A Kiss to Build a Dream On by JoAnn Baca

 

  
Vincent jerked awake, trembling, a fine sheen of sweat on his forehead, quilts in disarray. That dream again … for the third night in a row. Sitting up in bed, he shook his head in an attempt to clear it of the last wisps of imagery. It was no use. The vision was engraved in his mind’s eye, seared into his brain through a blistering combination of repetition and desire.

There would be no return to sleep tonight. The dream was lurking on the edges of his consciousness. If he slumbered, it would appear to torment him once more, as it had every night since Catherine had left for California.

His gaze sought the shell which had arrived a few hours before nightfall, couched in a boxful of sand, Catherine’s note tucked inside. He rose and approached the table on which it lay, reaching for the folded notepaper.

 Vincent, it’s the strangest thing. We’ve never been so far apart. And yet I can feel you with me so deeply. Sometimes as if I’m seeing things through your eyes. The sun is coming up now. The sky is pink. The ocean is deep purple and I feel like a child.

A shiver ran through him. His eyes grew unfocused as he remembered his dream. How like the description written in Catherine’s delicate hand it was. He remembered the incredible sense of openness, how odd it felt to be somewhere far away from the security of walls, chambers…in a place with no shadows to hide within. He didn’t need to read her words to recall the image of gulls crying as they swooped close to the waves, the sensation of sunlight on his upturned face, the taste of salt spray on his lips, the sound of the waves as they crashed against the shore ... the feel of Catherine in his arms and … that kiss.

After a moment he shook himself from his reverie, returning to the words on the paper.

And the feeling is so one of solitude, except you’re here too. I find myself talking to you, listening to you. This morning I think we walked for miles together. Just you and me. And it was so clear, Vincent, I didn’t think I imagined it! I think we walked for miles together.

His hands shook as he refolded the letter and laid it reverently by the shell. Returning to his rumpled bed, Vincent sat on the edge, staring despondently at the carpet beneath his feet. He lifted one hand to rub his tired eyes, trying and failing to banish the burning, gritty feeling brought on by consecutive nights of interrupted sleep. A deep sigh shook his large frame as he surrendered to the futility of seeking more rest.

Tapping reached his ears – a sentry call of “all clear” and then the time: 3:00 a.m. Pushing off from the bed, Vincent strode to his armoire, pulled it open, and began to dress. He would relieve Jamie now, affording her an extra few hours of sleep. Perhaps the alertness required for sentry duty would keep his mind from probing too deeply into the dream he had awoken to escape.

* * *

Catherine’s eyelids fluttered open. Morning sunlight filtered through the gauze curtains of her hotel room. She smiled, remembering the vivid dream she’d had, and stretched her arms wide as she yawned. She had slept long and well, which was unusual when she was away from home. Perhaps it was because she was eager to re-enter the wonderful dream that had been her nightly companion since she’d arrived in California.

What she’d written to Vincent in the note which had accompanied the special shell she’d found was true up to a point. What she hadn’t said was that the largest part of what she’d written was from her dreams. Of course, she had actually visited the beach, gazed out over the vast stretch of restless blue-grey ocean, even walked along the shore for a while. But then she had sat beneath the outcropping of a rocky cliff and had a kind of waking dream, one filled with Vincent, the shore, the sunlight … and the kiss that had seemed so real she had tasted it, tasted his lips, their warmth - the urgency of his kiss pulsating through their Bond, causing an endless echoing vibration between them. Even now, while awake, if she closed her eyes she could summon that distinctive thrumming, feel it cascading through her, evoking a response from deep within her core. Oh, she wanted that kiss! She craved it. And she could have it every night in her dreams.

Even though she had just awakened, she found herself wishing for nightfall to come soon. She could hardly wait to fall asleep again … and dream.

* * *

The breeze sweeping across the shore ruffled his hair as he pulled her close within the circle of his embrace. One hand stole from her waist to her face, cupping her jaw, his thumb brushing gently against her cheek, caressing the softness of her sun-kissed skin. The white dress, made of crisp percale, rustled as she pressed closer to him.  He tilted her face to his and watched as her eyelashes swept against her cheeks, her eyes closing in anticipation. He didn’t make her wait. Bending to her mouth, he kissed her, felt the lush softness of her lips pressed against the padded muzzle of his own upper lip. It should have felt strange, but no … it felt so right, so good. He had thirsted for her for so long, but that time was over.

She offered him her mouth so willingly, so fervently. He kissed her again and again, drinking in the freedom of a kiss – her kiss – in the sunlight. The white-crested waves crashed and fell into gentle ripples that lapped at their feet, the gulls cawed and swirled in the bright blue dome of sky above them, but all else in the world was silence. When their lips parted, the pressure easing, it was all he could do to take a breath before he bent to experience the sensation again - of Catherine’s willing mouth clinging to his. The unbridled joy of it nearly undid him. She wanted this, wanted him, all he had to give, and oh, yes, he wanted her ….

But … what was he doing in this strange place? The sky … so crystalline blue … was dangerous, unfamiliar, so unlike the comforting darkness that had cocooned him all his life. He was with his beloved Catherine, yes … sharing something amazing, something he longed for to the depths of his being. But the risk - being out in the open, on a broad, sunlit expanse of sandy beach with even the scant cover of the cliffs many yards away … completely exposed, were anyone could see them … see him ….

Wrenching himself awake, Vincent sprang from the bed, panting, disoriented, panic filling him. He was expecting the scent of salt water, the glare of sunlight in his eyes, the open expanse of empty shoreline … Catherine clinging close ….

