How to catch a… a person sliding envelopes under my door that contains my dreams on it? Seeing those words on the search engine with the cursor flashing next to it could only result in how to catch a predator. My results arrive in 86 seconds yet nothing remotely close to what I am asking. I now know the many ways of how to catch a bug and how to catch a cold.
Should I leave this alone? This person is not harming me in any way. I am graduating soon and have actual classes to be focusing on but apart of me wants to know. It is that beating vessel of mine that wants some answers and my desire to reframe from wondering what if.
An envelope slides under the door.
I place my bowl of cereal down with a mouthful of honey bunches of oats, check the peephole as if I haven’t done that once or twice this month already and pick up the envelope. I refuse to feed my obsession with opening these envelopes. I place it on the counter with confidence. I am fully capable of resisting for a whole day, a week or a month even. I could stop this at any time.
I will read it when I normally do before I go to bed. The point is that I did not take the envelope with me. It is an accomplishment really.
What if there is something in there, though? Maybe this person has finally told me who he is, hello my name is dot, dot, dot, and here I am ignoring this mystery guy’s big grand letter reveal. Honestly, I can admit that my mind is not at all in this class right now. Stupid envelope.
“Christina?” The professor taps on my shoulder. I look up at him. “As much as I enjoy your presence in my class, I would love to enjoy my lunch and hope that you actually took in the lesson I was teaching today.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I say, quickly closing my books on my desk. Hiding the fact that I am on the incorrect pages.
“Are you okay?” He asks.
What I really wanted to say is “Yes, I have Googled, how to catch a person sending me letters with my dream on it and nothing came up. You are a teacher so you must have connections, right?”
To avoid a direct drive to the mental institution, I settled by saying “No, I am fine. Just have a lot on my mind I guess.”
He gives me two pats his hand on my shoulder to show that he cares but not enough to have it take him away from his homemade lunch that he had to make. “Well, my door is always open. If you need to talk about anything. Let me know,” He says walking down the stairs.
“Thank you,” I grab my things and walk past the once filled seats.
I can’t believe how much time has passed. I managed to speed past the latest gossip news from Abby and the update of her family drama. It never sounds as bad as she makes it but to her, it is like a hurricane has swept right through her life. She usually has some story to tell and in true fashion, I typically listen quietly so I am pretty sure she didn’t even notice my attention was elsewhere.
Pushing through the rather large door of my classroom, I felt the smack of my body up against someone else as I walked into the hallway. I lose the grip of my textbook in the process and watch it tumble to the ground and slide like a poor game of curling. “I am so sorry,” I say as I pick up my textbook.
“Christy?” I hear.
As I got back on my feet I see David, out of all people. He looks the same as the last time I saw him. Light brown skin with those gorgeous, too good to be true, deep brown eyes. He wore a thin mustache above his lip and shaved hair proudly. He is always stylish without trying. This time he is rocking a gray leather jersey jacket over a black t-shirt, blue jeans, black Nike shoes and a silver chain.
“David Hi… How are you?” I say, stumbling on my words.
“Much better now, I haven’t seen you since, well, since you were with Matt,” He says. “I take it as you two haven’t spoken to each other.”
That line coming from him wasn’t at all surprising since he is Matt’s best friend. “It comes with the territory,” I say with fake confidence. I am pretty sure, I am overdoing it but it is too late to back down now. “I have been keeping myself busy with school work.” Which is half the truth but he did not have to know that.
“Date me,” He says sliding his hands into his pockets. He raises his shoulders and takes a short breather before saying, “I threw that at you pretty hard, I am sorry. I promised myself that if I saw you again I would ask you to date me.”
David stares at me waiting for my response. The crowd of students chatting filled the awkward air between us. I didn’t know what to really say. I only have a goofy shocked smile on my face waiting for this to be some kind of joke.
We are having a waiting battle. Eyes blinking with anticipation. Silently waiting. David continues to stare while I wait for a response. This didn’t feel real to me yet he wasn’t giving in. Say that you are kidding, David, say it.
“Go on a date with me please,” He says, his eyes starting to resemble the classic puppy eyes. “I would hate to beg in the middle of this hallway.”
