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For all those little papers scattered across your desk

Dreamscape—You Are My Sunshine

Written 19 Jul 2019 by D. Ben Knoble

The first time I wrote a piece in what I now call the “Dreamscape collection,” I imagined a world where I could fall asleep and wake up next to the ones I loved, living out impossible dreams in my sleep. I am convinced that this was the expression of not being able to spend peaceful nights with these loved ones… the blissful yearning of a teenager, perhaps.

As time passed, form evolved, becoming letters and sagas. Each was a way for very real characters to metaphorically process.

Now, I have found the one who will share all my nights. She will share my forever. This dream is for her, my brightest and most beautiful soulmate.

“I know, Mom. I see the clouds. Gonna be a nasty weekend.” Peering out the blinds, he knew she—his she, not his mom—wouldn’t be able to make the drive. Not all the way across the state, not in this weather. He sighed. “At least we’ll have the kitties. I love you.”

He said a silent prayer for her. Be safe, my sunshine. With the rain plinking on the tin roof, he was fast asleep.

He woke shivering, clothes and hair matted against his skin. It was like camping in the rain without a tent: why did it have to be storming in his dreams too? He had to find her… Oh, but he could still remember that nervous first time…

They had only just met that morning, really. He had been giddy all day afterwards and would later learn that she smiled all the way home. He hadn’t been sure sleep would come, questions rattling around in his head, everything still new, confused, and had she maybe even flirted with him too? It had been so long… Eventually, of course, he drifted off. And there in the Dreamscape, too excited to sit still, he flew. Imagine his shock when he saw her, lying against the grass, staring up at the sky, watching him. How could she be here? And yet there she was.

It was long minutes before he could work up the nerve to come down.

“Um, hey. Were you watching me?”

“I’m not sure. Was I supposed to?”

Even her voice was perfectly her—this was no dream. It was definitely her, here, in this magic. And, if he was honest, it frightened him a little. Enough that he woke up and called his close friend, trying to come back to Earth. He steeled himself to win her slowly, to step and step and step until maybe she might want to be with him.

A few short days later, he found her in his dreams again. “Come with me,” he said. “There’s something I need to say to you but cannot. I will show you.” So he taught her to fly with him, and they soared up to a very special peak. Below them, he explained, was the land of Ack. Down there, they could find a great deal of art, if only they were patient enough. And hopefully, he said, they would find a piece he had been searching for.

“What is it?”

“I cannot tell you. Not yet.”

And so they searched and searched, patiently at times, at others it seemed they would draw so close, only to remember themselves. Neither could get a handle on the other. Finally, though, they found the misshapen lump of red rock. “This,” he declared. She studied it.

“But what is it? It rather resembles a heart…”

Indeed, he thought. “What do you think it is?”

“Perhaps a molten, red sun. But why show me this?”

And so, with some prompting, he confessed he hadn’t stopped thinking about her. Luckily for him, neither had she. And she wasn’t (to appearance) nearly so nervous about saying it as he was.

That one dream had led to so many adventures, some patient, others… not so much. They continued to meet, to love, to stare at each other when the other wasn’t looking. The days grew longer, the nights shorter… which reminded him. There was no day at the moment—it was storming. He hadn’t seen it like this in years, and even then it was usually his grief that affected the weather so. He had to find her.

Find her he did, on their little island. A slice of paradise, just for them, as he usually thought of it. Just there, a little beach cove on which they had lain so many times. And there, in the distance, the strangely infinite mountain they had hiked and climbed, never the same twice. Just beyond, their vegetable garden, a sprawling, wild growth.

Today, though, unlike so many others, the sea churned, the sky was gray like ash, the garden was sodden, squishy, muddy. Even the mountain looked particularly jagged. And the incessant rain, as though the sky itself cried.

So did she. Alone, on a rock in the sea, battered by waves, she cried. She screamed, large, and then shrunk in oh-so-small, unable to let anyone see her even breathe. Shivering, she hugged herself and rocked, bare against the weather.

He could just catch her soft cries: “What is wrong with me? What is wrong with me?”

And so he did the only thing he knew to do: he sang.

You are my sunshine,
my only sunshine.
You make me happy
when skies are gray.
You'll never know, dear,
how much I love you,
so please don't take my sunshine away.

It was the song of storms and sun, of mothers and children, of lovers and loved, and it beat within him like a fiery drum. More than anything he had ever known, this was truth. This was forever.

And then he scooped her into his arms and whispered, “Nothing is wrong with you. Do you see the trees? Perfect creations. And the flowers? And the vegetables you adore so much? And the birds and the bees and all of this world? They are perfect creations. Not because we dream them, for they are beyond us. They are perfect in their own creation. And so, my love, are you.

“Just as the sun shines perfectly, and the Earth is just the right tilt to have produced you and me and the seasons and this wonderfully beautiful life, so do you shine perfectly. Brightly. Don’t take my sunshine away.”

But the storm raged on, and they were swept away into the ocean.

The next day, the clouds had parted. The grass glistened, wet, and the great oaks in the yard bowed under a heavy weight. But it was true daylight: the sun shone again. The air pressed close and warm against him, whispering, “Go… go…” And so he got into his car and drove towards his very real sunshine, smiling like a complete fool.

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