I met the real Flower Anne in a dream. It was well over a year ago now, but I remember everything important about the dream.
It was on the campus of what I’m pretty sure is Northwestern State University Louisiana. It’s hard to know for absolute sure because it’s not where I went to college and I have never even been to Louisiana except in dreams. I remembered before meeting her, that I had been walking along the bank of a river that ran nearby the campus before cutting across the big parched lawn. The buildings on the campus that I could see were brick and there were lots of trees.
Flower was dressed in a purple and white girl’s tennis uniform with an L-shaped logo. She doesn’t look anything like me. Her thin blond hair was tied loosely behind her head and the fallen strands hung down the sides of her face. She was a little taller than I was and her thin lips and pretty smile reminded me so much of Jessi, but with a thin sprinkling of freckles on her cheeks. It was a hot summer day and she was carrying her rackets in one hand and her bag with a towel draped over it in the other. We walked the rest of the way across the lawn to the tennis courts.
She tossed her bag and the towel to a bench, tossed me one of her rackets and tossed her hair out of her face. “Grab a court,” she said.
“You’re kidding, right?” I asked. I thought she was just coming to hit off the wall. I can play tennis well enough to hit the ball over the net and occasionally get it into the other court. Flower had a shelf full of trophies I seemed to be familiar with.
“C’mon,” she laughed, “I just need a rally partner. I have to get in some practice before my match.”
I jogged over to the other side of the net and began to volley the ball over the net with her. It was surprisingly much easier in a dream, and I didn’t even have to concentrate as we engaged in a casual conversation that began with her laughing. “Haha. I thought you said you couldn’t play. Good thing this isn’t for real or you might beat my butt.” Dream or no dream, I wasn’t hitting it that well and she was just teasing me.
I was not at home. I wasn’t sure how far I had had to travel to visit her, but I didn’t think I lived at all close. She was telling me about her engagement to a guy she met at school. I had never met him and the things I had heard I didn’t like. I was laughing and saying things like, “You said no, right?” and “You know he doesn’t really love you.” I was really only saying them because I didn’t like the thought of losing my friend.
Eventually, she got really upset. “Shut up!” She snatched the ball with her hand and served it at me as hard as she could. I couldn’t even begin to react and it struck me in the neck just above my right collarbone. “You just don’t get it do you?” she screamed at me. She threw down her racket and stormed over to pick up the towel and buried her face in it. I wasn’t laughing anymore.
I walked around the net and picked up the ball and then her racket and walked over to where she stood crying. “Hey, I’m sorry okay? What’s the matter? Are you okay?”
She kept her face in the towel.
Finally she looked up at me. The tears streamed down her cheeks again as soon as she pulled the towel away. “I’m pregnant,” she said. Her voice sounded lost.
I didn’t know what to say. In the context of her condition, the things I had said to her couldn’t have been any more horrible, but I didn’t know quite how to apologize without making things worse. “It’ll be okay,” I said.
She didn’t seem to be concerned with anything I’d said anymore. She nodded her head, wiped her eyes again and then in an instant mood swing she was smiling. “Let’s go,” she said.
I was surprised. “But what about your practice?” I asked.
“Forget about that,” she answered. She handed me her bag and put her free arm around my neck. “C’mon, I have something to show you.”
That night and almost every night for a month I remembered seeing Flower Anne when I woke up. Over that month, she showed me a long succession of dreams that were all about her. They had little else in common. They were often horribly tragic although it was clear she didn’t consider any of them nightmares. She was always a different person, as if she changed personalities and even bodies the way I change my clothes when I get in a mood, but it was always her and I would always see her beautiful thin-lipped smile to remind me. That smile will live with me now, I’m sure for the rest of my life.
© 2010 Anne Schilde