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Authors: James L. Rubart

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The Five Times I Met Myself (6 page)

BOOK: The Five Times I Met Myself
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“What’s the point of doing it?”

“If you get good at it, you can control your dreams.”

“What do you mean
control
?” Karissa turned back over.

“You can decide what happens in the dream. People, places, conversations, outcomes. It’s like being the director of a movie where you’re also the lead actor, and you’re in control of the other
actors. And you can control the extraordinary things that happen in dreams.”

“Like make yourself fly, or instantly travel from one place to another? Or talk to people from your childhood?”

“Exactly.”

“Limited only by your imagination.”

“Yes. The laws of physics no longer apply. And yet every one of your senses is working. Touch, taste, feel, sight, hearing . . . you can’t imagine the Black Forest cake I ate.”

“But again, what’s the point?” Karissa stretched out her legs. “Why write a whole book on it? Why try to do it?”

“It’s a tremendous tool for creativity. For healing fears. For problem solving. People with nightmares can end them by getting proficient at lucid dreaming. People learn to become public speakers, get better at sports, dance, even painting. Brain activity during the dream is the same as it would be during a real-life event—the neuron patterns needed for any skill can be embedded into the brain while sleeping, and you won’t lose them when you wake up. Emotions too.”

“You didn’t answer my question.” Karissa’s voice grew intense. “Why are you doing it? You.”

He stared at her for a few moments before answering. “Because I’ve been having dreams where my dad shows up, and I’d like to be able to make them stop.”

“Tell me.”

So he did, and when he finished, Karissa took his hand. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

“What’s he trying to tell you?”

“I don’t know.”

She surprised him by not pressing the issue, and surprised him even more with her next suggestion.

“If you get good at it, maybe it could be our wind.” Karissa turned over. “Good night.”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re saying I should try to bring you into one of my dreams.” A shred of hope rose inside. “Interact with you.”

“Your idea, not mine. Good night, Brock.” Karissa slid the pink earplugs into her ears to mute his snoring when it fired up. “Happy sailing.”

Brock lay with eyes open, mulling over the idea. What if he were to try to go back to their beginning and relive the emotions they had when they first dated? Wasn’t that technique supposed to rekindle long-dormant feelings between couples? Plus it would take his mind off his worry about Black Fedora and might be an excellent way to dampen his emotional encounter with Sheila as well.

There was no guarantee he would slip into a lucid dreaming state tonight, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. He scanned the page of steps, set the book down, and closed his eyes, then slowed his breathing and shot up a quick prayer.

Karissa’s right, Lord. This might be the wind we need. Take me there tonight? Please?

Chapter 6

A
s soon as the dream started, Brock knew he was in control, and although the edges of his vision were hazy, as if looking through water, the rest was clear. By the looks of what lay in front of him, God had done a perfect job setting the scene.

He sat with Karissa on the west end of the vast lawn next to Woodland Park Zoo in north Seattle. It was the spot where he’d given her a promise ring during the summer of ’86 after they’d been dating for eleven months. Too soon for an engagement ring, but he’d decided to make it clear he wanted to veer onto the road of serious relationship.

“Hey, are you with me?” Karissa leaned forward and tapped him on the nose.

A moment later the scene faded and he found himself standing at the fifty-yard line inside the Seahawks’ stadium. He watched them score a touchdown on a screen pass that caught the other team napping. He shook his head.
C’mon, you can do this!

“Brock?”

The zoo and lawn and Karissa undulated as if they were in a wave pool. “Yeah, I’m here. But feels like I’m dreaming.”

He concentrated hard, and everything around him came into even clearer focus. Though Brock knew he was inside his own dream, the experience felt as real as it had the first time. As he stared at her, all the emotions and memories of that day streamed back into his consciousness. His frayed nerves at whether she’d even take the ring, his effort to figure out the right moment to give it to her, the hours he’d taken to make a little box out of wood to hold the ring. And now she held it, eyes bright.

“Me too. Dream come true.” She raised her hand and let the sunlight play on the amethyst ring. “It’s perfect.”

