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I Had A Dream

Everything was different. She could see endless possibilities because she was looking into his eyes. He was a newborn, clean from the turmoil that came from living. In those moments of holding him for the first time she knew, she knew for sure that perfection did exist. It existed with birth, with the innocence birth represented. It was an immediate connection and an undeniable love. He was her gift from the Universe, from God. That was the day she knew for sure there was a God and that she had been entrusted in that moment to watch over and protect her son.

He lay curled and cradled in her arms perfectly, as if her arms were created specifically for his comfort. He smiled at her as if she was everything, and it was the most beautiful smile she had ever seen, with or without teeth.

“Your eyes sparkle life,” she whispered to him.

Rick re-entered the room clutching a bottle of water, “I know I’m a wuss, but I’m back now,” he said referring to his fainting scene, the birth had been too much for him. “Wow,” he said as he approached his family. “He’s perfect, Holland,” he said staring into his son’s honey brown eyes that echoed laughter. “He has your eyes, babe.”

“Really.” Holland asked, “Do you think so?”

Rick was mesmerized by life. “Definitely, honey.”

                     ******

           Holland’s thoughts continued to circle around her circumstances as she sat at the kitchen’s island. The new life she had had left her to crawl to North Miami, where she took up sanctuary with her half-sister Brea. They were both the daughters of Evelyn Shay, but while Brea’s father was a tall bulky black man, Holland’s father was a short Irish man. Holland’s biological father was a mystery to her, she only knew that he resided in Ireland and had known her mother for all of 24-hours before they never saw one another again. Regardless of Evelyn’s infidelity Holland’s dad had been Brea’s father.

Her sister’s home was a lovely reward in the divorce and it was a great treasure to own. It had originally been a summer house, designed to fit Brea’s specifications exactly. The exterior of the home was prairie styled, with two floors, and a wide backyard for Hudson, Brea’s golden retriever. The inside of the house reminded Holland of the one from her childhood. The interior colors were soft, the canary blue and oak brown resembling her teenage bedroom. From her old bedroom she had watched as fireworks shot into the sky. She had heard the creaking of the wood floor as her dad had placed Christmas presents under the tree the night before the big day. That room had made her feel as though she lived in the sky with the many wonders of the Universe. She’d wake from the night and wait for the sun to greet her canary blue walls.

The simple square structure of her sister’s house reminded her of the building blocks toddlers often stacked together. It led her to think and so she began to wonder if in fact children represented the wisdom of the world, and adults represented ignorance. Holland felt that she was lacking in intelligence, or rather the understanding of knowledge. She’d graduated from NYU’s School of Medicine at the top of her class, and while that proved she was intelligent it didn’t prove she was smart. It didn’t mean she understood the world, and she desperately wanted to. Babies knew that each day was a happy day, but she yearned to know why one day life was being lived and the next day it was stopped. The bay windows welcomed in the crisp rising sun light as it streamed into the living area. The sun made it official for Holland. It was a new day once again, so she patted herself on the back.

“What are you thinking about?” came Brea’s voice as she glided into the kitchen, dressed in full work-out attire.

Holland shrugged and asked her own question, “How many miles did you get this morning?”

“Three,” Brea said proudly, glistening in perspiration. Holland thought that Brea’s “sweat” was an injustice. How could they share partly the same DNA when Holland was drenched after a run, and her sister looked like she had been sprinkled by a nearby fountain? “You should start running with me, Holls, it’ll take your mind of off things.”

“I’m doing just fine, Brea,” Holland responded leaning against the marble island.

“No you’re not,” Brea said matter-of-factly, “I was a mess after my divorce was finalized.”

“I’m not divorced, Brea.”

Sliding into a bar stool Brea said, “I know, your situation is way worse.”

Holland quirked her lips to the side, “I appreciate that you believe that was an appropriate thing to say to my face, Sis.”

“Well,” Brea began, “If you won’t tell me what you’re thinking about, and you won’t work out with me, you can at least do me one favor.”

“What’s that?”

Brea gave Holland a smile and leaned against the island so that their identical button noses touched, “Have a drink with me.” A drink meant an entire bottle for Brea, “And I’ll bitch about my life!”

How she could celebrate her own downfalls, how she could smile genuinely, Holland wanted that secret, the secret to living.  Even though her sister was notorious for being a wild drunk, Holland thought the idea wasn’t the worse. Her sister was her biggest distraction and that meant that her contemplations could be silenced.

“Fine,” Holland agreed, “But you were probably going to do thisat anyway.”

