Aaron sat on his bench across the path, calmly sipping his Snapple, and completely oblivious to his best friend’s problem.
“I need to talk to you about something,” she finally broke the silence. “It’s going to upset you, but I need you to promise you won’t get mad.”
Aaron lowered the bottle of iced tea and chuckled.
“When has that whole ‘promise me you won’t get mad‘ demand ever worked?” he challenged with another chuckle.
Holly decided it was best to just tear off the band-aid and deal with the issue, so she blurted out, “I had a dream about you last night.”
Aaron’s jaw dropped, followed almost immediately by the bottle of Snapple. Luckily, it was a plastic bottle, so the only thing that shattered was Aaron’s fragile grip on reality.
“I don’t have that many rules, do I?” he shouted across the path as he scrambled to pick up the bottle before too much of his precious beverage had spilled.
Holly was not in the mood to be lectured. Sure, she usually allowed Aaron to dominate their Sunday chats, but she would not be bullied today.
He held up his hands in surrender after returning his mask to the ready position. “Forgive me. I misspoke. I don’t have many rules about dreaming, do I?”
Holly shook her head. “No. There’s only one.”
“And what is that rule?” he asked as he wiped grass stains off his Snapple.
“Do not dream about you,” she answered like an obedient child.
“And yet you went and broke that one simple rule,” he scolded her and shook his head in disappointment.
Aaron had a lot of fears, phobias, and quirks that caused him a great deal of anxiety. His issue with being dreamed about, however, did have grounds for such a reaction.
“In case you’ve forgotten, let’s review,” he announced. “There was the girlfriend who dreamed that I cheated on her. She slapped me for that the next morning, and then gave me crap for weeks about my being unfaithful in her dreams.”
Holly nodded because she remembered that insanity. “And it turned out it was her subconscious giving her a hard time because she was cheating on you.”
“Then there was the neighbor who dreamed I stole his beloved wrench,” Aaron continued. “The mere fact that he had a beloved wrench should tell you all you need to know, but in his dream, he broke into my house, then into my bedroom safe, and found the wrench wrapped in a silk scarf. Need I point out that I neither own a bedroom safe, nor a silk scarf?”
“Not just any wrench,” he clarified. “It was the cheapest, rustiest, most disgusting one I could find after scouring yard sales and thrift stores for months. Worth it!”
“I shouldn’t have to explain any further, but I believe in the rule of three, so I’m throwing in one more,” he continued. “The distant cousin who dreamed that I’d discovered an ancient map that led to where our long, lost family treasure was buried. She insisted I share the map, or split the treasure evenly once I found it. Of course, I come from a long line of destitute people, and if you shook our family tree, only IOUs would fall from it.”
Holly sipped her coffee and waved for him to stop.
“I’m sorry I broke your one rule of dreams, but I think you’ll like this one,” she insisted.
“Highly doubtful,” he countered and crossed his arms defiantly.
“We were stranded on a desert island…”
He cut her off immediately. “That sets off so many red flags. There’s my fear of drowning, oceans, islands (because they are surrounded by water), sharks, beaches, sand getting into bodily crevices from which it can never be removed, camping, and being forced to be a contestant on Survivor. Just to name a few.”
“How much do you pay every month for therapy?” she quipped.
That earned her an evil glare from across the path.
“Anyway, we were on a plane,” she continued. “We were the only passengers, and the crew never interacted with us during the flight. I point this out because we were required to have COVID tests before the trip, and we both came back negative.”
Aaron nodded and smiled beneath his mask because he could see where this was going.
“So when the plane crashed, and I’m assuming we were the only survivors, we were absolutely certain that we were not infected with the Coronavirus?”
“Which means that when we washed up on the shore of the uninhabited island, we knew that we had zero chance of catching the virus,” she told him what he had already concluded.
“I’m assuming we built a shelter, found a water source, and there was plenty of food for us to survive?” he asked hopefully.
“You are correct!” she assured him. “We had the tropical paradise all to ourselves, we didn’t need to wear masks, we could be within six feet of each other, and we didn’t have to worry about going to work, paying bills, or having our solitude interrupted in any way.”
Aaron took a long sip of Snapple as he pondered all the information she had shared. He formed mental pictures as he tried to imagine what every day life would be like.
“It sounds ideal, but nothing is perfect. Especially not in dreams,” he finally said.
“Find an issue that will send your stress level skyrocketing,” she challenged confidently.
He nodded and did some more deep thinking. He loved philosophical challenges such as this, but he also hated to lose.
There had to be something wrong this this paradise island scenario.
That’s when it hit him.
“Was there sexual desire between best friends?” he shouted accusingly from his bench. “All that time alone on the island must have led to sordid and tawdry behavior.”
“Don’t chastise! I time travel linguistically when I’m stressed.”
“Don’t worry, there was no Blue Lagoon like hanky panky,” she assured him. “It was more like Lord of the Flies, only without the pig’s head and so much violence.”
That seemed to appease him.
“Well, if that’s the case, I suppose it’s okay that you had a dream about me,” he relented. “It actually sounds nice to be someplace with you where we don’t have to social distance and worry about getting sick.”
“Agreed,” she replied.
Of course, she was totally lying about the sexual desire between best friend part of the dream, but what he didn’t know couldn’t cause a panic attack.
Holly smiled slyly under her mask and hoped she’d have the same dream again…
WRITER’S NOTE: While the photos in this post are mine, I cannot take credit for the brilliant chalk messages of inspiration. Those I found on the river walk this morning during my run. The mystery person who leaves them for her neighbors goes only by Chalk Gal. It enjoy photographing her work and sharing it on social media. Thanks for the messages, Chalk Gal!