Dreaming a Reality
I was having dreams of the girl again and couldn’t sleep. For the past few months I’d been waking up around 3a.m. and tonight was no exception. My normal routine was to check on Jeremy—making sure he was sound asleep, then make sure the doors were locked. After making my rounds, I went back to the kitchen, rummaging through my purse for my cigarettes. As I glanced at the glowing red digital clock, I had noticed an even earlier time as of yet—2:27a.m.
I unlocked the door and stepped outside in the night sky, fully embedded with stars, as I lit my cig. Watching the smoke travel upward, I caught a glimpse of the Eucharist-sized moon; full and bright. The house was dark and quiet inside—only the flicker of light from the T.V. showed snap-shots of the rooms. I thought of my dream again—of the girl.
The fresh-cut blades of grass between my bare toes, was like that of my dream. It was there in the forest that I began to chase her in a game of tag. Her eyes traveled to the dusky rays of light peeking through the evergreen sky—a night like tonight.
She was after the green shadow there in the woods, so I began to follow her. My pounding heart echoed off the trees. My thoughts raced as to what or who it might be hidden just beyond the brook. Gasping for breath in the dense foliage, my mind began to sink in the soil. Grabbing fistfuls of dirt in the palms of my hands, I felt a pulse in the veins of a leaf. The shadow and the girl vanished in the forest. I was alone, feeling hollow in the earth. I was now fighting for my life. The veins in the leaves were my veins—my pulse. I was the weeping willow. And before I could take another breath, I awoke.
As I stood there remembering my dream, I could feel this uncertainty surrounding me. A cold darkness passed through my skin like an opened screen window. It was as if someone was pulling me to the other side. For a moment, the fear paralyzed me. I couldn’t move. Then something inside me snapped like a picture.
I entered back inside to the flashes of the T.V. and headed to the computer room to check for any new messages that may have arrived since 11:00p.m.—the time I’d actually fallen asleep. As I signed in, five new messages popped in my inbox. The first one was from Mr. Ming, my boss, wanting to find out the status on Mr. Jorgan’s flight to Cancun, Mexico. Some were from other customers and the last, my ex-husband’s— “John Harris.” It read in the subject line in bold caps lettering—PLEASE READ. The only real important email out of the five, the only one in which I was really nervous to open.
With blurry eyes and a second cigarette on my mind, I was now ready to clean house. And by that meaning, I was now ready to chat with some stranger, from God only knows where, just to get my mind off of what I truly needed to do.
Sitting cozy in my computer chair, I felt relaxed with my cotton pajama bottoms and a T on. Yet it was a little warm so I opened the window for a soft breeze. It had just turned September and had still been warm here in Ashland, Wisconsin.
Since Jeremy was still sound asleep, I had time to go over my emails and surf the net. I pulled my brunette hair back in a ponytail and started to open my messages.
I envied my son’s rest. He looked so peaceful sleeping on the couch like that. I thought of when he was little—when John was still around.
“We gotta get him into hockey, Kat,” John would say.
And at three years old, that’s just what we did. Now heading for a scholarship to Lake Superior State University, Jeremy kept hockey an important life goal. I was proud of him—extremely proud.
Although, I knew deep down inside, he still worried about me and my illness, it never really bothered Jeremy—the early enrollment of hockey. He would say things like, “You guys are goofballs.”
But between my major mood swings and John’s excessive drinking, the marriage ended after fourteen years. I remember when we first told Jeremy of the news. I could see it in his face. He knew it was coming.
Jeremy was more concerned about me then himself. In years past, he had to calm me down I was so distraught. A few times he’d had to call police because of me. I, on my manic days scared him with my high anxieties of his dad and my work. Mostly I worried about Jeremy and where he was at and who he was with. But lately I’ve been more preoccupied with not having another episode; I had forgotten his feelings, keeping things hidden the way I was.
All the while, I surfed the net—first answering emails, then viewing other travel sites. And in between that, reading poetry too. I had to keep busy. I had to push aside John’s email, yet it was bothering me to the point, I had to talk to someone to get it off my mind completely.
