Beams of moonlight filtered into my bedroom like snow drifting from the heavens.
On the heaven-sent beams of moon dust, I saw a life-my life and what it could be. If I had the courage to go all-in. I don’t have the required courage. I’ve risked it all before and came home empty handed.
As I stood on the brink of my dream, I considered my life. In vivid detail, much like my dream, I viewed my life from one fascinating scene to the next. The film began with my birth in the hospital.
My poor mom struggled to give birth to me for an agonizing 28 hours. Above my mother’s bed was a list of potential traits I could’ve selected. Except I wasn’t born, and that nullified my choice.
All that I would become, came down to the selections of fate. I’ve heard you can’t outrun your fate. My parents hadn’t chosen for me to be an aggressive, anxiety-filled, rageaholic. Fate carved out my destiny without a care as to what I wanted.
The next scene was of me when I started kindergarten. I loved the playground and could not wait to ride the seesaw. After our morning exercises, my group copied our letters on sheets of paper, and the teachers released us to play. I raced outside and sat on the seesaw. My classmates paired off and played on various items. I was alone.
Days passed, and I made few friends. One friend, Joey was his name, disliked playing on the seesaw. He claimed he had a bad experience once, and besides, he liked to zip down the slide. So, I relinquished my dream of playing on the seesaw, and I began to follow Joey on the slide.
Joey and I remained friends until elementary school. As we started the first grade, the scene changed. Mrs. Birdy Birdwatcher, BB to her colleagues, gazed at her new class and smacked a wooden ruler in her open palm.
I panicked a bit; my dad told stories about her meanness. BB had taught for over forty years. Neither her students or her superiors intimidated BB. Over her horn-rimmed glasses her cold eyes bored holes into us.
“Timothy Wilson, front and center.”
I squirmed in my seat. She sounded like a drill sergeant. Of course, I’m six years old. I had no idea what a drill sergeant was, or how rowdy or feared they were. I had heard stories, but I had no proof to back up said stories.
“Here,” I squeaked weakly. My kiddy voice cracked loudly. I could hear giggles in the background.
“Are you stupid, Wilson? I said front and center.”
My legs trembled and almost buckled, but I rose to my feet and walked to the center of the room. She walked from behind her desk and stood in front of me.
“Give me your right hand,” she demanded. I extended my hand, and she gripped it firmly. Without hesitation she slammed the ruler against my palm. She slammed the edge of the ruler against my palm until tears came to my eyes. I couldn’t understand why she had treated me this way.
“Your father had that coming. He escaped without paying his due. Now, all is right in the world. Go sit down.”
I looked at the floor and walked to my desk. Inscribed upon the desk was the words: I hate Birdy. In my six-year-old mind, I totally agreed with the sentiment.
The scene had ended with a close-up of Birdy’s face. A veil, somewhat like a long theater curtain, dropped slowly over the scene, and Birdy disappeared into the ether of my memories.
“What is going on?”
In the dusk of the closed scene, a small light shimmered in front of the veil. With a pop, much like a gunshot, a petite woman equipped with snow white wings landed softly in front of me.
“Hey stranger. It’s been years since we visited.”
I tried to comprehend what I had just witnessed. I tried to smile but it came out a grimace.
“Um, who’re you?”
“I must say how disappointed I am to hear you voice that question, Timothy.”
“I’m Anna, you know, your imaginary friend? We met on the playground in kindergarten. Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten me.”
I shook my head no. Not because I remembered Anna, but because she seemed to be the type of figment from my imagination that you didn’t want to anger.
“Of course not, Anna. You have always had a special place in my heart.” She smiled. This unreal figment of imagination smiled at me. It freaked me out.
“You remember me? You’re not just saying that, are you?”
“Why are you here, Anna?”
“What do you mean, Timothy? Why have I visited you in your dream? Or why I disappeared after your incident with Joey in fifth grade?”
My head had begun to ache. I get the worst migraine headaches; and the doctor has told me that it’s a symptom of my epilepsy. I believe stress causes my seizures.
“Either one,” I answered. My voice rose, and she turned her head at my inflection. Her bluish-grey eyes showed a coldness I’d never seen before. “I’m sorry, Anna. My head hurts.” She nodded, and her auburn-colored curls bounced with the motion. She remained silent for the time being.
The next scene drifted from an unseen ceiling. On the screen Joey and I had entered the fifth grade. “Watch this scene carefully, Timothy.”
