Chapter Twenty-One

Rachel sat alone on a floor. In a very large room. White walls and white floors.
Then she felt the warmth of hands covering her eyes. "Guess who!"
Rachel loved that he was touching her. Gay or not.
"Are you going to guess?"
She didn't know if she should just say his name or joke around--say something else. Should she try to be funny? But she couldn't think of anything funny. Or clever. So she just sat there like an idiot. The good thing was it prolonged the moment of having his hands on her face.
"David," she finally said, hating herself for not being cute or clever. Really?  How was someone supposed to play that game?  What was the right response?
David playfully messed up her hair and sat down next to her. Very close to her. Almost touching, even though they were in a very large space and he could have sat much farther away.
The two of them waited.
But Rachel was no longer bored...not bored at all.
"You know what," David said.
"I'm beginning to really believe in you. I think these dreams aren't dreams."
Rachel shook her head. She couldn't be pulled into this again. "I wish that were true. But it's not."
"Why do you say that?" Rachel wondered if he was referring to her wish that it were true, or the fact that she didn't think it was."
But then Daphne fell down from the sky, plopped to the ground, pointed to David, and said. "I know something about you!"
"Lots of people know things about me," David said.
"You're gay." Daphne said. Rachel wondered if maybe Daphne represented Jessica in her dreams. She had never considered that before, but it seemed likely. They were both obnoxious. In different ways, yes. But still. Although, Rachel wondered why she didn't just dream about Jessica directly. Why turn her into Daphne? Did the whole Asian thing mean something?
"I'm not gay," David said. "I promise."
"Oh don't be ashamed of it." Daphne laughed.
"I'm not ashamed of it." David said.
"And I loved the picture of your cross-dressing past!" Daphne sounded like the wicked witch of the west when she laughed. "You're an ugly guy. An even uglier girl."
"What?" David said.
"Be gay and proud." Daphne laughed again.
"Oh shut up, David said. He turned to Rachel. "You know you're right. This is all a dream. You're just figments of my imagination. All of this is about what happened at the restaurant. My mind created you because it must feel I don't get enough grief from outside sources. I have to create characters to further torment me."   He quietly mumbled.  "And I must have some submerged homophobia thing going on."
"Sorry," Rachel said. She didn't know how else to respond.
David smiled at her. "Thanks. Oh and I didn't mean you anyway. You don't taunt me. You're nice. I wish you were real."
That was the nicest thing Rachel had ever heard in her whole entire pathetic excuse for a life.
"Oh crap. I hear my phone."
"Who would be calling you in the middle of the night?" Daphne said. "Maybe there's a tragedy. Another dead brother?"
Rachel gasped at Daphne's cruel words but to her surprise David hardly seemed bothered. "Ha ha. You're so funny," he said.
"Actually the phone is just an excuse for me to get you out of my dream." Daphne said. Then yelled at David, "since you're just a figment of my imagination.

  David picked up the phone, at the same time looked at the clock. Midnight.
"Hello?" He didn't try to hide the fact that he was groggy. If it wasn't a tragedy, and he didn't think it was, he wanted the person to know that they had woken up a sleeping person.
"David?" He sort of recognized the voice. Now who was that? "Chris Janson." Thank you.
"Oh, hi, Chris." David hadn' t talked to Chris for two years. They had been in a movie together. They hadn't become best buddies, but they got along fairly well.  They had a few laughs. Got drunk together once.
Why was he calling now?
Why in the middle of the night?
Why had he made Rachel disappear?
"Sorry to call so late."
 "No problem." Best to lie in a situation like this.
"I just can't sleep. Been thinking about you and everything that's been going on."
What was going on? His break-up with Cassandra? The dreams? Had he found out about them? Maybe Cassandra had told him? Maybe unlike his mom and Cassandra-and Dr. Wallace, Maybe Chris thought dreams were a big deal.
 "You know, if you want to talk about it...."

   And David did want to talk about it. He almost started to talk about it. He actually started wondering where he should start the story. How had it begun? And should he let Chris know that sometimes he believed the dreams were real?
"I don't know if you remember this or not. We were both pretty wasted. But I'm gay too."
"I haven't officially come out yet. And unlike you, I haven't been forced out. I'm so sorry. It shouldn't happen to anyone like that. And I just want to say, I've been thinking. If it makes you feel any better. Well, I was thinking maybe this is a sign for me. Maybe this is the moment. Well, what I'm trying to say I can come out of the closet to. We can go through this together."
And this whole tortured monologue actually made David feel guilty that he wasn't gay. "I'm sorry," he said.
"You're not gay?" Chris understood right away. "Well, I know they don't always get things right. But usually there's truth behind the rumors. Oh, I feel like such a fool. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have jumped at you like that. I guess I was just wishing. I don't know."
"I understand," David said.
"I feel like the biggest jerk."
David did too.
"My secrets still safe with you?" Chris said, sounding worried. What happened to the plan of coming out the closet?
 "Yes," David assured him.
They shared a moment of small talk, Chris apologized for calling late. Calling period. And then David lay in bed thinking.
He hadn't known about the tabloids. But Daphne had told him in the dream. Then he gets the phone call from Chris. Could that mean the dreams were real?  Or at least, did it mean he was psychic?
 No, no. His mind just inferred from what happened at the restaurant that it would be on the news. Not a hard thing to do. All those cell phone cameras. Amelia’s weird questions.
No proof the dreams were real.
David found himself incredibly disappointed.
Then he remembered something.
He reached over, grabbed the phone, looked at the caller ID and dialed Chris's number.
"You changed your mind?" Chris said, then quickly said. "Just kidding."
"I need to ask you something."
"The thing about me being gay. The tabloids. Did you actually look inside the magazine? Did you read them? Look at the pictures?"

