Before our births, void of choice, we became part of the story,
During our lives, with a choice, we can't escape the story,
After death, abandoned choice, the story continues to seep.
- Andrew Mansell

Dreams of Reality

Andrew Quested

Once the late evening rain ceased, a gentle sea breeze wandered into the void. A fresh fragrance from the conifer hedge drifted through a wide open window of the master bedroom. Anthony and Connie moved into a deeper sleep, unconscious of their bodies’ joy in the rejuvenating cool air. Earlier they had tossed and turned before dozing off in the energy-sapping sultry atmosphere that recently had a hold of the Mornington Peninsula. The sea breeze did not blow alone as it ventured further into the bedroom. It carried someone uninvited from an ancient time – a time when stories were chiselled in stone and editing of them a crime.

In the moment before wakening, Anthony felt a thrusting pelvis press upon him. The cotton sheet he had slept under lay strewn on the floor. Finger nails gently scratched his shoulder blades. From her warm breath floated Kapet incense. A talcum like powder with a subtle vanilla scent covered her being. He saw hazel eyes through her woven feathered mask.

‘You are perfect,’ she said in an Aramaic tongue. She then faded as did the breeze.

Anthony woke with his heart racing and body radiating as if he just completed a strenuous gym workout. He panted, searched for air, tried to focus. He had translated the spoken words of his dream into English without realising. His nose twitched and he sat up to a drying seaweed smell that spoiled the freshness of the room. He sensed wetness against his stomach and with fingertips felt his boxer shorts to be soiled. He glanced sideways at Connie who still slept, then shuffled to the en suite. The faintest early morning light allowed him to clean up. In a state of uneasiness he tried to comprehend what had happened and how, with who. Tiredness got the better of him though. He lumbered back to bed, shuffled one way then the other and fell asleep.

The breeze was long gone when Anthony stirred again. He relished the temperature drop back to the mid teens and turned to hold Connie but she was not beside him. The smell of eggs and burnt toast told him where she was.

‘Come on, Anthony,’ she shouted. ‘At least, share an omelette with me before I go.’

Anthony rose slowly like a shipwreck from a falling tide. He appeared rusty and without zest as he sat down at the kitchen table; finding a spot amongst a clutter of unread local newspapers, pamphlets and several essays that Connie had not yet marked. His uncombed wavy black hair and squinting eyes gave the impression of still wanting to be in bed but in no way detracted from his attractiveness. He sat bare chest, his soft olive skin and broad cut shoulders stood out above the mess. He began on a lukewarm Tasty Cheese and tomato omelette, barely noticing the fresh parsley Connie had just picked.

‘Good morning,’ he said despite his thoughts firmly centred on one thing – the woman with the mask.

‘Good morning,’ Connie echoed, ‘but I’m not sure what’s good about it?’

What have I done now? Anthony thought but said nothing. He tried to tune into Connie but the masked woman lingered. He waited for Connie to elaborate.

‘Do you think we’re having enough sex?’ she asked.

‘I think so,’ Anthony gulped, forced to put his thoughts of the masked woman on hold. ‘Why?’

‘It just seems we’re so busy at the moment.’ Connie sighed. ‘Do you know when the last time we made love was?’

Anthony hesitated before saying, ‘last weekend.’ Although he sensed it had been longer.

‘See.’ Connie tapped the table with a teaspoon, emphasizing her point. ‘You don’t even know. It was three weeks ago.’

‘I’m sorry.’ Anthony scraped deliberately at first but then with annoyance at a piece of omelette he couldn’t get on his fork as he tried to concoct something. ‘I didn’t know we were counting. In any case, I’m not a sex deprived teenager bursting with testosterone anymore.’

‘So it seems.’ Connie offered as she watched Anthony finally lift and devour the piece of omelette.

