"I mean, you know me, my dreams were always movie material, but lately they've become even crazier," Tina said.
"Have you been taking those pills?" Natalie asked, while loading the dishwasher.
"Haven't for the last two weeks. So it's definitely not them."
"No, I didn't mean that. Just asking. You okay without them?" Natalie closed the dishwasher door, stretched her back and turned around. She was looking at Tina with concern.
"I guess... Anyway, I didn't like taking them. First, they made me feel kind of funny. You know, like, modified. Felt like they were messing with my brain. Or maybe, it's just my imagination."
"Well, honey, that's exactly what they were meant for - to mess with your brain," smiled Natalie.
"Ha-ha... You know what I mean. Just didn't like the feeling. Felt like my emotions were... almost numb. But not completely. Like you're bleeding, you know it, and you can see the wound, but you can't feel the pain. That's just wrong."
Tina turned away, looking out of the window. She was curled up on a wide windowsill in Natalie's kitchen, hugging a warm mug with mint tea and dreading the thought of going back home.
It was her favorite place in the house. A windowsill that was more like a bench, or even a sofa, considering the amount of soft, comfortable and brightly colored cushions that Natalie kept there, as Tina thought, just for her.
"It is." Natalie replied, looking at her best friend with compassion. She paused for a minute, and then offered: "Hey, wanna get some fresh air? Let's go sit on the patio. And you'll tell me all about you weird dreams."
"Sure. Guess I should stretch my legs a bit. I love your kitchen, you know it. But I bet you can't stand it anymore," Tina laughed.
"Yeah, today was a bit of a tough one," smiled Natalie. "You know what, I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine. Too bad you can't join!" she said teasingly.
Tina pretended to frown, but it didn't look convincing. The girls both giggled.
"Next time, I promise. Next time I won't be driving". Tina jumped off the windowsill and stretched her arms. "I'll even stay over, maybe."
"Mommy, Mr. Rabbit wants to ask you something," - Natalie's daughter, Mallory, appeared in the doorway, holding a plush rabbit in front of her.
"What is it, honey?" smiled Natalie.
"Do we really need to take a bath? Because Mr. Rabbit doesn't want to. It's just that he's not feeling well," Mallory pretended to cough.
Natalie and Tina looked at each other, trying hard not to giggle.
"Is that so? Well, I guess than Mr. Rabbit doesn't have to, really. He can wait for you in your room, while you're having a bath", Natalie was trying to sound as serious as possible.
"Nothing..." sighed the girl. She turned around, sighed again, louder this time, but she knew she wouldn't win this one. She had to try, though.
"Love you, honey!" Natalie said, as her daughter was slowly walking up the stairs, demonstrating how sad she was.
"Love you too, Mommy."
Natalie smiled, took her glass of wine and winked at her friend. "Let's go! Tod will handle it. I can have some rest now."
"Mommy time?" laughed Tina.
"Oh, yes, baby. Well-deserved one".
On the patio, there were 2 rattan chairs, a 2-seater sofa with thick wide cushions, and a small glass table next to them, on top of which was standing a vase with fresh-cut roses. The sunset painted the furniture, the flowers and everything around with warm colors. The light breeze played with the wind chimes, and some birds in the trees nearby were singing along to the wind's tune.
"Such a beautiful evening!" Natalie let out a sigh of admiration.
The girls set their drinks on the table and sat down on the sofa, next to each other. For a few minutes, they just sat there in silence, enjoying the fresh air and light breeze, and taking in the surroundings.
Natalie was the first one to break the silence.
"So, the dream...?"
"Oh, yeah, the dream." Tina seemed to need a moment to return from wherever her mind was wandering.
"So, Greg and I were at this swimming pool," she continued. "You know me, if I'm not dreaming of the sea or the ocean, then it has to be at least a swimming pool," she giggled. "I was about to step into the water, when I saw that the pool was full of fish. Beautiful, bright, different colors and sizes, and there was so many of them that you could barely see the water. It was really cool, but kind of scary at the same time. I just stood there and watched them, when they suddenly started jumping out of the water. And when they were in the air, they were turning into little birds, you know, like hummingbird size... and then they would drop dead on the floor, with that sound, like if you dropped a crystal glass and it broke..." Tina paused and took a sip of her tea, before continuing. "Soon, the floor around the pool was covered with sparkling little bodies of birds... I leaned forward to take a closer look, my vision was blurred and I realized that I was crying without even noticing it. I picked up one of the dead birds, and saw that it was actually made of gemstones. It was, in fact, a brooch. A beautiful one, but I was terrified to hold it. However, I couldn't let go either. I turned around to look at Greg, but he was gone. He just disappeared. When I turned back, all the birds have disappeared too. Except for the one I was holding. For some reason I felt that I should keep it, that I shouldn't let go. I wanted to pin it on my clothes, but I was wearing a swimming suit. And while struggling with the pin and the flimsy material, I pricked my finger accidentally. It was so unexpectedly painful, that I dropped the bird, and put my finger in my mouth - you know, just a reflex. The brooch smashed on the floor, breaking into what seemed to be a million of sparkling pieces, and they all disappeared in a second. All that was left was blood. Everywhere. Whole pool of blood. I realized it was my blood, and it made me feel sick and faint. And I was about to pass out, when I heard Greg's voice..."
"What did he say?"
"Wake up. He said 'Wake up, Tina! Now!!!'"
"Wow... Honey, I don't even know what to say... It was definitely good that he woke you up, though, looks like it was turning into a nightmare," said Natalie.
"It's not wow yet. The weirdest thing happened later. In the morning. As for Greg, you know, I have been dreaming of him almost every day since he died..." she paused and frowned. It was obviously not easy for her to pronounce that word. "But for the first time, I practically felt his presence! It was so real!"
"Oh, dear..." sighed Natalie, her eyes watering.
"So, here comes the wow part. But you need to promise me something first," continued Tina.
"What is it?"
"Promise you will not laugh... no, not that, I know you won't laugh. Shit, I don't know how to say it. Okay... promise me that you won't think - or say - or imply - that I'm crazy or I need to start taking the damn pills again or go see a shrink or anything of that sort," Tina blurted out. She was getting very nervous, and Natalie could see it.
"Hey... Really? You serious? Come on! Why would you even say something like this to me?"
"Nat.... I love you. You're my bestest friend. You're like a sister to me. You're all I've got now. Look, just hear me out, please. I didn't mean to offend you. But this whole thing is really too crazy and weird. And I need to share it with you!" Tina was about to cry.
Natalie gave her friend a hug and held her for a minute, saying nothing.
"I'm not offended. It's all cool. Now, I'm dying to hear about that weird shit of yours!" smiled Natalie.
Tina let out a nervous giggle too.
"When I woke up, there was blood on the blanket. Where I was clenching it with my right hand. You know, the thumb that I pricked in the dream? It was really bleeding. Just a tiny bit. But enough to scare the hell out of me."