Flipping through my brain, I was running out of words to think of that I haven’t already said to someone. He is a tougher case than I thought because a small part of me didn’t want to turn him down. At least not quite yet. Therefore, my brain naturally withdrew my entrance to my vault of perfect rejection lines.
Abby has always been brilliant at rejections, she says no more times than yes. She is the boss at this. The queen of rejection. When Daniel Holton in middle school asked her to the dance with flowers, music, and chocolate in the middle if the hallway after the lunch period bell she sang it out ‘U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi’. Relatively in the worst way possible, I mean she could have said it much nicer but she was young, rich and immature.
I, on the hand, don’t have that capability. I say yes to everything or drag out the conversation so much that you forget what you had asked me in the first place. I am really good at saying maybe and if you are persistent enough I buckle down and say yes. For the real reason that I can’t say no without feeling bad about it.
I would give my lunch money to a homeless guy, give my number to a stranger with one number off so I wasn’t completely lying and share my notes aka do homework for students who should have been left behind a year or two because I am utterly horribly nice.
There is one line that I haven’t tried and I leave it at the bottom because it is not as good as my usual lines but for the sake of this conversation, I figured why not test the waters with this one. You know what I am going for it. I can be like Abby and say no. This is my moment. I can do this.
“We are from two different worlds,” I say.
“Aren’t we standing on the same ground?” He tries to hold in the laughter in his chest. I knew from the moment that I said it, I wasn’t going to win this battle. The laugh relaxed his shoulders.
“Yeah, but we are on two different planets,” I was grasping for anything at this point. He is on a completely crazy planet located way beyond Pluto if he thinks I am going to go on a date with my ex-boyfriend’s best friend.
“Is this that whole, guys from Mars and girls from Venus thing?” He asks.
“No, it’s a clear rejection,” The laugh escapes from me as we make our way halfway down the hallway.
He smiles as if he has never been rejected before. This is sheer entertainment for him. We both knew that I am just blowing bubbles instead of standing my ground. “See that is what I like about you. You are nice even when you are trying to be mean.”
“You are not going to give up, are you?” I asked even though I knew the answer already.
He shakes his head playfully, “Nope, not even a little.”
David is that guy who could make you feel like you were the only girl in the room. As if time slowed down all around us. As if we are invisible. He is a gentleman, the kind of guy that did not have to do much to get attention. I have never seen him go after girls or not help someone in need.
He wears his pants on the spot that pants were designed to be placed and not at his ankles. He is that guy, the one who you bring to your parent’s home. He walks in with a bouquet of flowers for mom and a bottle of wine for them. The one who your dad would be honoured to add to his day in the exciting world of golf.
“I am flattered that you asked me. I have to be honest, I don’t see this happening,” I say.
“Why not? Matt moved on. Unless you are dating someone already?” He says.
The words that I dreaded hearing, at last, showed its face and hit me like ice falling from a fifty-story building. A plane full of pain entered my heart. Shock spread across my face like goosebumps then an autopilot smile turned on trying to shield David from seeing the hurt.
“Matt is dating?” I managed to say.
“Yeah, they met at the police academy,” He replies.
I could feel my smile disintegrating. My plane is losing control. Thoughts are smacking my plane’s windshield like birds. The autopilot smile is shutting down and it’s shutting down real fast. I look down not noticing that David could see the pieces of my face fall on the floor and land onto my running shoes.
“Oh, I did not mean to… I honestly thought you knew,” he said.
“It’s fine,” I say. “It would have happened sooner or later.”
David looks at his silky black smartphone for the time. “I hate to be leaving you like this but I have to rush over to the other campus right now. Got some test scores to check before heading off to my next class. I hope you keep me updated from time to time, though. Just because you two are not together, doesn’t mean that we can’t hang out or go on a date.”
“I should be going as well. I am sorry again, for bumping into you,” I smile, convincing myself that I had swept up all the pieces of my face off the floor.
“You can bump into me anytime. Really, let’s schedule it next time,” He slides my phone out of my hand and types his number into my cell phone, “I look forward to seeing you again,” I watch as he slowly disappears in the crowds of students.