Brea reached into her “special” cabinet, which she had also got in the divorce, and pulled out a bottle of Merlot. Unscrewing the cork from the mouth, she seemed to exhale when the bottle did. She never once reached for a glass. “Are you going to drink anything?” Brea asked.

Holland groaned and asked her, “So when do you know for sure you’re an alcoholic?”

Brea smirked and replied, “When you make it your lover.”

“Well, then get me a bottle of my own, please.”

“You know my therapist told me I have a deep seated anger and as it’s grown since I was at least ten. Apparently, when you refuse to express the anger you turn out like me, prone to irrational thoughts and behavior.” She gave her sister a bottle of vintage cabernet.

“That sounds about right- wait,” Holland said clearly hearing the statement now, “You have a therapist?”

“How do you think I got over my divorce?” Brea asked her.

Holland guessed, “With a bottle of Merlot.”

“No, with a bottle of ’72 Merlot, it can’t just be any old bottle, Holls,” she sighed, “But in all seriousness, I went to a shrink. I really needed to talk to someone,” she paused before adding, “Hudson can’t respond in English.”

“You needed someone to talk to? Why didn’t you call me, Brea? That was four years ago. I’ve always come to you, even when I had Rick, I talked to you.”

Brea blushed as visibly as a woman of color could, “Because I didn’t want to bother you, the divorce was final. I got everything just the way I wanted it, and I didn’t want to be judged because I missed that bastard.”

Holland sighed, “I’d never-” her voice trailed off and she decided not to finish the sentence, “So, you’re saying that it worked, talking to the shrink?”

“It did, but not in the way the he thought. Now, whenever I think about Kevin Nordom I realize he only ever accomplished two things in his life. Building this house and marrying me. Actually, my therapist says part of my irrationalities come in the form of a minimization thought process.” Brea smiled triumphantly, that meant she couldn’t see past all the wrongs inflicted on her by Kevin, “But that wasn’t the point I was trying to make. The longer you stay in your head, Holls the more you run the risk of never dealing with the hand you’ve been dealt.”

 

The hand she had been dealt was ugly. Her life had been filled with magic once and now it was like she was standing outside a graveyard. Brea was her sister, her best friend but even she wasn’t enough. Her heart was gone and she barely had any love left. Rick was her love. She’d fallen head over heels in for him the day they met. It was a typical rainy day in New York, angry people rushing by, taxi’s speeding so fast they couldn’t be flagged down. Holland was running late to hear a lecture from the leading doctor in pediatric surgery, James E. Stein, M.D. No taxi would stop for her, and she had lost her umbrella earlier in the week on the subway. She was so frustrated she thought she would cry, and that’s when Rick pulled up. His motorcycle hit a nearby pothole and splashed Holland in dirty street water, her fury had turned into outrage.

“How could you be so stupid, do you not know how to drive? How can you not see a girl with bright red hair trying to hail a taxi, did you do it on purpose you asshole!?”

He was both apologetic and kind, “I’m sorry, I saw you but I didn’t see the pot hole in time and now you’re soaked. I’ll pay for the dry cleaning.”

“Screw the dry cleaning, I’m late for a lecture!”

His eyebrows crinkled in apology, “If you want, I could give you a ride, anywhere you want.” Holland looked at him like he was crazy, “Please, I feel really bad about this entire situation.”

Holland sighed, “Don’t feel too bad I was wet anyway,” she said calming down.

“I’d still like to make your day a little less crappy.” He handed Holland an extra helmet and insisted she get on his bike, normally she would have said no and kept on going about her day. But the day was fated to be different. The minute she clung to him as they sped through time square, she felt an immediate calm and a large amount of trust to the stranger. He would give her everything and then take it away.

 

Holland could handle any obstacle that came her way, she stared at Brea a defensive tone rising in her voice, “Why are we talking about me all of a sudden? I’ve been dealing with everything the best way I can.”

“I know that.”

Holland didn’t understand her sister’s obsession with her mind and emotions. True she hadn’t been her usual self lately, but grief was new to her. She over thought every phrase and every smile. If I smile too big they’ll say I’m faking, If I don’t smile at all they’ll think I’m depressed. She didn’t know what to do, who to be, she knew she couldn’t be the original
Holland. She’d been destroyed by the world and her own ignorance toward it.

She remembered how composed she had been in preparation for the funeral. No one had seen her cry, not even her husband Rick. She ordered white asiatic lilies for the ceremony because they represented humility. The funeral had been held in the same church that her baby boy had been baptized in. Rick had been by her side quietly attending to her needs, though she never needed him. She wanted him more than anything else. In New York he was all she had left, she’d wanted to tell him that much but the idea always brought more tears to her eyes and she couldn’t cry in front of him. She couldn’t be seen like that, it wasn’t the image she wanted to share with anyone. She thought she was protecting Rick by hiding in the bathroom with her tears, but it had pushed him away…shoved him away.

