Slow-Moving Dreams

Joan Stephens

When you love someone, all your saved-up dreams start coming out.
--Elisabeth Bowen

Dreams(n): fantasy, daydream, reverie, wild fancy, hope, illusion, but also objective, aim, aspiration, intention, wishes, ends, missions, desire.


You ask if I have dreams? Of course I do, but do you mean the fantasies of the night or the aspirations of the day?

Ah, those dreams. As a little child, I dreamed that if I made a bargain with God, the fates, or whatever that one day, like Pinocchio, I would wake up and be a regular boy. Needless to say, the bargain never was kept. I even tried to get Narcissa to cast a spell but she refused, saying that there was a purpose for me being the way I am. She said that was for me to find out, that it was part of my lifeís journey. Iím afraid that I was quite bitter toward her for many years.

Then, as any young boy, I envisioned fighting dragons and rescuing damsels in distress; being a cowboy, a firefighter, a policeman, all the romantic figures of youth; rafting down the Mississippi like Tom and Huck; and traveling to far and exotic places. But as I grew older, I realized these were dreams that I could not fulfill, and I transferred my wild fancies to the dreams found in books.

No, I didnít abandon all my dreams, to do that would be to deny life. All life is a dream of some kind. In my teenage years I had the usual fantasy of falling in love and having a family. But that dream came to naught, and I gave up dreaming that kind of daydream. Instead I made it my mission to love and protect my family, and I became very good at it.

Oh, donít feel sorry for me. Really, they were years of fulfillment and quiet joy. I was . . . happy.

I must confess that I could not completely squelch the dream of loving someone and having that someone love me. I had successfully banished that wish from my waking consciousness, but at night my traitorous heart would dredge it up and parade it through my mind as I dreamt of finding someone who would look past the exterior of the man to find the real person and love him.

Then I found Catherineís slashed and bloodied body and took her Below to my father. She brought with her all the dreams that I had forbidden myself to dream.

As I cared for her, my sole objective was to heal her and return her to the world Above. Still, as she healed, I had a dream of becoming a part of her; the bond was already in full flower although she could not sense me as fully as I could her. After she returned Above, and the months progressed, my dream changed, and I wanted her to be my friend. I never thought of any other possibilities, only that she would come to know me and accept my friendship. With apprehension, I finally went to her to leave the book we had been reading while she was healing, nothing more than that. But I think that in the back of my mind was the hope that when she saw me she would turn to me with a look of friendship in her eyes. Beyond all likelihood that is what happened. And we began our journey to love.

Then my dream became one that I feared would never come about: I wanted to hold her, to feel the sum and substance of her in my arms. As a friend, of course, I hadnít the temerity yet to think that she could love me, but I knew that I loved her and would love her forever. I would not admit to myself that the love I saw in her eyes was that of a woman for a man, but I dreamt of loving her, of kissing her, of holding her next to my heart. I would let my dreams go no farther than that.

Then came our dark time and my dreams became nightmares. I could not rid myself of them and fearing to hurt my family and most of all Catherine, I retreated to the deepest, darkest cave I could find. My dream of love came alive in that foul cavern when Catherine came there and gave me my humanity. After that I lived for a while in a fog of the most terrifying dreams I have ever had, but her love healed me as mine had healed her. Then eight months later the one unimaginable dream I had became real when she gave me a son. I, the one who was alone even in a crowd, was no longer a solitary being. I had a family: a wife and a child to call my own. So, do I believe in dreams and impossible wishes? Oh yes, my Catherine has shown me that all things are possible with love.

You say that it could have been anyone other than her.

I rather doubt it. Do you believe in reincarnation?

Of course, you donít. You have a rational and straightforward mind like my Catherine. But I half believe in it; I have had strange dreams all my life. I almost believe that Catherine and I have found each other throughout history in many different lives and will continue to do so until time ceases.

I have shocked you; I can see that, but my dreams do not end here; I dream on into the future. I somehow feel that they will be answered in ways I canít even begin to imagine.

You are surprised that I could be so metaphysical in my thinking. How could I not be? My very existenceĖmy lifeĖis a miracle and a mystery. How much more metaphysical can that be?

What aspirations do I have for my future? The dream of raising the son I never thought I would have, of teaching him to be a man of respect and caring, the possibility of other children, and of growing old with Catherine, and loving on into the future.

There are tears in your eyes. Why?

Ah, I see. Donít worry; you will find a love. Iím sure of that. A woman like you would have the pick of all the men Above. There is someone waiting for you; I know it.

You have to leave? Well, thank you for coming to see me. I wish Catherine had been here to answer your questions. I, myself, am curious as to how she would have answered them. Come and visit anytime you wish; we are always here.



You want to know what? If I have dreams? Of course, I do. I often dream at night.

