At Night We Dream
For as long as things have been written down and recorded for future generations to remember, no one had ever written what Alta was about to write.
It was morning, and Alta had awakened like everyone else to find a bright summer day filled with bird song. A breeze moved the curtains of her bedroom, causing the sunlight to move in gentle waves across her face.
She rose quickly, went to a backpack sitting in the corner, and removed a pen and notebook. Although it would have seemed innocuous to an observer, had there been one, this event would be remembered for thousands of years to come, chronicled in history books and taught in schools to countless children of Alta’s age and known throughout all of future history as The Moment.
Folding back the notebook cover, she flipped through the pages of childish scribbles, drawings and school notes until she at last found a fresh blank page that would record her words. The breeze stopped and the curtains settled, leaving the room bathed in the warm glow of thin fabric backlit by morning sun. She picked up her pen.
“I was standing with momma, but she wasn’t dead, and she bent over to kiss me. She was crying, but not because she was sad, but because she loved me so much. I could see the mountains in the distance, and they were a brilliant blue. I do not know why, but this is what happened while I was sleeping. I am happy and yet sad at the same time.”
For the first time ever, in all of the time that her people had been living, Alta had experienced what none ever had.
Alta had dreamed.
He hated how her beauty was wasted on a cell phone. It couldn’t return her kiss or brush the hair from her forehead. Yet she cradled it in her hands with far more care than he would ever receive, and her lips were closer to it than they would ever be to his. But he could dream.
She sat outside on a folding chair, a flurry of activity moving about her as the crew prepared for another shot. Closing his eyes, he could follow the graceful line of her forehead down to her nose and onto her mouth. It was a pleasant image.
“Dan,” a voice shattered his daydream. The director was standing beside him. Dan replied like all invisible men reply.
“I was thinking that it would be better to start with an extreme close up of the blinking light on the face panel rather than …”
Dan stopped listening, because he would agree with the director regardless of what he had to say, because it was an inconsequential matter in the grand scheme of things, and mostly because the woman on the cell phone was walking toward them. She was the set stylist, and Dan knew nothing about her except that she was beautiful and could care less if he existed. This was confirmed by the fact that as she approached, her eyes flashed in recognition at the director, ignoring Dan’s presence entirely.
Like all good directors, Jack immediately turned his attention to the beautiful woman, and she smiled. “Hi Gretchen,” he said as she passed. Dan watched the swish of her hips, and experienced a sense of emptiness. It was the feeling of being invisible.
Dan couldn’t pinpoint the precise moment that he became invisible, but it seemed to coincide with his second marriage, which coincided with his getting older, which coincided with his flesh tiring and another 20 pounds finding its way onto his frame. “Bubba” was his new nickname and he hated it. Not that he was fat, Dan would contend. Fat was big, walrus-y flesh that required buying XXX-large. That wasn’t Dan. He was still X-large.
Contrary to popular opinion, invisibility sucked. It didn’t let you slip quietly out of a boring meeting or eavesdrop on conversations. When entering a bar, you still paid a cover charge. And most disturbing, when Dan looked into the mirror, he saw the invisible man’s reflection. It was Bubba.
“…and move onto the hallway shot.”
Dan nodded in agreement. “Nice” he replied, and under his breath added “like her ass.”
“What?” Jack asked.
Being invisible didn’t mean being inaudible.
“Class. It’ll add class.”
Later that evening, after the martini shot had been applauded and a production assistant had dropped him off at his hotel, Dan stopped at the lobby bar for his own martini. Dinner was out of the question, not because he wasn’t hungry, but because he was invisible. Bubba would just have to starve.
Dan had never imagined that one day he would be sitting by himself in an elegant bar surrounded by beautiful women and feel so depressed. It was as if a cone of isolation had been lowered around him and everyone was dutifully avoiding contact. A generously endowed blonde looked his way, and for a moment Dan thought she might actually be looking at him, until a young stud slid past his shoulder and onto the seat next to her.
The ride up the elevator was uneventful, his key card worked after the second try, and the bed was turned down and ready. A nice little mint awaited him, which Bubba promptly devoured. He and Dan wrestled over the remote control, until Dan finally won and turned on the late show instead of the in-room movie Bubba wanted to watch, the title of which wouldn’t have appeared on the bill. After the news was over and he had taken a few manic laps through the channels, Dan ordered his wake-up call and fell asleep.
In his dreams, Dan was visible. He looked like he did when girls not only noticed him, but flirted with him and tried to pick him up. Of course, at the time he resisted their advances because he was in his first marriage and didn’t want to have sex with anyone but his wife, who didn’t want to have sex with anyone, especially the asshole who made her life so miserable. Of course, to keep up appearances for the kids, they slept in the same bed, along with her 20 or so post traumatic childhood ghosts. One of them would kick Dan whenever he got too close.
Even in his weirdest dreams, except the one where they were taking his children away from him, Dan was happier asleep than when he was awake. That night he was happy, because he was sitting in the makeup chair on set while the stylist was kissing his neck and stroking the back of his hand. He might have been the client, or an actor or maybe even the director. Of course, he woke up just as the stylist was unbuttoning her blouse in the motorhome.
On the ride to location early that morning, Dan reread the letter he had recently received from his ex-wife. She would be moving with the kids to Michigan and there was nothing he could do about it, a fact his lawyer had confirmed. That didn’t make him happy. Looking out the window of the van at the city sliding by didn’t make him happy either, because after he arrived on set he would have to ignore the stylist in an attempt to appear happily married.
Then, once on set, the most unexpected thing happened. As he settled into the black folding chair near the video tap monitor, a cute production assistant actually noticed he was alive and struck up a conversation. Of course, his sudden visibility was quickly reversed when she mentioned her boyfriend’s interest in writing and wondered if Dan wouldn’t mind reading his script.
Dan replied like all invisible men reply.