The dreams started once Helena stopped seeing him.
His laughter chimed with some unfathomable feeling as he drew something from his pocket. The chain gleamed in the sunlight as it swung in slowing arcs, revealing a ring at the end. He picked up that ring the color of fire topped by a blazing diamond, freed it from the chain and placed it on my finger. I smiled my answer up into his radiant face.
Helena blinked into the dull half-light of a darkened bedroom. The digital alarm proclaimed 02:16. She had to rise at 05:00 to ready herself for her day before rousing the children from their beds. She turned onto her side, foggily aware that Jake’s side of the bed was empty. He must be in the living room of their small two-bedroom apartment. Sliding out of bed as softly as she could, she padded to the door and peeked. Jake was hunched over his computer, chain-smoking, his bursts of typing conveying irritation rather than pleasure.
Her husband was a PhD candidate in comparative literature. His future should have been bright, but things were not going well. Helena wasn’t sure, but maybe Jake changed his thesis topic several times? She was not an academic, she worked as a receptionist at the local doctor’s office. But wouldn’t his advisor want him to settle on something? But Jake wasn’t the settling type. Even their six-years-old marriage had been a mistake, a convergence of her family’s religious views, his insouciance, and her unrealized hunger for children.
She retreated, back into the safe darkness of the bedroom, when he raised his well-shaped head and looked at her. [To be continued.]