‘So it is,’ Anthony stated. ‘I’ve hit forty and begun to believe that mid life crises may really exist.’ Anthony licked his lips and looked for more food. ‘Anyway, isn’t it just part of a natural ageing process to lessen our love making load?’ He started on a piece of toast.

‘Not exactly,’ Connie scoffed. ‘And I’d hope we’re nowhere near the end of our ageing process.’ She took what appeared like a composing breath. ‘What we need is to recondition ourselves. When I was young, I didn’t work long and hard, all day long. I had plenty of time for you but now I’m continually tired and look at you. Are you alright?’

‘I’m fine, just give me till noon. You know me, getting up early fights with my nature. It has been the only constant in my life. ‘Anthony spoke while chewing a mouthful of toast, his only multitasking capability.

‘I’m trying to be serious here.’ Connie’s voice became unsympathetic. ‘Talk to me a little.’

‘Well, as you can see, the energy I did possess has been sapped and drawn from my every pore,’ Anthony said, still managing to put the woman in the mask on hold. ‘I remember being younger, full of vitality, craving hot and steamy nights, sleeping naked with a buzzing mosquito circling my ear; its bite being the only worry in the world. Has that time gone forever?’

‘Maybe, but how do you suggest we get that energy back?’

‘Sleep in longer with you for a start.’ Anthony smiled amongst a chomping chin.

‘I like the sound of that. And what happens when we sleep in longer?’

‘We’re not tired.’

‘What else?’

‘We get nothing done. Is this a new game you’re trying on me?’

‘We have more sex!’ Connie proclaimed but kept her grin intact, although it teasingly tried to express itself.

‘I knew I married you for something,’ Anthony smirked and quickly added, ‘joking, only joking.’

‘The depressing part is I can’t sleep in.’ Connie looked down at her cup of tea. She quietly finished it off.

The moment of silence gave Anthony enough space for his own thoughts to redevelop and he saw the masked woman again. He then looked at Connie. ‘Is there anything else on your mind?’

‘Do you still love me?’ Connie stared back at Anthony; her opal coloured eyes seeming to long for an answer.

‘Of course, I do!’ Anthony intently displayed a playful smile. ‘I’d still be in bed if I didn’t.’ He then noticed Connie’s eyes become brighter and asked, ‘Why don’t you stay home today? Take a day off. We could get to work right away on that sleep in.’

‘You know I can’t.’ Connie kissed Anthony on the cheek.

He had no time to return her a kiss; instead he watched her make her way out the front door. As soon as he heard the exhaust of Connie’s Golf dissipate, Anthony, the man of the house, ate another piece of toast and went back to bed. After fixing the sheet in its usual place, he slept till noon.

When Anthony woke, a french Vanilla slice in the fridge begged him to rise. As he bit into the browned puff pastry of the slice, whipped cream and custard oozed out of the edges and seemed ready to messily fall. He somehow licked and manoeuvred his mouth preventing such a prediction. When he’d finished, only a sprinkle of icing sugar remained just above his top lip. Somehow, the slice refuelled Anthony’s memory of the woman in the mask. Who was she? How on earth was it possible for a dream to have real life consequences? The woman surely had to be the same woman he’d seen in similar dreams. Six months ago, he’d caught a glimpse of the woman’s long thin arms with protruding ulna bones, highlighting her delicate fingers. Before that it was almost two years past when he’d mysteriously come into contact with the woman; only sensing her shadowy outline on that occasion. This time was different. He’d seen her hazel eyes and the mystical mask which he longed for her to take off and reveal her full self. Would that ever happen? He tried hard to imagine.