Jenny, my best friend introduced me to this dating site, so I decided to sign in and as soon as I did, an I. M. came up.
DD1969: Hello there, how are you?
I usually deleted the generic types like, “How r u?” But for some reason, I replied to the ones that were better typed out. So I decided to reply to this one.
KWtravel: I’m fine and you?
DD1969: Well, I can’t sleep tonight, so I’m here.
KW: Oh, funny thing, I can’t either.
KW: Yeah, big joke.
DD: So does restless have a name?
KW: It’s Katherine, but everyone just calls me, Kat.
DD: Kat, like meow, that’s sexy!
KW: Yeah how original.
KW: So, your name? Let me guess, D for Dog?
DD: Haha…no, actually, it’s Dean—Dean Dawson.
DD: But you can call me Big Dog! LOL
KW: Wow…that’s different!
DD: Do I detect a smart ass?
KW: Oh, was I? LOL
DD: So where you from?
KW: From mars! LOL
DD: I thought you were from Venus!
KW: Haha…true, we are from there too.
DD: We? So there are more of you?
KW: Haha…not sure of that. I’ll need to check some time.
DD: I saw your profile and enjoyed it.
KW: Oh, really how much?
DD: A LOT!
Dean and I—the online chatter, messaged each other for what seemed like two hours or so. It just clicked. I didn’t even realize what the time was until I looked at the clock, 5:03a.m. I couldn’t believe how late it was, but since I really liked Dean, we exchanged emails.
John’s email would have to wait, I thought.
I had an hour and a half to go, before waking Jeremy. And after the flare from Dean started to wear off, I began to think of John’s again.
A little over three years ago, when John and I were having difficulties in our marriage, finally ending it July 2nd of 2006, my first manic-depressive attack occurred. Being diagnosed Bipolar with psychotic features; I was hospitalized for a week because of the traumatic event.
After John called it quits, I developed erratic behavior. Stripping to my flesh-colored bra, leaving only a white tattered skirt on, I flew out the door in a state of madness.
I ran through the dark neighborhood streets for hours until the local cops picked me up, where I was praying in the parking lot of the community church. All I kept chanting was, “God, help me. God, help me.”
At the time, Jeremy was with a friend, but knew we were on the outs—knew that somehow it was going to end. But no one knew I would act that way, not even me.
Between reading poems and viewing all of what Mexico had to offer, I was now ready to open John’s email. Message: “Kat, we need to talk!” I quickly closed the email without a reply and walked in the living room to get Jeremy up for school.
“Wake up buddy boy, it’s 6:30,” I said after lightly slapping him on the cheek two or three times, then heading into the kitchen. I started making him breakfast as he wrestled around on the couch. Lately, for some reason, Jeremy slept in the living room, falling asleep to the T.V. blaring. He, himself hadn’t gotten much sleep in the past couple of weeks.
My kitchen, painted in a peanut butter brown, was adjacent to the living room area and had the look of Starbucks written all over it with the coffee mug curtains. I loved the creamy earth tones and the airy feel to it. The ivy green trim on the curtains completed the motif.
“Want me to make you a lunch, or do you need money?”
“No Ma, I have some from yesterday.”
Jeremy was a frugal kid. He saved over the years of birthday and holiday money he’d get from family and friends. His grandparents, now out of the mix after hearing their youngest daughter (me) had a mental illness. My mother was the means of grudges and isolations against each other. Unfortunately, Jeremy suffered the brunt of it in no longer having a relationship with them. It used to bother him when he was younger, but as the years passed, he grew a detached heart towards them. Even Jeremy’s one aunt and uncle seemed to have the same effect as my parents did. Yet my middle brother Todd, wanted to continue some form of connection in having an open mind to it all. Todd still managed to stick around.
“Did you do your homework?” I continued to say as I shuffled around in the kitchen.
“Ma, come on! You ask me that every day and every day it is the same answer.” Jeremy had a detest look as he packed his books in his book-bag.
“I’m just making sure Jer Buddy.”
I finished up making some scrambled eggs and bacon and placed his plate on the table—the one in which John hand carved. It was his first solid piece before Jeremy was born.
