I told them, “I had a dream, and you were in it.”
The first people I told were my friends. It was convenient. They are always right there. I rolled over in bed after a startled awakening. I wasn’t blurry eyed or slow from sleep. I was starkly and overwhelmingly conscious. I fumbled my phone from its resting place on top of the tissue box. It lay on my bedside table as I clicked open the messenger app.
“Had a dream last night that I was with mom and dad in a crashing airplane,” I texted. “My last act was to pick up my phone because I knew I had to send my brother and you guys a text to let you know that I loved you.”
“Thank you,” one of them replied.
“I don’t think I managed in my dream,” I texted back. “So, I figured I’d say it now.”
The reply was a series of hearts and messages of love in a line on my screen. I held my phone close and I didn’t tell them about opening my eyes and thinking, thank god that was a dream. Thank God I didn’t die. I have so much to do. I don’t want to leave them. I didn’t tell them I’d been terrified to die and leave my brother all alone. Or about the pounding of my heart and my sweaty palms. I just let the messages fill my screen and took comfort in knowing that it meant something to them and I’d have more chances.
“I reached out and held your hand,” I told my mom, and traced the lines of her knuckles with my thumb. “We held each other in silence.” I didn’t say much else on it. I didn’t think I needed to. Just like in the dream, the action of touch spoke louder and clearer on love than words could have. I knew she could feel the depth and the weight of the dream in the way that I spoke of it.
“What about your dad?” she asked.
“He held you on the other side,” I replied--but that was a lie. I didn’t want to tell her that in my dream he had just stood there with the serious look. The one he gets on his face when he knows somethings wrong and he doesn’t know how to fix it. He didn’t reach out to us, he just watched, and I knew he blamed
himself. I knew he was angry and felt guilty because he couldn’t save us--that he loved us. But even when we knew we were going to die, I couldn’t dream of my dad sharing that vulnerability with us.
“The controls in the cockpit went off,” I told him. “And you said, ‘let me see that.’ You looked worried and then you said, ‘That’s not good’ as the nose of the plane started tilting down.” I said it with a grin and my Dad laughed.
“That’s not good,” he repeated.
“Yeah,” I said. “Pretty accurate last words, huh? This is what you get for always telling me you were going to go out like in Secondhand Lions.” We both laughed.
“Upside down in an airplane flown into a barn is the perfect way to go,” my dad said, grinning. He wandered through the house all day muttering “that’s not good” and laughing under his breath. Vulnerability is a two-way street and it passed us by. But that was all right—--I liked the way he said it while laughing more than the way he’d said it in the dream.
“I had to tell you I loved you,” I told my brother. “I didn’t want to die without you knowing.”
“I would have known that even if you hadn’t told me,” he said. And I knew he’d known, if it was real, but would he have known how sorry I was to leave him behind? The horror of knowing it wasn't just me, but our parents as well, and that he would have had no one left? All I’d had time to do in my dream was text “I love you.” Weeks later it still feels like too little.
Laurence Dean is a graphic designer by day and an aspiring writer from the hours of 1:00 AM – 5:00 AM. She loves fairy tales, ghost stories, and legends. She is a fervent defender of spiders and snakes.