figure I must still be dreaming. I have had dreams where I knew I was asleep, and I think that this is one of those. Though I have never had a dream with such clarity—I can feel the cool spring air wafting through the window against my skin.
I go out to the back porch to drink in the spring air. There, in a jar filled with water, are the lilac shoots Delilah had given me right after I married. They were gangly things, those shoots, just twigs but they had developed strong roots—you could see them magnified under the glass jar. I touch the water. Wet. Well, of course it is. I have never felt wet in a dream before.
I have a notion to plant those shoots, so I grab the garden trowel—right from where it always hangs on the hook attached to the side of the porch—and I take the shoots out to the back yard. I know the exact spot down near the fence. The spot is bare, as by now I figured it would be. I remember planting those shoots there years ago. They had grown up into an enormous bush, so tall and full that the blossoms bend the branches near to double when the rain comes.
I dig a hole deep enough for the soil to cover the roots. The earth feels cool and damp—rich with the promise of growth. I plant the shoot carefully, thinking the whole time how right it is I do this, that my dreaming sojourn into the past ought to be commemorated with a touch of the future.
I should wake up soon, I think as I clap the dirt from my hands. I should wake up. I go back into the kitchen and wash in the cool spring water from the well. I cup my hand and take a sip—the water is as sweet as it ever was—and I feel sorry again that the old well, dried out. The water never tasted like this. I said so to Maggie, who said back that it was foolishness, that water is water and it all tastes the same.
Thinking of Maggie makes me think of waking again. She will be worried if it has gotten dark. Here inside my dream, it is still the lilac hour; time hasn’t moved an iota past it. I want to stay longer, but I hate to make her fret. So I pinch myself, a bright hard pinch that makes me say “ouch” right out loud. Nothing happens. I am still standing in my old kitchen, only now I have a bright red mark just above my wrist.
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