“That kind of relationship is doomed before it even begins,” her mother warned. “His type… they can’t be faithful, it isn’t in their genetic makeup.” But Alison paid no heed and fell headfirst in love with the living embodiment of a daydream.
She thought she’d made the right decision. What did her mother know? And in the beginning, Alison felt vindicated because he was always there for her, never once realizing that was the normal way daydreams functioned, recurring whenever the mind was idle.
The daydream held her in bed and distracted her with his essence so that she drifted off to sleep without the usual brain clutter that triggered her chronic insomnia, and made sure he was the first sight Alison saw when she woke up. He never slept. What use would a daydream have with sleep? He simply watched her and waited until she began her cute pattern of soft snoring, before taking a stroll through her mind.
He never spoke. He preferred instead to flash images in Alison’s mind. Naturally, he knew exactly what he was doing. Knew he owned the keys to her heart and soul and, as often was the case with the person in control in a relationship, he doled out his attention and affection in small doses. She tried, really tried her best not to be greedy and not to demand more, but that, like most things, was easier said than done.
Then one morning, after he laid her head on the pillow to rest the night before, as he had done numerous times, he was gone. No note that indicated where he was off to or when he would have returned.
Then began the dark times. Seconds, minutes, hours stretched into the forever period of withdrawal, where Alison was crushed beneath the pressure of constant craving when her heart sat within her chest like so much dead weight.
And after the craving stage had crept along at its snail’s pace, along came the self-examination stage to fill the void. What had she done wrong? Was she too needy? Smothering? And when she grew weary of guessing, of trying to rewrite the past as if that would have somehow altered the present so that he was still here with her, Alison tried to find a place for him in her past. A drawer or compartment where he could have remained tucked away until such time as she was stronger and more capable of dealing with the memory of him.
Forgetting him might have been much easier if not for the images he filled Alison’s head with, the stories weaved through pictures. They remained and were strongest when the dawn approached. That must have been when he left.
When her mother visited, she asked, “Why can’t you look me in the eye?”
“I don’t want to do the whole I told you so thing, Mom.” Alison replied.
“When have I ever done that?”
“You don’t say the words, but I can see it in your eyes.”
“That’s a lie and we both know it,” her mother said. “The truth is you don’t respect me, maybe rightfully so.”
“Respect you? You’re a drunk, Mom. I’m sorry, there’s no other way to say it.” The words were out of Alison’s mouth before she could stop them.
“I’m a recovering alcoholic…”
“Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. I mean, why would I take advice from a woman whose life is a shambles? Your drinking didn’t only wreck your marriage, it destroyed my family! So, how are you wiser than me when it comes to affairs of the heart?”
Her mother exhaled slowly. “I understand more than you realize. You think you’re the only one who’s ever gone through what you’re going through, and that’s not necessarily your fault. When you’re young, you always feel that way.
“But I’m here to tell you, kiddo, you’re not the first or only person to fall in love with a daydream. Not only did it happen to me, but I convinced him to marry me and we had you.”
“Yeah. You think your father left because I drank, and that’s my fault because I should have explained it to you, but I didn’t know how. The truth is I started drinking when I felt him slipping away. I tried to hold on the best way I knew how but the inherent problem with a daydream, even a recurring one, is that they’re never meant to stay in one place for very long. They’re born to stray.”
“Oh. Mom… !” Alison hugged her mother as tightly as she could. She hoped somehow her mother could feel just how sorry she was about everything that happened between them over the years.
Realizing what a fool she had been, and instead of living in a past relationship and trying to hold her life together with spit and string, Alison chose to work on rebuilding the relationship with her mother, a woman who was stronger than she ever realized.
And every now and then, when there was that familiar twinge in Alison’s heart, a fast but powerful thought of her wild one, her mother helped her collect the stories in a scrapbook of daydreams. But Alison hadn’t done it for herself, she did it for the little one who would be arriving any day now.
Her daughter deserved to know about her father.