After years of saving, months of searching, weeks of packing, and days of jittery anticipation, I was finally ready to live in my personal paradise.
I’d wanted to live on my own acreage for as long as I could remember, away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, and this fit the bill in so many ways. It wasn’t out in the middle of nowhere, though most of my friends would argue that point, it had tons of privacy provided by being fully surrounded by thick trees, a beautiful lawn and large (well, I’d call it large, but I am from the city) plot of dirt that I could already visualize growing my garden in.
The previous owner was awesome for the whole duration of the sale process. He had lived on this acreage, he told me, since it was just a little farm a short ride from what was, at the time, a very small town–a time that spanned some 80 years of his life. The man was still full of vim and vigor, but he told me he was not a proud man, it was time to pack up and move to somewhere in the city that required less upkeep. To that end (thankfully) he left me the equipment he used to care for the yard; a small tractor with various attachments for mowing the lawn, working the garden, various garden tools, an ATV (that appeared to have more kilometers on it than most vehicles on the road), and a variety of odds and ends that would likely sit in the small tool shed next to the house until they were long forgotten.
The lawn behind the house actually had a backstop on it, the old man telling me that he and his family used to play softball on it, and metal plates that they used as bases were in the tool shed. Having an odd moment of empathic nostalgia, I could almost hear the murmur of conversation, the cheering of family, see the players running the bases, swinging the bat, throwing the ball. I may never use it, but the field being there gave me a sense of … You know, I don’t know the word that would best describe it. Contentedness, I suppose?
The house wasn’t large, but as a single occupant I could not ask for more. It was certainly a house built in an older style, the floors hard and the hallways narrow, but you could tell that there were stories and memories in these walls going back generations. I won’t lie, and neither am I proud, I have never been overly comfortable with basements, and even though this was now my own, I wasn’t very comfortable looking down that narrow staircase into the darkness below. I don’t know when the house was built, exactly, but the basement definitely didn’t have a warm feeling about it. The windows were small and didn’t let in a lot of light, the hallway at the bottom of the stairs was claustrophobic, and the room that the man said he had used as food storage before refrigerators were common was cold and harsh, with an unfinished cement floor and bare wooden shelves lining the walls. I closed the door on that room, and couldn’t think of a reason I’d ever need to open it in the future.
Most of my life is still in boxes in the living room, but that is a problem for another day. I have enough clothes for this week, my bed is set up in the master bedroom–I mean, it wouldn’t really count as a master bedroom in a modern house, but it was my own and this thought made it easy for me to hold on to my happiness.
With a contented sigh, I laid down and drifted off to sleep.
I looked out the living room window and saw a car driving up to the house. I walked to the front door and opened it as a beautiful women exited the driver side. She made eye contact and walked up to me.
My eyes snapped open, the grogginess that only an interrupted dream could bring lingering as I rolled over and searched blindly on the floor for my alarm clock. It’s six in the morning, 30 minutes until my alarm goes off. Well, no use trying to get back to sleep at this point, I already feel like something kicked my head and threw sand in my eyes, no use compounding that.
I walk through the motions of my ingrained morning ritual, the new house barely even affecting my morning thought processes. Shower, shave, go back to the room to get dressed, find some breakfast, brush my teeth, do my hair, all in that order, the same order I’ve been doing it in for the last ten years. I check my watch, and it is 6:45–I’d be at work early, but I’d be on the early end of rush hour. Might as well go for it.
My job is pretty mundane, I do I.T. for a small business, keeping their email flowing, their payroll running, that kind of thing. If someone’s printer had a paper jam, I’m the guy they’d call. I wouldn’t say it is action packed, but there is some satisfaction in doing a job well enough that the 80 or so people that rely on your work have hardly a complaint–in fact, in I.T., having hardly a complaint in any situation is definitely something to either pat your back about, or (among the more pessimistic of us) to knock on wood about.
After a day as unremarkable as the description of my job, I head home. My plan for the evening is to do my first bit of yard work; mow the lawn, take a better look at my property, nothing special, but I’m almost giddy to get out there. Rush hour on the way home is a little worse than I thought it would be, and I am not looking forward to winter driving conditions on poorly maintained roads.
It’s 6:30pm by the time I park the car and head inside. Given the time it took to get home, I decide to make myself a quick dinner before I get to work. While sitting down to eat, a red car pulls into the driveway. Leaving my plate on the cupboard, I walk to the front door and open it while a pretty young woman gets out of the car. She’s wearing a black dress that makes me feel suddenly under-dressed, and as she looks up to make eye contact her stunningly green irises almost entrance me. She walks up and extends her hand for me to shake.
“Hello, my name is …”
My eyes snap open as I feel a sudden falling sensation and slide off my chair. My food is sitting cold on the counter, still, and I glance at the clock showing 7:30pm. I’d been out for 45 minutes, and a lot of good sunlight had been lost in that time. Well, looks like I won’t be mowing the lawn tonight. I guess moving takes more out of you than I remember, and I guess I will have to reluctantly accept that getting older isn’t all fun and games.
