Rachel lay cuddled in the warmness of her blankets.
In the afternoon.
Her mother would kill her if she were home.
But she was not.
She was out getting her hair done.
Rachel was alone...free to lie in bed and act like a bum.
"Freedom." Rachel actually said it aloud. The fun thing about being alone is you could talk to yourself without anyone thinking you were crazy.
Crazy. The word of the summer. Although she hadn’t had one of her special dreams last night. Just a boring anxiety dream about college. Hopefully, her good dreams would return tonight.
Rachel reached under her pillow and took out the tattered magazine cover. What she'd give for the dreams to be real.
Sometimes when she first woke up, she believed the dreams were real. Okay, actually, every morning. She woke up believing David, Jason, and Daphne were real people, and that somehow they all shared the same dream.
Rachel had even looked it up on the Internet. There was actually a belief that people could share dreams. There was a website which encouraged people to share passwords in the dream, then meet, and give the password to the website. If the website owner found two people with the same password, he'd give them each other's e-mail and encourage them to contact each other.
All of this gave Rachel hope. Crazy things were possible. They could be true.
But the Internet also had people who believed they could fly and people who believed they were real vampires, and people who claimed to turn into werewolves.
There were people who believed they had been abducted by aliens.
And besides....the shared dream websites had nothing like her dreams. They were much more vague. And they usually involved people who lived in the same house. It was really less like hanging out with each other in the dream and more like dream coincidences. One person dreams they are being eaten by someone with purple teeth. Another dreams they brush their teeth with a purple toothbrush. Stuff like that.
The Internet let Rachel cling to her delusion a few hours after awakening. Then she'd come to her senses and realize all this meant was that she was a lonely girl with no real friends, no boyfriend, and no real future. So her subconscious had created this fantasy world.
Rachel knew the question shouldn't be--are the dreams real or not?
The true question was: Is she a girl on the brink of insanity or just a girl with a very healthy and creative fantasy life. Rachel worried it was the first...well, since every morning she did believe. What if one day, she didn't come to her senses in the afternoon?
The phone rang and interrupted Rachel's quiet freedom. Although since she started questioning her sanity again, the freedom had stopped being enjoyable.
Rachel picked up the receiver and pressed talk.
"Rachel!" Jessica said. "What's up!"
"Not much," Rachel said. She was so not in the mood to talk to Jessica. In a way, she wanted to just pretend Jessica no longer existed. "How are you?" She dutifully asked.
"I met a guy last night!"
"Oh and he knows celebrities! He really does. He said he's going to take me to a party this weekend. Is that cool or what?"
Cool enough to make Rachel feel insanely jealous. "Oh how fun," she said, trying to convey that although she wished her friend well, she thought it would probably be a letdown.
"I am too excited!"
Rachel hated Jessica. She really did. While Rachel sat there next to her figment David; too shy to talk to a mere illusion, Jessica would probably be sitting there having a real conversation with the real David.
"I bet you wish you were me," Jessica said.
Rachel didn't respond to that. She honestly didn't know the answer. Would she want to be Jessica? Obnoxious? A show off? Superficial? Boy Crazy? Probably not. But then it might be better than being food obsessed, shy, awkward, delusional, completely sexually inexperienced, etc.
"Oh my God, Rachel! I just remembered why I called you!"
Jessica then changed her voice from excited to tragic. "Oh Sweetie. I have some really bad news."
Rachel knew Jessica was overdramatic, so she didn't worry that much. Plus, what could she know that Rachel didn't? Well, she hadn't seen the news lately. Maybe there had been a terrorist attack? But Jessica wouldn't know about that. And if it had been big enough news to warrant her attention, she'd assume Rachel already knew. It had to be something that only Jessica knew, and something that she felt Rachel would be upset about.
David. It had to be about David.
He was dead.
Here she was dreaming about him, wishing he were real, and in reality he had died.
Or maybe he wasn't dead. Maybe she had just heard something about his love life. Maybe that he was getting married to Cassandra. Oh, of course Rachel would be a little jealous. Okay a lot jealous. But at least he'd still be alive.
"Well, I know those tabloid things aren't always true," Jessica began. "So this isn't a hundred percent."
It somehow made Rachel feel better that this was not inside information--that Jessica simply got her info from the tabloids.
"Oh!" Jessica said. "Do you already know? Did you already see?"
"No, Rachel said.
"It's about David."
Of course it was about David. Who else could it be about?
"What about David?" she said. Trying to stay calm. Trying not to lose her patience.
"He's really sick," Jessica said.
Rachel's heart sank. Cancer? AIDS? No, no. Don't think that way. Probably just over exaustion. Maybe dehydration. Substance abuse. Or a burst appendix? It seemed all celebrities have these at some point in their career.
Yes, exhaustion. No big deal.
"And there was talk of him seeing a doctor, but when someone asked what kind of doctor he refused to answer."
Rachel found herself sticking up for David. "That's private. Why should he answer?"
"Well, if it were an eye doctor, he wouldn't be so embarrassed. But if it were a doctor who treated AIDS patients--"
"I don't know." Rachel said.
"They think David is gay. And dying." Jessica sighed. "Sorry, Rachel."
Rachel wasn't sure how to respond. She couldn't be too surprised that David was gay. She had considered it before. It seemed like actors were always popping out of the closet, and she did question the possibility of it happening to David. She had always told herself not to get upset. It's not like she had a chance with him anyway. Gay or straight. He still remained out of her reach.
The AIDS part scared her though. She didn't want him to die. She didn't want him to suffer.
"The magazine might be wrong," Jessica said. But Rachel knew she hoped the opposite. Jessica had always been the type to enjoy being the messenger of horrible and shocking news.
Rachel felt it was best not to linger in this conversation. She made up an excuse involving her mother and then got off the phone.
She stared at the picture of David, in her lap, and wondered.