"...connect to yourself again. Rise up, gently up, out of that relaxed state."
Had I fallen asleep? It sounded like Jack was continuing a conversation with me. I felt slightly guilty for having missed some of what he was saying, but I was in that dopey state where you don't really care about anything.
"Ease yourself out of those depths, rise through that sea of peace and break out from under the surface of those waves of calm."
Several thoughts filled my mind at once. 1) What on earth was Jack on about? 2) Was it me or was his voice really captivating? 3) Where was I?
I blinked. Jack had stopped swinging a pendulum he was holding. I frowned. Weren't those used in hypnosis? And ... could I smell lavender?
"What just happened?" I asked. My voice seemed slightly distant, somehow, as if I were detached from myself.
Jack didn't answer my question. Instead, he put the pendulum down and smiled at me, asking, "How're you feeling?"
"Um, weird... Sort of mega-calm, but hyper-alert."
Jack nodded. "That sounds about right. Does anything seem ... out of the ordinary?"
"Yes," I replied, wondering if he had heard me wrong. "I'm mega-calm and hyper-alert. At the same time."
Jack grinned. "Anything else?"
"Well, it sort of feels like someone else is talking, not me. It feels like there's a big distance between me and my voice."
"That should wear off. That everything?"
"Is that not enough?" I asked, puzzled by his acceptance of what I'd said. "I think I fell asleep while you were talking to me, what you were talking about was weird, I can smell lavender and you were just holding a pendulum. What's going on?"
"I think you're dreaming," Jack said calmly.
"It feels so real, though. And I'm controlling what I'm saying."
Jack shrugged. "It happens sometimes. And are you sure this is real? Is it really okay to be feeling mega-calm and hyper-alert?"
I frowned. "Perhaps not... But then, how do I wake up?"
"Try going back to sleep," Jack suggested. "That should work."
I pulled a pillow from my right, put it underneath me, and rested my head on it, facing sideways so I could breathe.
It was strangely easy to fall asleep. Perhaps because I already was, though that was a difficult concept to deal with at the moment. I felt Jack ruffle my hair affectionately, the most normal thing he'd done in the dream so far, before sinking into what felt like a dreamless sleep but I suppose was dreamlessness.
"What an odd dream," I murmured as I woke up.
Wait! I pushed myself up into a sitting position in what was meant to be a sudden movement, but in actual fact, took a lot of effort.
I looked around. What was I doing in Jack's room? Actually, what was I doing in Jack's house? I seemed to remember Jack taking me home last night, but after that, nothing. Even yesterday's memories were blurred and fuzzy as if bits were missing.
Jack walked in carrying a mug. He looked cheerful as he came down and sat beside me.
"What am I doing here?" I asked, confused. "I think I'm suffering from amnesia..."
Jack put his mug on the floor and smiled at me. "I reckon you're okay. You came here and you fainted for some strange reason, but you look fine."
He placed the back of his hand against my forehead. "No temperature." He moved it away and lifted my hand. He held it lightly and examined it. "No shaking." He looked at my face, dropping my hand. "No pallor." A wide grin broke out across his face. "And I bet you're still kissable."
I had to smile as he leant in and kissed me. I wrapped my arms around him and briefly forgot my confusion and weird dream.
It all came back as we gently broke away though.
I frowned. "I had such a weird dream..."
Jack gazed intently into my eyes, not even attempting to hide the love in them. It was quite distracting.
"Did you now?"
I nodded. It was difficult to answer as Jack's gaze took my breath away. "It was ... very strange. You were in it..."
"Was I?" He stared deeper as he leant in towards me. His lips were almost touching mine again. "Was I desirable?"
I let him kiss me before answering, "It wasn't ... actually romantic..."
"So I'm only irresistible in romantic dreams?" Jack pretended to look sad.
I grinned. "No. I just stop noticing after a while because I'm so used to you," I replied, enjoying the game.
Jack gasped in pretend shock. "You're used to me?"
I laughed. "Yeah. Now can I tell you about my dream?"
"No. You actually can't. You're used to the fact I'm enticing! We have to sort that out!"
I smiled. "Well, you sort out that problem, and then I can tell you about the dream."
Jack's brow furrowed in mock puzzlement. "But you won't be able to talk afterwards."
I laughed again. "Why not?"
With utter seriousness, he replied, "Because I'll have taken your breath away."
I sighed. "Ah well, then you'll never know how beguiling you were," I said, pretending to look as if this would be a great loss.
"I obviously wasn't beguiling enough if your heart didn't skip a beat."
