I Dream of Monks and Cinderella
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.
I am helping him pack. Who? I donâ€™t know.
Heâ€™s just the man in the dream, one of these surreal dream-visions I sometimes have. Heâ€™s so close that I can feel the heat off his body and yet, itâ€™s almost as if heâ€™s so close that I canâ€™t see him. Like my eyes wonâ€™t Â focus on anything that near. Heâ€™s just a presence.
The only clue to his identity is that he has a very trim waistline, and thatâ€™s based on the tag I see on the folded pants Â on Â the Â unmade bed. Â I Â re-read Â the Â size Â tag Â and glance over at his waistline and smile to Â myself. Â White shirt. Â Button-down. Â Long Â sleeves. Professional. Â 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.
Thereâ€™s texture all around this man. A texture about him. There are suitcases on the bed. Stacks of clothes and belongings. Heâ€™s leaving.
This place heâ€™s leaving is his, not mine. Itâ€™s been his home but it doesnâ€™t feel that way and heâ€™sâ€¦plotting Â an escape.
Heâ€™s in a place he didnâ€™t really want to be, and heâ€™s been living the life of a monkâ€¦of sorts. Doing without. And the doing without Â has Â been his own creation. Â Itâ€™s been a life of starkness, Â of very little, of few comforts, here in this little room with a bed and dresser and his clothes. Â Itâ€™s almost as if heâ€™s been sleeping on the floor without a blanket or a pillow under his head. Itâ€™s like heâ€™s soldÂ or given Â away Â all his Â possessionsâ€”physical, Â emotional, and spiritual wealthâ€”to cloister himself here. Heâ€™s been learning just how little it takes to liveâ€¦or at least, to survive.
Heâ€™s having trouble packing. He doesnâ€™t know what to take with Â him or what, of all the stacks piled on his bed, he even wants anymore. Heâ€™s not sure of what heâ€™ll need when he leaves or which attire will be best to don. All he knows is that heâ€™s leaving, and itâ€™s the middle of the night and he has insomnia.
Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m here. Not to talk to him or to distract him. Iâ€™m here to help him pack. Itâ€™s not that he needs my help to pack or to leave, or even that he wants my help, but itâ€™s taking too long and thatâ€™s why Iâ€™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, Â pull Â him Â in other directions Â and away Â from packing and heâ€™s frustrated by the slowness of his efforts even though the packing is going much faster now.
I help with one suitcase heâ€™s walked away from and left open and half-packed. In it goes business casual shirts and pants, Â a pair of loafers Â with extra Â padding Â on the soles, swim trunks, gym shorts, faded jeans, and T-shirts with very little sleeve or somewhatâ€”LOLâ€”stretched out at the bicep. I pack them neatly for him while he stares off into the distance. But the suitcase is large and thereâ€™s much to pack and itâ€™s not all here on this unmade bed.
I scoop Â up Â fresh Â linens Â and Â a Â blanketâ€”from Â the floorâ€”and put them in the suitcase. I pack his toiletries, too.
We leave his room and I follow him to another place I do Â not Â know, Â a Â business Â of Â sorts. Â A Â stucco Â building. ShakeÂ roof, Â I Â think. Â It Â reminds Â me Â of Â the Â Merchantsâ€™ Walk suite where I worked Â years ago before Â they Â converted to metal shingles, except the windows are different. Inside isâ€¦commercial. Boring furniture. Bland walls. Industrial. An office building, and not a very exciting one at that. Thereâ€™s an energy here of many people, with corners of it less often violated, and thatâ€™s where we are.
Itâ€™s still the middle of the night, and no oneâ€™s here. Weâ€™re not supposed to be here either. Thereâ€™s an element of anxiety if not danger. Police or security guards pass by this place on a regular basis, and we Â canâ€™t afford to be seen tonight.
He knows how to get inside. Iâ€™m not sure he has a key, but he has Â knowledge of how and where to enter. We park close and undetected Â 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. Thereâ€™s more to retrieve but he needs an extra suitcase. He doesnâ€™t have the capacity to carry it all. Heâ€™s acquired more here than heâ€™d thought.
He is detained as he exits, and he explains away his presence with a lovely logic that no one can argue with.
Iâ€™m in the shadows and unseen, standing there with his baggage, Â like Â a Â secret Â kept Â carefully Â hidden. Â And Â then weâ€™re safely outside. The doors lock behind him, the windows slam shut. As far as I can see, thereâ€™s no way back in. We are safe, but the only drawback is that now that heâ€™s Â exited this place, he cannot go back, and heâ€™s not sure he likes that door being closed.
Iâ€™m not sure what happens Â 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. Heâ€™ll need them, and Iâ€™m not sure whereâ€™s heâ€™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 Â glass Â slipper. Â Just Â think Â of me Â as Â the Â Queen Â of Wands, perusing the kingdom for a man whoâ€™s perfectly sized to fill those pants.