In the night Rick would hold her hand while she slept. She would hear his apologies in her dreams. In those dreams was the image of life. It was better in the world her mind had created. There, everything was perfect, every piece had a place…nothing was missing.

 

“Are you okay?” her sister asked, “Hey,” she said, “Where did you go, Holls?” Brea asked, her fingers snapping in front of Holland eyes.

Holland shrugged off the question, “I’m here, and I’m fine.”

Brea’s demeanor was relaxed as she shrugged her round shoulders, “You keep telling me your fine. I just don’t believe that.”

“What can I do to convince you? Should we go jog, Brea?”

“You’re not even trying, ever since you came here all you’ve done is sit here and think. You say you come to me because you can talk to me and tell me things you can’t even tell your husband. We’ll you’re here, and all you tell me is that you’re fine.”

“Because it’s true.”

“It’s true that it’s easier for you to lie to yourself.”

Holland wouldn’t call her self-awareness lying. She’d done so in the hopes of not burdening anyone with her grief. Keeping silent was worse? What was she to do, she just wanted to be safe. The idea that she was lying to herself angered her, what was she lying about? What did the world want from her after it had taken so much? She was still alive and despite countless considerations to the contrary, she’d remained that way. Was it wrong for her to soak in pity after all she had lost? She had to wonder about that. How could trying to protect everyone else from the pain she was feeling be bad? There’s no wrong way to grieve and if there was then those not suffering have no right to say anything. The pain she felt was something only a few people knew.

 

Brea exhaled roughly, “If experience has taught me anything, it’s that the one who says she’s fine, is generally the one who needs help.”

“I honestly, don’t know what you expect me to say,” Holland told her sister.

“Tell me how you’re feeling?”

“I’m miserable, is that what you want to hear? I’m miserable, and every time I wake up I have to remind myself that only moments ago I was dreaming. I was dreaming about the past and that my past looks nothing like my present.”

In her dreams she held her sons hand as they crossed street. She bought his favorite ice cream from the grocers and they drove back to their home listening to the Mama Mia soundtrack. The song “I have A Dream” from the soundtrack was the lullaby she often sang to put him to sleep on his restless nights. She made dinner in those dreams for three. Rick whipped up a quick dessert and kissed her temple to congratulate themselves on another successful meal. They watched a movie after dinner, her baby boy incredibly fond of the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit suggested it each night, though he was easily swayed to other family movies. Together Holland and Rick put their son to bed. Rick carried him to his lighting McQueen bedroom and Holland tucked him into his red go-cart bed. They watched his tummy rise and fall for a good two minutes before leaving. Once the night was over it was immediately morning for Holland. Her dreams allowed her the days she was robbed, but she knew one day she would no longer be able to dream.

 

Holland opened her bottle of wine and chugged it immediately. She felt like a teenager, unable to express all of the complex emotions and events occurring in her life. How were you supposed to talk about death?

“Holland-

“We’re not talking about Donny!” Holland’s voice echoed through the quiet house and her tears pounded on the linoleum of the island, her face had turned scarlet red. Donny.

Brea whispered, “I know, I’m sorry.” She nodded, for once she wasn’t sure if she should say something or just listen. Taking Holland’s hand she squeezed it.

Holland remembered the days when Brea’s house was the summer house. She remembered running to Brea from the family Prius and her sister capturing her in her arms, wrapping her up in the protection and support big sisters often soaked in. Kevin was right behind his wife, coated in bronzer because for some reason he felt he didn’t look dark enough to say he lived in North Miami. Kevin would stretch out his hand and Holland would extend hers as they greeted one another through their secret hand shake. Rick was behind her carrying Donny, Donny who had round innocent brown eyes like his mother, and pale blonde hair like his father. Aunt Brea poked his round “teddy bear” belly and tickled him while he fidgeted in his father’s arms.

Often, after dinner Donny would chase Hudson around the house squealing whenever he was close to catching the young dog’s tail, and Holland would watch. Fascinated by her son’s fascination with Hudson. She saw that Donny stared at all things in innocence, and she loved how unharmed he was by life. He still saw the world as magic and beauty, and because he saw it, Holland felt that she could too. Donny was her innocence, her heart.

“I’m not ready, Brea.”

Brea nodded, “Okay.”

“Not yet, my dreams aren’t dead even though my son is.”

Everything was different, and all the possibilities were gone.

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