The Package

1.26 by Janet Echelman. Montreal 2016

He dreams the only dream he has, which is to leave, go far from here because far from here he’ll be free. Free to earn a lot of money, free to spend it. That’s what freedom’s all about. He knows that from tv.

He dreams the only dream he has which is her. Fair or dark haired, he’s not sure which. Perhaps a red-head. Whoever she is, he knows her already, her light touch, her laugh, her eyes flecked golden in green, the way she stands right on the edge of the cliff, looking out to sea, leaning into the wind while he’s running up the slope, yelling at her to be careful, be careful. He loves her even though she stands too close to the edge. Her skirt whips around her legs.

He dreams the only dream he has, to be driving along the road that leads from east to west. When he’s finished driving that road, he’ll drive north to south.

He’ll be driving what his grandpa used to call an old jalopy. Gnats, mosquitoes, wasps, flies, no-see-ums will be splattered on the windshield, smears of blood that he’ll clean off when he stops at the gas station.

He’ll stop at diners too – the ‘50s kind, the kind that serve up a heart attack’s best friend, massive breakfasts of sausages, bacon, eggs, hash browns, fried tomatoes, pancakes, waffles all slathered in butter and doused in maple syrup. He’ll take a second cup of coffee, and a third because he’s in no hurry, he’s got all day, all he’s doing is driving east to west and north to south.

The radio in his jalopy will be turned to full volume, loud as it will go. He’ll sing along. But sometimes he’ll turn it off to hear the sound of the wind, especially when he’s driving through mountains or desert or meadows.

It’ll be off too when he pulls in beside a fast flowing river and the silence will sing in his head while he gets out, stretches his arms and legs, squeezes his shoulders together, sends a golden arc into the bushes.

After the silence, he’ll listen to the river that, like him, is traveling somewhere else. And he’ll listen to the rushing water as long as he likes, because he’s in no hurry.

He dreams his dreams as he sits on a park bench in the evening, listening to the kids playing in the baseball diamond, eavesdropping on their dreams, the only dreams they know, to become famous players, and, because famous, rich, and, because rich, free. That’s what freedom’s all about. They know that from the movies. He’ll listen to the thwack of ball against wood, to the groans, the sighs, the cheers.

He dreams as he sleeps long and late, of bringing everyone on his shift at the plant where he used to work, a beer after the siren’s gone. To show there’s no hard feelings after all this time.

He dreams, sitting in the broken chair on the porch, dreaming of the package the mailman will be bringing, but dream as he might, he can’t see what’s inside.


Blurt 48

Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s Not This Time of the Year Without… a dream


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