I Dream of Monks and Cinderella
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.
I am helping him pack. Who? I don’t know.
He’s just the man in the dream, one of these surreal dream-visions I sometimes have. He’s so close that I can feel the heat off his body and yet, it’s almost as if he’s so close that I can’t see him. Like my eyes won’t focus on anything that near. He’s just a presence.
The only clue to his identity is that he has a very trim waistline, and that’s based on the tag I see on the folded pants on the unmade bed. I re-read the size tag and glance over at his waistline and smile to myself. White shirt. Button-down. Long sleeves. Professional. Tucked into light brown pants. Good weave. Professional. Would be soft to the touch. Yes, a waistline trim enough to make any woman envious. Or lustful.
There’s texture all around this man. A texture about him. There are suitcases on the bed. Stacks of clothes and belongings. He’s leaving.
This place he’s leaving is his, not mine. It’s been his home but it doesn’t feel that way and he’s…plotting an escape.
He’s in a place he didn’t really want to be, and he’s been living the life of a monk…of sorts. Doing without. And the doing without has been his own creation. It’s been a life of starkness, of very little, of few comforts, here in this little room with a bed and dresser and his clothes. It’s almost as if he’s been sleeping on the floor without a blanket or a pillow under his head. It’s like he’s sold or given away all his possessions—physical, emotional, and spiritual wealth—to cloister himself here. He’s been learning just how little it takes to live…or at least, to survive.
He’s having trouble packing. He doesn’t know what to take with him or what, of all the stacks piled on his bed, he even wants anymore. He’s not sure of what he’ll need when he leaves or which attire will be best to don. All he knows is that he’s leaving, and it’s the middle of the night and he has insomnia.
That’s why I’m here. Not to talk to him or to distract him. I’m here to help him pack. It’s not that he needs my help to pack or to leave, or even that he wants my help, but it’s taking too long and that’s why I’m here. Not to prod or rant or fuss, but to boost his efforts.
It takes a while to pack his bags. Longer than it takes me to pack my own. Other things, even in the middle of the night, pull him in other directions and away from packing and he’s frustrated by the slowness of his efforts even though the packing is going much faster now.
I help with one suitcase he’s walked away from and left open and half-packed. In it goes business casual shirts and pants, a pair of loafers with extra padding on the soles, swim trunks, gym shorts, faded jeans, and T-shirts with very little sleeve or somewhat—LOL—stretched out at the bicep. I pack them neatly for him while he stares off into the distance. But the suitcase is large and there’s much to pack and it’s not all here on this unmade bed.
I scoop up fresh linens and a blanket—from the floor—and put them in the suitcase. I pack his toiletries, too.
We leave his room and I follow him to another place I do not know, a business of sorts. A stucco building. Shake roof, I think. It reminds me of the Merchants’ Walk suite where I worked years ago before they converted to metal shingles, except the windows are different. Inside is…commercial. Boring furniture. Bland walls. Industrial. An office building, and not a very exciting one at that. There’s an energy here of many people, with corners of it less often violated, and that’s where we are.
It’s still the middle of the night, and no one’s here. We’re not supposed to be here either. There’s an element of anxiety if not danger. Police or security guards pass by this place on a regular basis, and we can’t afford to be seen tonight.
He knows how to get inside. I’m not sure he has a key, but he has knowledge of how and where to enter. We park close and undetected behind the building. We slip in through an unattended entrance, careful not to set off any alarms, and in the dark corners of the building, with him nervously watching the doors, I lift the stacks of things to be packed and tuck them away in the suitcases so he can leave. There’s more to retrieve but he needs an extra suitcase. He doesn’t have the capacity to carry it all. He’s acquired more here than he’d thought.
He is detained as he exits, and he explains away his presence with a lovely logic that no one can argue with.
I’m in the shadows and unseen, standing there with his baggage, like a secret kept carefully hidden. And then we’re safely outside. The doors lock behind him, the windows slam shut. As far as I can see, there’s no way back in. We are safe, but the only drawback is that now that he’s exited this place, he cannot go back, and he’s not sure he likes that door being closed.
I’m not sure what happens after that. He seems to take his baggage and move on, leaving behind more than he takes, including that which he did not mean to leave. I always check every drawer and closet whenever I leave a hotel room and so, mom that I am, I find myself back at his unmade bed, glancing swiftly over the room and realizing he left his pants behind, prettily folded on the bed. He’ll need them, and I’m not sure where’s he’s gone now. But who is he?
Never mind a Prince with a foot fetish riding through the countryside in search of a barefoot Cinderella minus her glass slipper. Just think of me as the Queen of Wands, perusing the kingdom for a man who’s perfectly sized to fill those pants.