Upstairs, at the end of a converted rumpus room was the editing room as Anthony called it. He sat down on the swivel chair at his computer desk and gazed out the floor to ceiling window, offering a scary proposal of a literal fall from grace. The gravel path below wove between several Venus cherry trees with their wrinkled dark green leaves intact, hoping to hold on through autumn but knowing otherwise. The path then disappeared from Anthony’s view as it made way behind a several metre tall conifer hedge to an unmaintained area where the polygala was no longer a tourist and had taken over the rocky ground. Several cascading wooden steps wedged into the steepening path led to a steel gate signalling the end of private property. From there the path was council tarred but had been inaccessible since the wild storms of August 2010. Large sections of the precarious path had been swept down the thirty metre high cliffs to a jagged demise. Anthony’s sight of the path began again at its end, two hundred meters away, where the turquoise shallow waters of Mills beach did their best to mirror the gentle blue sky that looked upon them. On the edge of golden sands sat a row of bathing boxes with their mixed array of faded Lego block colours reflecting innocent joy of childhood play. For a moment Anthony tried to piece together the red, blue, green and yellow blocks that he imagined lying on the editing room floor. His children, James and Lilly, helped him to put the blocks together but they were also, only part of the daydream.

In the faint distance, beside Schnapper Point, Anthony could just see the outline of Mornington pier that had borne the brunt of the August storms and been closed ever since. The pounding of vicious seas and rudderless boats forced loose from their moorings had been too much for the pier to withstand as it shed heavy pieces of decking like they were splattered pickup sticks after a failed move. Could the pier’s demise be attributed to storms alone? Anthony questioned. Had the sea not been rotting the decking and rusticating the bolts that held the pier together over countless previous years, ensuring the pier’s demise regardless of a knockout punch. Anthony also wondered why the pier was still closed despite a promise of the repair works to only take four months – March 2011 and the pier still looked as if the storm had just hit.

I’m not getting much editing done, Anthony thought as procrastination and motivation played tug of war, fighting for control of his time. Instead of starting work, he logged into to his bank account to check if his monthly salary had been received and paid the mortgage. Next he browsed through more than thirty legitimate emails – leaving the spam for later. He then got distracted by, what started off as a harmless click on a link to, an article describing how the English language is regressing which included a reference to a famous and highly regarded 20th century writer. By late afternoon, he ended up reading an article how the English language was evolving, which contained references of soon to be successful, up and coming spoken word artists. He then remembered how his first editing teacher, Belinda, had told him an editor needs a quiet place free from distraction. Well, it’s definitely quiet but maybe my email and web browser need to be uninstalled and perhaps a brick wall should take the place of the window, Anthony contemplated. The brick wall did come when a cluster of grey clouds covered the sky and hid the sun as it set. Anthony worked much better at night.

Later on, he heard Connie shuffle her way up to the book room as she called it. She sat behind Anthony on the dark chocolate leather couch that squeezed in between two bookshelves. One of the bookshelves she had arranged over the past summer into fiction. Anthony labelled it with a sicker FICTION – I wish it were true. The other bookshelf Connie had filled with nonfiction and Anthony had labelled this one NON FICTION – Hard to believe. A nearby cardboard box held a pile of books Connie had not yet read and classified. On top of the pile sat Forbidden Love, a Christmas present from a few years ago. Anthony swivelled around to see Connie looking at the pile.

‘Don’t tell me your contemplating going past the front cover?’ he asked.

‘No.’ Connie shook her head. ‘So how’s this month’s edition of the Contemporary Scientist coming along?’

‘Should be ready tomorrow but you know Kevin, he’ll email something else. One of those last minute climate change articles again.’ Anthony huffed and swivelled back to face the computer. ‘We got an email from James today. He seems to have settled in well at Uni. No specifics as usual.’

‘At least he contacts us; god knows when Lilly will get in touch.’

‘I’m sure she’s fine; prolonged teenage rebellion.’ Anthony said and then realised he better ask Connie. ‘How was your day?’

‘I got stuck in a boring meeting but I caught up with Angela during a break. We had a productive chat. As a matter of fact.’ Connie grinned.

Anthony sensed a little mischief in Connie’s voice as he typed. ‘Really, what was the result of this productivity?’

Connie deliberated for a moment. ‘Have you thought about our sex life today?’

