Monday, September 13, 2004


She woke from yet another dream about Peter having sex with someone from their past in front her. Again, by firelight, though this time a campfire. As her first memories of the dream passed across her conscious mind she sat straight up and grabbed the thermometer from the bedside drawer, and considered the dream while the digital meter rose. Peter. She hadn't seen him in over 15 years now. They'd grown up together, across the street. While she'd openly had crushes on him that had come and gone, he was only ever interested in her when she was with someone else. They'd left for college together and Tallie thought for sure, this would be the time -- something would happen. But what happened is that Peter had dropped out before the end of the first quarter and she'd seen him no more than 5 times since then, and even then, the last time she had just graduated herself.

It was the fourth dream of him she'd had in three months. The thermometer beeped and she pulled out her notebook and wrote the temperature down. She'd just started her period, and her temperature was higher than she expected. It was all a mystery to her, this "trying to conceive" process of tracking temperatures and cervical fluids and times of day and... She knew enough to know that she could only make herself crazy trying to read the chart as though it were meaningful yet. It was only meaningful at its end. A completely unsatisfactory thing to a person too impatient to buy even microwave popcorn, preferring the pre-popped kind.

Jason stirred beside her, wrapped a warm arm around her and she settled back against him -- the father, someday, to-be. "What time is it?" His voice was craggy and hoarse. She smiled at his sexiness.

"Time," she said.

"I hate Mondays," he said.

She chuckled. "Yeah."

She turned toward him and they grabbed each other tightly in a long embrace before pulling apart to begin the day. The dream had left her mind before she got into the shower.

Late in the afternoon, however, when her attention to work was flagging and she'd already searched through all of the websites she tended to track, she typed Peter's name into Google. None of the hits seemed likely to be related to him. On search page 15, there was something that was possibly related to him --- right age, anyway -- but it was a reference to a visiting American Literature professor at a prep school in England. Fifteen years, I suppose -- she thought -- is enough time to go back to college and become a teacher. And Peter's mother had been British. Following links through the page, she found an email address.
"Dear Prof. Peter Wilson:
I grew up across the street from a Peter Wilson in Chico, California. I've lost touch with him and would love to know how he is. Please forgive me if you are not related. I realize it's a common name. If you are related, or in fact, the same person, please drop a note to let me know. Thanks very much, Natalie Jessup"
She hesitated before hitting the send button, considering the wisdom of the impulse. For one thing, this more than likely was not the Peter she was looking for. More importantly, she wondered, why am I looking for him?

In all of the dreams Peter had come to visit her. And though she also wasn't married to Jason yet, Peter wasn't cast as a romantic interest in the dream -- just a friend with whom she had a complicated past. The dreams always started off with an exhaustive conversation about their childhood and the intervening years, and then differed in what happened next. Except that each dream ended with him having sex with one of the girls they'd both known as children or teenagers in front of a fire, and, for some reason, in front of Tallie. Not exactly to hurt her, she thought, but also not without significance.

For years she'd written her dreams down, instead of her temperature, just upon waking. She'd expected that someday, the effect would be that she would begin to understand them, and herself. She had not reached that point by the time she and Jason decided to try to have a baby, but she did have better recall.

Four dreams in three months. She knew better than to think that the real Peter Wilson could shed any light on what they meant. She believed her dreams were just her dreams, not insight into lives or consciousness beyond hers. Even if this was the right Peter, what was the purpose of contacting him? He obviously had not sought contact with her. She was easy to find. Tallie had kept her maiden name and knew for a fact she was easy to find on Google (having been "found" by other lost friends). For that matter, her mom even still lived in the same house in Chico, same phone number. Her fingers hesitated above the keyboard. What good, really, could come of trying to find him? She hadn't thought of him for years before the dreams started. They hadn't parted with anger, just a sense that there was no more connection between them. It really did seem strange to her to have multiple dreams about him. After a moment, she hit "send."

Note: I woke up with this story brewing in my head. But I really have no idea where it goes.