I spend the next couple of hours unboxing more of my life before heading off to bed for (obviously) much needed rest.
An older red car drives up the driveway, and again I find myself walking towards the front door as it comes to a stop at the end of my driveway. The car itself is fairly beat up, a Pontiac Sunfire with rust around the wheel wells. A beautiful woman exits the driver side wearing a small black dress that looked like it had to be worth more than the car itself, and her hair, a deep auburn, flung around her head before settling at its full length below her shoulders.
She was wearing sleek black gloves that went to just below her elbows. As she started to walk over to me, she pulled off the glove on her right hand and extended it towards me, and I extended my hand to shake it. Her hand was very cold, but her grip was very strong. I stared into her green eyes as she spoke, “Hello, my name is Marylin.”
My eyes opened slowly, feeling as though sandpaper lined the underside of my eyelids. It is amazing how quickly you can wear out, with only two days of bad sleep leaving me feel like my limbs were made of lead. I don’t drink coffee, but after only my second rough morning I am already considering taking it up. 6:15am. Ugh, might as well start the day.
Shower, shave, go back to the room to get dressed, find some breakfast, brush my teeth, do my hair, and off to work.
I arrive just in time, the drive itself seeming to disappear in a fog of lost memory and barely considered thoughts. I sit down in my office and there is a knock at the door.
The door opens and Marylin looks at me and smiles, wearing that same dress, and those same gloves from my dreams. She pulls off both gloves seductively, slowly, smiling at me the whole time. I don’t even know what to do or say, or who this woman is when I blink, and my office is empty, the phone ringing. I look around as I answer the call, the confusion beginning to fade as I focus my mind on work.
At the end of the day, I resolve to at least mow the lawn before I sit down to eat and lose another beautiful evening of productivity. The drive home seems to pass by in a blur again, but it is 6:30pm by the time I pull up. Just because it felt like a two minute drive doesn’t mean time is willing to show even the slightest hint of favoritism, I think as I mount the mower and turn the key.
I feel an amazing sense of ease again as I mow the lawn, riding the small tractor and maneuvering it around the backstop and other varied obstacles. I feel better, satisfied, as I return the mower to its home in the detached garage and dismount. As I turn around, there is a knock at the door. Feeling another growing sense of confusion, I walk over and open it. There is no one there, but it is dark outside, the sun completely set. I check my watch, squinting in the dim light of the light on my porch that I couldn’t remember turning on, to see that it’s now 10:30pm. It couldn’t have taken me more than an hour to mow the lawn. I rub my eyes, a wave of exhaustion coming over me out of nowhere, and walk towards the house.
I pour myself a bowl of cereal, not having the energy to make anything more complicated, scarf it down and shuffle to my bed where I collapse in a heap.
An old, red Pontiac Sunfire drives down the driveway. I walk towards the front door, and feel a strange sense of deja-vu as I reach for the handle to open it. The driver of the car is already standing as the front door opens. She seems vaguely familiar, but I can’t place from where.
She has these beautiful green eyes, and is wearing an elaborate black dress and long, sleek gloves that come up to near her elbows. I’ve definitely seen her somewhere before. As she walks towards me, she pulls off the glove covering her right hand. I see, as she steps, that her shoes are black and shine with reflected light. When I look up, she is already face to face with me, her curly auburn hair draped down her back, looking at me with a smile on her face, holding out her hand expectantly.
I shake my head a little, and reach out to shake it.
“Hello, my name is Marylin. It will be nice to meet you.” Her eyes have an odd gleam to them.
I roll over, my eyes not even wanting to open, as I register that my alarm is ringing. GAH! It’s 6:45 already! Gonna be late!
Quick shower, shave, go back to the room to get dressed, find some breakfast, leave for work. As I pull out of the driveway, I feel a distant sense of unease and frustration. I can’t believe I forgot to brush my teeth and do my hair. It’s lucky I wear my hair short, but it will still bother me all day.
Work passes in a blur of exhaustion, the kind where your brain just seems to fight you on every decision. I don’t remember the day passing, but soon it is 5:00pm, though I felt like I had just arrived.
As I pull up to speed on the highway, all I could think about was that as soon as I got home I needed to get to sleep.
I couldn’t wait to get home, get to sleep.
I see a woman standing on the side of the highway, and she seems very familiar. I barely have time to register the beautiful black dress before I zip by, and in the rear view mirror I can see her turn her head to follow me.
Had I seen her somewhere before? I shake my head. Probably just sleepy.
Couldn’t wait to get home.
Couldn’t wait to get to sleep.
“Welcome home,” a voice said from the passenger seat. I turn my head towards a woman with auburn hair and a beautiful black dress.