Chapter II

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Chapter II

Michelle

His smell was so comforting. His strong arms gently wrapped around her waist. “William, I love you very much,” Michelle softly whispered in his ear.

“I love you, too, Baby,” he replied. Michelle laid her head in William’s chest.

That is the only place Michelle felt safe and secure. “I want it to always be like this, Wil,” she whispered into his hairy chest.

“Love, we will always be together. My life depends on it,” Williams replied, gently kissing her forehead.

Suddenly, she jerked awake. It was her alarm. Michelle slowly rolled over to kiss her lovely William on his cheek; but there was no one to kiss. It was just a lonely pillow awaiting her kisses. She panicked; then Michelle’s heart sank. It was all a dream.

Those hauntingly realistic dreams have been part of Michelle’s life since she was at least five. The smells. The tastes. The textures. They were all so real. Yet, they were dreams. How could they seem so real? How could William be just a dream? Michelle couldn’t make sense of her dreams and their deep impact on her life. How could she live in this world when the love of her life lived in her dreams?

Michelle knew she had to get it together. She lived alone, but had lots of friends. Her girlfriends always tried setting her up on blind dates, or introduce her to their boyfriends’ or husbands’ friends, brothers, cousins, or acquaintances to no avail. Michelle always had a reason for not going on dates.

“I’m sorry, but I have a major research article due for an academic journal.”

“I’m sorry, but I promised to run errands for my mother.”

“I’m sorry, but this isn’t a good time. I’m leaving for Germany in a few days to run a marathon and I must get packed.”

“I’m sorry” was Michelle’s mantra. She wasn’t interested in meeting other men. She felt as though she would be cheating on William. She knew that was crazy talk; but Michelle’s heart belonged to William and always would belong to him.

Her mother constantly pressured Michelle about dating and marriage. “You’re not getting any younger, you know,” Her mom gently chided.

“Mom, you know I love you. I will date and get married in my own time,” Michelle retorted.

“Honey, you are 24 years old. You have never had a boyfriend; and you are always writing in your journal about that ‘William’. Baby, he’s not real.”

Michelle rolled her eyes and let out a big sigh. “I write about what is real to me, Mom. William is as real to me as you are regardless if he lives in my dreams. Yes, I know. I’m weird; but hey, I’m your daughter!” Michelle teased with a chuckle.

Mrs. Dulane just laughed, kissed Michelle on the forehead. “I’m so afraid for my baby,” Mrs. Dulane thought to herself. But, she kept smiling as not to reveal her deep concern for her only child. “I guess I’ll never had grandbabies,” she muttered.

“Huh?” Michelle asked.

“Oh, nothing, Darling. Nothing,” she responded, serving Michelle a piece of her homemade apple pie.

It was a beautiful spring day at the Arboretum. Michelle’s first grade class was on their first of several school field trips. This day was perfect. All the students seemed to behave while Mrs. Stephenson counted heads to ensure all the students had left the bus. In the distance, Michelle could see many beautiful flowers: columbine, wild hyacinth, and meadow anemone. There were so many and Michelle just wanted to experience their smells and textures.

“All-right, class,” Mrs. Stephenson shouted. “Everyone must walk in a straight line and follow the tour guide. I will walk next to the line to ensure you are on your best behaviors. Mickey’s mom, Mrs. Brown, will be in the back to make sure no one is left behind. So, let’s enjoy this beautiful arboretum.”

It’s funny what five-year-olds find important. The showing off of the first missing tooth. Jeremy’s new hair cut. Tamara’s bandaged knee. Life was so simple. It was so full of mystery and new things to discover. What did a five-year-old have to worry about except walking in a straight line through the arboretum and not tripping over untied shoes.