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Author’s Note: Just seen Rick Schroder’s debut as Danny Sorenson in NYPD Blue...love him! As some readers may be able to tell, I’ve been inspired by Bobby Simone’s dream sequences prior to his death (and a lot of other films, come to think of it)...had no intention of plagiarizing so I’ve only borrowed the concept.
She looked curiously at the elegant woman in front of her. She was dressed in white from head-to-toe and appeared to be somewhere in her ‘60s.
“Hello,” she replied. “Do I know you?”
The old woman shook her head and smiled. “No, I don’t suppose so.” She gestured toward the rock opposite her and waved the latter over. “Come sit with me.”
It was then that Sarah noticed she was standing in the middle of some forest, surrounded by tall trees and the soothing sounds of nature.
She walked to the rock and sat down. “I must be dreaming,” she said.
The woman smiled again and Sarah was struck by how much she looked like Audrey Hepburn.
“My name is Jean,” she said. “And no, you’re not dreaming.”
“What am I doing here?”
“Having a chat with me. It’s been awhile since we spoke.”
Sarah raised her brow in question.
Jean leaned forward and grazed her cheek with the back of her hand. “The last time we met, you were only a baby.”
“You must have known my parents then.”
“Yes, I know them.”
Sarah sighed. “You haven’t heard. They died years ago.” She looked down, afraid her facial expression would give away her emotions.
Sarah jerked her head up in surprise. “You do?”
Jean cupped her face gently in her hands and spoke softly. “Sarah, it wasn’t your fault.”
Her eyes fluttered open and she tried to adjust them to the sunlight streaming in from the window.
“Mom, I’m leaving for school. I should be back by four-thirty.”
“Yeah, Mom. Who did you think I was?”
She peered at the lovely face before her and lifted an unsteady hand.
Joey took it. “What’s wrong?” she enquired.
Her mother answered her with a somewhat regretful smile. “Nothing. It’s just that you look so much like your grandmother when she was young.”
“I don’t even remember Nana that well.” She glanced at the clock on the wall. “Okay, Mom, I got to go if I’m going to make first period.” She bent down to kiss her mother on the forehead. “I’ll see you later.”
“Yes, I will see you later,” she whispered.
The nurse seated at the front desk glanced at her and then returned to her paperwork.
She walked up and down the hallway a couple more times before a door opened and she saw the doctor approaching.
“Bessie,” the latter acknowledged.
She returned the gesture. “Dr. Harrison.”
The doctor reached out and patted Bessie on the shoulder. “We’re done for the day. You can take her home now.”
“Is she any better?”
“It’s too early to tell, Bessie.”
As Dr. Harrison turned to walk away, Bessie impulsively put out a hand to stop her. “Tell me the truth. Does it look good?”
The latter could see that the young girl wouldn’t be appeased until she offered her view on the matter. “In my opinion, your mother’s condition may require more time than we originally thought, to improve. However, it is honestly too soon to write off chemotherapy completely.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
With the echo of departing footsteps, she was once again left alone in the long, quiet corridor. Walking toward the room, she took in a deep breath before opening the door. Her mother had already changed out of her hospital gown and put on her headscarf, and was sitting on the bed, staring out the window.
Plastering a wide smile on her face, she greeted her mother. “Mom.”
Sarah Potter looked back at the sound of her daughter’s voice and absently offered a silent greeting in her smile.
The nurse who had been in the room, changing the sheets off the other bed, paused in her chore, distracted and visibly amazed by the striking resemblance between mother and daughter.
Bessie came to sit beside her mother on the bed. “I bought some oranges, to curb the nausea.” She put the fruits on the table and took one out. “Want me to peel one now?”
“Yes, I’d like that.”
Behind them, the nurse silently left the room. Outside, she sighed and shook her head at the sad predicament of an evidently, close family.
“Erm,” she hesitated. “All right. It won’t take long, would it? I have to hurry home.”
“No,” Mrs. Easton assured, “It won’t take up much of your time.”
Joey nodded and took her seat in the center of the classroom. The bell rang and Pacey had just about skidded in. Panting, he rushed to his seat, on her left.
“Great timing as usual, Mr. Witter.”
With a mischievous grin and a mock salute, he replied, “Thank you, ma’am and good afternoon to you too.”
Mrs. Easton could not help but shake her head at her inability to remain strict and solemn. Holding back an amused look, she told the class, “I know that this is your last class for the day but until the bell goes, I’m still in charge. All right, take out your books.”
“Joey, let me get straight to the point. In consideration of your situation at home, you are coping extraordinarily well. Your schoolwork has hardly been affected.”
“I don’t understand. If there isn’t a problem-”
Mrs. Easton moved from her position behind the desk to in front of it. “Joey, the other teachers and I are not worried about your performance in school. It’s your emotional being that we’re concerned about.”
Joey dismissed her concern. “There’s really no need for this. I’m fine.”
“Mrs. Jayne Anderson is a psychiatrist that works with our students on occa-”
“I don’t need therapy.” Joey tried her best to sound firm without being rude but she was slowly losing her patience with this conversation.
“I’m just suggesting someone you could talk to in confidence about how you feel.”
“I feel fine.”
Mrs. Easton looked at the stubbornness etched in Joey’s face and the firm tilt of her chin and knew she stood no chance in convincing the latter.
“All right. No therapist. But at least, let us help you with the care of your mother.” Before Joey had a chance to object, she added, “There’s a health program jointly organized by the town council and a hospice, which involves the dispatching of qualified, volunteer nurses, to homes in the local areas that could do with their help.”
Joey, looking down at her lap, appeared to be considering her proposal but when she looked up, her eyes told a different story.
“I don’t think so, Mrs. Easton.” She stood up, pushing her chair back noisily. “But thank you, anyway.”
