Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dreams of Love

Anna was excitedly getting ready, doing last minute touches to her hair and make up, checking to see that her dress fit properly. Tonight was the big date. The BIG date. The love of her life was going to take her on her ultimate dream date, something they had worked out weeks ago. She was excited and nervous, and slightly neurotic all at the same time. She had always felt like this relationship was too good to be true. That this man, that she laughingly called her Prince Charming and whose real name was Edward Prince, couldn’t be real. The man of her dreams, and sometimes she wondered if maybe that’s where he existed. Or worse, that he was real, but that his perfectness meant that he had to be balanced out somehow, with some horrible secret. Like maybe he was married. Or, more likely in her mind, he had other women he dated, other Sleeping Beauties to his Prince Charming.

In the end, though, she always shook those thoughts off. Edward was real, and his relationship with her, which had started over a year ago now, was, despite her fears otherwise, perfect. Like any man, he had his flaws. Early in their relationship, he actually thought taking her to a football game was a good date. She went good naturedly, but ever since then, he went to his games without her, which was fine by her. He had a tendency to slurp his soup when he ate, too, which was something that in any other man would be a deal breaker. But because this was Edward, she was willing to over look it. There were other little things that pointed to his being less than perfect, but none of that mattered. He was the love of her life, her soul mate. The two were made to be together. She just needed to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Then the doorbell rang. Excitedly, she smiled and walked to the door. She stopped briefly to give herself a last look in the full-length mirror before opening it. She had on a floor length, strapless ball gown that hugged her curves. It was a brilliant white color, at Edwards request. It had elegant, simple lines, with a faint curl pattern visible on the lower part of the dress. Her black hair was in an updo similar to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, something she spent the better part of the last few hours to get just right. Her accessories were also simple and elegant, including a pearl necklace and a simply designed diamond bracelet. The bracelet was a gift from Edward, and made her smile. She picked up the white purse that matched the dress from the end table, and opened the door.

There, at the door, was Edward. He had a strong jaw line that was accented by a neatly trimmed beard. His hair was close cut on the top of his head, too, in a way that highlighted his bright, blue eyes. He was wearing a modern black tuxedo with a white vest and tie that matched her dress perfectly. In his hands, he had a huge, beautiful bouquet of red roses. He smiled, seeming to catch his breath upon seeing her.

“You look beautiful,” he said after locking eyes with her again. “These are for you,” and he handed her the bouquet.

“They are beautiful,” she said, meaning it. She put them in a vase that she kept by the door. Since dating Edward, she always kept a vase by the door. He didn’t always bring flowers, but he did often enough that have a vase by the door became very convenient.

“Ready?” he asked, holding out his hand. She took it and nodded.

He led her from her condo to the outside via the elevator, where he looked at her with mischievous smile on his face that had her wondering what it was he had planned. He never would tell her what it was they were doing tonight, only that it would be the ‘most romantic thing she would experience.’ She half-wondered if he was going to ask her to marry him, but that didn’t seem likely. They talked about that, and while it wasn’t something either was against, they were just not ready for it at this point. Still, if he did ask, she was pretty sure she would say yes.

All of those thoughts quickly vanished when she saw what was waiting for them on the street. Instead of Edwards’s BMW, there stood a large, white horse drawn carriage. White seemed the theme here, with two white horses pulling the carriage. It had four large wooden wheels, the two in the back being bigger than the two in the front. The seats were padded, and there was a roof on the back, providing cover in case the night’s weather didn’t go as planned. On the front seat was a driver, in a while suit and top hat, who tipped it at her as they came outside. And Anna swore that she saw the whole thing… sparkle. It was wonderful!

“My lady,” Edward said, opening the door on the carriage and sweeping his arm to indicate that she should board.

She happily did so, and then after closing the door, he came around the other side and did the same.

“On driver,” he said with an imperious wave of his hand, then turned to her and the two of them laughed at the ridiculousness of it all.

The carriage rode down the road, but instead of heading into town, where she expected to be taken to an elegant restaurant, it was headed out of town, towards the more rural areas. Before she could ask where they were going, she heard a popping noise, and turned to see that Edward had opened a bottle of champagne. Pouring some into two glass flutes, he handed one to her. She smiled upon taking it.

“Why, my dear Edward. Are you trying to get me drunk before we even get to dinner?” she asked, and the two laughed some more.