‘A little, I’ve been flat out.’ Anthony swivelled his chair around again to face Connie. ‘Perhaps the most important part of our sex life has passed – we produced two children, our small part in evolution.’

‘Christ, you sound so clinical, as if our sex life is all but over.’

‘Well, editors need to be clinical.’

Before Anthony could develop a smirk, Connie spoke in an instant, ‘forget your pompous editing line. What about now?’ She frowned. ‘Have you thought about our sex life in the present moment?’

Anthony paused and sensed no matter what he said, Connie was going to trump him. ‘I’ll be honest, no.’ Anthony sank in his chair a little.

‘I knew you wouldn’t.’ Connie barked; her frown still intact.

Anthony, lost for words, noticed the skin on Connie’s forehead seem to over tighten almost like when a child has blown a balloon up too far. He wondered if she would pop or let the air back out and was relieved to see her frown dissipate. He then waited for Connie to start blowing again.

‘There might be a solution,’ she calmly said. ‘Angela gave me the idea today that as we get older, regular sex should still happen and be a priority. In order to achieve this, we just have to be regimented about it.’

‘Do we, now?’ Anthony deliberately crossed his arms.

‘Yes. Saturday is going to be our sex day. Every Saturday, no excuses, we will make love.’

‘Is that right? Anthony emphasized and rolled the r like his Italian mother used to. ‘What if I get injured beforehand and am physically incapable?’

‘Trust you,’ Connie scoffed. ‘The only exception is hospitalisation. Some common sense needed please.’ A moment passed and she added, ’alright, let’s make and call any unforseen cases, clause 1’s.’

The word regimented lingered in Anthony’s thoughts. He wondered if sex as he thought he knew it, was about to end. ‘What about other days? I might feel a tad horny on a Sunday or you might have the urge on a Tuesday.’

‘That’s fine. What I’m stressing is that Saturdays are the bare minimum, barring any clause 1’s of course. Is this OK with you?’

‘Sure,’ Anthony said but still unsure. ‘Hang on, I thought, assumed as it appears now, that sex between partners was supposed to be guided by arousal and feeling; more related to instinct rather than something you can jot down in a diary and expect  to happen. Won’t the spontaneity be lost in our new arrangement?’

‘Maybe, but everything leading to sex begins between the ears.’ Connie said with seeming authority. ‘So, what’s the difference between spontaneity and being prepared for a certain time if it all leads to the same thing?’

‘Perhaps dinner, a movie, some sweet talk.’ Anthony smirked and waited for a reaction. He didn’t wait too long before changing tack. ‘I’m impressed.’ He was beginning to like the idea and uncrossed his arms. ‘Guaranteed regular sex should be added to all prenuptial agreements.’

Connie laughed. ‘Lucky, I’m in a good mood. You know, it will be like some people experience once in a lifetime on their wedding night. The most organised sex ever. We’ll just be missing the long abstinence beforehand.’

‘And most of the unknowns.’ Anthony threw in.

‘The nervousness as well.’ Connie continued the theme.

A pedantic thought then came to Anthony. ‘Just to clarify, Saturday, does that mean Friday night leading into Saturday or Saturday night leading into Sunday. You know, being an editor I need precision.’ Anthony scratched his unshaven chin as he spoke.

‘I’ve pencilled in 11pm on Saturday as the beginning.’

‘At least you haven’t jotted down the ending.’ Anthony couldn’t help but tease. ‘By the way, what day is it today?’

Connie shook her head but still managed a smile. ‘You have five days to prepare.’

Well, that’s the first 2 chapters (about 3000 words). If you want the remainder please donate whatever your conscience tells you and I’ll email you a word document or pdf with the remainder (another 20000 words or so). Please let me know by email after donating, so I can get the story to you ASAP. When I have the eBook completed, all who have bought the word document or pdf will get the eBook for free.



2 Responses to “Dreams of Reality”

Leave a Comment