A little on edge from John’s email in the back of my mind, I was ready for Jeremy to go to school. I pondered over the idea of whether to call right after, but instead wanted to wait until the right time.
“Make sure you have a good day, honey!” I reminded Jeremy as I kissed him on the cheek.
“You too, Mom,” he replied back.
After Jeremy stepped out, I decided to get some housework done and push John’s urgent message aside—yet again.
I kept the hard-wood floors and plush carpets in the bedrooms, free of dirt and dust. The walls were in a taupe color and matched with the rest of the home. I prided myself in making the house neat and clean for Jeremy and I. Although, I didn’t think Jeremy cared one way or the other, as long as we had a house, was all the mattered to him.
As morning sun arose, glistening along the green lawns, I peeked out the window to watch the changing trees shed their leaves. Autumn was well on its way.
My grey tabby pawed from inside the glass, trying to catch a leaf or two as our dog, King barked at the kitchen door to go outside.
King was our Siberian Husky from when we were still a family. Mainly it was John’s dog. But as the years past, King was Jeremy’s biggest pal. Once the divorce proceedings were finalized, I had custody and that meant I had custody of both Jeremy and King. The dog wouldn’t have it any other way. He was a great watchdog for both of us and John felt safe knowing that.
Finally at noon, I slipped back a message to John: “We’re ok, no worries,” then zipped out instantly to take a walk, refusing another message of his concerns. I still had feelings for John, as he knew full-well of that. But during our marriage, he couldn’t take my “extreme mood swings” as he put it. John drank in excess for years, yet sobered up quick after he and Jeremy witnessed my countless bipolar episodes.
I continued my exercise at least twice a day. My doctor and therapist thought it was a good idea for me to keep it up. As I walked, I let my shoes crunch the dead leaves beneath me and thought of the dream she last had of the girl. The air’s sweet scent of the coming fall, inhaled through my lungs.
After I finished striding, listening to Madonna and Incubus, I came back to my ranch style home and checked on more emails—no John, not yet. But there were quite a few from customers and one again from my boss, Mr. Ming.
I had been working as a travel agent for the past six years. Mr. Ming knew all about my illness and worked with me on it, being that I was considered a valued employee. I took in several bookings a week and was paid a decent amount on commission alone. I often blew my job off and nonchalantly replied back. My expressive ups and downs carried with me, yet the customers grew a definite liking to my great customer service skills— Mr. Jorgan especially.
I was always an outgoing kind of person, but often had to remain somewhat timid with Mr. Jorgan. In the past, he’d made some advances, yet I still continued a working relationship with him.
Mr. Jorgan, a married businessman, always went through me to book anything he needed—that meant for business and for pleasure.
At 3:30p.m., my cell phone rang.
“Hello, Katherine Wheeler here, may I help you?”
“Hey Kat,” a rugged voice replied back. “Yeah, you can help me alright!”
"Oh, hello Mr. Jorgan, how are you today?”
“I told you to call me Mitch,” he reminded me yet again.
“Okay, Mitch, I made reservations at the Ritz-Carlton, right along the beach with an oceanfront view—just like you requested.” I kept trying to be professional about the conversation, but I could hear it in his voice he wanted to be more intimate.
“You know that trip was for us.”
“Mr. Jorgan, please!” I said to him, after being thrown off.
“Please call me Mitch,” him insisting again.
“Mitch, the flight is booked for a Mr. and Mrs. Jorgan. The airline will need to check I.D.’s. What you’re inferring is impossible.” At that point, I was getting upset, feeling slightly uncomfortable, but remained firm with him.
“Kat, when will you give me another chance?” Mitch kept sneaking around my mind to see of far he could go.
“I don’t know how many times I have to go over with you Mitch, I am not interested. I can just as easily give your package to Mr. Ming to take care of.”
“Ok, Kat. You got me. Just give me any new updates on the flight status and maybe some more pictures to view of this hotel. Mrs. Jorgan will have a fit if there isn’t a spa.”
“Oh, there is a spa and of course conference rooms for your meetings.” I revered back to a more appropriate tone.
“Good.” Mitch replied with a sign of relief that I was still interested in working with him.
