19

2

Back to Reality

From my vantage point in the command center, set back and above our rapidly crumbling defenses, it’s clear that the end has come. The hordes of murderous aliens will overrun us at any moment, and no one here will see Earth again. I look around at the brave faces of my comrades, and, behind them, a suited, middle-aged man sitting on an airport terminal bench. My despair is replaced by confusion, and the man looks up at me from across the room.

The little chime of my alarm, familiar and inescapable, beckons me back to reality. I shower, dress, and leave for work.

Nine hours pass, and I am home again.  Dinner is leftovers, and tonight’s entertainment is several hours of battling the alien armies of Space Craft 2.

The tide finally turns in our favor. The aliens scurry away from our mighty weapons and the command center rings with cheers. Everyone is on their feet, or, everyone but the suited, middle-aged man sitting on an airport terminal bench, who looks up at me from his newspaper, checks his watch, and goes back to reading.

His bench has appeared along the wall closest to the exit portal; I say it has appeared because it clearly wasn’t built into the titanium bulkheads designed to separate claw from flesh. It is the unmistakeable faux-leather drawn across a metal frame I’d seen at so many airports – but these are memories from another life. I look around at the triumphant scene of the command center, but I am beginning to suspect that my memory of the airport, the crunch of leather as I sit back to wait for my plane, is from my real life.

My alarm goes off.  After the split-second of recognition comes a kind of disappointment: here again. When I try to think back on my dream, I come up only with a feeling of loss that I don’t understand. I shower and get ready for work.

It is not an easy day. The time doesn’t slip harmlessly by, and I am present for the struggle through every hour. When I get home, I sit down at my computer and begin automatically to play Space Craft 2, but I stop before I finish logging in. I am thinking about the terminal at JFK, where I would wait for the plane to take me home during college vacations. I think of all the time that has passed.

In my dream, I am eighteen instead of thirty. I know this is not correct, but the new lightness of my years fills me with a joy that excludes reason. My plane has arrived, and as I exit the gate I see a suited, middle-aged man sitting on an airport terminal bench – my father, here to take me home. 

The little chime of my alarm, familiar and inescapable, beckons me back to reality.

Comments

Please sign in or sign up to comment.