Tess has joined the dream.
“Shit, what the hell is going on?”
Matt was in a dark hallway, being followed by something that could have been a childhood bully, a goblin or his co-worker that droned on too long at meetings. It seemed to change with each step.
Cleo was dancing, but clearly getting tired, and the audience looked bored.
“Oh shit, Tess, are you here now?” Cleo stopped dancing, “Matt, forget that thing, Tess is here.”
“Oh, thank god.”
The hallway and monster disappeared. The audience and stage disappeared. There were just the three of them in an empty space waiting to be filled.
The programmed was billed as “Zoom for Dreams.” Virtual reality, but better.
“Is this supposed to be in black and white?” Tess asked.
“That’s how I dream,” Matt said.
Tess reached out and grabbed Matt’s hand. She concentrated, and then everything was in vibrant color. Cleo’s lips were such a bright red, brighter even than the shade she wore in the waking world.
“Wow, color. How did you know that that would work?”
“It’s a dream, why shouldn’t it work?”
Cleo snapped and they were in a park. Matt blinked, and they all had pink ice cream cones that tasted like chocolate.
“So, how have you guys been?”
“Good. Eric was a little weird about me trying this. I think he thought I’d do it with him first. But, I wanted to test it with you two first. I wanted to see how much subconscious bleed there is.”
In the time they’d been friends, this was Matt’s first serious relationship. It was understandable if he wasn’t ready for Eric to see everything yet.
“Ugh, you two are so cute. Even when you’re fighting,” said Cleo. Her ice cream had turned into a bird.
“We don’t fight, we… squabble.”
“Aaargh, even cuter!”
“Tess, how have you been?”
A tree got struck by lightning. Matt’s ice cream started to melt. A patch of grass caved in.
“Fabulous!” she said as lightning hit the same tree again, “I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ll settle into bed, put on some white noise. But then, I’m just afraid to close my eyes. It’s not that I’m afraid of sleeping. I’m afraid of not being awake.”
Cleo’s bird hopped to Tess’s hand. It sang a melody that eventually became a Cranberries song. The park was gone, and they were in their college’s dining hall. It was 1994, but Matt was still balding. Cleo was totally present Cleo, but Tess was now wearing her favorite college hoodie.
“I will picture you in that hoodie until the day you die,” Cleo said, “You wore it the day we met, and in every single picture I have of you. I can’t show friends that scrapbook, they want to know why I was friends with a homeless girl.”
Tess licked the bird which was now an ice cream cone again. She was the only one left with ice cream and she had two.
“I thought you two were a couple. The only gay people I knew were the Indigo Girls. But I asked if I could sit with you.”
“She wanted a threesome,” said Cleo.
“I hate you so much.”
“I love you forever, darling. Unlike Matt, you’re the only one I’d dream with.”
“Matt, Cleo, will it be okay?”
“It won’t,” said Cleo.
“And then it will,” said Matt.
“And then it won’t again,” said Cleo, “Just like it always is.”
The roof was gone, and the sun was rising.
“I guess that’s all I can ask for.”