  "No, sorry. I'm always too embarrassed to do that. You know how it is." David did. "I just look at the covers. You know while I'm in line."
David decided to try anyway. Maybe there was a chance? "Do you remember what pictures were on the cover?"
"Well, what?"
"You on the set. With Cassandra."  Of course Cassandra would be the focal point.  David tried not to be too insulted. What had he expected?
"And one had a photo of you by yourself. A pretty good one, by the way."
"What?" David felt hopeful.
"One had you dressed as a girl. You looked young. Maybe a high school picture?"
"They’re just trying to stereotype. Gay people are all cross-dressers.  And if you faint, of course you must have AIDS.   Was the picture for Halloween?"
"Yeah, it was Halloween," David said. Then he rushed off the phone as fast as possible, trying not to sound completely crazy or rude.

 Rachel wished she could wake up. Without David, the dream pretty much sucked. She stood up. Maybe she'd take a walk.  It would be better than just sitting.
 But then David appeared.
He didn't just appear. He shot out of thin air, ran to Rachel, grabbed her, and gave her a huge hug. "It's real! It's real!"
"I believe that too sometimes," she said. Do not let yourself fall into this trap again, she thought to herself.
"Remember what Daphne said? About me dressing like a girl?"

"Well, I didn't know about that picture. But I was just talking to a friend. And he thought I was gay. I didn't even know about the tabloids until you guys told me, and then he told me, and I thought the dreams were real. But then I realized my imagination could have easily jumped to point a to point b and that didn't prove anything."
Rachel started to giggle. She couldn't help it. She had never seen David so flustered--Neither in any of his movies nor these dreams. He was absolutely adorable like this.
He laughed with extremely happy laugh. "Sorry."

She smiled at him. Oh, so cute. She wanted him to hug her again. She wanted to grab onto him and hold him forever.
He took a deep breath. "Okay. So I thought no, these dreams aren't real. But then I remembered what Daphne said about the picture of me dressed as a girl. I called my friend back and asked.  He said there was a picture taken from when I was in high school. My freshman year. I went to a party and dressed up as a girl. I have no idea how they got the picture. Well, they have a way of getting those things."
Rachel sort of understood David's story. Barely. She wanted to agree with him, but she had to hesitate.
"I hate to play Devil's advocate."
"What?" David said, like a child trying to stay strong as his parents tell him the trip to Disney World is canceled.
"But couldn't you have guessed that they'd find that picture. It seems kind of likely. You were able to guess that you're going to be in the tabloids. Wouldn't it be likely that they dig into your past and find a cross-dressing picture?"
She could tell she had stumped David. He no longer looked happy. She felt bad. And she felt bad for herself. She wished that he'd jump up and argue. Prove to her that the dreams were real. But that was asking for the impossible.
"Rachel?" David said.
 "Listen to what you're saying."
 She tried to think back to what she said.
"What are you trying to argue?"
 She looked at him. Confused. Very confused.
 "Look at what you're trying to convince me of. That none of this is real. My subconscious predicted that I'd be in the tabloids because of what happened at the studio. And my subconscious put two and two together and guessed that they'd dig up the picture of me dressed as a girl."
"Yes." Rachel said. It made sense to her.
 "So, you're saying the dreams are all in my imagination."
"Yes," Rachel said. "Sorry." And she truly was. For both of them.
"So you're saying you feel you don't exist?"

Now he had her. She was stumped. Utterly confused. Of course she existed.
"If you don't believe the dreams are real, and you're trying to prove this is all in my imagination....That means you're saying you feel you don't exist. You're a figment of imagination. Do you really feel that way?"
No, she didn't.
He laughed at her. Happy again. And she was happy too. Maybe the happiest she had ever been in her life. Or at least the most hopeful. But still, did this prove anything? Because this all still could be her dream, brought on by Jessica's phone call. Maybe she was inferring that there'd be a picture of David dressed as a girl. Maybe her subconscious had some backwards stereotypes she wasn't aware of.
She shared all this with David. Losing her shyness.  It's hard to be shy with someone when you're working such a huge puzzle of reality versus fantasy together.
"You have a point." David sighed. "Which would mean I don't exist, but I'm a hundred percent sure I do exist. Although I can't prove that to you. We can argue all night about which one of us is real."
"Yeah." Rachel agreed.
"We have to put an end to this."
Rachel had an idea. She told him about the sharing dream website, (which totally fascinated David. Or the figment of David in her imagination) and the password thing.
"I say forget the password," David said. I'll just give you my cell phone number. It will be faster that way." Rachel was incredibly touched that he wanted to give her his phone number. Even if he didn't exist. Maybe. She watched as he reached into his pocket and took out a scrap piece of paper. "Do you have a pen?"
Rachel laughed. "I can't take a paper out of my dream."
"Oops. Forgot. I guess you'll just have to memorize it."

Subpages (1): Chapter Twenty-two