Chapter 23: After Happily Ever After
Dwayne is on the phone with Alex. He is sitting on his bed in just his boxers with his right hand in the ice bucket. Sandy is standing by the window in her nightgown. Sandy has already called her boss. Afraid he would find out about the incident with the police, she thought she should provide full disclosure. Her boss was concerned about the reputation of the bar with the police and the bar’s license. He tells her he needs to suspend her from work for two days without pay as a disciplinary action. The first thought she had when he told her was: two days off and Dwayne’s next gig only two hours away! She called and told Isadora to pack and that Frank could drive with them. She overhears Dwayne’s side of the conversation with Alex.
Dwayne: Just tell them for me I will be down and will pay for an extra night. I’m not spending the night. I know we have a gig, but it’s only 2 hours from here. I just need the room for another hour or so, but I will pay for the night. Also, there’s some damage to the room. I put my hand through a damn wall. It’s bruised, not broken. You will have to play guitar tonight. I know it was a fool thing to do, but at least I didn’t break my ass, that’s all you care about, right? (Dwayne takes his hand out of the ice bucket and wipes it on a towel by the bed.) You don’t have to wait for me. I’ll drive with Sandy. Hey, Isadora and Sandy are coming. We will need an extra room. Will you call and make arrangements? (The sun shining through the window is making Sandy’s nightgown almost transparent. Dwayne can see the outline of her body clearly). I know you are not my damn secretary or travel agent, but you can take care of these details for me this once. I will shake my ass extra hard tonight for you. I’m ok. Better than ok. Yeah, she’s full of drama, but she’s worth it.
Their phone calls made, now the room is quiet. Dwayne lounges back against the headboard and stretches out on the bed. He puts his injured hand above his head. He looks at Sandy, with her back turned, without comment. His eyes move up and down her body. Sandy turns around. She sees him smiling at her with a type of sideways smile. She has not seen that smile or expression on his face before and it makes her smile back in return. She notices the movement of his eyes. He is stretching back on the bed and leisurely looking at her body. She removes the nightgown and stands completely exposed. Might as well allow him to take her in as fully as he wants. She begins to look at him up and down, but her eyes stops at his underpants. Dwayne follows her eyes to see where she is looking. “That’s right, woman, get over here.”
Afterwards, she is in that spot in his arms he tells her will forever be “hers.” She tells him, hesitantly, that if Isadora is with her tonight. He shushes her. He knows she will need to stay in the room with Isadora tonight. Still, he needs to get to know her daughter, doesn’t he? Sandy just wants him to keep holding her forever.
Sandy tells him about the regression hypnotist, the clairvoyant, and the tarot card reader. She tells him that Gypsy had said their souls were not supposed to be together in this lifetime, but they had missed each other and had forced their souls to find each other through a psychic bond. Dwayne laughs and she looks up at him. Was he not taking their dreams seriously? Dwayne thinks he can almost read her mind.
Dwayne: I take our dreams very seriously. They’re a miracle. They brought us together. I believe in love. I believe in soulmates. I used to think about reincarnation, but I don’t know about a gypsy or a clairvoyant seeing into our souls or past lives. That just doesn’t seem right.
Sandy: Then, how did our dreams happen? What brought us together? What kept bringing us together over and over yesterday?
Dwayne: God? If miracles occur, then God has a hand. I was raised a Catholic and, I guess, I’m a Protestant now. I’m not all that religious, but if we accept the premise of a God, then we have to believe he can make us dream of each other.
Sandy had been raised an Episcopalian. Yet it never occurred to her that God could have had a hand in their psychic bond. She ponders it.
Dwayne: I wrote that song about having loved a woman and thinking we’ve loved and lived before. I can understand why you might believe in reincarnation. If I had my druthers, then I prefer God had a hand in it. With reincarnation and soulmates, as you described it, maybe we will love in another lifetime and maybe not. If you believe in God and that we are soulmates, then our love is forever. We will be in heaven in love like we are now.
Sandy’s mind reels a little to hear a man whose arms she is in talk about eternal love. She thinks for a minute: is this real? In his arms, though, and in the afterglow of their lovemaking, Sandy thinks she could believe in anything. Certainly she could believe they would be in love forever. She likes that thought. However, she is not willing to let go of the concept of their souls searching for each other in a cosmic void until they found each other in their dreams. It is a romantic notion and Gypsy seemed so convinced and she did meet Dwayne as Gypsy said she would. How would they ever know the truth? What is the use of spending time thinking about it if they can’t ever really know?
Sandy: Maybe it doesn’t matter why we had our dreams or if it was God or cosmic energy. The only thing that matters is that we are together now. We are meant to be in love and we will be in love forever.
Dwayne: You didn’t even believe in love a couple of days ago.
Sandy: Darlin’, till I met you.
Dwayne laughs and holds her tighter. He remembers her saying close to those same words before she collapsed last night. Now the way they feel is out in the open. The Now of this moment is the best Now he has ever experienced. He strokes her hair with his one left, uninjured hand and kisses her forehead. Dwayne so often regrets the past or worries about the future. Now, his mind is focused on simply this moment; this moment of Now. Sandy thinks that Now is the moment of Bliss she has never experienced before. Sandy seldom thinks about the past. It is not in her nature to ponder life’s mysteries; past or present. In this blissful, poignant moment where it appears that her dreams have answered questions she didn’t know she had or hopes she had kept hidden, or- wait, wasn’t bliss always fleeting? This is a Now she didn’t imagine was possible a few weeks ago. She doesn’t want the Now to end ever. She wants to look ahead to the future to see how to make sure the Now turns into forever, for real. Sandy rolls over so that her full body is laying on top of her handsome Prince. Dwayne sits up a little and cups her face with his left hand. They are looking eye to eye.