Abby rushes next to me giving me a not so casual nudge. The scent of her vanilla scented cream whisks the air. “Don’t tell me. I already know you like him. You’re not good at hiding it. So how about you give him a chance to save yourself from this whole cat and mouse process.”
I knew she was right but you would have to pay me to admit that. I don’t really want to go on a date with him and yet the thought of him dating someone else gave me this strange urge to strangle the girl he wants to date next.
“What are you talking about?” I say, “I don’t like him.”
“I saw the daggers in your eyes just now. Come on, he knows how boring you are and yet he still likes you. If that is not amazing enough, then use him for his seriously hot everything. What are you waiting for?”
“Nothing,” I lie.
“You are still taking in the fact that Matt is dating?” She says taking the words right from my brain. “You have twenty-four hours to cry about this and then we are making a plan to get you dating again.”
“How much of our conversation were you listening to?” I say knowing that she was probably hiding in my back pocket just to get the dish on the cute guy I was talking to.
From as long as I can remember, Abby has supersonic abilities. Her ear is on every juicy conversation from guys to girls to teachers. Her poor parents had trouble hiding anything from her. Her ears heard just about everything except when it came to classes. It suddenly became deaf to education.
There has only been one thing Abby wished she never had to hear in her whole entire life, the day she heard about her parent’s divorce. Her mom was discussing it on the phone with a friend when she came home from school one afternoon. Talking about how she was going to move her out of her home and into a new one without her dad.
“I heard all that I needed to,” she says.
“I am okay with the fact that Matt is dating,” I lie.
“Tell that to your face,” She laughs. “Yeah, yeah it was going to happen eventually but we both know what that is code for. What you really meant is that it is going to happen when you have grown old and die. He moved on way too fast,” She says reapplying her pink lip gloss.
“It has been three years,” I reminded her.
“Which is still a mystery on why you two broke up in the first place. Why is it still such a huge secret with you?” She asks.
This has been a question she asks at least once a month for the past three years of our college experience. It was as if she is waiting for me to come to terms with everything. Me keeping things from her was never my intention but it’s not something I feel like discussing no matter how long it has been.
“He is…” I began to say. Everything sat at the tip of my tongue begging to confess but I suppressed the temptation like I always did and swallowed down the urge. “I think it is best for him and me to not be together, that’s all. I did him a favour.”
Abby rolls her eyes, “But you’re not happy.”
“I will be,” Abby could see that I was lying in-between my smile but I didn’t care. Saying things out loud will help make it real in some way or another… at least I hope it will.
“David is interested in you,” She smirks. “He is a perfect rebound… or a new start, I meant to say a new start.”
“It would be awkward,” I say. “Plus, I am focusing on school.”
Abby stops in her steps, “Wait, people actually do that?”
I know exactly what will happen when I open my door. I will want to rip open that envelope and devour it with my eyes. Stay strong Christy. My feet dragged behind me like I had just finished a marathon. All because my ride home and supposedly best friend Abby decided to stay longer at the café to wait to see if our professor will show up. He won’t.
I turn the silver key and push open the door. There is always something amazing about turning the key to your own place that never gets old. There it is waiting for me right where I left it. Kicking off my shoes, I get ready for bed. I went a whole entire day and most of the night. A few minutes more won’t kill me.
I never got ready for bed that fast in my life. I swear I pulled some muscles during the amazing race but overall, I feel like I won both the Olympics and genius world record for fast time getting ready for bed. I need a drink. I keep my eye on the envelope as I pour orange juice into my leopard print ceramic mug, something I enjoy doing
My fingers fiddle on the body of my mug, staring at the envelope intensely. I think at any moment either my teeth or the mug will shatter under the intense pressure of my jaw.
Cut it out, Christy.
I grab the envelope. I continue walking on the laminate wood floor towards my bedroom. I rip open the envelope and take a deep breath. Here we go.
After reading, I close my eyes.
When I open my eyes, there, in front of me is a clear car windshield. My hands remain loosely on the wheel and foot slightly on the gas. The car starts to drift to the side, I quickly get a hold of the wheel regaining the car’s control. Where am I going?
