Sunlight flickering through the branches of a weeping willow. It dappled on the green grass. He could smell water, the clear smell carried on the the wind whispering across the out of sight pond that was somewhere nearby and drifting lazily through the trees.
Then there was laughter. Who was she? He struggled to turn around so he could see the laughing girl behind him.
Kyle always woke before he could turn around. As he forced himself to breathe evenly and relax - it was just a dream, or so he kept telling himself - he tried to focus on something in his bedroom like he'd been taught.
As he stared at a picture of his family and him when he was five, he tried to guess why these recurring dreams continued to happen. But he could not remember ever being in a place where there were weeping willows.
He didn't even know if there were any naturally-growing willows here in New York. He turned to look at his clock, raking his fingers through his curly brown hair.
Exhaling exhaustedly, he knew it was too late to go back to bed; he had a scheduled appointment with his psychiatrist in two hours and a half, before his twelve o'clock meeting at the firm, and then his dinner with Patricia at six thirty.
"No more lollygagging," he muttered, remembering when his mother used to wake him every morning during his high school years with that saying as she cheerily opened his curtains and spilled light across his floor and his bed, making it impossible to even think about sleep after that.
Closing his eyes briefly, he pulled back his sheets and rose from the mattress, leaving the bed in a disorderly mess as he shuffled to the kitchen for a mug of coffee before hitting his shower. As he leaned over the counter holding his coffee mug close and trying to feel a little more alive than dead-tired, he noticed the light blinking on the message recorder.
He knew that most people no longer used those "old-fashioned" things anymore, but he didn't mind letting a call go over to message. It was easier than picking up the phone every time Janet called to ask about the book he'd been dared to write by his editor friends at the publishing firm.
He had tried to beg off of it, he thought back, smiling a bit grimly as he slowly made his way to the recorder, saying he was an editor for authors, not one himself. But his friends had been adamant after Suzette read aloud something he'd mindlessly written regarding the mysterious laughing girl and the weeping willows from his dreams.
He frowned, wondering how Suzette and Jack Collins, a husband and wife editor-author couple, had rifled through his desk, and why. He pushed the thought away to ask later at the firm as he let the recorded message play.
"Hi, Kyle, it's Mom! I just wanted to remind you that Dad and I will be away for a while, we're going up to the lake, remember?"
"Yes, Mom, I remember," Kyle muttered under his breath, rolling his eyes immaturely for someone twenty-eight years old.
"We'll be back soon, and we wish you could join us and the kids! Speaking of your nieces and nephews, when will you settle down with Patty and give me some more grandchildren? I can never have enough, you know. Patty's a nice girl, and she loves children..."
Kyle sighed as his mother rambled on about grandkids and the fact that she was getting worried about him being always alone. He couldn't get why his family always seemed a bit overly-concerned about him. His mom and dad, Brian and Heather Lofting, and his sister Staci, were a bit too intimate in his life than he liked.
Shrugging it off, he stopped the recording, realizing he'd have to delete it or record it on something else because it was taking up too much space in his machine.
"That's Mom, always taking up my space and my quiet," he thought aloud, turning back to his bedroom, and the shower he knew was waiting.