I stopped playing the game for one moment. "Now, there's the thing. It felt so real. It wasn't like any other dream I've had, where the impracticable happens. Although the concepts were improbable in their own way."
Jack leant back. "How intriguing. We'll delay your re-education to hear this."
I shook my head in mock wonder. "Delaying something so important for a dream? I never thought it would happen."
Jack smiled. "I'm sure this is a one-off occasion. What happened in your dream?"
I smiled back. "Well, it felt like I was waking up, and you were saying all this weird stuff."
Jack looked amused. "Like what?"
"Like about rising out of the sea: breaking ‘out from under the surface of those waves of calm'," I quoted, mimicking Jack's voice in the dream.
Jack snorted. "Did I really sound like that?"
I nodded. "You sounded so ... enchanting. It was really bizarre. And ..." I paused to grin at the absurdity of the situation, "... you were holding a pendulum."
Jack chuckled. "A pendulum? That's so weird. Maybe we need to get someone to psychoanalyse you."
"Where's the nearest psychologist?"
I jumped as I noticed Ross at the door.
"What are you doing here?" I asked coldly.
There was a flash of inexplicable pain in his eyes, but it was very brief. He quickly masked it with a look of cool indifference. Maybe I'd imagined what I thought I'd seen.
"Collecting the evidence to support my theory that you're insane," Ross replied.
"Ha, ha (!)" I said sarcastically.
Jack carried on as if Ross wasn't there. "So, I was holding a pendulum. Did I do anything else?"
I looked back at my boyfriend and grinned. "You asked me what was wrong. I said I felt mega-calm and hyper-alert and you acted as if that was all right."
I heard Ross snort.
"Isn't that what people who've woken up from a trance feel?" he asked.
I sat up a bit straighter. "That's exactly what it was like. Waking up from a trance! But... why would I dream about waking up from a trance? And why would it feel so real?" My eyes widened as the questions continued in my mind.
"Jack?" I said slowly.
"You didn't ... hypnotise me, did you?"
Jack looked at me as if I'd just asked him if he'd seen aliens landing.
"Rosa... What possible reason could I have for hypnotising you?"
"I ... don't know." It sounded ludicrous to me. "But... it's the only thing that seems logical."
"Dreams aren't meant to be logical, darling."
"But they usually have some resemblance to an experience in your life, and they're not usually crazily different from the next."
Jack shrugged. "There's a first time for everything."
"I'm not so sure..."
"When are we calling the psychoanalyst?" Ross asked.
I frowned. "Do you think I should see one?"
Jack looked startled. "Of course not! Ross is just teasing."
I continued to frown. "But it would be best to see whether I'm starting to go ... off the rails a bit, so we can prevent it, wouldn't it?"
"Rosa, you are not going crazy."
I looked towards Ross for a second opinion.
"The only sign of lunacy you're showing is the way you're doubting your sanity, and that type of madness is foolishness."
"Maybe I have reason to doubt it, though," I murmured. Part of me was telling me I was being ridiculous, but I wondered if going insane maybe wasn't such a crazy idea after all.
"Do you really want to be psychoanalysed?" Ross asked sceptically. "Are you serious about having some stranger examining the inner workings of your mind?"
"I ... don't know," I answered.
Jack snorted. "If you're that crazy, I'll let Ross study your mentality. He's interested in that sort of thing."
I glared at him. "If you're not going to take me seriously, I'll take myself to a psychologist."
"Oh, don't be angry," Ross said. "Jack doesn't want to believe that you think you're crazy, that's all. He cares about you."
"When did you turn into the supportive older brother figure?" I retorted.
Jack sighed. "If you're serious, then at least let Ross try. I'd rather someone I knew and trusted helped you than some complete stranger who probably hypnotises their patients as soon as they're lying on the couch."
"What?! Are you out of your mind? I hate Ross."
Ross flinched, but I ignored him. "And he's not even qualified!"
Jack shrugged. "He's surprisingly good at solving problems."
"As of when?!"
"I don't know, Rosa. I don't make a record of exactly when a new aspect to Ross's personality appears. I do know, however, when those aspects have developed. If you want someone to look into this, go ahead, but it was just a stupid dream. Don't you think you're maybe overreacting just a little?"
I reviewed the situation. It did seem all a bit too much for a simple weird dream. Did I really want to be psychoanalysed? The answer was no, probably not. Did I need it? Probably not either.
