hundred yards away, she could see the brightly lit bridge. The windshield wipers, working at full speed, pushed the rain to the side and made screeching noises as if they would soon stop altogether.
She used her foot to search the floorboard for her phone until she finally felt the hard casing beneath her shoe. Without removing her gaze from the flooded road, she leaned down carefully, stretching her fingers as far as she could and grabbed the phone.
At last she was on the bridge and accelerating while she blindly dialed the three digit emergency number with her fingers and pressed Send. She glanced at the display, checking to see if she had any reception and dared a quick look in the side-view mirror. No lights. Surprised, she folded it down to its correct position, but everything behind her was dark. No sign of her pursuer.
She looked back to convince herself that she was not the victim of an optical illusion, but it was still all dark. Relieved, she exhaled and turned back around when lights suddenly sped towards her. There was the sound of screeching metal and the car lost its grip on the road. She jerked the steering wheel, but it was too late, the wheels began to spin and suddenly she was hanging upside down like on a roller coaster. For a brief moment she felt weight-less. An ear-deafening bang followed and a rushing sound as if she was caught in the vortex of raging surf.
Water started to enter the car. Defying all the rules of physics, she tried to open the door, but the pressure held its invisible iron hand against it. She could open the window just a little, but then it stopped, moving neither up nor down. All she had succeeded in doing was to turn the trickle into a waterfall. A broad stream of cold water started filling the car.
She tried to keep calm as the car began to sink like a submarine. Ironically, at this very spot, the bay seemed to be deeper than in most areas, where it was on average only six feet deep. She watched the bubbles of air go up the window like pearls on a string and waited for the water to reach her neck, to creep into her nose and eventually surround her with its cold hand.
I’m standing on top of a mountain, almost on the same level with the black, low-hanging clouds. They seem close enough to touch and these dark, bunker-like buildings – three in all – appear mon-strously creepy on the vast plain.
I am searching for my little boy. He vanished without a trace. My fear for him leads me into the first bunker.
As I enter and stand under the partially destroyed glass dome, the building seems even larger than it appeared from the outside. The dome lays three hundred feet above me and there are innumerable floors on both the left and right sides. Everything looks as if it has just been bombed. The walls are full of holes, broken out stones and rubble covers the floor beneath me, which has deep fissures. Suddenly, something becomes very clear to me; it is a war and nobody lives in this building any longer and probably not in the other ones either. I feel like an ant beneath a giant shoe.
Beside a staircase, which is the only means to reach the top, lays an abyss leading into nothing-ness. I throw a little stone into it and wait for impact or a splash. There is no sound. This is the entrance to eternity.
I run up the stairs, step by step, open unlocked doors and glance into empty, deserted lofts. No people, no furniture, not even an insect is to be seen crawling around.
After the twentieth door, somewhere on the third floor, I find a piece of furniture that has been left behind. It is my Mom’s sofa. The one with the turquoise-pink striped silk cover. It is standing in the middle of the room, alone and forsaken.
The war seems to have passed me by. I noticed nothing and even worse, I don’t even know who the enemy is. Not a single human being is here. This frightens me. I do not wish to remain behind on this earth alone.
I run outside again and my attention is caught by the changing color of the facade. Far up on the other side is a toy store. It seems that it is the only thing left intact in this building. Colorful costumes and a large clown figure with red overalls are hanging in the window. I don’t like clowns. They paint a smile on their faces and cry inside them-selves.
While looking at the shop I am immediately overcome with a terrible thought. It entices children with its many colorful toys. Perhaps my little boy is there. However, the question is, how do I get up there? There is no staircase and no elevator.
As I run to the other end of the corridor, a large shadow appears on the wall. It gets smaller and smaller until it takes the shape of a human being that is slowly approaching me. There is no feeling of danger, so I stop and wait. I am neither far- nor nearsighted, meaning I have no problems with my eyes, but this figure is blurred, flickering like air over a heat source. The closer it comes, the clearer its contours become, until it is standing directly in front of me.
Two piercing blue eyes, surrounded by dense black eyelashes, are staring at me. I don’t know the man, yet he feels strangely familiar and when he says my name it sounds like a melody coming from his mouth. “Leia.”
I hear the soft sound of running water. At first I think it is rain trickling down my windowpane. However, something tells me that rain makes a different sound. I know the sound.
Damn! I emerge, leaving my dream, although I would have preferred to remain with this beautiful stranger who had pronounced my name in such a lovely way.