Oh . . . you mean dreams: as in aspirations or desires. You want me to tell you my very first dream?

Ohh . . . kay . . . Let me see. The first dream that I remember is wanting to grow up to be like my mother. She was so beautiful, so good and kind. I loved to play dress up in her clothes, and we would have a tea party with all my dolls. Those are treasured memories.

After she died, my most earnest dream was the desire to wake and find her bending over me with her wonderful smile directed at me alone. That she would then take me in her arms and tell me it was all a bad dream. But I always awoke alone in my own bed to the loneliest feeling I have ever felt. I missed her so much. Since I was an only child, she spent a lot of time with me.

Yes, I was a lonely child after that, but my father tried his best to take care of me. He hired the most motherly women he could find as cook and housekeeper, but it didnít really help. Yes, I know he tried, and I loved him even more for that. Then my dearest wish became the desire to take care of my father, to be there for him in all the ways I could. I knew I couldnít take her place, but I tried to be a comfort and companion to him. In many ways it forced me to grow up before my time. We were seldom apart until I left for college. I have often imagined how lonely he must have been.

I never dreamed of leaving him to live my life with another until I met Stephen Bass. Then I dreamed of marriage with a huge wedding, a husband and children, a house with a picket fence: the generic dream of every young girl. But that fantasy ended in a nightmare of control and domination.

After I graduated and earned my law degree, I fulfilled my fatherís ambition for me and joined his law firm. I quickly learned that corporate law was not for me, but I could not bear to disappoint him.

I had no dreams for a long time; I drifted from relationship to relationship, party to party, vaguely unhappy with myself and my life, knowing in the depths of my soul that I was wasting my life. But I could see no way out of my dilemma.

I agree; it was a time of unrest and disillusionment, and I was trapped in it. Then my dreams were returned to me when Vincent found me after I was attacked.

After I overcame my fear and really listened to his voice, I longed to see his face. And when I did, I was startled and hurt him. But I knew that no one, no matter what he looked like, who could care for a stranger as he did, would harm me. He returned with my clothesĖit was time for me to return AboveĖand we talked for a while. He told me that I had the courage to survive this catastrophe and to go on with my life. That was the moment my real life desires began. I dreamed of becoming his friend, and when I returned Above, I wished to see him again and actually conjured him on my balcony several times.

At last, my dream came true. He came to me and our journey to love began. After that my dreams began to grow and change. I dreamt of being his friend, then of being in his arms, of kissing him and so much more. Slowly we progressed through my dreams until we came up against a wall that he had built around his heart. He feared intimacy. By that time my dreams had assumed an erotic quality that I could not control. Nor did I really want to, at the time.

Then came our nightmare time and I lived in fear that I would lose him. He came very close to the edge, and I had to use everything in my power to keep him with me. He decidedĖit was his conscious decisionĖto stay with me, for which I loved him even more, if that is possible.

Then my aim was to restore him to full mental and physical health. While he was healing, one of my dearest dreams came true: I found out that I was pregnant with his child. That more than anything else returned him to complete health.

Was I afraid to have his child? How can you even ask me that? Youíve seen him; you know him. Do you honestly believe that he is anything but a man? If there was any fear, it was the fear of how this pregnancy would affect him. I knew he would worry for the entire time until the baby was delivered. He babied and coddled me for seven months, almost driving me to distraction, but I could not get him to stop; so, I gritted my teeth and let him take care of me. I can tell you with the next baby; it wonít be that way. Oh yes, there will be more children.

Eight months later I proved his human nature by giving birth to a perfectly beautiful son. Another dream of mine was fulfilled: I had a child and a family of my own. I had dreamt for a long time of living Below with Vincent. Now that hope was about to become a reality.

I was ecstatic when he asked me to live with him.

A huge wedding? No, my fantasy had changed and evolved. I didnít care if there was a wedding or not. In fact, we exchanged our vows privately. When? Thatís our secret.

Do I have dreams for the future? You bet I do. I dream of a long life lived by Vincentís side, of the sound of more childrenís laughter in our chamber, watching my children grow, and then my grandchildren.

There are tears in your eyes. Have I said anything to make you unhappy? If I have then forgive me. I get rather impassioned about my dreams, and the different and strange ways they came true. I see; you envy me. If I were you, I would envy me too, but youíre young and lovely. Youíll find someone of your own, of that Iím sure.

You have to leave? Well, thank you for coming to see me. Iím sorry Vincent wasnít here. Oh, youíve already talked to him. Hmm, I think he and I are going to have a chat tonight before we go to bed.

No, Iím not mad at him. I just want to know what dreams he had and to compare them with mine. It ought to be a very interesting conversation. Well, come back and visit both of us when you have the time; we are always here.