Read Connected—Part 1
I mull over Leanna and our latest outing. I’m unable to focus on anything but her.
She doesn’t seem to mind that we always meet at Pedion Areos. I bring her here because it’s safe—safe for me, but safe for her, too. It helps me focus and stay calm. Not that I worry about physical harm. No one is looking for us or threatening to separate us. For Lee Anne, it’s the emotional strain of leaving a familiar place that concerns me.
I’m her imaginary supporter, someone her subconscious conjures up to help her through difficult moments or give her confidence when she doubts herself. Lee Anne believes her imagination fabricated the park as well. It’s peaceful and serene, a place to find a respite from the stress she experiences while awake. We meet there because it’s her sanctuary, her refuge. She has no idea it’s a public park in Athens, near the polykatoikia where I live.
She doesn’t realize that I live in Athens, or that our heritage connects us and sustains our unique gift. When we’re together, she sees Pedion Areos through my eyes, my mind. When I want to visit her, the park’s setting accommodates the interaction. It helps me locate my inner calm, focus my mind, and summon her. I imagine I’m strolling along the asphalt pathway where it curves to the left. I concentrate on seeing her come toward me, and our minds link.
When I first found Lee Anne, we were much younger. I dreamed I was in her playground, watching her swing. I was certain I imagined her, that she only existed in my dreams. And then I learned the truth. She is a living, breathing being and we are connected through a psychic bond.
She has the same abilities as me, but doesn’t realize it. I want to explain, to initiate her into our shared world and clarify that my existence is merely a part of it. But the phenomenon of our connection, why we can meet the way we do, is hard to understand. I don’t fully grasp it after eight years. Yet I’ll be the one challenging her perception of me as an invented confidant, describing a paranormal tie that I don’t fully comprehend. Will she believe me when I tell her? Part of me dreads the answer. It could mean the end of our friendship and our closeness, which would devastate us both. But the revelation may catapult our relationship to a higher plane and bring us together in the physical world. I’m ready to move forward—to hold her hand and touch her hair in the here and now rather than a dream.
This morning I tried to alert her that things could change, prepare her for the enigma that enables our relationship. But her alarm went off and the dream ended. Judging by Lee Anne’s expression before she disappeared, the only thing I managed to do was frighten her.
Last night’s dream replays in my mind, especially the end, when Stephan told me a major turning point is coming in our relationship. I asked him what he meant, and he said it will happen when I’m ready.
He frustrates me. I don’t understand this cryptic message. I usually enjoy his company and I’m relaxed around him. He’s my getaway person—the companion my subconscious rouses when I need to combat stress. But this time, my encounter with him resulted in anxiety. We took a walk in the park, rode bikes, and ate ice cream. I shared the issues on my mind, and he listened. So why am I anxious over his parting comment? Didn’t I generate it? After all, my mind created the entire dream sequence.
The clock chimes nine o’clock, and I jump, startled. Early morning is turning into mid-morning, so I grab my coat and leave my apartment on North Charles Street for the drive to the Johns Hopkins campus. First a quick stop at the coffee shop for a mocha latte, then I park and walk toward Wyman Quad. The air is brisk even though the sun is bright. I scan for Jay and see him lying on the grassy lawn with his backpack wedged under his reddish-blond head. His eyes are closed, and black earbuds protrude from his ears. He’s wearing a grey Hopkins sweatshirt.
“Hey, Jay.” I flop down next to him.
“Hey yourself, Lee Anna banana.” He opens his eyes. They crinkle into narrow slits as he smiles at me.
“Jay, do you ever have recurring dreams?” Ugh. The words shoot out of my mouth before I can stop them.
“Uh, I don’t think so. Why? Do you?”
I sip my coffee, contemplating how to answer. I want to tell him about Stephan and my dreams, but I can’t find the right words. Jay’s a sweet, smart, witty guy, but he’s a country boy from the Eastern Shore. He rides dirt bikes, goes crabbing, and drinks Natty Boh. I wonder how he’ll react if I lead him into a discussion on “feelings” and the meaning of dreams.
Jay pulls the tiny headphones out of his ears and tilts his head toward me. “So, tell me, Lee Anne, what’s up? Do you have troubling dreams?” He studies me, his eyebrows drawn in concern.
“Not really.” I set my coffee on the grass and decide to disclose everything. “I have this recurring dream. It’s weird, really. The dream isn’t always the same. But it’s about the same person. We’re in the same park and we ride bikes or walk along the path. There’s a small lake, and sometimes we feed the ducks. We talk and listen to each other. But in my dream last night, he said something disturbing. He told me the time was coming soon for a major turning point in our relationship. It made me… well… uneasy.”
Jay sits up and arches his back in a stretch. “You acquainted with this guy?”
“Well, no, but yes,” I reply. “I’ve never met or seen him, but he’s been in my dreams since I was eleven. I’d say he was thirteen back then. As I get older, he does too.”
I can tell Jay is interested. Eagerness replaces concern, and he sits straighter. “How often is he in your dreams?”
“About once a month. Sometimes more if I’m stressed, sometimes less if my life is running smoothly.” My fingers are fidgety, so I pick a blade of grass and tie it into a knot as I talk. “Do you think my subconscious is preparing me for something?”
“Dream interpretation isn’t my thing,” Jay says. “But if that’s what’s happening, you’d probably have an idea of what’s approaching. Anything come to mind?”
“Just mid-term exams.”
Jay shakes his head, then winks at me. “Nah. If that were it, that dream guy would be helping you study.”
I laugh, and Jay sprawls on the grass with his head resting on the backpack. His eyes close as he speaks.
“Eight years is a long time to dream about someone, especially a guy you haven’t met. Are you sure he isn’t a distant cousin you saw at a family reunion or some other event?”
“Mmmm. Possibly. He’s always telling me we have a connection.”
“Could be your subconscious wants to see him again.” Jay turns his head toward me, opens one eye, and playfully pokes me in the side. “So, what’s he like? Should I be jealous?”
“His name is Stephan. He’s 21 or 22 years old, almost six feet tall, and has brown hair and an olive complexion. He talks with an accent. Maybe Greek or Italian.” I pause, then try to put my thoughts of him into words.
“He knows me… exactly what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling… which makes sense if my mind created him.” I pick another sliver of grass and contort it into a knot. “It’s just that Stephan… and the dreams… are very realistic. Not like other dreams I have. I don’t even remember most of those after I wake up. But I remember the dreams with Stephan. Sometimes I remember them years later. I even remember my first dream with him.”
“Greek or Italian, huh? Well, since you’re Greek, you should research your family tree. Who knows, you may locate Stephan and see that he is a cousin or something. Do you have family in Greece or Italy?”
“My grandmother grew up in Athens, but she lives in Greektown now. Her cousin Athanasia is still there, in Athens. I’ve met her, but it was years ago.”
“You should call her and mention Stephan. See what she says.” Jay pauses, then grins and waggles his brows. “Or you can visit her in Athens. In December, over winter break. And I’ll go with you.”
Find out how Lee Anne first met Stephan in “The Boy in the Woods,” a short story on CoffeeHouseWriters.com.