Plane RideMature

The plane ride was long and uncomfortable. Adrian sat beside me, concerned. I could feel him sneaking glances at me every five seconds. I was doing a good job of ignoring him, but when my iPod died I had no choice but to take my headphones off and lie back, awaiting his fretful assault of my emotions. 
"How are you feeling?" he whispered, his hand covering mine. The cabin was dark and the only illumination was a few rows over - an elderly gentleman with an ill-fitting toupee reading a book which I recognized. 
"Ever read that book?" I nodded with my chin towards the man so Adrian would look. His fingers wove through mine. 
"No," he replied. "But I've heard of him. David Carlyle. He's one of those one hit wonders every freshman has to read in ‘contemporary literature', isn't he? Though I just looked at the Cliffs Notes. God knows why I took that course, you know how I am with literary types. Except for you," he grinned boyishly, all twinkly eyes and endearing dimples. "The scientist and the novelist. Very charming." 
"I'm not a novelist yet," I replied. "Nor will I ever be at the rate I'm going.  And I have been particularly unmotivated." 
"As you've mentioned several times." He began twirling his thumb around the palm of my hand. 
"Did you know that David Carlyle was born and raised in Milmont? And wrote the first draft of the book there?"
"I didn't know. How fascinating. Did he live near to you?" I pulled my hand away. My palms were sweating and I felt a little bit lightheaded even though I was sitting down. Adrian had that completely heart-wrenching effect on me - well, on all women actually. 
"He lived in the Upper Quarter," I continued, after having come back down to Earth, or at least forty thousand feet above it, "but the actual house he lived in has long since been demolished. He lived almost seventy years before me after all. But there is a small park in the lot where it used to be, though far as I can tell, no one actually goes there. In fact, none of the locals will speak of him, and many deny his having lived in Milmont."
"How would imagine he would be something of a local hero. That book is quite renowned."
"Ye-es...well, my grandmother told me this story often as a child. She seemed to be impervious to the taboo of speaking of him. It was because of a curse you see, and a curse has a curious way of making people think it is catching. Although this curse, as it was explained to me, seems very deed-specific."Adrian looked thoughtful.
"A curse, huh? Milmont is certainly a rich tapestry of the mythological and fanciful. However did you become so very rational and judicious, my dear?" His tone held a familiar lightness in which she recognized a teasing playfulness. I pressed on, suppressing my slight envy of his clipped British accent and masterful vocabulary. 
"Perseverance," I replied in mock-seriousness, and continued, "Before Carlyle was famous, before he had any sort of literary aspiration, he was a simple and somewhat antisocial clerk at Milmont First Citizen Bank. He was 23 years old and expected to marry a young farm girl by the name of Ilsa. Ilsa was plain and disagreeable and he was quite unhappy about the marriage but as he himself was a man without means, he had no other suitable options, and a marriage to Ilsa insured him the ownership of her elderly father's land. With the wedding (and the rest of what was surely to be his sad, wasted life) loomed ever closer, Carlyle was tormented by horrible recurring dreams in which one of his school mates haunted him. This particular school mate had died in front of Carlyle on the school playground at Forsythe Elementary. There is a statue there that I can take you to when we arrive, if you'd like. He died of asphyxiation, but the whole affair was rather mysterious - besides the statue there is not a lot else you can find out about the poor doomed boy.   Carlyle's dreams grew more and more feverish, until the day before the wedding. The ghost of his former school mate wanted to speak with him, sincerely, of his lost hopes and dreams and what growing up was like. David found himself enjoying the dream, despite the eeriness with which he had always felt emanating from the boy, even when he was alive. It was then that this dream ghost and he became friends. The wedding, however, went on as planned, and David's depression grew. He quit his job at the bank as soon as Ilsa's father passed. He had still not consummated the marriage after many months and Ilsa was growing increasingly concerned and agitated by this fact. She became extremely irritable and her treatment of Carlyle decreased until nothing but hate was shared between them.  