Chapter 1 : The Old Dream

I keep thinking back to when I was a kid. We would spend our days on my great grandpa’s farm, helping with the daily chores and enjoying life. The skies were bright and blue, and the air was clean. You could always hear the animals in the fields, and you could smell the peppers and herbs in Grandpa’s garden from miles away. The house was nothing special, old, and a little worn. The white paint on the siding had worn off mostly and every time you stepped on the porch you just felt like it was going to fall through. It would creak and moan something horrible. It made sneaking out impossible. But like Grandpa it always held up. 

Every morning Grandpa would get up and go outside to the stable. He would sit with this old bull he had. It was this grumpy old thing he had rescued from slaughter. He would take his coffee and morning paper out and sit with the bull and read his paper as the sun came up. I sometimes think that the old bull was more like a brother than a pet. They would sit there grumbling at each other, just being a couple of grumpy old men. But you just knew they would not have it any other way. After that, he would get up and start his daily chores and work on the farm. Grandma would send us kids out to take him water and the occasional sandwich or banana to help him get through the day. He would not come in till supper time when Grandma rang that dinner bell. They still had an old triangle on the porch she would just bang like crazy when it was time to eat. Everyone including the dogs would come running. It went on this way forever, it seemed.

I could have lived the rest of my life like that and been happy, but life has its way of changing.  Sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better. Sometimes it is a little of both. I just do not think any of us were ready for the change, but if it hadn’t changed, I would have missed out on a lot.  Late one night we woke up to Grandpa sitting in his chair and the medics were in the bedroom. That was the first time I ever saw my grandpa cry. It was not much but you could tell a part of his soul had just been crushed. One of the medics came out and told him grandma had passed. She had passed away in her sleep. From that day on Grandpa was not the same, two years later he went to be with grandma. Now you can say what you want about there being an afterlife. It does not matter what you believe. I must believe in something. Because I must believe Grandma was waiting on him. The morning after Grandpa passed, I got up and got my coffee and the morning paper. My aunt knew what I was doing, and she kept telling me not to go out there, that old bull would surely hurt me. But I could see him out there waiting and looking for grandpa. So, I strolled out there like he used to like the bull wasn’t even there. I looked at the bull and you could tell he knew already; you could see it in his eyes. I sat down with him and read the funnies while drinking my coffee. We did that for a few months before that old bull finally passed too.

Now my fondest memories of grandpa were of him telling us his old stories. Adventures and the crazy stuff he did way before we or our parents were born. We used to pretend we were in his stories and make-believe we were playing them out. It was not too long after he passed that those memories, those dreams started to fade. As I grew up and went to college, I realized it wasn’t just me. The people around me had lost their dreams and ambitions. It was like something had sucked the passion right out of us. We had lost our reason for living, people would wake up each day, Grind out a workday then go home to eat, shower, and go to bed. Just to repeat it all the next day. We had given up.  

Then I met her, Selah. We had been studying at the same university for over a year now. Every morning we had breakfast at the same place at the same time. I guess it was only a matter of time before we met. I still remember it like it was yesterday, she was in a rush to get to her father’s speech at the cybernetics convention and was running late. She realized the time and jumped up to run out of the diner. Of course, I stood up at the wrong time and she ran right into me. Her to-go bag exploded and biscuits, sausage, and eggs went everywhere. Hot coffee went flying and we both ended up on our bottoms. We both sat there on the floor stunned and a little sore with a sausage on my head and eggs everywhere, both of us covered in hot coffee looking at each other trying to figure out what happened. After a few seconds, we gathered our thoughts and both just broke out laughing. Seeing each other like that was just too much to handle. It was the first time in a long time I had a good reason to smile. I found out later it was the same for her. 

After we collected ourselves she quickly rushed off to change and get to the presentation. I went about my day mostly thinking about her. That night I had the most amazing dream. I was back on Grandpa’s farm sitting in the stables with that old bull. The screen door on the old house swung open and out came Selah holding two cups of coffee and the newspaper. She kind of floated over to us and sat down beside me and as the sun came up it felt like home. It was the most vivid dream I could remember since I was a boy dreaming about grandpa’s stories. I woke up the next morning feeling alive and refreshed. I jumped out of bed and took a shower, got dressed, and headed to the diner. Only to find it was only 3 am and it was still closed. Apparently I was a little too excited to see if Selah would be there. So I did what any level headed logical young man would do. I sat on the bench outside and waited. 

The diner finally opened, I went in and found my normal table and waited. I waited as long as I could but she never came, I barely got to class in time. Things went on like this for months. Every night I would dream about her and every morning I would wait for her. It felt like God had dropped this dream in my lap just enough to wake me up, then snatched her away again. After a while, I stopped looking and I stopped waiting.

Over time I could feel the joy slowly slipping and the dreams started to fade. Then one morning I walked into the diner and went to the counter, I ordered my food and sat at my normal table. I ate my breakfast while reading over my notes for the coming class trying to prepare for the upcoming exam. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, I turned around to see Selah standing beside me. She asked if the seat was taken. I just sat there for a second with my mouth open looking like an idiot. She pinched my chin and I snapped out of it and jumped up to offer her a seat. Of course, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t do something dumb and cause us to bump heads in the process. We both giggled and rubbed our heads. I asked her to sit stumbling over every word. I realized we had never introduced ourselves to each other. So I just tossed it out there. Told her my name was John, She smiled and said her name was Selah.

We ended up sitting there for hours talking about that day, things that had happened, and how she kept trying to get back to the diner but kept getting tied up in her work. Eventually, I even worked up the courage to tell her about my dreams. The whole time praying she wouldn’t think I was some kind of weirdo. She got quiet and all I could think was I had messed up. She had this look on her face like she was kind of freaking out. Then she asked with a straight face, So that was your grandpa’s farm? She said she had been dreaming about bringing me and some cow coffee at this farm in the middle of nowhere. We had been having the same dream for nearly a year. She could even tell me how I like my coffee and She knew the bull’s name, Joe. I had never told anyone Joe’s name.  From that moment on we were inseparable.