Joey and I had remained friends throughout the years leading to the fifth grade. We had drifted off and found some friends outside of our friendship, but we always came back together.
We both had discovered Angie Walkman in the first grade. She was the prettiest girl in the class, and all the boys wanted to be her friend. I was no different, neither was Joey. Angie’s family was the richest in the small town of Morriston. At our age riches didn’t mean a whole lot. We only cared that we could have fun together.
Still, Angie became a source of frustration for me, but that’s a story for later. We would go out at playtime and sit on the seesaw. She was the only person who would ride the toy with me. It made me feel good having someone to play with. Joey would watch from his slide, and at lunch we all sat together.
By the time we made it to the fifth grade, Joey and I had pieced together our limited knowledge of girls from JCPenney catalogs, some nudie magazines that a boy named Claude had stolen from his dad’s truck, and our imaginations. We thought we were ready to enter the dating pool.
“Do you remember how your first kiss went, Timothy?”
Anna snickered at my memory, but my first kiss still made me smile.
Angie, me, and Joey walked into the homeroom and waited for roll call. Mr. Decker stood before the blackboard and called off names. “Here,” I answered when called upon. Angie and I had English for our first class, so we walked together to Room # 6. Joey watched us until we entered the room.
Angie touched my hand, and I gazed into her hazel eyes. “She’s so classy,” I whispered to myself. On a loose piece of paper, I wrote, “Will you be my girlfriend?” Ms. Amber Frazier was writing out words on the blackboard, so I pushed the letter to Angie. She covered it with her hand. When no one paid any attention to her, she peeked at it.
I looked at Angie and when her eyes met mine, she smiled. She pointed at the piece of paper and nodded yes. My heart raced at her acceptance. In the middle of class, she leaned toward me, and our lips touched. Anna, my uninvited dream terrorist, sighed heavily and batted her eyes.
“Isn’t that so romantic? You asked her to be yours on a piece of paper.”
“I was ten years old.”
“And that matters, why? You should’ve manned up and asked her to be yours.”
The scene froze on our ‘kiss.’ I remembered it fondly. My body quaked from the passion I felt that day. It was a day of days.
“Have you forgotten how Joey took the news?”
My smile disappeared. I hadn’t forgotten. I wished I could forget, but I couldn’t. Anna gazed at me and waited for my response.
“No, I haven’t forgotten his response.”
After English, Angie and I walked down the hallway holding hands. Am I the only one who thought the hallways in elementary school were massive? Joey watched as we approached.
“What’s all this then?”
Angie smiled as I told my best friend that we were together. Joey nodded and walked away. I struggled to choose between spending time with Angie before next period and chasing after my best friend. I spent the time practicing kissing with Angie.
At the end of the day, Angie and I waited for Joey at our usual spot next to the bus stop. We sat on the bench and talked and kissed. After a particularly amazing kiss, I opened my eyes and saw Joey cross the street to avoid walking home with us.
“He’s mad at us, Angie.”
“He’ll be okay. I rejected his note.”
“He asked you to be his girlfriend?”
“Joey’s asked me every year since first grade.”
I stopped in my tracks, my mouth agape at the news that my best friend wanted Angie for his own. “You’re kidding,” I stuttered.
“No, I wouldn’t lie to you.”
“He’s my friend, Angie. He probably felt like I betrayed him.” She kissed me lightly on the lips and giggled.
“Timothy, why should you worry about Joey? He was never concerned that you would be heartbroken if I accepted him.”
“Why did you reject him?”
She turned and looked at me. Angie placed one hand on her hip, and her other hand swept her brown hair out of her face.
“Why does it matter, Timothy?”
“It doesn’t but I would like to know.”
“Joey, I’ve discovered, is very jealous. When angered he loses all control. That’s not what I wanted. I desired to be with you, but you made me wait until now to get it.”
The rest of our walk flew by. Before I knew it, we stood before her massive home. She kissed me and said goodbye. I watched until she disappeared.
I felt as light as a feather as I raced home. “I’ve got a girlfriend…. I’ve got a girlfriend…” My trip home flew by, and I blasted up the stairs and into the house. On the couch sat Joey.
His eyes were red from crying. He clenched and unclenched his fists and watched me for a long moment.
“Oh boy, I’m about to get the business.” Joey never punched me. The scene closed with the question Joey asked me that day.
“Why wouldn’t she love me?”
