Kate awoke from her same-day surgery in pain. Groggily, she requested and got a dose of pain medication, drifting off thankfully into the blessed relief of sleep. To her surprise, there was so much going on in that twilit world. She felt amazed and gratified to finally see what she’d been missing.
“I never dream,” she’d often declared, daring someone to contradict her. “No, I mean it: I have never, ever had a dream, at least not one that I could remember when I woke.”
Kate’s friends recounted many colorful dreams in tiresome detail. She’d suspected they were making things up just to get attention. But now she understood what they’d been talking about. Life was magical in dreamland.
“Water, now,” she said to her water bottle, and it magically filled itself.
“Bradley Cooper, over here,” she called, and there he was. She lost herself in his amazing blue eyes. Lounging at the edge of the azure pool, she sipped fancy drinks and enjoyed a foot massage. What had she been missing all these years? When she felt chilly, Bradley draped a cashmere robe around her shoulders, settling it with a playful tickle on her neck.
“Kate, wake up. Wake up, Kate. We have to get you up and moving. Time to go home.”
How rude, Kate reflected. I just had surgery; don’t I get to at least sleep off the anesthesia?
Apparently not. Reluctantly, she allowed herself to be jostled and half-lifted into a sitting position. Her mouth felt like a desert.
“Water, now!” she rasped.
The nurse looked at her strangely. “Okay, sure. Here you go.”
“Where is he?” Kate demanded. “I want him to drive me home.”
“You know, Bradley Cooper. He was here a minute ago. And I want my cashmere robe.”
“We’re fresh out of movie stars, honey. And you didn’t bring a robe with you. Here, if you’re cold we’ve got these heated blankets.”
Over the next few days of recovery at home, Kate kept dreaming despite having stopped taking the pain medication. She could hardly wait to go to sleep now. It was so interesting! Little dreamscapes, strange, delightful or scary, stuck in her memory like shards of glass in a kaleidoscope. A pizza pan caught in the branches of a tree. Traveling in a car, discovering she was in the back seat and no one was driving. The return of a long-dead pet. She actually looked for that pet when she awoke, it seemed so real.
One night she had a dream within a dream: she found she could summon the azure pool and Bradley all over again, only this time she could influence what happened. She was beautiful; she and Brad lived in a mansion; they went to the best parties; they spent long, langorous afternoons in bed. Part of her mind reminded her she was dreaming. Wasn’t she?
Daytime began to seem insubstantial, while dreamtime became more and more vivid. She no longer knew nor cared where the dividing line fell between the two. Sleep stretched out to ten, twelve, fourteen hours at a time. She missed work, dates with friends, appointments. When she didn’t show up at her job on the third straight day, her boss called the police. A rookie cop broke through the door and found Kate, but she couldn’t be roused. Paramedics arrived with remarkable speed, almost as if they’d been just around the corner, waiting
“Is she…dead? Or in a coma or something?” The young policeman’s voice was unsteady. He’d never seen anything like this.
“No,” said the guy with the stretcher, “she’s just sleeping. We’ll handle it from here.”
He had the bluest eyes.