The countryside was beautiful, and they two enjoyed the view and the excellent champagne in silence as they traveled down the road. It wasn’t long, however, before Anna figured out where it was they were heading. It was right after they turned down the beach road and started following the coastline. Only one restaurant of any note was down he. She smiled and turned to look at Edward, who only nodded, as if reading her mind. Then, he looked off to the distance, and pointed. She turned and saw it as they rounded a hill. There, on top of a beautifully manicured hill was a castle. A princess style castle, complete with towers and spires, it was decorated with blue and green banners, and she could see windows and balconies light by candlelight. It was Ch√Ęteau par la Mer, the famous French restaurant that was built as a replica of a place in France by a local restaurateur.

It wasn’t a very large castle, of course, being just a restaurant, but it was breathtakingly beautiful, and had two stories of dining areas. It was generally only frequented by the wealthy and local celebrities, but lots of people found a way to eat there at least once, just for the experience of it. Tonight seemed no different, as the place was packed, as evidenced by the full parking lot and the overworked valet staff. This posed no problem for them, however, with the carriage pulling to a stop at the main gate. A host in a black tuxedo came out and opened the door, allowing first Anna, then Edward, to exit the carriage. Edward gave him his reservation number, and the man nodded, as if expecting that particular reservation, asked them to wait a moment, and left them. She wondered briefly just how long Edward had been planning this. Edward smiled at her, and in that smile, time seemed to stop. She really did love this man, perfect date or not.

A moment later, the host returned and asked them to follow him. He led them upstairs to a tower near the front of the building. He eventually showed them to a private balcony, where a small table for two, two high backed, padded solid wood chairs and a stunning view of the ocean awaited them. The rest of this floor of the tower could also be viewed, where other diners were enjoying their meals and conversation, but the balcony was positioned in such a way that it was, at most, background noise, and often unheard at all.

Edward, ever the gentleman, pulled her chair out for her, and she sat down, drawing her shawl around her for warmth. The host, noting this, reached up and touched what appeared to be a torch in the wall above the balcony door, but, it turned out, was a very cleaver heater. She smiled at him, and nodded in return, then turned to leave. Edward sat down across from her and gazed into her eyes.

“Shall I order for both of us, or would you like to order for yourself?” he said, lifting the menu.

“I think I’d like to order for myself,” she said, smiling again and taking the menu. The menu was a surprisingly large collection of French cuisine, both well known and things she had never heard of before. Just as she had decided, their waiter appeared. He spoke in thick, almost fake, French accent, and she had to stifle a laugh.

“Bonsoir, la madame, monsieur,” he said, standing at a stiff attention. “I am Gaston, your waiter this evening. Would you like to start with a selection from the wine list?” Edward nodded, and selected a red wine. “An excellent choice, monsieur. Now, if you are prepared, I shall take your order.”

Anna ordered first, and asked for the duck confit, which got her an approving look from Gaston. Edward surprised her, and ordered ratatouille, and when she asked with her eyes, he said “It’s the most amazing ratatouille I’ve ever eaten.”

Gaston agreed, took their menus and headed off to bring their orders to the chief. Anna just couldn’t bring her self to use the word ‘cook’ in a place as fancy as this. The two talked some about the beautiful weather and the view, and a relatively short time later, Gaston returned with their food. They ate without ceremony, continuing the conversation about what had happened during work and life during the brief time since they last saw each other, and enjoyed the view of the waves gently lapping against the shore. The duck was fantastic, and she even tried some of Edward’s ratatouille, which was equally amazing. Now she knew why this place was so expensive. It was worth every penny. After dinner, she excused herself to use the lady’s room, and when she returned, Edward had paid the bill and they were all set to leave.

“Where to now, my Prince?” she said, smiling at him.

He smiled back, a smile that reached up to his eyes. “Why, to the beach, of course. A moonlight walk would be perfect after a meal like that, don’t you agree?”

She did. They exited the castle through a rear entrance and went straight onto the beach. They stopped briefly just before the sand to take off their shoes, and socks in Edward’s case, and then walked into the sand barefoot. Allowing the joy of feeling the sand beneath her feet to get the better of her, she ran off into the moon light coast, giggling like a little schoolgirl. Edward was caught off guard at first, but chased after her, laughing himself. The simple pleasure of running through sand was exhilarating, and she eventually stopped and spun around and around, her dress billowing out beneath her. Edward came up behind her and caught her before she fell backwards into the sand. They looked into each other’s eyes, and he smiled that dashing smile that always melted her heart.