The curtain lowered, and Joey’s question continued to reverberate through my mind. “Why wouldn’t she love me?” Anna bit her lip and sighed. “Poor Joey, he never understood, did he?”
I glanced about my dream for somewhere to sit down. A plush chair appeared from out of the ether. I sat in it and pondered what happened next. Of course, I knew what occurred-no scene could ever show the emotions I experienced next.
Out of the ether the next scene emerged. A chair had appeared for Anna also, she pushed it next to mine. “Let’s see what happened next, shall we?” On the screen Joey had pushed by me.
The sun had begun to sink. Joey raced down my driveway to escape from his best friend turned traitor. I could barely see him in the evening dusk. In the distance brakes squealed and there was a loud crash.
A tear rolled down my eyes as I remembered that evening. Anna patted me on the head, much like you do your pet, but I didn’t mind.
“What happened, Timothy?”
“Um, a drunk driver drove through our wooden plank fence and hit Joey. He died. I never had the opportunity to make it right with him. He died, and he hated me for loving Angie.”
“Of course, he hated you. You received what he wanted.”
“He died, Anna.”
It stormed that Sunday morning. I went to Joey’s funeral. Lightning flashed, thunder rumbled, and the heaviest rain I ever saw crashed to the earth. I had forgotten my umbrella, so Angie and I shared one.
“Father God, we give this young soul back to you,” the preacher began. I couldn’t look at Joey. Fear rotted in my heart. “He would’ve never forgiven you for taking Angie for yourself.” The preacher continued with his prayer as the storm raged around us. “We’ve asked that you send comfort to Joey’s family. Let them find peace in your strong arms of love. Amen.”
I muttered, ‘Amen’ under my breath. The storm raged on as I took one last look. Then I walked home alone.
This scene, like all the others so far, had vanished under the veil. My heart ached at the remembrance of Joey. “I never wanted Joey to die. I desired we would all live happily ever after.”
Anna patted my hand solemnly. “Things never were the same again, were they?”
“What happened to Angie?”
“I don’t know. I never saw her again after the funeral. Some said her family moved away. Others said she changed schools. I never found out.”
“Ah, young love. I don’t understand it. Love changed you too though, didn’t it?”
“What do you mean, Anna? I’ve always believed in love.”
“Yes, that’s true. Still, you felt undeserving of love.”
As a dense silence fell over me and my imaginary friend, the next scene began to play. Years had passed. A kaleidoscope of memories played with no background noise.
“Look! You were in college there. Didn’t you have a girlfriend during college?”
“No. I focused on my degree.”
“You were working at a call center in this memory. How many ladies were on your arm during this period?”
“None. There were no women in my life after Angie. She was the one, you know? No one compared to her.”
Anna giggled. She had worn down my last nerve and was using it as a trampoline. I squirmed as I relived each painful memory. “Why can’t I wake up?”
“You’re such a sap.”
“Yeah. I could never move past Angie.”
“You were 48 in this memory. Look how sad you were. Life had beaten you like a red-headed stepchild. Why did you carry on with your continued existence?”
“I don’t know.”
Anna punched me on the shoulder. Her bluish-grey eyes twinkled with delight. “Well, the good news is that this isn’t your problem anymore.”
I didn’t know what she meant by this, but I nodded anyway. I walked to the precipice of my dream and gazed out at the myriad of colors.
“You could stay here forever, Timothy. You and I could traverse the stars and have new adventures.”
“Why can’t I wake up, Anna?”
My figment of imagination had a tear in her eye as she sat down. “You had an accident. A drunk driver plowed into you. You were checking your mail when he hit you.”
“Um, okay. ”
“You’re in a coma at Memorial Hospital. Your brain is trying to make sense of things. That’s why you’re seeing these scenes.”
I sat on my plush chair and shook my head. Of course, it all made a sick kind of sense. Joey died from the actions of a drunk driver. I was in a coma because of one. The only thing removed from this wacky equation was Angie.
Anna floated over to where I stood. I could not make sense of what she told me. I remembered checking my mail, but I never saw, or heard, the car that plowed into me.
My imaginary friend would not shut up. And I am in a coma. I’d heard that we made our own hell with our choices. If that’s the case, I had nothing to do with this one.
“You loved Angie, didn’t you?”
Anna insisted on catching up. She moved close to me and peered deeply into my eyes. “If you loved her, why wouldn’t you keep up with her?”
