It’s dark. I hear someone say my name.
Name:__________ There’s a paper on a desk in front of me. My tenth grade History teacher, Mr. Wallis is standing in front of a crowded room. You have to write your name, he says. I look up and my classmates are staring at me. What’s your name? It’s me, I say. Jane. What is this test for again? I look up at the board and it swirls colors with paragraphs and pictures of Anne Boleyn and Peter Rabbit. It’s ok. I know this stuff. I’m smart. I went to college. But my test is full of questions about Russian politics and my hands start to sweat. Panic. I didn’t study for this. Why didn’t I study? I always do so well in school. I wasn’t supposed to be here.
I get up and the room is darker. Heads are hunched over desks as I walk past them to the door. I’m not supposed to be here. I push my way through the crowded hallways of my high school. The doors to my escape were bright and hazy, seeming a thousand miles away. The looks were worse than I remember. Everyone is staring. Then I realize I can hear them thinking, lips unmoving - it doesn’t make sense. Their eyes are talking. She slept with him. We can tell. What a slut. He has a girlfriend. She probably forced him. He would never be interested in her.
I hated him. I hated myself but I hated him more. I’m in my childhood home, climbing far away to the roof to watch the stars. I’m crying and then he’s next to me. I ask him to go away but he won’t. He tells me I want him to be there, that he knows that I want him. I wipe my eyes and look at him, love and hate and young passion pounding in my chest. He is even more handsome after all these years. Where has he been? Why does he still look seventeen? I hate you, I say and his lips come crashing into mine and the ache in my chest is throbbing through me. I kiss him. Angry kisses. I’ve missed you kisses. I hate you kisses.
Why do you do this to me?
Why do you do this to me?
You do this to me, he says. I love you. I need you. His hands are everywhere and we’re tangled, reaching and holding, unable to get close enough. I can feel the shingles of the roof beneath our nest of blankets. My legs are wrapped around his waist as he lifts my shirt over my head. I brace myself, terrified of being visible in the light of the moon. No, I say. My scars, I can’t. What scars? He says and begins a trail of kisses down my neck, my breasts heaving. I’m breathing hard. You have no scars, you’re beautiful. I look at my stomach and it is creamy pale and smooth. We can’t do this, I say. It’s barely a whisper so I try again but he’s inside me. Sparks tickle my belly, my legs, my lips. Tiny fireworks all over.
No one can know. He has a girlfriend. We will be strangers. Part of my heart breaks. His eyes are on mine and inside my head and they tell me this is real. I remember. His eyes are pleading for me to believe him and we hold each other closer, rising into the cotton candy dashes of dawn clouds across the sky. My heart beats faster as I rise to meet him and there are butterflies everywhere lifting us to the sun, getting brighter and brighter.
I’m alone now.
My eyes open slowly, then blinking fast against the hot morning light pouring in through the window. I'm waking up, trying to make sense of the heaviness. My sixteen year old heart inside my chest was still pounding. I try to reach back inside my head, grasping for remnants. I blink and survey the room. My apartment, son’s toys, everything waking up and making sense. I’m shaken and broken. Decades have passed. The aches fade and the details blur. Soon I’m left with a longing but I can’t find the reasons. Awakeness has taken over. I lay in bed curious as to why my heart feels raw and I’m missing someone. I just can’t place who. It was just a dream.