Matt saw Devon several times over the next week and a half and each time found it hard to hide his excitement. Devon, of course, noticed and kept pushing, trying to find out what his friend was concealing from him. Why he always looked like he was on the verge of asking something. With frustration, Matt kept thinking, “Because I am.” He wanted to know if his friend was having the special dreams yet and, if so, how were they going.
For the longest time, nothing seemed different, even to the point that Matt had started to think that Eluard had changed his mind. Just as he was about to give up, on the eleventh day while they were having lunch, Matt noticed Devon was a bit more preoccupied than usual. Looking across the table, Matt prodded, “You seriously look deep in thought today, what's up?”
Shaking his head, Devon said, “I don’t know. I’ve not been sleeping very well.”
“Really? Why? What’s been keeping you up? You normally don’t have problems sleeping; do you?”
“No, I’ve been having bad dreams… well, not bad, more disturbing. They’re too enjoyable. I don’t want to wake up.”
“Too enjoyable? Explain?”
“I keep dreaming I’m living in another world, one like in the fantasy novels we read.” Looking down, picking at his food, he continued, “With my past and well, you know, there are so many things about this life that haven’t turned out as I’d wanted. I feel like not only is this,” pointing to his body, “not me, but also like my whole existence has been in the wrong place and time. Of course, with there being nothing I can do about it, I’ve always pushed these feeling aside, now these dreams have caused them to resurface with a new intensity.”
For the rest of lunch, Matt listened as Devon poured out his heart. He kept quiet since he was under strict instructions not to reveal his knowledge until certain things had occurred. He and Devon had been friends since childhood and Matt knew the hardships Devon’s life had presented. It broke his heart not to be able to say anything. He did, however, gently prod his friend in the direction he thought Devon should go. Little things, like talking about how cool the dreams sounded. What it’d be like to live this new life. How wonderful it must be, at least in his dreams, to escape his current life for another with more adventure.
By the end of the lunch, Devon was feeling better. Much of the anxiety was gone, but the excitement had only increased. Matt prayed it had been enough to push his friend over the edge.
That afternoon and into the evening Matt continued sorting through his own life. After his conversations at lunch, he knew the time would soon come for him to leave the life he’d known for a new one of risk and hopefully reward. It was becoming harder day by day to come to grips with the fact he was going to have to give up everything that was here in this world. He organized his thoughts like he had always done when faced with unpleasantness and began to systematically work through his house. As he found pictures or keepsakes, he said his private goodbyes to friends, family and the parts of this world he knew he was going to miss. He allowed himself to mourn when he came across something or thought of someone he was never going to see again. He embraced the process of giving up his life; it was the only way he could see to not always look back with regret.
The next morning, he awoke to find himself on the floor of his bedroom surrounded by the bits and pieces of his life. The phone rang again, and his eyes shot to his nightstand where it lay. He jumped up and ran to answer it.
“Hello?” he said though he knew already it was Devon from the identification on the phone.
“Can I come over? We need to talk.”
“Of course, when?”
“Now.” The doorbell rang. “I’m at your front door.”
“So, it seems.”
Matt raced into the living room and threw open the door to find Devon standing there with a strange look and two large sacks of burgers and fries from their favorite greasy spoon.
“Come in. What in the world has gotten you out of bed so early? And burgers at this hour?” Matt was almost bursting to find out if today was finally the day.
Devon walked past him to the kitchen table and unceremoniously dropped the sacks, then spun around and blurted, “My dream last night, something happened.”
Matt failed to hide a smile. Finally, the time had come. “What?”
Devon sorted through the sacks, divvying up the food. “A man in a white robe appeared as we were sitting under a tree.” Seeing the blank look on Matt’s face, he continued, “When I say we, I mean the other person who has been in every dream since this started. I had no idea who it was or what they looked like; their face were always obscured. Well, all that changed after the old man’s visit. He asked if I’d like to live this kind of life for real.”
Trying to stay calm, Matt asked, “What answer did you give him?”
“Hell, yes. This world sucks. With all that is going on, the politics, the people, the social issues, why wouldn’t I want to go?”
“Well, that’s quite a turnaround from yesterday when it was stressing you out.”
“It was only stressing me out because I wanted it so badly. I didn’t want to wake up each morning because my dream life was better, so much better.”
“I don’t understand what this has to do with me,” said Matt.
With a frown, Devon replied, “Well, I guess that answers my question then.”
“What question? What are you talking about, Devon?”
“The old man told me to talk to you. He said you’d explain what was going on. When he said that, the face of my traveling companion finally cleared so that I could see it. It was you.”
Matt slowly sat down and unwrapped his burger. Now that the time had come, he was scared. He tried to compose his thoughts. As much as he’d planned this moment, he discovered he wasn’t ready. “The old man told you to ask me a question, what was it?”
Devon’s eyes grew wider. “How did you know that? I didn’t mention what he told me, but yeah he said I should ask you what your recent dreams were about.”
“He said he wouldn’t talk about the blow jobs. If he told you he topped, that’s absolutely not true… well, not that true. OK, well, maybe a little.”
“What… What?” Devon’s face turned red. “He didn’t say anything about that. What the fuck?”
Matt burst out laughing, little bits of fries flying across the table. “I’m kidding. Could he possibly mean being chased by Kobolds through a field with a faceless friend until I finally wake up? Or do you mean, about the old man in green tights with snow white, drill sergeant’s hair and matching mustache and beard? Or how he told you that you could give up this life forever and together we could go live in that other world. The two of us, and we could travel, make a life and have adventures. Is that the question he wanted you to ask me about?”
Matt smirked while watching his friend sit there with his mouth hanging open, half full of chewed burger, then added, “Um… could you chew and swallow, please. Not one of your best looks right now,” prodded Matt.