Sandy: Do you believe in Happily Ever After?
Dwayne: Like the fairy tales?
Sandy: I’ve always been suspicious that we never got to see what happily ever after looks like.
Dwayne: It would make for a bit of a boring story, wouldn’t it, if we saw Cinderella and Prince Charming living happily ever after? Maybe that’s why they just end it there.
Sandy: Seriously, do you believe in Happy Endings?
Sandy’s eyes are looking into Dwayne’s with complete trust. He realizes she thinks he has all the answers. His fears of hurting her resurfaces. With the worries of the future, that feeling he so seldom experiences when he is not performing or having sex, that feeling of Now, disappears. Dwayne does not answer glibly. He has been married. He still thinks about the vow before God that he had broken with divorce. He wants to reassure Sandy that happily ever after is possible, but the memory of Dani on their wedding day won’t leave his mind. The look of trust in Dani’s eyes on that day! The look of trust in Sandy’s eyes now! He rolls with Sandy so she is now underneath him. He balances on one arm still staring into her eyes. How should he answer?
Dwayne: I want to believe.
Sandy: Sounds like a saying from a dorky motivational poster.
Sandy laughs and he lays back on his back again. He laughs as well. They both sit up now with their backs leaning against the wall. They look at one another and laugh again. Dwayne and Sandy are both surprised by how comfortable they feel with each other. Neither of them would describe this immediate moment as blissful, but neither can stop smiling at each other. Their mood has shifted back to sheer happiness at this love neither was expecting to occur in this way.
Dwayne: What do you believe?
Sandy: I guess when I was thinking about destiny and soulmates, I never thought about it. If it is destiny, then the future is written, isn’t it? Doesn’t finding your soulmate mean happily ever after?
Dwayne: Is it all destiny? Is there no such thing as freewill?
Sandy now sits up fully, brings her legs up to her chest and wraps her arms around them. Dwayne smiles thinking how her nose somewhat wrinkles when she is deep in thought. Sandy has always set her own path. She remembers arguments with her mother over her decision to become a professional dancer. The only time she had ever felt like she had no control was when she was so obsessed with Isadora’s father. Before the dreams, she would have declared fully that she and she alone was master of her fate. How could she reconcile that with the destiny of finding her one true love? Dwayne is simply enjoying looking at her; so serious and thinking through life’s mysteries. When she answers, he sits up fully and gives her his complete attention.
Sandy: I think that there is a force or forces- God or cosmic energy- that directs us and points us. I believe that the reason we kept coming together yesterday is because someone or something wanted us to be together. It was destiny. Still- at any time we could have exerted our strength of will. I could have not came with Isadora to the rehearsal. You could have left me at the police station. It’s important to me to believe we set our own paths. Otherwise, we’re just pawns in someone else’s game. I told myself years ago as a teenager I would not be a pawn in someone else’s game. (Sandy thinks of her mother and her decision to do whatever her husband told her.) I have to believe I have some say in my own destiny.
Dwayne: Then that would mean that, even after all this, we can choose to be together or not. (Dwayne looks down at his hands.) You can still walk away before I break your heart.
Sandy’s eyes open wide with amazement. The last thing she was thinking is that Dwayne would hurt her. It is not her freewill to walk away from him. Her heart breaks for him thinking how afraid he is of hurting her.
Sandy: I’m not afraid that you will hurt me.
Dwayne: But you are afraid?
Sandy: I can’t see our future, I guess.
Sandy realizes they live in different cities. Will he expect her to move? How about Isadora and school? Sandy is just as independent and self-reliant as she was yesterday.
Sandy: Do you think we have a future together?
Dwayne: We have freewill. Yes, we have a future together, if we want it.
It is Dwayne’s turn to spend a few minutes thinking about fate and freewill. Sandy smiles at how he draws one knee up, puts his elbow on it, rests his head on his hand. It is the pose of The Thinker except that his left thumb and fore finger pulls on his bottom lip when he thinks. He notices her looking at him and stops. They both laugh again.
Dwayne: I don’t think happily ever after means there’s not hard work. Maybe happily ever after simply means: ( the Professor Cowboy, thinker and poet, throws his arms open and proclaims the true meaning of happily ever after ) they learned to love each other and lean on each other through all the hard times that came afterwards.
Sandy thinks about how self-reliant she is. Could she learn to lean on someone? Sandy knows he is worried about hurting her and she is worried about her ability to change her life for him. Destiny might have caused them to fall in love, but it hadn’t fundamentally changed either of their personalities.
Sandy: I can be really stubborn.
Dwayne laughs. He lays back on his back laughing and covers his face with his injured right hand. He stops laughing briefly and begins to giggle uncontrollably, rolling away from her towards the edge of the bed. Sandy says “hey,” but smiles herself and pulls him back so he is lying on his back again. He raises his right arm and gestures for her to return to “her” spot in his arms. The laughter returns him to the moment of Now. He is joyous upon its return.
Dwayne: I’m sorry, but it’s such an understatement. Babe, it all begins simply enough with a commitment and, for now, just for today, we don’t need to make every decision for the future. The commitment begins with three words and that is all we should worried about for today. (He takes Sandy’s face in both hands; ignoring the pain in his right hand). I love you.
It sounds so stupid, she thinks. How can those three simple, absurd words convey so much meaning of hope and of a belief in tomorrow? It is a commitment. It’s a commitment to try. She smiles as widely as she has ever smiled in her life. She says the words she has never said before to a man. “I love you.”