I have difficulty adjusting my eyes to the darkness but the other side of my bed is empty with the cover folded back. Drowsily, I lumber in the direction of where the noise is coming from and I see Joe, who is standing in my walk-in closet, peeing. “What a damn mess!” I yell at him and switch on the light.
“What’s the fucking problem?” Joe says, blinking and holding his hand in front of his eyes.
“You are peeing in my shoes.”
“Bullshit.” He sways past me naked and lies back down. In less than three seconds he is fast asleep again.
Enough is enough. It wasn’t the first, but it will certainly be the last time. Enraged, I go down to the kitchen, grab a bucket of water, a mop and some rags to try to limit the damage to my sanctuary. At least he missed my brand-new sneakers.
I am so upset that I cannot close my eyes for the rest of the night. My thoughts return to the strange dream and what it could possibly mean. About a year ago, I bought a dream diary. It is black, embellished with metal colored curved flowers and leaves and is lying beside my bed coated with a thin layer of dust. I was really determined to write down every dream, but as things are, such euphoria does not last long and I only have seven little entries.
On the next blank page, I note the date and the time.
These buildings looked like they were from another world. I was alone. Not too easy to interpret that. I am alone. Although I do enter into little love affairs, I feel lonely. That is how our society is: Everyone for themselves. I was looking for my child. But I do not have a child and I do not want one. So, this cannot be related to an unspoken wish to be a mother.
And now I come to the interesting part. That man. He not only looked very handsome, he also radiated a certain charm. That’s what I find masculine. Calm, composed and circumspect. He is the opposite of what is lying beside me, Joe. Irritable, nervous and fickle. One of the many people with borderline personality disorders and other syndromes that still have yet to be invented, so that there is always a reason to turn to alcohol and drugs.
I really want to return to my dream and the blue eyes. I could still sleep for another hour. Too short. The digital display of the alarm clock jumps to 6:01.
While reflecting on the pros and cons of going back to sleep, I am overcome by immense fatigue; my senses shut off and I feel how my blood is pumping only sluggishly through the streets of my life.
Let´s go back; I think and close my eyes. Sometimes I manage to re-enter the dream where I had left off and guide the events. I actually do enter the dream again.
“Leia,” I hear him say. His soft sonorous voice sounds pleasant and calming. Why doesn’t he continue speaking and tell me an entire story with his voice? Instead, he takes my face between his hands and kisses me. I do not resist and surrender to this intoxicating gentleness.
The alarm clock tears me back mercilessly to the stale, dark reality. It is seven o’clock. One hour later. Yet I have the feeling I slept only for a moment.
Joe mumbles something and turns himself away from me. Looking at him, my mood already hits a low, even before my day has started.
The first thing I do in the morning is press the button on the coffeemaker, so the water can heat up while I am in the shower.
Men say that when I look sleepy, I look particularly sweet and sexy. That is probably because I look like this after having sex and they prefer me in the horizontal position. In any case, I find myself prettier when my eyes are open and focused, when I have put on some light makeup, brushed my teeth and combed and smoothed my long, dark hair that reaches my hips.
A glance at my daily planner tells me that I have three appointments today for showings. Lunch with my friend Lilith in Soho, then back to the office and later on, I will advise a client in the afternoon about the interior design of an apartment he just purchased for eighteen million dollars. The things one does. However, good client services hold the promise of recommendations and further clients.
As I walk freshly showered into my closet, the strong smell of human urine, still hangs in the air.
I quickly slip into a black pantsuit, a pair of boots and grab my handbag.
With a last glance at the passed-out drunk in my bed, I write a short note on the pink tear-off note pad and lay it on Joe’s jeans. It says, “Please leave your key here“. In my opinion, these words suffice.
Sometimes I ask myself why I am living here in New York. Yet, the question can be answered easily. It is, rather it was, my mother’s fault. Unfortunately, she is no longer alive. It is a chapter in my life that I don’t like talking about. In spite of that, I could have returned to California a long time ago, or gone to Hawaii or Florida, which are climate zones I prefer, yet I decided to stay.
Summer is about to begin and it’s still frickin cold. My car has been sitting in the repair shop for two weeks. Against any sense of reason, I have a car. Most New Yorkers go on foot, use the subway or a taxi, because finding a parking lot can be both, expensive and frustrating. However, I like sitting in my car, listening to my music and like to let my thoughts flow undisturbed in the morning without any other human energy around me. So, for that I put up with the traffic. Besides that, my loft in Bushwick is not located in a particularly beautiful or safe area and I like getting out of my car right in front of my door. According to statistics, we had five hundred and fifteen murders here last year, one thousand four hundred and seventeen cases of rape and almost twenty thousand robberies. Of the one thousand four hundred and seventeen cases of rape last year, I was almost number one thousand four hundred and eighteen.
