I used to have a special place. A dreaming lake along the shore. No. A dreaming orchard along the plains. No. That’s not right either. 

Why can’t I remember?

I was young then. It was my special place where I dared to dream—created fairytales in worlds anew. I was the King of all. The ruler of the land and the creator of—the Great Creator of—what was it I created?

Few memories come to me anymore. ‘Fraid my boat has gone out to sea, lost in the fading day. But there is so little to see, as I continue on my way. Will there ever be land again? Or only blue, blue waves gently rocking me to sleep? Rocking gently me to sleep. Sleeping gently rocking.

What is happening?

Must remember. Emerald waves. No. Hills. Rolling hills of emerald beauty. West, to the west. Dammit, look to the west! The sun is down coming up from the ground. An upside-down sunset? No. Daffodils. There’s a field of daffodils. I, I can… smell them.

Light, sweet, cool. Springtime. It’s springtime. 

The air is warm as it rushes through my wavy hair. Now I can see it. My God! I can see it all. There’s land ahead!

Through the orchard, the honeybees flee. Flower to flower, tree to tree. And walking through it all, there’s little ol’ me. 

Oh, how I missed this place. The place where I’d spent so many days, months, and years of my youth. What’s in my hands? Oh, yes. Look at my little notebook. Green like the leaves. Green like the wonderful hills. I used to write many stories here. Filled the notebook, cover-to-cover. 

I was so, so, so young. 

It was all so simple here, wasn’t it? Stress. One, two, three, four, five little letters that formed a word unknown to me back then. Yes. Back then. Not now. Not here.

Where is here?

Ah! But let me stay a little longer. Just a little longer in this wonderful place. My special place.

Beyond the daffodils. That’s where the lake is. I know that. Was the ground always this soft? No. I wore shoes. Or did I?

Gray clouds. Blackening clouds. Oh, the flowers are wilting and the grass is dying. I must hurry before it all goes away.

Running. Running. Running running running.

The hills melt around me into brackish pools of faded dreams. Gnarled tree branches scratch my face.

What if I don’t make it?

Deafening booms go off behind me but I can’t stop to look. Hot wind presses against the back of my neck urging me on faster. Is that—

Almost there!

The lake. I can see the gentle waves lapping the shore. And there’s a rowboat! I must reach it before it’s too late. 

Running. Running. Running running running.

Without hesitation I dive into the warm water and swim to the rowboat. The booming behind me is growing louder and the air hotter. I have to—

Made it!

I struggle to pull myself into the boat, and right as I roll over the side, my little green notebook slips free from my hand. I reach over to grab it but it’s too late; the lake has come up and snatched it for itself.

All my stories—my life of dreams—gone. 

When I look back up all I can see is water. In every direction, water. The sea. There is no land. Only blue, blue waves gently rocking me to sleep. Rocking gently me to sleep. Sleeping gently rocking.

Think maybe sleep would be alright now. Yeah. It would be alright. 

Just for a little bit

“How’s your dad doing? Still sleeping all the time?”

“Yeah. Dr. Martin said it’s a common side effect of the new dementia meds they put him on.”

“Did you get the flowers we sent?”

“Oh, yes. They’re lovely. My dad always enjoyed daffodils and I actually just put them on his nightstand a little bit ago.”

“Great! I’m sure he’ll enjoy them then.”

“Definitely. He always use to tell me how he grew up on an apple orchard. Apparently it was right next to a daffodil farm.”

“That sounds really nice.”

“I’m sure it was. Anyway, we better get going if I want to make it on time.”

“Right. Let’s roll.”

“I appreciate you giving me a ride to work like this, Dave. It’s been hell getting around with my car in the shop again.”

“Hey, it’s no problem. You have enough to worry about with your dad and all. Besides, the kids’ school is on the way. And I’d much rather drop them off myself than let them take that deathtrap of a bus.”

“True.” The woman chuckled. “Thanks again though.”

Dave smiled and she blushed. 

“Okay,” she said before the moment became awkward. “Let’s go.”

They walked out of the gazebo toward the parking lot. It was a humid day and the air held a sweet fragrance given off by the flowers blooming in front of the building. When they reached the car, Dave held open the passenger side door. She climbed in and he shut it with a gentle click. Cold air rushed from the vents and chilled her sweat-dampened skin.

“Kept it running so we wouldn’t melt,” he said as he got into the driver’s seat. 

With the oppressive heat held at bay for the moment, the woman sank back into the seat and let the cold air wash over her. 

“Good move,” she said.

The car lurched forward when Dave put it in gear and before she realized it, they pulled out of the parking lot and were speeding their way down the main road. 

She stared out the window and watched the nursing home shrink in the distance behind them. Eventually, the blue sky swallowed the building whole, leaving only green hills in its wake. And maybe it was the exhaustion of having worked too many double shifts at the hospital, but for a second, she swore one of the clouds was a small, lonely rowboat drifting on the open sea.  Blue, blue waves gently rocking…

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