We were sitting in the campus restaurant and Marilyn was recalling an incident from her past and I encouraged her, curious to let her go and see where she’d end up.
“I remember a rainy day outside Eaton’s on Yonge Street—there was a chestnut seller with his cart by the curb getting soaked, and a rich swell in a limousine, poking his money at him through a barely open widow.”
She was staring dreamily into space. “The fellow beside me was cursing under his breath, bloody rich bastard—I hope he chokes.”
She stared at me, eyes wide in surprise, “Oh! Where did that come from?”
“I have no idea,” I said, staring at her in wonderment.
“Neither do I,” she laughed, the notes like an icy tinkle of piano keys bridging the space between us.
For half a second, I was drawn into her dream—I saw the plashing street and the swarthy man with the chestnut cart—his broad-brimmed hat running a rivulet of rain as he bent to make change.
“The bastard actually made him make change,” I growled.
Again, her eyes grew huge. “How did you know that?”
I came out of it, as if stepping out of a fog and back into the sunlit café. “I saw him,” I said shakily, “his broad-brimmed hat and swarthy face—I was there.”
A look of terror spread over her features. “You couldn’t have been, Scott—it’s not possible.”
“But then, how is it possible for you?”
She hung her head and closed her eyes—shut them tightly, as if trying to regain some kind of inner control. “I don’t know,” she whispered, “I don’t know.”
I put out my hand and placed it over hers and this time we both jumped. I swore I saw a blue transparent flame like a butane jet pass between us.
“That hurt,” she said.
I placed my hand back over hers and this time there was no spark—just the soft warmth of her hand. I squeezed it tightly and didn’t want to let it go.
“I knew you from before,” she said softly.
“What do you mean?”
“When I first came into the lecture hall and saw you—I recognized you.”
“But as far as I know, we’ve never met.”
“But then, why did you dream about me?”
I had no explanation for that.
We sat staring into each other’s eyes as if trying to recall, something—anything.
It was weird. I never noticed it before, but whenever I stared at her, I felt safe. There was this comforting feeling behind the physical attraction. I felt it right from the start.
There was something unspoken between us—same as in my dream. It felt natural to comfort her—to kiss her. Why?
Things that belong together don’t need to be tied—Lao-Tzu’s words floated into my consciousness. It was as good an explanation as any—and at that moment, I was short of answers, so I said it.
“This is very strange,” she whispered, her eyes imploring me.
I wanted to wrap my arms around her and shelter her the way I always had. Where did that thought come from? I felt I was going mad.
She looked at the clock. “I have to get back to the bookshop. Will I see you tonight?”
I had a committee meeting scheduled, which I instantly decided to drop. “How about seven?”
“I’ll see you then.” She leaned across the table and her lips lightly brushed mine.
Again, that strong pull to be with her—and not let her go. I think she sensed it as well.
“Let me go, Joe.” She flashed a nervous smile.
It was just a saying, but it ignited something inside me—a fleeting memory.
She stood and began threading her way back through the tables towards the door. The name Joe kept reverberating inside me, like a bell tolling.
When she got to the hallway, she turned and gave her little half-wave—it seemed to pulse through me like a shockwave.
Joe. My name is Joe.
I sat, dazed, staring through the windows at the street outside.
There was somebody else inside me.
© 2017 – 2018, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.