Grabbing her backpack, she left, not giving the latter a chance to attempt to convince her.
Someone picked up on the fourth ring. He was relieved to hear a familiar voice.
“Uncle Dan? It’s me, Pacey.”
“Pacey. Why are you whispering?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he raised his voice a little. “Out of habit, I suppose. I hadn’t realized I was doing that.”
“The answer’s not yet, son.”
Pacey was silent for a few moments, in disappointment.
“I’m still here.”
“Don’t give up so soon,” the voice on the other line encouraged. “It’s only been a couple of weeks.”
“I just hope it won’t be too late when we finally find him.”
“About five minutes.” Bessie threw herself on the couch and closed her eyes.
Joey, in turn, sat herself on the armchair, rested her feet on the coffee table and closed her eyes as well.
“I’m dropping out of college.”
Joey was totally thrown off-guard. Her feet fell to the floor with a thud and she sat up in alarm. “What?”
“You heard me.” Bessie still had her eyes closed.
“You can’t be serious!”
“Keep your voice down.”
“Bessie, this is no joke.”
She opened her eyes. “I wasn’t joking.” Still lying on the couch, she turned her head slightly to look at her younger sister. “We both know it has to be done. Mom needs full-time care.”
Joey shook her head in disagreement. “No,” she said stubbornly, “We’ll think of something.”
Bessie stared at the ceiling and allowed a few moments of silence to pass between them before speaking again.
“Joey, I’m not like you. My dreams don’t involve a college education nor a career that would take me out of Capeside.”
“You can’t say that.”
“But it’s true, ain’t it?” Bessie sat up and leaned forward to look Joey in the eye. “Why do you think I was splitting my time between a job and studying in the nearby community college?
“If this is about having to give up your job to take care of Mom-”
“No, Joey. You’re not listening. This is not about Mom or the job. This is about me.” Joey refused to listen anymore. She stood up and walked into the kitchen.
“We don’t rank the things in our life in the same order of importance. I’m not ambitious like you. I’m not even sure I know what I want in life.”
“If you think I know what I want, you’re wrong, she protested. “I’m just as clueless as you are. Dawson’s the one with the goals, not me.”
“All I know is that we both deserve an equal chance and I will not allow you to sacrifice your education for me.”
“This is not about sacrifice!” Bessie ran her hands through her hair in frustration. “Why can’t you understand? I just don’t want to study anymore!”
She was taken aback by her sister’s sudden outburst. Seeing the look in Bessie’s eyes, it appeared so was she. Hastily, the latter made her way out of the house to the porch.
Joey went after her and stood by the door as she watched Bessie, curled up, her forehead resting on her knees, hands covering her face.
She sat herself down. “I’m listening, Bess. Talk to me.”
Reaching out, she covered Joey’s hand with her own. She raised her head and took a deep breath.
Joey smiled, encouraging her to speak her mind.
“Ever since I could remember, I have always dreamt of owning a restaurant. A place that I built with money that I earned. Something to call my own. Nothing else seemed important.” She paused. “Not even college.”
Joey squeezed her hand.
“What I’m trying to say is, could you ever forgive me for giving up?”
She was close to tears as she hugged her sister tightly to her. “No, Bessie, you were right and I was wrong. Could you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
Bessie smiled, as a tear fell down her cheek.
Joey returned her smile. “And you know what else? Contrary to your belief, I think you already know what you want in life.”
The first thing she noticed when she opened her eyes was that she was sitting in a boat, that was still tied to a pier. The fog surrounding her lifted a little, allowing her to see beyond it. A figure was standing on the dock above her.
“Jean?” she called out.
The figure nodded. “Hello, Sarah.”
“What am I doing here?” She shifted in the boat, trying to see around her. All she saw was a vast, peaceful expanse of water.
“I’m here to guide you to your destination.”
“Wh-where are we going?”
Jean was standing too far away for Sarah to see her expression properly but nonetheless, she felt safe. Until, she began to feel herself drifting further and further away.
“Jean, I can’t do this on my own!”
“Sarah.” The latter’s voice was as soothing as ever. “I’m here to guide you, but it’s your strength that will eventually lead you there.”
Sarah shook her head adamantly. “No, I can’t do this!”
Joey was awakened by the sound of her mother thrashing about in her sleep.
She was up and running in a second, closely followed by Bessie.
She held one arm down whilst Bessie took the other and began to shake their mother by the shoulders. “Mom! Wake up! You’re having a bad dream!”
“Calm down, Sarah.”
“Jean, you’ve got to help me.”
“What’s she saying? Who’s Jean?”
Joey was answered with a blank look from her sister.
“Sarah, there’s nothing to fear. You’re going to see your parents again and I promise they’ll keep you safe.”
The panic in Sarah diminished. “Mom and Dad?” she asked.
Bessie was struck by alarm when she heard her mother cry out for her grandparents. “Oh my god, she’s hallucinating.”
“They’re waiting for you.”
“How about Mike? He’s not here yet. I shouldn’t leave without him.”
All of a sudden, Sarah found herself no longer in the boat, but on shore with Jean.
The latter took both her hands and engulfed them in the warmth of hers. “Okay,” she agreed. “We shall wait for Mike.”
“There is no way we’re going to find Dad on such short notice. We don’t even know where he is.”
They had finally been able to put their mother back to sleep and had made their way into the kitchen, where they could talk, without disturbing her.
“Who said we were going to?” Joey replied, solemnly.
“Joey, please. This is not the time. Mom obviously wants to see him and that’s what counts.” She held her younger sister by the arms. “Are we good?”
Joey mutely agreed, with the slight tilt of her chin.
“Okay, let’s just go to bed and talk about this tomorrow.”
To be continued... Please send all comments and suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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