The street lines up with local shops, boutiques and mom and pop restaurants just as I remember. Everything is familiar, everything is the same except for the mystery of not knowing where I am supposed to be going.
The car dunks hard into the road. Dirty water from the big pothole slaps my car like an angry ocean wave. Same old pothole. Rumour has it, that particular pothole has been here for years yet I still forget that it exists. I can feel the shift of the car’s weight and the deflated tire rubber flapping on the ground. Great, just great. I pull over to the side of the road, leaving my hazard lights flashing ‘I am the idiot who went through the massive pothole’ behind.
My tire was confirmed dead once I made my way around to the passenger side. The tire was completely destroyed by the pothole. Not flattened or popped but completely destroyed. That pothole murdered that sucker. Not even duct tape could salvage what was left of it and believe me, I thought about it.
“Unbelievable,” I say to the only person here, me.
If that pothole could laugh, it probably would be laughing at me right now. It chose me and I foolishly fell for it, literally fell for it. The girl who knows nothing about cars is left to deal with this all by myself.
My hand searched over objects and toss the ones that I did not to one side of my bag. I search around for my phone in my purse in the car. There is a reason man call it a black hole because of as much as it holds, it takes ten times longer to find what we are looking for. My hand gets a hold of my phone and in one glance of the flashing red light, I knew my battery is completely dead. Great. You would think that a dream would provide you with at least a car charger.
When you got nothing else to do and you do not want to flag down a stranger who could potentially be a serial killer then the only option is to do it yourself. I pray that there are instructions on how to do this.
An oily car and dirt smell overpowered the air as I crouched near. After gathering all the tools that I needed and the spare tire. I crank the jack and take down the old tire. Not bad for a rookie. I mean I wish this could have been a Megan Fox moment on that Transformers movie but this wasn’t going to happen. At least not in this angle.
A black BMW pulls up in front of my vehicle. After the crackle of the gravel against the tires stopped, I could hear the car door open and see red Nike runners heading towards me. “You should not be doing this alone.”
“Thank you for your concern but I got this,” I lie. I really hope the words ’I don’t know what I am doing,’ is not written across my forehead.
“I know what I am doing-” I said before looking up to see that it was David towering over me. The sunlight gave him an angelic glow. It took me a minute to regain myself.
“Really, then you know that you have the tire on backward,” He laughs.
“Is that possible?” I say trying to dust off the dirt and grime off my hands. “Okay, so I don’t know how to do this. I was going to figure it out.”
“Oh, I see, you were going to wait until you see your tire roll ahead of you?” He asks.
“How did you know?” I laugh.
“Let me save you from yourself. Hand over the tools,” he says. I place the tools in his hands and stand up. Classic, I am a man and I can fix the situation. I’ve seen it a million times. “You don’t think that I am going to be doing all of the work, do you? Let me show you how to do this,” He continues.
I crouch down beside him. Legs begging to sit the minute I had reached his level. I dug one knee in the ground to release some pain. He reaches for my hand and guides it to the tire. His hand over the top of mine as we put the tire up on the rods that were sticking out. Arms nearly touching as we put on the bolts. Shoulders in line. I was close enough to smell him. He smelled of an oceanic soap. If oceans could have a scent, that is what he would smell like.
Why couldn’t this be a part of the driving test? I know all about women empowerment and women don’t need a man to help them but the view was all so perfect. I watch how his muscles flexed as he fixes the spare tire and tightens the bolts of the wheels with no effort at all. Grim smudged on his fingertips. It was as if it was ripped out of a page of a romance novel and the only thing missing was David ripping off his shirt. I wondered why he wasn’t dating anyone and quickly shook that thought out of my head.
“See that wasn’t so bad,” He says. He gathers the tools and jack and places it back in my car for me. By the time he cleaned up the tools, I had already sat down from a complete lack of blood in my legs. Those babies were burning so bad that I could not wait to sit in front of my car with legs straighter than popsicle sticks on the sidewalk.
“Thank you,” I say.
