Welcome back, Dear Reader! If you’ve read the first eleven excerpts, feel free to skip this preamble to the meat a few paragraphs down. If you haven’t, well, thanks for joining me!
These are exciting times for your ol’ pal Jerry – after talking about it for most of my life, I finally put the proverbial money and mouth together and started my first novel, Of Dreams & Angels, in the fall of 2019. I recently completed the first draft but in the meantime thought it would be fun to start putting pieces of it (and thereby my entire soul, don’t you know!) out into the universe. Maybe you’ll get caught up in the intrigue and start following along too.
The synopsis – well, before we get to that, Stephen King, in his memoir On Writing, wrote that many of his stories can be expressed as a What-if question, and after reading that, my imagination (as it pertained to story ideas) started framing situations that way. Of Dreams is this question: What if a man started dreaming about a woman he’d never met, but who actually exists; falls in love with her based on what he sees in the dreams and sets out to find her?
Don’t ask me where it came from, and believe me when I say I’m just as shocked as you are that my first idea for a novel – ok maybe not the first idea in the grand scope of my life, but the first one to make it to fruition – was a fantastical love story. But as soon as I thought of it, *I* wanted to know what would happen, which made me think others might want to, too.
At all rates, here you have it, Dear Reader (also a not-so-subtle borrow from Mr. King, who as you may know refers to us as “Constant Reader”) – another excerpt from Of Dreams & Angels. In this excerpt, Joe is once again in the midst of dreaming through Claire’s eyes, still looking for tangible clues of her possible existence—while sensing something is not quite right. She’s hurting, somehow, and imaginary or not, he wants to find out why. Enjoy!
The women parted and Claire made her way to her SUV, making her way home. Joe was beginning to recognize some of the routes—knew when she had turned into her neighbourhood off the main thoroughfares, and recognized the houses on her street. She drove in quiet contemplation, a carryover perhaps of the—was it ‘savannah-nah’?—from the yoga, while a Bach cello concerto played quietly from the CD player. He kept his gaze with hers—as always, with no say in the matter—but longed for the moments when she would glance in the rear-view mirror. In those fleeting seconds, though she was focused on the reflection of the road behind her, he could fix his gaze on those eyes—the turquoise-grey that all at once flashed strength, humble brilliance, preternatural wisdom, enduring love, and quiet pain. Aside from the peace he always seemed to feel during these transcendental voyages—the calmness of being in her presence (literally)—he lived for any glimpse of those eyes, and the beautiful face that framed them. Why are you hurting, Claire? I can feel it, but I can’t access it. Help me see it. Help me to know you. Help me carry some of it for you, if I can.
How many days do you think you have left before the men in white coats come for you? This can’t go on forever and end well, Joseph.
Shut up. At least let me appreciate this for what it’s worth.
He knew the obvious reasons for her pain, but after nearly two years apart from David and a reasonably settled routine, it felt like there was something more. Was it the children? He knew she worried for them as any parent—or so he assumed, at any rate—would, but was there something deeper with one of them, something he hadn’t seen or heard yet? Was it Audrey? Their parents, perhaps? Nothing in the dreams had happened to point in any of those directions; Joe realized he knew nothing of her family outside of her sister, or where or what they had come from, and realized there was still so much he didn’t know about this person whose soul he resided in the midnight hours.
Yeah, what you really need is to take your dream-girl out on a dream-date, Joey. Ask her twenty questions over a candlelit dream-dinner at a dream 5-star restaurant. How would that work, I wonder? She sits at one end of the table, and you get her to put a mirror on the opposite chair? She asks and answers the questions herself?
She pulled the car into her driveway, and paused for a series of slow breaths after putting the vehicle in park. The vehicle shuddered as she turned the ignition off; he felt her body shiver as well. She pulled the sun-visor down and opened the mirror there, giving Joe one of those glimpses he hoped for. Her hair along the sides of her face was lightly matted from the workout sweat, and she slowly moved these strands away from her face. Another deep breath, and then she startled him even though it was a whisper: “The only meaning this has is the meaning you give it.”
Another one of those cryptic mantras, like “just take this a day at a time.” Where are you hurting, Claire? What is the part of the pain you won’t let me—won’t let anyone, even yourself—see?
She took the key from the ignition and left the vehicle, making her way up the footpath. The air against her (their?) face was crisp, mixing with lingering beads of sweat from all the movement of the hour before, sending a chill through her (and Joe’s) body. He wanted to wrap tighter the blankets he cognitively knew he was in. Yet as always, neither his body, nor hers, responded to any commands he gave.
Yellow light spilled from the windows outlining the front door, and for a moment Joe caught another reflection in one of the panes—her face bathed in that warm glow. She was already smiling.
She opened the door, and the sound of “Mummy!” cried out. Joe heard the whap-whap-whap-whap of little bare feet running on the hardwood in the kitchen and end of the hall, and Ainsley appeared with her bouncing curls and toothy grin. She ran towards Claire and leaped from what looked like an impossible distance, but Claire caught her easily, pushed back only half a step.
“I love you, Mummy. You were gone forever!”
“I love you too, sweetheart.” Claire closed her eyes, soaking in the embrace. When they opened again, Joe was looking at his own ceiling, his clock displaying 5:57 a.m.
Time to face my own day, I guess.
Thanks again for stopping by, Dear Reader! Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more.