He stared at her dark-brown hair and the curve of her cheeks as they flowed into her neck. Skin so smooth, and those eyes. For Brock, it had always been about Karissa’s eyes. Three different shades of amber, depending on the light and her mood.

“You trying to get serious with me?”

“Without question.” He settled onto one elbow on the park’s thick grass. “Want to hear something crazy?”

“Sure.”

“This really is a dream. This day happened, but a long time ago.”

Karissa frowned. “What do you mean?”

“But I’m so glad I’m reliving it. I think you might be right. This type of dreaming might be able to bring healing. Because right now? I’m remembering how in love I am with you.”

“You’re not making a lot of sense.” Karissa shifted on the lawn and frowned.

“Probably because I’m fifty-three years old.” He laughed at himself. “My mind was a little more supple at twenty-four.”

“You’re fifty-three, huh?” She pulled her head back a few inches.

“In real life, yes, but not here. Here I’m young again. Pretty nice, actually.”

Karissa’s frown was now tinged with fear. “This isn’t funny.”

“Sorry, forget I said anything.” Brock rolled onto his back and closed his eyes. “But I’m going to do this again. Come back into the past and visit us. It’s definitely a good thing.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“I just told you.” Brock turned his head, opened his eyes, and squinted at her through the sunlight framing her head. “To remember what it was like.”

He let his head settle back down on the warm lawn and closed his eyes again. So easy to forget where they’d come from. What a gift to be able to go back and repour that foundation. When he woke up he’d have to call Morgan and thank him.

“Here.” Something landed on Brock’s stomach and he opened his eyes. He lifted his head and spotted the box the ring had come in. He picked it up. The ring was back inside.

“Keep it a little longer, okay?” Karissa stood and brushed off her shorts.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” She slipped on her Disneyland sweatshirt and gave him a plastic smile. “I need to go.”

“What are you doing?” Brock clambered to his knees, then to his feet.

“I’m fine, I just need to go.”

“Is it something I—”

“Yes, absolutely it’s something you said.” She waved her hand at the spot where they’d sat. “All your talk of being old and not
really being here, and it being a dream, and bringing back what we once had makes me uncomfortable, okay? I’m not ready to talk about us being married in the past tense. I don’t know if I’m even ready to talk about us being married in the future. Can we slow this down?”

It was a rhetorical question, so Brock didn’t respond. She gave an exasperated sigh and shook her head. “I’ll be fine, but be back to being Brock next time I see you, okay?”

Karissa turned and trudged off.

“Karissa, I didn’t—”

“We’re good, don’t worry about it. Really.”

As Brock watched her go, he realized there was a great deal he needed to learn about lucid dreaming. But interacting with the Karissa from his past was a great way to practice, because the feelings of being with her again in the early days had certainly created a welcome breeze. If only he could figure out a way to keep it blowing.

Chapter 7

M
AY
16, 2015

E
arly morning light angled through the kitchen windows as Brock stirred a rich concoction of hollandaise sauce and glanced at the eggs simmering on the stove. Every Saturday morning from the time Tyson was young, Brock had made his own special concoction of eggs Benedict. Karissa had never been into cooking beyond the basics, but Brock couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t enjoyed exploring the vast landscape of what could be created in the kitchen. He had a gift for it. It wasn’t much different from what he did for Black Fedora. But cooking offered so much more variety than developing new flavors of coffee.

Tyson sauntered into the kitchen and flopped into a chair next to the table. Looked like he just got a haircut. Short, neat, all hairs in place. Went well with his perpetual smile.

“What’re you making, Dad?”

“Do you have to ask?” He glanced up and winked at his son.

“Nah. I could smell it all the way upstairs. But I would’ve known even if I couldn’t smell it.”

Brock smiled and turned back to his creation. Slice the ham ultrathin and overlap the pieces so you barely had to chew it, lay it on a lightly buttered English muffin, then the egg, drizzle on the sauce, sprinkle a few capers on top—not enough to steal the flavor, just to enhance it a bit. Next, give it two—sometimes three—slices of fresh avocado, and place a half spoonful of finely diced tomatoes on the side.