I wrapped up the phone call in an abrupt manner after noticing it was almost time for Jeremy to come home.
“Ok, Mitch, you’re all set. Have a good day.”
After getting off the phone, I went to her desk to catch up any loose emails that might have come in. I usually ended work around 5 o’ clock, soon after Jeremy would come in complaining of wanting something to eat.
I found it strange John never called or emailed back and in a way, was disappointed.
Jeremy entered in from the back door of the house with a loaded book-bag as King jumped up to paw-hugged him.
“Yo Ma, I’m home.” Jeremy called out after stepping into the kitchen. And as I heard him, I quickly pressed send to my last email and went to greet him.
“Hey Hon, wow, get more books?”
“No, more homework.” Jeremy grumbled as he walked passed me and into his bedroom.
I started up an early dinner, pot roast with carrots and red potatoes—one of Jeremy’s favorites. As I placed everything on the counter, slicing the onions thin, so they would melt quickly, Jeremy yelled out from the other room and asked if his dad had called at all.
“Have you heard from Dad?”
“No, not yet, why? What’s up?” After hearing Jeremy call out, I walked to his door way and stood there, wiping my hands on a washcloth.
“He promised me Packers tickets. Was just wonderin’ if he got em or not.” Jeremy said as he pulled out a text book from his bag.
“Well your Dad sounded kind of concerned when he emailed me last. Is everything ok with you?”
Jeremy paused for a moment with a pale look on his face. “Yeah, it’s all good Ma.”
I continued back in the kitchen with the pot roast, yet wondered what was going through his mind. I hadn’t verbally talked with John in about a week or so and thought of why he seemed so apprehensive with his email message. In my own silly way, I thought that John might have needed me again—needed to see me even.
John and I met in our teens and were high school sweethearts all through until senior year, when I had a miscarriage. At seventeen, I desperately wanted to try again after being pregnant the first time. Although it wasn’t planned in the beginning, after receiving a devastating blow of a molar pregnancy, I wanted a child. John, being two years older, finishing school before me, was just as stupid and in love as I was and agreed.
After my second pregnancy at eighteen, we got married. Having Jeremy a few months later, they finally had our son.
The first few years of marriage seemed like a dream. John would work out as early as 3 in the morning—the time Jeremy would rise as a baby, wanting to be bottle fed. The routine was perfect. I went back to work after maternity leave, to Petco, while John worked on building a carpentry career. He was always good with his hands. When we first dated, John would carve out little wooden animals and give it to me as gifts. I was fond at whatever he did and was very much in love with him.
As I thought of John, I could smell that the pot roast almost done. Jeremy was in his bedroom reading when the telephone rang.
“Hello?” I answered.
“It’s me. How are you Kat?” a sleek voice gave out.
“John!” I said in a happily surprised note.
“Yeah, sorry I haven’t called lately—been busy.”
“That’s okay John. I got your email.” I replied as I untangled myself from the telephone cord.
“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk with you about that. Jeremy’s been telling me you’re smoking a lot more and not sleeping as much? I hope you’re taking that medication the doctor prescribed.” John stated in a vexed tone.
“Please, I can handle this ok?” I felt the potential discussion rising.
I didn’t want to get into it and as John started questioning me a little more, my voice began to rise.
“Mom, is that Dad?” Jeremy called out from the back room as he heard me talking in the kitchen.
“Yeah, here, you talk to him. I am done with his interrogation.” I then handed the phone over to Jeremy, as I tried to finish up cleaning in the kitchen.
I didn’t think it was just that. I questioned myself as to what else it could have been. What has Jeremy been saying to his dad? I thought.
Disappointed, but not surprised, I now knew what was up—me and my behavior.
I instantly had racing thoughts of how it all started. Trying to notice my changes, I thought back to a about a month ago, when sleep was becoming less and less. I knew, by not taking her meds, I would become manic and may even have another episode, but was sick of all the side effects and decided to stop, yet again. I knew I was playing with fire, but did it anyway hoping my nausea and stomach discomfort would go away. No one knew I stopped the meds—not even my doctor or therapist knew. I kept that hidden from everyone—that amongst other things.