“Miss Joan Henderson?”
“That’s me.” I reached out and shook the man’s hand. This was my first time seeing a psychologist.
“I’m Doctor Bisset. Come on in, take a seat.” He shut the door behind him and sat down at his desk. “What brings you in today, Joan?”
“Well...I’ve been having this dream for a while now. It’s sort of been bothering me.”
“Is it a nightmare?” he opened up his laptop, to take notes, I’m sure.
“Not exactly. I mean, I’m not scared in the dream...it’s when I wake up that I feel this overwhelming anxiety.” I looked at the floor. I had never spoken of this recurring dream before. It felt weird hearing the words out loud.
“Alright. So you’re having a recurring dream and it has caused you anxiety. Would you say that this anxiety is having an effect on your daily life?”
“Okay. Well, what I would like to start with is the dream itself. Are you able to share it with me? If you have a hard time expressing it in words, you are welcome to draw pictures.” He pointed to some white paper.
“No, I can talk. Every night, the dream is exactly the same. It starts out in my neighborhood. It’s a crisp, fall day, and there are colored leaves coating the ground. I’m standing outside with my mom, and we are about to walk to our new neighbors’ house, a few houses up the street. The neighbors just moved in, and we are going over to welcome them. We go over, and a man and woman answer the door. They are friendly, and they invite us in. They introduce themselves as husband and wife. The man is French, and the woman is Italian. The four of us engage in some pleasant conversation for a few minutes, but that part is always blurry. I never know what the four of us talk about.”
“The voices are muffled?" Doctor Bisset stopped me.
“Yes, the voices are muffled. But, I can tell it’s a nice conversation because we all look happy. All of the sudden, after a few minutes of muffled conversation, the woman asks my mom and I if we would like to stay for dinner, and we accept. The voices are no longer muffled. The woman is telling us the story of how her and her husband met, in a park just south of Paris. The two of them are setting the table, when we notice the husband give his wife a worried glance. All of the sudden, they both vanish. It appears as if they get sucked into the China cabinet next to the table. When this happens, my mom and I look at each other in disbelief, and we open the drawer of the China cabinet, as if we will find them inside, or be able to look into another dimension or something.”
“What do you see when you open the drawer?” Doctor Bisset inquired.
“Nothing. We don’t see anything. It’s just an empty drawer. We go home, and over time, we forget about that day and about the man and woman we met. It’s like the events are erased from our memories, slowly.”
“How do you know you are forgetting?”
“I just know, somehow. It’s like I, the dreamer, am aware that I am dreaming. It’s like I am watching my dream from the outside, like a movie. In the dream I am not myself, I am one of the characters.” I started to get a little nervous.
“Don’t worry, just continue when you’re ready.”
“Okay.” I took a breath. “Well, you know how sometimes in dreams we can skip time? Like...fast forward years? Well, all of a sudden, in my dream, it’s 15 years later. I’m 30 and my mom is 55. I’m home for a visit, back in my parents house. The house I lived in when the dream began. Only, it’s like deja vu, 15 years later. My mom tells me that some new people just moved in across the street, a few houses up, and invites me to go over and meet them. I go with her, and we walk over to the same house that we went to at the beginning of the dream, but we don’t know that it’s the same house, because we have no memories of that day. We go over and ring the doorbell. The door opens and we are greeted by a man and woman, introducing themselves as husband and wife. The woman is Italian, and the man is French, and they have a fifteen year old son. They tell us it’s their first time in America. Then, the same thing happens. We are all sitting around the kitchen table, having a conversation, which is muffled. The woman smiles at us, and all of the sudden my mom and I remember, at the same time, and realize that it’s the same people, but fifteen years later, and with a son. Her and I look at each other, and I know she has remembered, too. Then I wake up.”
“Okay. Thank you for sharing. Now, I want to try to dissect this a little bit...try to find out what’s causing you to repeatedly dream this, and why exactly it’s giving you so much anxiety. So let me ask: in the dream, what kind of feeling do you have towards the man and woman? Do you think they are evil? Are you afraid of them, or fear they mean you or your mother harm?”
“No. Not anymore. When I first started having the dream, I was afraid of them, but only after I woke up. Now I’m just afraid of myself.”
“Okay, and why do you think you are afraid of yourself? Can you explain what you mean by that?” he stopped typing and looked at me.
“Well, in the dream, my mom and I both feel very trusting of them. We really think a lot of them. Our first impression is really great, and we have this sense that they are really good people. This is why I am uneasy about the disappearance. The way they get sucked into the China cabinet...it’s so unreal, it’s impossible...like something you would watch in a movie.”
“Okay, let me stop you. I might be onto something. Is it possible that all of this translates into a lack of faith in humanity? Do you believe that good people still exist, or do you think it’s impossible that there are still “good” people out there?”
“No...I believe there are still good people. I don’t think that my anxiety is caused by the other people in my dream. I think it stems from within me...like, I feel connected to the people in those dreams, as if they are real.” I stopped and took a deep breath. “I’m worried that I’m paranoid.”
“Paranoid about what?”
“I think...I think...I’m not dreaming. I’m remembering.”
“Remembering? What do you mean? Like, you think you have met this man and woman before?”
“No. It feels deeper than that. It sounds crazy...and I can’t explain it...but, I feel like I’m remembering events from my life, like...from a different reality.” I looked up at Dr. Bisset, but he didn’t say anything. “Please don’t admit me to a mental hospital. I promise I’m not crazy.”
“I don’t think you are crazy. I am glad you are sharing your feelings openly, so we can get to the bottom of this.”
“Okay. But...is it okay if we just stop talking about this for a few minutes? I just need to calm down and try to refocus my energy...clear my head.”
I looked at his desk and saw a photograph of him with an older man and woman.
“Who are those people with you in that photograph?”
“Oh, those are my parents, Pierre and Maria.” I looked into his eyes, and a flash of images came flooding through my mind.
“Joan? Joan, are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Pierre and Maria? As in...Pierre, from France, and Maria, from Italy? Doctor Bisset, what’s your first name?”
“Oh...this can’t be real. This cannot be happening.”
“Joan, what is it?”
“You’re their son… your parents are the man and woman from my dreams.”
© 2019 Jillian Cleland
Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on July 18, 2020:
Oh God! Brilliant story with such a thrill
Lots of love and blessings Jillian
Jillian Cleland (author) from Kent, Ohio on December 06, 2019:
Liz Westwood from UK on December 06, 2019:
This is a great exercise in narrative writing. I was fascinated by your development of a plot via a simple conversation technique.
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on December 01, 2019:
Wow, that certainly had a surprise ending. I enjoyed this piece of flash fiction.
Rosina S Khan on December 01, 2019:
Excellent crafting of a fiction story, Jillian with an awesome, jaw-dropping conclusion. I simply loved it. Thank you for such an upbeat contribution.