Finally, serve with a flourish and say something stupid like, “Voilà!” and watch your son roll his eyes at you, but know underneath that he won’t ever stop loving the way his strange father serves up Saturday-morning breakfast.

“Is Mom joining us?”

“She was still asleep when I came out.”

“Why does she sleep so long on Saturday mornings these days?”

“Tired I guess.” Brock shrugged.

“From what?”

It was a good question without concrete answers. It wasn’t that many years ago that Karissa and he would get up at the same time on Saturday and Sunday mornings, grab coffee, and sit out on their back deck, rain, shine, or fog. They would review the week that just ended and talk about the week coming up. They’d read Oswald Chambers or
God Calling
—what Karissa called the Green Ladies because of the two authors and the color of the book’s cover—and then spend a few minutes praying together.

Wasn’t that more than a few years back? Yeah, it was. At least six. He couldn’t remember why they’d stopped, just that there had been a slow slide from doing it five mornings a week, to three, to just on Saturdays, till they didn’t sit down at all.

These days, Karissa slept till almost nine most Saturdays, and Brock had gotten used to having coffee alone. More than grown used to it, he probably would be irritated if Karissa walked into his den as he geared up for the day.

They had always said they wouldn’t look at each other once the nest was empty and ask, “Do I even know you anymore?” But today Brock knew he’d be asking once Tyson left, and he had little doubt Karissa would be too.

“You know, if you don’t sell your recipe to some restaurant, you’re an idiot.”

“What?”

Tyson’s comment brought him back to the present.

“Write the thing up, show it to a few nice Seattle restaurants. Sell the thing. Don’t be stupid.”

“I think that’s a compliment.”

“Yeah, it is.” Tyson threw back a glass of orange juice and poured himself another half glass. “Wake up and do it.”

“I cook for you guys, for myself, not for other people.”

Back in his midthirties, Brock had considered pursuing cooking more seriously, but he never wanted it to turn into a job. It was his escape, and he’d always worried that if he attached dollar signs to the thing that brought him a river of joy, the joy would seep away till he was standing in a dry creek bed.

“I get that.” Tyson dropped his fork on his now-empty plate and it clanged like a bell. “I’m just saying you could make some money if you let a few more people in on your secret sauce.”

“Then it’s not secret any longer.”

“There’s this cool verse in the Bible about not exasperating your kids. I think you should look it up.”

“Thanks for the tip.”

After breakfast, Brock went to his den to check the number of hits on Black Fedora’s new website. Yes. Traffic was up again for the fourth straight month.

An hour later, Karissa strolled into the room, combing the tangles out of her long hair.

“I think I missed breakfast again.”

“I made you an eggs Benedict. It’s in the oven.”

“Thanks.” She stood and stared at the floor for a few seconds. “So? Did it work?”

“What? Dreaming about you?”

“Yeah, did you do the lucy dreaming and talk to me inside your dream?”

“Lucid, not lucy.”

“I know.” Karissa smiled. “Just trying to interject a puff of humor-wind into the sails. So, did you?”

“It was amazing.” Brock leaned back from his monitor.

“Really? Tell me.”

He smiled and shook his head. “It was so real. And you were so beautiful. It was the day I gave you that amethyst promise ring at Woodland Park Zoo.”

“That was a weird day.” She frowned as if trying to remember.

“It was a great day. It was the pre-engagement engagement ring.”

“Yeah, but there was something about it that was strange, wasn’t there?”

“Sunshine, warm weather, sub sandwiches, a few games of cribbage, and me giving you the ring . . . nothing strange that I recall.”

“It’s funny.” Karissa gave him a puzzled look. “I thought you . . . wow, it’s been so long, but I thought you gave me the ring at dinner the next night, not on the lawn.”

“No, it was on the lawn.”

“Doesn’t matter.” She waved her hand in dismissal. “But did it work? Did it bring back feelings?”

“It did.” He smiled, stood, and wrapped her up in his arms. “We’re going to make it.”

“I hope so.” She gave him a light squeeze back. “Are you going to work today?”

“Just for a few hours.”

She blew out a long breath and bit her lower lip.

“What?”

BOOK: The Five Times I Met Myself
10Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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