He helped her get back onto her feet, offered her his arm, and the two slowly walked down the beach, just outside of the water line, towards the pier. As they walked, their conversation turned to more intimate things than they spoke about at the restaurant.

“And then the dog jumped back into the lake after it!” Edward was saying as they were both laughing. “Dad had to dive in to get it and drag it back into the house. Took him an hour.”

They laughed for a moment. Then, simultaneously, they paused and looked up at the moon. Edward sighed, and Anna looked up at him, touching his cheek, begging him to talk with that movement.

“You know,” he said, looking back down at her, “I didn’t expect to be here in my life.”

“Here, on the beach, with me?”

“No,” he said smiling, “You were a wonderful surprise, sure, but dreaming of being with the most amazing and beautiful woman in the world is not a new thing for me. The fact that I am here, with you, is exactly where I want to be.”

“Then what do you mean?” she asked.

“I mean, in my life in general. I thought,” he paused, as if frustrated, “I thought I’d have, I don’t know… accomplished more by now.”

She laughed at him, and when he looked down, she held up her arm to ward away any anger he might be feeling. “Oh, I didn’t mean any insult,” she said. “It’s just that, you’re a successful business man, who owns and operates one of the largest, most profitable computer companies in the world. You give thousands to charity every year, and have even started a scholarship fund to aid underprivileged kids get an education in the computer industry. What more could you want?”

He looked down at here, love burning in his eyes. “I forget sometimes,” he whispered.

“Forget what?” she asked.

He stood up straighter then, looking at her with a new determination. “I forget what an amazing woman you really are.”

With that, he leaned down and pulled her close to him. The two were an inch apart from each other, and without a word, they kissed. It was a slow, soft, passionate kiss. The moon was full behind them, over the water, shining down as if it were a spotlight, giving only them light and leaving the rest of the world dark. It was perhaps the most intimate kiss Edward had ever given her, as if he were transferring a piece of his soul to her through the kiss. And she kissed back, willingly, taking the gift and returning it in full.

Finally, they pulled apart from each other. It felt like they had been embracing for centuries. She felt dizzy, light headed, but in a pleasant way, as if she were floating. Then, he told her to look down, with that mischievous smile on his face. When she did, she saw that they were, indeed, floating, about two feet off the ground. Somehow, however, this didn’t surprise or alarm her. She held onto his arm, and he smiled. He pointed to the moon, and she nodded.

They took off like a shot. From the rate at which the ground was receding, they must have been traveling at an amazing speed, but she didn’t feel any sense of movement. There was no wind, no feeling that she gets in the pit of her stomach when moving fast. It was as if the world simply fell away, while they remained were they were.

It took mere moments before the moon came up to them. At first, she wondered if they would simply hit the moon head on, but then, the scene shifted. She knew that it must be them that were rotating to land on the moon, but it appeared as if the sky were turning around so that the moon were positioned below them. They landed on the soft white moon sand, which was somehow spongier and more comfortable than the beach sand.

They stopped and gazed up at the sky. There was the Earth, looking down at them. The bottom half was covered in shadow, but the top half shown in brilliant blues, greens and whites, as if it were a luminous ornament hung in the sky just for their viewing pleasure. She leaned on him, feeling his warmth and loving the sensation of it.

“Is this a dream,” she said, realizing that speaking and breathing in space would normally be impossible. Yet, this all felt normal, and right. “Am I dreaming right now?”

He gave a little laugh, then looked down at her. “Maybe I’m dreaming,” he said to her, and she was hypnotized by the reflection of the Earth in his eyes. “Does it matter?” he asked at last. “If this is a dream, I saw we go with it, and enjoy it.”

She thought about that for a second, and then nodded.

“So,” he said after a moment of gazing at the Earth. “Where shall we go in this dream?”

Her eyes opened wide and light up like Christmas lights. “Oh, everywhere!”

He smiled at her again, and took her hand. Once again, the ground fell away from them and they were zooming through space with no sense of movement. She hugged him, and then decided she wanted to try something. She stretched out her arm, still holding his hand, and then stretched out her other arm. She looked, and saw that he had done the same. They both smiled, and finally, she felt like she was flying. They took a moment to bank and turn and do loop de loops around the Earth, before moving on to the rest of the solar system.

He pointed towards the sun, and said, “let’s start at the beginning.”