To escape his failed marriage and professional life, Carlyle retreated into the world of sleep, often taking sleeping aids to extend the length of his unconsciousness. It was while talking to the ghost that an idea began to form in his mind. The ghost of the boy who had died in the playground often spoke of how he had longed to be a writer when he grew up. He lamented greatly the fact that this would never be true. He even went as far to tell the story he would have written, the new American Classic. It was surely to be a great, revered book and Carlyle listened with interest as his friend recounted the tales of his protagonist. It was there and then, in the dreamworld, that Carlyle's idea took shape. He would write the book. It was obvious. It was a great story, and now, he realized, his own sub-conscious had been trying to find a way to tell him that this was his destiny. He understood it all perfectly now. He awoke in a great stir, to find Ilsa hovering over him. She had been driven nearly insane by her husband's mistreatment and abandon of her. She had been just about to smother him to death at the very moment he awoke. Instead of surprise at finding his wife perched above him holding a fluffy down pillow, he tossed it aside and grabbed her, consummating the marriage almost a year too late. Ilsa responded with fervour and when their passion subsided he immediately went into town, bought a typewriter and brought it back to the house. He began Lost in Thought that night."
A stewardess came around pushing a trolley, with whispers of refreshments on her pouty painted lips, interrupting my monologue. She stared at Adrian and he took absolutely no notice of her, his blue eyes focused on me. I smiled as she handed me a bottle of water with, I couldn't help but notice, a look of infuriated bewilderment on her pretty face. I didn't blame her. I was just as perplexed about Adrian's attraction to me as she was. 
"So the premise of the book came to him in his dreams. I wish I had interesting dreams like that, or at least bloody well remember the ones I do have." I disagreed with him on this, although I didn't bother to say anything. Sometimes I wished my dreams would be forgotten on the moment of waking. Dreamless sleep seemed almost like a privilege. 
"Yes, that's right. But the myth goes like this - it came to him in his dream, but it wasn't his idea. It was ghost boy's. And after the publication and positive reviews of Lost in Thought, his dreams took on a certain...quality that they had had in the beginning. His apparition was extremely angry that Carlyle had stolen his idea, no matter the space/time, dream/reality borders that existed. It was his idea, he insisted, his story to tell, and stories and ideas and thoughts were spaceless and timeless and deathless. The dreams became increasingly frenetic and terrifying. Even though he was on top of the world, the very darling of literary circles in the States and Europe, had enough money to buy whatever his heart desired, and was now enjoying a happy marriage with a much better looking Ilsa (money can buy looks at least, if not happiness) - even though he had all these things, he still battled the demon of his nightmares. He was sleep deprived and refused to eat and one day he returned to Forsythe elementary, stood at the base of the statue and shot himself in the head." Adrian's eyes were as wide as saucers.
"I hadn't realized he committed suicide. I thought he lived in extreme isolation until his death of old age?" I nodded, screwing and unscrewing the water bottle's cap. 
"It's what everyone believes to be true. But the truth is that Ilsa spread that rumor for whatever reason. To save face, for her own perversions, I'm not really sure." Adrian's hand was back on mine again.
"I adore listening to your stories, love," he said, and his voice grew husky and low and set my heart off pounding again. "You have a real and true ability for weaving a tale. It makes me unendingly happy knowing that I have the love of such a talented woman." The look in his eyes went from lusty to serious. "And I want you to know that I am here for you. I am glad to be able to come home with you. I know this must be hard." There was no escaping this conversation. He wanted to talk about it. "It" being my parent's recent yet untimely death. I sighed heavily. 
"Adrian..." I started, but then all the fight went out of me and my eyes began to close and my hand grew slack in his grip. "I'm just so exhausted, we'll talk about this later, when we get there..." The sleep grabbed at me, as it always does when I need a way out or some time to think. Adrian, and I'm sure the few others who had heard the story of David Carlyle and his dreamworld which soon became his real world surely took it at face value - a man's descent into insanity and disorder. But I, much like a child who has grown into an adult but who no one informed that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are make-believe, supposed otherwise. My dreamworld seemed as real to me as Adrian's fingertips or the steeliness of the plane we were flying on. The people who resided there (which I'm sure any psychologist would have a field day deciphering) were, if not my friends, at least my peers and I often listened to what they had to say. If they were not separate entities, they were at least the manifestation of my deep sub-consciousness, I reasoned. They were worth listening to, even if most of what they said was mindless blabber bubbling up from the recesses of an overworked and particularly imaginative mind.

The End

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