I sighed. "I'm sorry. It was just ... so realistic and so unlike anything I've ever felt before. When you told me in the dream to go to sleep, that felt like I was properly going to sleep. I don't usually notice myself slipping back into unconsciousness after a dream, I just realise when I wake up in the morning what must have happened. But today..., it definitely felt like the change between consciousness and sleep."
Ross turned to Jack. "Perhaps she'd realise it was normal if she had more dreams like this." The way he said this made me think he was suggesting either of them give me more dreams like this.
"No!" Jack snarled. "That would probably make her feel like she needed to go to the psychologist more. I won't let people mess with her mind."
"I'm sorry," I murmured, to the boys' utter bewilderment.
Jack opened and closed his mouth but no words came out, Ross looked startled - something was different about him today - and both were staring at me as if they didn't recognise me.
"What for?" Jack finally managed to say.
"For being silly about this whole thing. It's all gotten really out of hand, and in reality, all that happened was that I had a crazy dream. I'm sorry I made the two of you fight."
"No, no, that's not your fault," Jack said, smiling.
"I don't even know why I should be anxious about the dream," I continued. "Jack was really enchanting in it."
"Which brings us back to what we were talking about earlier," I said, giving a wide smile. "Jack, you still haven't re-educated me."
Ross looked worried. "Re-educated you? What's he going to do? Reprogram your emotions?" He sounded dead serious and I was annoyed at his misunderstanding. Really, he shouldn't even try to get a girlfriend, I thought.
"No, you idiot. What are you on about? We're talking romantically. Have you never heard of romantic imagery?"
Ross looked embarrassed. "Oh."
"Oh, indeed. Now go away before we make you throw up."
I couldn't be sure, but as Ross left, I thought he murmured, "She's just like before..."
Jack smiled broadly as he tucked my hair behind my ears before putting on a serious, intense expression as he leaned in to kiss me.
He broke away briefly to whisper in my ear, "After today, you'll never be able to resist me again." His words sent shivers down my spine and I knew that he was probably right.
During the kiss, Jack made it as difficult as possible for me to return the signs of affection he was displaying. I was only allowed to kiss him as he held my wrists down by my sides and he kept stopping and holding me back deliberately when he knew I needed him as much as oxygen whenever I was in his arms. He continued to tease me in this way for a long time. Being tantalised like this was painful, especially since my heart would readily accept him as irresistible if asked to.
When the sweet torture was over, Jack stood up and walked out the door, a mysterious and incredibly alluring smile playing on his face. I rose up slowly and followed him. He said nothing as I caught up to him, even ignored me when I stroked and kissed his cheek. He gently pushed me away when I did this and continued to walk, smiling captivatingly all the while.
We arrived at the living room where Ross and Mark, Jack's dad, were watching TV.
"Now, you've got to take the exam," Jack said to me quietly.
"What've I got to do?"
"Prove you find me irresistible in front of other people."
"You're so mischievous."
"Careful. You fail the test if you use the wrong adjectives to describe me."
"What are the consequences?"
"Further re-education until you do pass the test."
"And what happens when I pass?"
"You know everything in our relationship has gone back to normal and I won't torture you again."
"You're so roguish!"
"Careful, Rosa. You're failing."
I noticed that Ross and Mark were staring bemusedly at Jack and I, who were just standing in the doorway. I wouldn't have blamed them if they'd thought we'd gone crazy.
"But, like everything else about your personality, you make roguish seem desirable," I amended.
Jack smiled. "That might scrape you a C, but I think you can do so much better."
"You're right, of course."
I leant up and began to kiss him. I allowed myself to forget there were people watching as I wrapped my arms around Jack's neck and pulled him over to the sofa and pushed him down onto the seat to sit on his lap. I twined my fingers in his hair, briefly moved my arms to place his around me and returned them to their normal position to push him in closer towards me. I ignored the polite coughs which were gradually getting a little louder as Mark tried to remind us that he and Ross were there, increased the urgency of the kisses and the passion I intended to convey in them and didn't stop until gentle but firm hands pushed me away.
Jack smiled as he whispered in my ear, "That definitely gets you an A."
I brimmed with pleasure at the thought of meeting his standards - I was feeling quite exhilarated at this moment - and Jack allowed me one more kiss before standing to pull me back to his room. I didn't resist him as he quite literally tugged me along beside him with one arm behind my back to steer me and the other one hovering behind my other arm in case I needed extra support. This was all because I was still recovering from the thrill of allowing myself to reveal how attracted I was to him so I was stumbling along nearly collapsing from my heady state.
I felt a different pair of hands catch me as I collapsed sideways into a faint.