She looked towards the sun, then turned back to him and shook her head. “No,” she said, and pointed out away from the sun. “Let’s start at the outside, and work our way back.”

He looked surprise, then nodded his head, a big smile on his face. They flew. They flew away from the sun, and the Earth, past the asteroid belt, and even zipped within site of Saturn and it’s rings, but never went close to any of these place. They just flew past. Until, after only a few moments, they were far away from the sun, in a part of the solar system that was very dark. And yet, she wasn’t cold. At last, they reached their destination. The little planet of Pluto, with it’s orbiting moon of Charon. The two were close, and Anne watched as they moved around each other, like lovers in an eternal dance.

As if reading her mind, Edward turned to her and said, “Shall we?”

They danced then, floating in space, keeping time with the cold gray planets below them. They spun and twirled, held each other close and moved to the music of the stars. When they stopped, they collapsed into each other’s arms, and laughed and smiled. They nodded at each other and moved on, back towards the sun and to the next planets.

They came upon Neptune before Anna was even aware of it. It was a bright blue orb, reminding her of the ocean they had left behind. The flew around it, awed by the majesty of it’s color and silent strength. The moved on and soon came across it’s twin, Uranus. Twin was a misnomer, Anne saw, as the blue of this world was not the deep color of the ocean, but rather the bright blue of the sky. And Anne was also surprised to see that it had rings.

“I thought only Saturn had rings?” she asked.

Edward smiled, shaking his head. “Would you like to see Saturn’s rings?”

“Oh, yes,” she said, and the two held hand again and flew off.

When they arrived, her breath was just taken away. As they arrived, the sun could be seen peaking out from around the back of the world, which caused shadows to be cast on the rings and giving the whole planet the appearance of a record player. Edward took her in closer, though, bringing her right down to the rings themselves. They were like giant circles of ice and snow, and were all the more amazing as they flew through them. Then, Edward took them back up and out the top again, as if they were dolphins, rising out of the water. She smiled and laughed.

“More,” she said. “Show me more.”

They moved on to Jupiter then. The massive gas giant took up their entire field of view in a way that no other world has so far, even the ones they had flown close to. It was as if the world would never stop growing bigger and bigger the closer they got to it. Then, she realized Edward was taking them to the great Eye. The massive storm clouds that made up the eye roiled and moved, and she watched transfixed. It was the most amazing thing she had seen so far this night, and the brightness of it surprised her. None of the other worlds were this bright so far, not even Earth. It was as if Jupiter had an internal light source. Eventually, Edward convinced her to come away, and they continued their flight around the system.

He lead them up and over the asteroid belt, though even from here, the thousands of giant rocks spinning in space were impressive. But then, there was Mars. It was amazing to her exactly how red it looked. From orbit, it had the appearance of Arizona from an airplane. She could see the cracks in the surface that the original astronomers thought were canals, or perhaps dried riverbeds. She turned to Edward, and then dove towards the surface. She touched down in a particularly rocky area of the surface, with very little sand. The surrounding rock formations once again reminded her of the deserts in the South West, with everything having that rust color on it. The sun was in the sky where she landed, and she was amazed at how much smaller it was compared to on Earth. Edward landed next to her, and the two lay back on the rocks, looking up at the sun. She lay quiet for a while, simply enjoying the moment.

Edward eventually got up on one arm and turned to look at her. He brushed some hair out of her face and stared into her eyes for a very long time, a serious expression on his face.

“I truly do love you,” he said.

She smiled. “I truly love you, too.”

He smiled in return, and then leaned down to give her a kiss. It wasn’t the long, deep, passionate kiss from the beach, but more of a loving, tender kiss. Not that it mattered a whole lot, her toes still curled. Then, suddenly, he got up and held out his hand to help her up.

“Come on,” he said, “We still got two more planets to visit.”

She reached out her hand, and he helped pull her up. She shook her head slightly, bringing her self into the present. She had almost forgotten where they were until he said that. Before they flew into the Martian sky, she took Edward’s arm and made him look at her.

“Edward,” she said, her voice sounding tiny and afraid, even to her. “Is this real? Or is this a dream?”

He smiled at her again, but not in any kind of condescending way. It was a smile full of excitement.

“I love that you ask questions like that,” he said. “I don’t really know, Anne. All I know is that I am here with you, and I don’t care if it’s real or not.”

Her heart felt full with her love for this man, and she thought she was going to cry.