I was coming back home late one night from a private opening and as I was fumbling around in my bag for my key, in which I usually never find anything quickly, three guys came around the corner. I can only remember parts of what happened; how my bag was ripped out of my hand and suddenly out of nowhere a guy with a cap on was standing there. He took care of my attackers and threw me my key. It is still a mystery to me how he found it so quickly. The following day I discovered my bag lying on top of the trash container. Everything was still inside.
In any case, the three-story, old warehouse, where my loft is located, is a real gem. The ceilings still have the typical Art Deco silhouette from the 30’s that gives New York its special charm. There are about 20 people, besides me, living in here. Most of them are penniless artists.
I love my loft. It is on the top floor, it’s spacious and has old pillars up to the ceiling, a concrete floor and natural redbrick walls. It is so high that I could put in a second level in half of the loft, which contains my bed-room and my dearly beloved walk-in closet. The best thing about it is the view from my bed to the sky, which is through a skylight that I had installed. It also has a small terrace, big enough for a few plants, two chairs and a small table. A pretty, modest place, where I sit in the summer and like to drink coffee.
With my arm stretched upwards like the Statue of Liberty, I hail a cab and tell the driver the first address I am going to in the Upper East Side.
During the trip, I look for the name of the client in a mass of loose papers. I have a really bad memory for names. This has put me in really embarrassing situations at events.
My first client is called Mr. D. Clayton from California, an entrepreneur. How old might he be? Married, divorced or the eternal bachelor? Deep down I hope that one day during a showing, the man of my dreams will be standing in front of me.
Speaking of him I submerge in thought. The kiss in my dream seemed so real. In any case, gentler and more cautious than those I have experienced in the previous years, when my clothes were torn hastily from my body and tongues intertwined as if in a wrestling match. I think of the man in my dream and imagine that Mr. D. Clayton almost fits the image. When I enter the building and our eyes meet, he will be enchanted by me.
Finally, the cab stops in front of the apartment building in the prestigious area of New York. The potential buyer, D. Clayton, is already waiting for me in the lobby; an elegantly dressed man in his forties who does not bear the slightest resemblance to the man in my dream. Love at first sight is a totally visual event and definitely does not take place in this instance. My dream bubble bursts and I am back to reality with both of my feet on the ground.
“Leia Walsh,” I say introducing myself and extend my ice-cold hand toward him.
So, the D. stands for Daniel. Nice name, but I only know idiots called Daniel.
We ride up to the fortieth floor and we both follow the digital display without saying a word. As I stand at an angle behind him, I have the chance to take a closer look. He has fine, dark blonde hair with a receding hairline, a nose like a shark and thin lips.
Upon opening the door and seeing the first impression in the clients eyes, I can already tell what their decision will be. I see immediately that Mr. Clayton likes the apartment. Of course he acts disinterested, so he can get the price lowered a little. A certain amount is always taken into account, so that the client leaves the negotiations happy and satisfied, thinking he made a great deal. The chances of selling the five thousand square-feet duplex, with a view of New York’s Central Park, is quite good. Sixty to forty I would say.
I am showing him around when suddenly the doorbell rings.
“Oh, that must be Jeanette.” He looks at his watch to confirm this.
So, he has a partner.
When I open the door, a little, short-haired women in high heels, a too tight, deep cut dress and a Dior jacket is standing before me. Jeanette, twenty-five at the most. It figures. Without even looking at me, she marches past me, looks around and makes a face. “Not happy. Not happy,” she says in a much too high-pitched voice.
The two of them go upstairs and I overhear him trying to talk her into the apartment. “Not happy,” I hear her say again.
I would have been more than happy if I could move in here, but nobody asks me.
They come downstairs. Like a gentleman, he descends in front of the lady, so that if she stumbles, she would fall on him and take him down as well.
The chance of a sale is now ten to ninety.
“We will think it over,” he says with a look of regret on his face.
Zero chances now.
With a charming smile that he is not supposed to forget, I give him my business card. “Just give me a call.” I accompany the couple to the elevator and return to the apartment. For quite some time I stand by the window and enjoy the view of Central Park. Up here is a heavenly peace. Everything seems so small, unreal and transient…
to be continued.
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Copyright by Lilly M. Love