John let the water warm to a reasonable temperature, cupped it in his two hands, and splashed it over his scalp and face. He shut the tap, toweled off, and walked back into the bedroom. Laura laid her book on her lap and looked up at him.
“Something is bothering you. You can tell me what it is.”
“I don’t know. It’s nothing really.”
“It’s not nothing.”
He climbed in beside her. “It’s crazy.”
“Who are you talking to here? You can tell me. What is it? One of the kids? Something at work?”
“Nothing. None of those things.”
“Something’s obviously bothering you. I’m not just gonna let this go. Tell me.”
“OK. Laura, I, I don’t even know how to say this.”
“You’re having an affair.”
“No. God. No.”
“You’re going to think I’m nuts.”
“I already think you’re nuts.” She grinned, broadly. “So what’s new? Come on. Talk to me.”
“I’ve been having this worry. That, that this is a dream, and that I’m going to wake up, and you won’t be there—that none of this is real.”
“This life. You. You and me. Everything.”
“Oh, for crying out loud. You are a writer. You would never put something that corny in a story—‘and then he wakes up, and it’s all been a dream’. Wouldn’t that be ironic? LOL. Come on, John. If YOU were going to create a fantasy, even in a dream, it wouldn’t be THAT cliched.”
“You are laughing at this, Laura, but I’m not making it up. I’m really worried. What if it’s true? What if I wake up, and everything between us just, just isn’t? What if I lose you? I couldn’t stand that.”
“Well, I’m glad that’s all this is about. You have nothing to worry about there. I’m going to finish my book.”
“Oh my god.”
“It’s true, isn’t it?” He moved his head closer, looked directly into her eyes. “In real life, a real person doesn’t just dismiss such a bizarre imagining on the part of their spouse as though it weren’t at all important. I’m right, right?”
Michelle opened her eyes. John’s sudden movement must have awakened her. He was sitting up, looking at her as though she had two heads. “What’s wrong?’ she said. “Did you have a nightmare?”
He shook his head—rapidly, as though trying to shake something off. He let out a breath. “No. Uh, yes. Sorry. Go back to sleep.” John settled back onto his pillow.
He arrived seconds after class had started. The girl was there, Stephanie. Sitting in the back row. John slipped up the side and sat down next to her. “Hi, she said. “You made it.” Wow. That smile.
Copyright 2019, Robert D. Shepherd, all rights reserved.