“Come,” he said, wiping away a tear that escaped, “Come dance with me around the sun.”

She nodded, and once again took his hand. The two once again flew into the air, out into space, and through the solar system. Before she knew it, they had zipped passed Venus and Mercury, and were heading towards the sun. If she had though that Jupiter was huge, she was mistaken. The sun had completely taken up her field of vision before they had even gotten close to it. Strangely, however, its light did not blind her. Nor did its heat affect her.

The colors were amazing; deep, almost black reds, bright oranges, and yellows so bright they were practically white. And it was all in constant motion, flickering, rolling and extending arms that were miles long.

Edward came up to her then, and put one arm around her waist. He took his other arm and raised her hand with it and, holding her close, started to waltz. They danced in the light of the sun, waltzing back and fourth in time to the movements of the bright star behind them. She could almost swear she heard music this time, a low, deep, primal music. The music of the cosmos itself.

She didn’t know how long they spent there dancing, but she didn’t care. She held tight to him, being close to him, and found that, as he said earlier, it didn’t matter if this was a dream of not. She just wanted to be with him. Sadly, though, the music eventually came to an end, and so did their dance.

“It’s getting late,” he said, sounding as sad as she felt. “I think it’s time to go home.”

She nodded, feeling tired from their journey. She looked down and saw that apparently their dance had taken them away from the sun and back to Earth. Slowly, reluctantly, they descended. They flew through the clouds, an amazing site in and of itself, and down to the road that was just outside her condo. Although she was sad to see the evening end, she felt happy. It was truly an amazing night, and it didn’t matter if all of it was a dream. She would remember it for the rest of her life.

“I had a truly amazing night,” he told her, echoing her thoughts. “It wasn’t quite the evening I had planned, but I think it was even better. I’m just not sure how I’m going to top it.”

They both laughed. Just then, she realized that the sky was getting lighter. She looked over his shoulder and saw that the sun was just beginning to peak out behind the horizon. It was sunrise. They had been out all night. He turned with her and, holding each other, they watched the sun rise. It cast brilliant oranges and pinks across the sky, and Anna could swear that it was as if the sky was smiling at them. She nodded to her self, thinking that it was appropriate.

Turning once again back to the door of her condo, they kissed their good nights. This time, it was a kiss that they both put their full bodies into. She could feel the heat travel through her body, and she felt like the two of them were going to melt into each other. It was a wonderful feeling, and one that she knew would stay with her trough the day.

“Good night, my Prince,” she said.

“Good night, my dream girl,” he said with a wry smile on his face.

She giggled. Then, she turned and went into her condo. She stretched and yawned and found herself being drawn to her bed. She didn’t even bother to undress, simply collapsing into her bed in a wonderful kind of tired. She drifted off to sleep, with dreams of dancing planets and Edward swimming through her head. She had never felt so happy.

The alarm clock buzzed, flashing eight o’clock. Edward shot his arm out and slapped the button that shut the annoying sound off. He rolled over, squeezing his eyes shut, not wanting the dream to end. But it was no use. It was over, and the alarm had only sealed that fate. He thought of Anna and he smiled. She was so beautiful, and it really was an amazing date. He had never experienced anything like that, not even in his wildest fantasies.

He sat up and stretched. He scratched the beard stubble that had grown on his face and ran his hands through the mass of tangled hair on his head. While there, he pulled off the headband like device that was on his head. It was thin and consisted of two thin bars that ran around from one ear to another. He looked at the back of it, which had a box with a few green indicator lights on it. One was blinking, which indicated that the connection with the network box was still on. He set it down on the table next to the network box, which had a similar green blinking light.

He reached over to the box and pulled out a small memory chip. He turned it over in his hand thoughtfully, a slight smile on his face. He then pulled out a clear, plastic container that had a hand written label on it and placed the chip in it. On the label was a single word, ‘Anna.’

“You really are the most amazing woman I’ve ever know,” he said as he placed the chip on a shelf with some other’s, labeled everything from ‘Space Explorer,’ to ‘Victorian Duke.’

“My dream girl.” He reached two fingers to his mouth and kissed them, then touched them to the memory chip. “I’ll see you again tonight, I think.”

And with that, he got up out of bed and headed to the shower, passing the uniform that indicated he was a truck driver. He was humming a tune that he head hear during their dream, a waltz. It was going to be a good day, the thought.

The End

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