Instead, his empty arms ached, even as his mind whirled with the mingled disappointment and dread that awakening from the dream had evoked in him. Why was his mind such a traitor? Why did his dreams mock him so? This was something impossible, something it distressed him to dream. It was too terrifying. Too wonderful. Too much.

* * *


Gina nudged Catherine. She had been dozing through the movie on their flight back to New York. “It’s time to put our seatbacks in the upright position … and get our minds out of the gutter,” Gina remarked, smiling knowingly at her. Catherine blushed, realizing she had been moaning softly in her sleep as she once more shared an amazing kiss with the man – she smiled wryly at her complete thought – the man of her dreams. She nodded her thanks.

“I hated to wake you up,” Gina added, eyes alight with mischief. “You definitely were having a better time than I was.”

Catherine laughed. “You have no idea!”

* * *


           

“I could feel you watching over me. I heard you call out. Vincent, you saved me!” In his arms she felt whole again, home again.

“Catherine, this bond we share … this connection …”

“Yes, that strong!”

Catherine sighed with relief as she sank once more into Vincent’s arms. For a long time they said no more, only savored the intimacy of their shared embrace.

Too soon for Catherine, Vincent pulled away from her, and reluctantly she let him. His face seemed drawn, troubled. She sensed that there was something amiss, despite his gladness at her arrival. 

“What is it, Vincent?” Her concern was reflected in her eyes, worried suddenly that he had been struggling with some difficulty without her.

He heaved a gusty sigh, then turned from her and moved to the balustrade of her balcony. “I haven’t slept well, that’s all.”
           
“Try again.” She came up beside him then turned her back to the balustrade and leaned against it so she could face him. “The lack of sleep is only the symptom. What’s the problem?”

The corners of his unique mouth turned upwards in a slight, sad smile. “I can’t hide anything from you anymore.”

“I’m glad of that. You’ve held too much inside for too long. I’m here now, so please … tell me.” She laid a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it, silently reinforcing the urging of her words.

His eyelids drifted closed and he turned his head away from her. Almost guiltily, he said, “I’ve been having … dreams.”

“Yes?”

“When … when I received the shell … your note … it was as if …”

Catherine pushed away from the balustrade, wrapping her arms around one of his. Laying her cheek against his shoulder, she murmured, “My vision of us, walking along the shore, it affected you?”

“More than that.” Sighing, he tilted his head to rest his cheek against the crown of her head. “My dreams … echoed what you wrote to me.”

“You mean … through our Bond we may have … dreamed the same dream?”

She felt him nod.

“It’s why I haven’t slept well. At a … certain point … the dream became … unbearable.” The last word was spoken in a husky, pained whisper that hurt Catherine to hear.

“My dream … the one I looked forward to every night while I was gone … always ended with us embracing … kissing. Did yours?”

He clearly hesitated before admitting, “Yes.”

“And that dream … that was unbearable to you?”

Another nod.

“I wonder how our Bond could have given us the same dream but such different emotional responses,” she mused.

He didn’t respond.

Fleetingly, she despaired that, even in dreams, such intimacy was an impossible step for Vincent. Unless there was something else at play, something she was missing … a puzzle piece that, once found, could lend clarity to this seeming dichotomy.

She decided to approach the problem by dissecting the dream. Perhaps she could discover the source of Vincent’s apprehension and learn from it. Immediately her thoughts centered on the most cherished part of her dream, so she reflected, “In mine, the kiss was joyous … glorious … wonderful.”

For a long moment Vincent didn’t speak. Finally he admitted, “In mine, as well. But Catherine … standing in the sunlight by the ocean … this can never be. To have this dream … to know you shared it and wanted it so much … it’s unbearable to me because it’s impossible.”

His revelation flooded through her. Catherine suddenly viewed the dream from the prism of Vincent’s perspective. It had been easy for her to focus on the essential element that gave her such pleasure – the one thing she had never experienced before: his kiss. But for him, it was all uncharted territory; the setting was as exotic and unknown as every other aspect of the shared dream. What was incidental to Catherine was an inextricable part of the whole for him. No wonder it was painful for him, thinking that every aspect of the dream was equally important to her … and that so much of it was impossible for him to experience with her.

“The sunlight, the sea air, the beach, that was all nice … but irrelevant. What was important was the feel of your strength encircling me, the warm, tender pressure of your lips on mine … that was the part of the dream I sought each night. That’s why I welcomed it and didn’t want it to end.” She lifted her head from his shoulder and looked up into his face, causing him to straighten and look directly into her frank gaze. “I don’t want it to be just a dream, Vincent. I … I want it. Not the sunlight, not the beach … just your kiss. Just you.”

In his mind’s eye the vision of the two of them – heads bent towards each other, lips meeting in passion – the dream image that had burned in his memory long after waking – stripped of the setting that had caused such fearfulness to well up within him, transformed in that instant from a torment to a prophecy. Everything else fell away, revealing that the strength of their Bond lay not in the dream they had shared but in their shared Dream.

Chan's drawing: Vincent is kissing Catherine, his hand on her face, the ocean behind them


The power of that Dream had reached across a continent … and now it reached across the few inches separating them.

Vincent bent to Catherine; she leaned into him … As their lips met in a perfect melding of memory and desire, Vincent heard an oddly familiar sound from far, far away … the crash of a wave meeting the shore. And farther away still, the echo of a gull, calling across the open sky.

And the Dream became reality.

 

 

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