“You did most of the work,” He sits down next to me. He wipes his hands on a cloth he had. “Aren’t you supposed to be meeting up with Matt right now?”
“Aren’t we broken up?” I asked.
“Ha, far from it. It doesn’t seem like you two would ever break up… unless you were considering it. Are you considering that?” He asks.
“No umm… I can’t remember where I am supposed to be meeting Matt,” I say trying to save myself from causing any more damage.
“About four blocks ahead, turn right at the lights and the restaurant is on the right,” He says, “How come you didn’t call Matt?”
“My phone is dead,” I say.
“You know, I just so happen to have a phone,” He smirks.
I knew where he was going with this. That smirk of his said it all and I wasn’t going to entertain the conversation any further. “You seem so excited to change my tire and I could not bring myself to break your heart,” I smile back.
“You always break my heart,” He pauses. I could tell it was a thought that accidentally slipped out of his mouth. “Alright, well stay away from potholes. It is wise advice since you don’t have another spare tire,” He laughs.
He got into his car and gave a little honk before driving off. The car got smaller by the distance. I close the door beside me. It looks like I am heading to meet Matt at a restaurant.
In less than a second, my feet now stood in my living room of my apartment. My surrounding and home décor all looked the same. The light from the building still sparkled like it always did. The more I looked around, the more I noticed the differences. My picture of Abby and I at the lake when we were little were no longer on the shelf. It was a gift from my mom that I received three months ago. My navy-blue cushions were no longer on the couch.
David stands in front of me very unsettled, very not himself. “I wanted to tell you this before but I knew something was wrong. You looked so sad when I had shown up and I instantly lost my courage to tell you,” He pauses. “I don’t know how I can tell you this.”
I look at him curiously. “Tell me what?”
“I love you,” He sticks he hands in his pockets. “I never stopped. From the time we talked in the hallway of Matt’s building, I was hooked. I am sure you don’t remember that, though. I never knew you were my best friend’s girlfriend. I know I wasn’t living there at the time but when we met again on the subway I could have sworn that for a moment we could have had something fantastic.”
I sit down still shocked by the words. It froze me in a way that I never experienced before. It was not that I never heard those words before, clearly, I have, but from him, it felt wrong. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”
“Do you think about me?” He asks, “That even though you and Matt are back together again, do you have some sort of feelings for me too or I am not alone in this?”
I take a moment to breathe. It was a lot for a girl to take in. There was a serious look sitting on his face. A look, that I was all too familiar with. This was more than a crush, his feelings are as real as it gets.
“Did you feel something between us that day?” He asks.
I had no idea of what he was talking about. What hallway? What walk over from the subway? None of this was familiar to me. As much as I wish I could tell him that I know even a small amount of what he was talking about. I knew I didn’t. I couldn’t lie and I could tell the lack of response from me did not make David happy, “You think I can handle seeing you two together all the time. Matt was quick to move on, what does that say about him?”
That question woke my mouth. “I broke up with him. What else was he supposed to do?”
“Fight! If you love someone they fight for you,” He raises his voice.
“This has nothing to do with you,” I say.
David looks out the window. The reflection of his face in the on the glass looked lost in thought. I could only imagine what he was thinking about, wondering about me and if we would ever be more than friends. If all this love for me had been wasted on a girl whose heart would never be his.
“You never gave me a chance,” he says.
“You were too late,” My heart squeezes. All the air starts to feel like it’s being sucked out of the room. I can’t breathe. This is all too much for me, having all this thrown at me at light speed. “I just can’t- I can’t do this right now. David, you need to leave.”
David grabs his leather jacket that was hanging off the side of my stool at the kitchen island. He never even looked at me before walking out the door. As the door closed my heart began to simmer down. Smooth rhythms began its course along with my slow breaths.
I open my eyes to my bedroom and to the annoying sound of my alarm clock. The thought of David in love with me sounded out of this world. A small crush, I can live with that but love was a little far fetch for me to grasp. He never looked at me like that before and he shouldn’t, I was his best friend’s girlfriend.
Rolling over in bed, I can’t help but wonder why he was in my dream in the first place. Does David have something to do with the person sending me these dreams?