“Yes, I loved her. It’s not as simple as you have made it out to be. Joey’s death impacted us all. She left. Granted, her parents were behind the move or school change, but she left it all behind.”
“You never looked for her. Why should she have looked for you?”
“Jesus. We were ten years old. Okay? We had no idea what love was or how deep and meaningful it should be.”
“You never wanted another woman, you said so yourself.”
“I sought companionship outside of Angie. I tried to find love. But I couldn’t find it anywhere. Life and fear thwarted my efforts. You’re not even real. How would you even understand?”
“I wouldn’t raise my voice at me, Timothy. You would find it awful lonely if I were to leave.”
“Then you shouldn’t have pressed me on love.”
“Fine,” she snapped. Anna crossed her arms and plopped down in her chair.
We, the real boy and the figment of my imagination, sat in silence. In the dark of the coma, Anna shimmered. She changed from her form into the shape of Angie.
“Maybe you could talk to me,” Anna said.
The doppelganger replicated Angie’s perfect features. I touched her face. Anna had aged the form into Angie’s current age. I felt tears wet my eyes, even though I knew it wasn’t real, it felt real.
“I’m so sorry, Angie. I should have looked for you.”
“It’s okay, Timothy. I wished I had stayed. Joey’s death changed things, and the one thing I hoped it wouldn’t change, did.”
“He was my friend, Angie. We were inseparable.”
“I know. He was my friend to.”
We sat there like old friends with too much time expired between us. We cried and chatted about small things, big things and in-between things.
Anna returned to her form and the visual of Angie lingered in my mind. I sat there dumbfounded by what happened, and how I stupid I was to have never searched for my one true love.
My imaginary friend leaned her head upon my shoulder. Her curls fell over my right shoulder as she snuggled close.
“I’ve enjoyed speaking with you. It was so lonely when you quit talking to me.”
“I’m sorry, Anna.”
“It’s okay. You’ve matured.” Her pouty lips trembled, and I could see she had something else to say. I half-turned to face her.
“What has happened? You’re so serious.”
“Timothy, this is where I say goodbye.”
“Separated, you mean I’m-“
In a flash, Anna disappeared. I gasped as I came out of the coma. The doctor fell back as I sat up.
My heart raced. The doctor, a rail thin man with a thinner mustache, gazed at me expectedly.
“Sir, how do you feel?”
“I’m not dead.”
“No, you’re not. We kept you stable and you’ve came out of the coma.”
He stood to his feet and continued with his examination. “You’ve not had any visitors, no family has called for you, and you’ve been under for 41 days.”
It all sounded about right. I never married, and I had no children to visit me. My family lived all around the globe.
“Well, your injuries have healed nicely. We will keep you for observation for a few days. Then, you can go home.”
Three days later, I walked out of the hospital. “Now what?” In the quiet of my mind, I heard Anna’s voice. She seemed so far away. “Find Angie, doofus…” I had no idea of where to look for my one-time girlfriend.
On my way home, I walked to Joey’s grave. Fresh flowers adorned Joey’s grave. A small white card jutted out from the flowers; the name written on them was Angie Lancaster. She had written a message that said, “I miss you Joey.”
A pay phone stood on the corner its telephone book hanging by a silver cord. I opened it and found Angie Lancaster’s home address. It was mere minutes away. Instead of going home, I walked to her house.
The long, bricked driveway led into a wooded area. From the end of the drive, I could see a medium-sized home partially hidden by the tall oak and pine trees. I walked down the drive unsure of what would happen next.
At the door, I rang the doorbell. Footsteps drew near, and a hand swept back the curtain allowing the owner to see who stood on their porch. The door opened.
My heart leapt to my throat cutting off the words. I stood speechless as Angie threw her arms around my neck. We shed some tears, and silence followed our reunion.
“How did you find me?”
“Joey led me to you.”
She smiled, and her face lit up with joy. She hadn’t change much in all the years we’d not seen each other.
“Did you marry, Timothy?”
“No. I never could-“
She patted my hand and nodded. Her hair had turned silver, and she kept it in a loose ponytail. “Neither did I. I tried to find love. I even looked in all the wrong places, but nothing compared to what we had those years ago.”
“We were so innocent-pure even- in our love for each other.”
In my mind Anna came through loud and clear: “Kiss the girl!” I leaned in, and kissed Angie. Our lips touched, and it seemed like our first kiss all those years ago.
True love is a beautiful thing, and long may it reign.