Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chapter 1: Seven Minutes Later

She frantically runs around the house gathering the important things. The sound of many horses hooves draw ominously closer. The man says, “Hurry! You must hurry!”

Dressed in 19th century garb, she is soaked from head to toe from the deluge outside. “I am almost done,” she replies frantically. “How close are they?”

“They are near!” He sweats profusely as he carries the hastily packed bags to the wagon. “You do not have time for much more.” He places a lever-action rifle next to the driver’s seat.

“I know! I know! I am almost done.” She slams the cupboard shut and throws her mortar and pestle in an open bag. “Where is the book?” she asks for the tenth time.

Lightening splits the sky and an ominous crack of thunder quickly follows “Already in the wagon with the amulet. Hurry!”

“Alright, I think that is all of it.” She quickly surveys the room for any forgotten items. Clothes that wouldn’t fit in the bag hang haphazardly out of the open drawer of the oak bureau. Dishes are scattered around the sink, some clean, some recently used. It was clear the occupant had been in a hurry.

He leads her out to the waiting wagon and pats the horses’ noses, “I will create a diversion while you make your retreat.” He pulls her into an embrace, likely their last. “I will miss you.” A tear rolls down his cheek and mixes with the rainwater. “I love you.”

They kiss in the torrent for the last time. “I love you too.” The sound of hoof beats is deafening. She mounts the wagon. “Come find me when it is safe!” she calls over her shoulder. He does not hear because he has already disappeared around the corner on his way to stall the posse. She picks up the reigns and calls to the horses. The wagon heads west under the angry midnight sky. When she reaches the tree line at the end of the family property, she looks over her shoulder and sees the night illuminated by fire, which was undoubtedly her burning house. She hopes her lover got away safely from the posse.

Jenna Sims awoke and shook her head, trying to clear the cobwebs left by The Dream. The Dream never really seemed like a dream at all. Instead, it felt more like a distant memory  brought forth while she slept. She doesn’t know the man or the woman, but in The Dream it she watches the woman from afar and is the woman at the same time. She propped herself up on a pillow. Jenna knew The Dream did mean one thing though; something significant was about to occur in her life.

She looked at Randy sleeping next to her. The last iteration of The Dream was three days before they met. She thought back to that weekend in early December. It was close to the end of her first term at school and socialization was not at the top of her list. A classmate was having a Christmas party and invited Jenna, but she didn’t want to go.  School had been the top priority since starting at the Art Institute, and final exams were approaching, so she needed to study. One of her friends convinced her to go, “After all, it’s almost Christmas break,” she told Jenna.

After a fair amount of cajoling, Jenna finally agreed to give the homework a break and go to the party. Upon arrival, she made the perfunctory greetings to classmates she knew, then pulled a Bud Light from the cooler and took a post by the snack table, near the artichoke dip. After some people watching, she began to wonder why she came to the party rather than studying, as she should be doing. She closed in for more carrot sticks and dip and, when backing away from the table, ran straight in to Randy, spilling beer down his front side. Embarrassed, Jenna turned to apologize and her hands began tingling the instant she saw him. Randy Yarborough stood a few inches shy of six feet with sandy-brown hair that he kept parted on the side. The stubble of a beard covered his angular face and his brown eyes projected an air of boyish trustworthiness.

Randy also felt an electric attraction when the short, raven-haired klutz turned to him. She stood a little over five feet tall with jet-black hair, cut just below the neckline. Her high cheekbones and velvet skin gave her a natural beauty that required little makeup, which suited her fine. He couldn’t get past her deep emerald-green eyes though, which were like magnets that wouldn’t allow him to release his gaze. Her eyes locked with his for a brief second as well, and there seemed to be an understanding between the two of them in that moment. Once the moment was over, Jenna realized that she had run into him and switched back to embarrassed. Red-faced and hands still buzzing, she apologized profusely. He told her it was all right and asked her name. Mortified, she continued asking for forgiveness, so he said she could buy him another beer if would make her feel better. They both laughed and the tension from her gaffe dissipated like a heavy fog lifting. They ended up talking for the rest of the party and did not notice all the other guests had left, until late in the night when the host told them it was time to go. They walked to a nearby all-night diner for coffee and dessert and talked till dawn. They parted for their respective homes with a plan to meet for dinner and had been together ever since. The Dream revealed to Jenna when she had met her soul mate. She wondered when he would come to the same realization so they could make it permanent.

She questioned what The Dream could mean this time. It seemed premature to be foreshadowing her graduation from the culianry arts program at the Art Institute, which was still a month-and-a-half away. Still she thought, it has been a long almost-two years. Maybe the dream surfaced because she was so excited about finishing school and embarking on her career at last. The approaching graduation finally felt real when she registered for her last term, needing only two more classes to graduate. Maybe the dream meant she should submit her application to the Full Moon Steakhouse, her dream job.

Her pondering ended as Randy stirred next to her. “Good morning.” She smiled at her soul mate. Randy replied with a still-tired grunt. He worked as a warehouse supervisor at Net Sales, a full-service online shopping company in Seattle. The night prior, he had to work late because one of the automated product fetching machines broke down, forcing manual product retrieval and machine repair to occur simultaneously. An ‘all hands’ situation. “How are you?” he asked once he could open his eyes.

“Fine I think,” she replied. “I had The Dream last night.”

This woke Randy up. Jenna told him about The Dream and its significance. He knew she had dreamt it a few days before they met, but never since they had been together. He remembered her telling him that she had also dreamt the night before her grandmother died two years prior. “What do you think it means? Maybe it has to do with your graduation.” He had been holding down the fort while she attended school and was ready to pass the torch, or at least get some help carrying it.

“Over the years I have learned that it means what it means, and I try not to speculate.” That was not entirely true she thought. She always tried to guess and was rarely right. She just did not want to voice that to Randy.

“Well maybe it means we’re going to win the lotto,” he said, trying to lighten the mood. “I’ll pick up a ticket today.” Randy tried to shrug off the apprehension, but he knew she put a lot of stock in The Dream and wholeheartedly believed that it was the sign of significant event that was coming in her, in their lives.