Waiting for the Light to Change

I lay in the dark, roiling in the emotions of my last dream. If Bob were to ask, as he does most mornings, I would say, “I dreamed I lost my purse.” If I were in a hurry to get my caffeine fix, I’d stop there and get up. Instead I stretch my legs into our down comforters and dig deeper.

I dreamt that I was standing on a crowded New York sidewalk waiting for the light to change, talking with a tall woman in a long, red cashmere coat that matched her lipstick. I’d met her before and was searching for her name, watching her lips move without hearing her words. A woman on my left, younger and shorter, spoke. What a coincidence, I thought. I know her, too.

I nodded to the woman on my left and glancing right, roped in the woman in red. And then, I surprised myself by pulling out a name: Mary. The three of us were fully engaged now, so I pulled out some earrings and put my black-handled faux alligator purse on a patch of sidewalk, careful not to set it on a wad of chewing gum. We held the shiny baubles up to our ears and inspected each other. Time stalled as the crowd thickened around us.

And then in an instant, the woman on my left stepped on to a bus, the light changed, the tide of human bodies was unleashed, and Mary disappeared. I reached for my purse, and it was gone. I plowed through the river of feet and heads, searching in vain for the woman with the bright red lipstick. I ran back to the corner where we had stood, like a hound that had lost the scent.

My wallet, phone, change purse – everything vanished in an instant. I didn’t even have a quarter for the payphone, so I could call Bob and say, “Quick, cancel my cards.”

Later, in a daylit hotel bathroom that felt exactly like our airy bathroom in the Belizean rain forest, I stood before the mirror, trying to insert an earring into the pocket between a lower canine and my gums. The ornaments resembled top-heavy letter openers. I thought that if I could get three of them in there, they would support each other, like when I wedge multiple serving spoons in the plastic cup that hangs off the side of my dish drainer. One spoon will topple out, but three take up enough space to prevent that.

I wasn’t having much luck. The first earring kept falling out, slicing my gum before I could pick up a second one and wedge it in there. I looked at the blood in the mirror and saw Mary’s red lips, her pale skin framed in dark hair, and her beautiful red coat.

Satisfied with how I’ve rescued the remnants of my dream, I open my eyes. The light is thicker now. I have no idea what this dream was about, but I’m glad I took the time to capture the mood and the colors, even if their meaning eludes me — happy that I waited for the light to change.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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