Dreams Are Not Real
by Paul Bowman
When he’s done he lies on his back for maybe a minute before he lifts his arm to check his watch. I know I didn’t have much time. He will leave soon.
He turns. His face says: are you nuts?
Tony’s jaw, mouth, lips do not move.
He rolls out of bed, bends down to pick up his shorts.
I missed my period.
That gets his attention. He turns. You better not be pregnant, he says.
Like I have a choice in the matter.
We look at each other real tense. He holds his underwear in his right hand. Right then Tony looks so ordinary. Thin, scrawny, not so proud. His penis, the thing that had just been inside me, hangs down, soft and small. Something he uses to urinate with.
Take care of it, he says.
Take care of it?
I say real nervous What does that mean?
I get out of bed on my side and walk over to Tony. I grab his hand.
I don’t want to---
He pulls his hand away.
I want to say I can’t face this by myself, but he doesn’t want to hear what I have to say.
I am so frustrated. I put my hand on his smooth chest. Then, in a second, he shoves me. THUMP. My ass is on the floor. It’s not the first time he’s shoved me.
Tony gets dressed as fast as he can. He wants to get the hell out. Like the motel room is going to go up in flames any second. I stay on the floor and watch. I know it is over between us. I know he’s going to drive home to his mother, probably tell her nothing, NOTHING, slink to his bedroom, read his GUNS AND AMMO magazine, and we will never see each other again.
Why did I fall for a forty-year old who lives with his mother? A mama’s boy.
And why did my uterus decide to make a baby?
After he slams the door I hear his footsteps, then the car starting up. I sit on the edge of the bed and try to make myself cry. I can’t.
I begin to think maybe a pregnancy will be a good thing. In a way. Having a baby and caring for it will be a lot of work, but it is time for me to have one. I will have to live in Mom and Dad’s basement. A woman my age living in a basement. Pathetic.
I stand, go to the bathroom. On the sink counter are small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion. I consider drinking all three no matter how bad they taste.
I fall asleep in a chair in the motel room, a blanket up to my chin. In my sleep I dream. In my dream I see the future. It happens like a movie, only faster, without the sound. My baby is a boy. I name him David. After the king in the Bible. When David is two, three, five, seven we are the best of friends. He doesn’t know he has a father and doesn’t ask. He is happy, cheerful. He grows and grows. He begins to look like Tony. In small ways. The shape of his nose. His eyes. The length of his limbs.
David gets into high school. He’s popular with the girls. He gets into the theater program. Has the lead role in Les Miserables. I am so proud.
Tony dies. His obituary is in the paper. I don’t tell David. But somehow he finds out. How I don’t know. He is angry with me. It shows in small ways. He doesn’t stay home much. He couch surfs. When he is home his moody silence fills the house.
He gets a girl pregnant. The girl and her mother come to me. She is a pretty girl. She has been crying. I ask her if she loves my son. No, she says. Not after he punched me in the stomach to kill the baby, fetus, whatever you call it.
Why is it that I am not shocked? That my throat and mouth are silent? I know in that instant that truth of my life, my son’s inheritance from his father’s genes, and the pregnant girl’s bleak, lonely future.
He will not care for the child. He will not love what is his. He will refuse. He will hide. Just like the man who created him with vigorous strokes to my body. And there is nothing that can be done. Nothing.
I offer to house her in my basement. Her mother says no. She will do it.
The faces and voices fade. My dream ends and I wake. I pull away the blanket, rise, go to the door, step out. I am half clothed and bare foot. The night, dark and cool. I walk across the motel parking lot. The silent cars look new in the moonlight. I pray to God. God doesn’t answer. God doesn’t care.
I want to have this baby.
I see a stray cat moving between the shrubs of the building. Its yellow eyes stare at me. Am I a predator? Something evil? The animal moves behind the thick bushes to hide.
Dreams are not real, I tell myself. They do not reveal the future.
My child will be a kind, decent human. I must believe that. I must.
Dreams are not real.
Paul Bowman, a retired maintenance man, writes plays & fictions. He has had twelve productions of his one-act plays. Eleven of his stories, flash to full-length, have been published in The Chiron Review, Conceit, Downstate, The Storyteller, Trajectory, Southern Fried Karma, Green Hills Literary Lantern, and elsewhere. One stage monologue has been published. Best-selling novels and Academy Award-winning screenplays: zero.