I will lie awake
And lie for fun
And fake the way I hold you
Let you fall for every empty word I say — Brand New
I had a dream that you were cheating on me, she tells him. She opens the cabinet and finds a box of Irish breakfast tea. She knows she can lazily linger today. Today is their off day.
He refills his cup of coffee, unfazed. Even in his girlfriend’s sleep, the irrational part of her brain is triggered, manifesting in what she generically labels ‘stress dreams.’
You told me that you were sleeping with your ex. It was strange because you made it seem like it was completely normal. Like we were never exclusive and it was just something that you did occasionally.
That’s pretty odd. He knows by now not to indulge her anxious thoughts. He knows to simply let them pass one by one as she comes to a more rational understanding.
And then I told you, in the dream, that I wanted to be your girlfriend, and that I didn’t appreciate you sleeping with someone else behind my back. I mean, it was awful, but you got it.
She boils a pot of water for the tea, distracted by the narrative she concocted during the hours she wasn’t awake.
But then, the dream shifted. At some point, I came to the realization that I already was your girlfriend and that you were blatantly lying and cheating on me. It was devastating.
She takes the long scenic route to the beach. The one with quaint back roads and canals that feed into the bay. Driving usually calms her nerves. She cant’t focus on too many things at once while she drives. It’s just the road in front of her. A road that guides her forward, towards the destination.
The sea air feels so good on her lungs. She walks to the ocean and dips her toes in the frothy tide. Childhood remnants that have nestled their way into her core are once again ignited. The feeling she gets every time her feet meet the waves that lightly break on the shore. The feeling she gets when she looks out into the distance and feels so tiny yet so lucky to be here. The feeling of wonder that never goes away.
She contemplates her past. She thinks back to how she trusted deeply. She thinks back to the moment he told her over the phone that they will never have a future together. A broken engagement. A punch to the gut in 30 seconds. Loss rearing its head.
She wonders when the past will let her go.
She breathes in the salty air and thinks that there’s no time like the present.
Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Psych Central, Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her latest book, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” a collection of personal essays, can both be found on Amazon. She loves to be followed on Twitter @LaurenSuval and on Facebook @LaurenSuvalWriting.