Chapter Twenty-Three


    "Stop it!" Daphne yelled at David, and shoved him on the chest with her palms. He stumbled backwards. "I told you! I don't want your stupid phone number. You freak!"
  
 "Fine!" David said. "I don't see what the big deal is. And you don't have to push me!"
  
 "I can't believe this," Daphne said. Very upset. Rachel almost felt bad for her, although she was also very pissed at her for pushing David like that. "Am I supposed to be nice to imaginary people?"
   
"We're real," Rachel said. "I know how you feel though. I didn't believe it either."
   
"I know how you feel," she mimicked Rachel. "Do you know that's the stupidest saying invented by the human race. You do not know how I feel!"
   
"Well, David and I talked on the phone."
   
"That was a dream too," Daphne said.
   
"Whose dream?" David challenged her. "My dream? Rachel's dream?"
   
Rachel could tell Daphne was stumped--at least a little bit. "No, Stupid! My dream. I mean the phone call never even happened. I didn't really dream of it. But now my imagination is telling me it did happen. A false past. That happens in dreams sometimes."
   
David sighed exasperated. "Oh forget it.
   
Eddie entered the room.
   
"Howdy, Folks!"
   
Rachel and David both gave a hello. Rachel noticed David sounded almost as timid as her now.
   
Daphne reached into the air and grabbed a cigarette. As if it were all choreographed, Eddie took a lighter from his pocket and lit it for her. She mumbled a thank you.
   
"I didn't know you smoked," David said.
  
 "Well," Daphne said and coughed. "I guess this would be the perfect time to start." She coughed some more, choked, and then Eddie took the cigarette away from her.
   
"Hey!" she protested.
   
Eddie ignored her. He turned to Rachel. "I heard you talked to David in real life."
   
She nodded.
   
He addressed both of them. "Well, then since you two now know the dreams are real, I'll expect you to take them more seriously."
   
She nodded again.
   
"We're going to play a game today," Eddie said. "It's called--how well do you know your dream partner?"
   
"Fun," Daphne said.
   
"Shut up," David said.
    "Thanks," Eddie said. "Each of you will have three questions about your dream partner. If you get a question right, you'll get 2 points. If you get a question wrong, I'll subtract a point."
   
"I pick Rachel," David said. He grabbed her hand like they were in middle school and held it high. Rachel might have died of happiness.
   
"I pick the partners," Eddie said, seeming somewhat annoyed. He thought for a moment. "Fine. Daphne with Jason. David with Rachel."
   
"That's what I said," David said.
  
 "Stop," Eddie said. And he actually sounded a bit pissed off. Rachel hoped David would listen and not turn this all into some kind of battle. "Okay, Daphne and Jason can go first."  He snapped his fingers, and two small tables with four school chairs appeared.  Eddie snapped his fingers again and a Lazy-Boy type chair appeared.  Eddie sat in it.  He instructed the others to sit at the tables across from their partner.  David and Rachel quickly obliged.  Jason followed their lead.  Daphne stood there with her arms crossed, then gave up, and sat down.
   
Jason asked to go home. Eddie ignored him and began the questions. Rachel wondered how Jason was expected to know anything about Daphne. Or maybe he would. Maybe they had talked when Rachel hadn't been around? But then she really couldn't imagine Daphne having a civil conversation.
   
"Jason, where does Daphne work?"
   
He didn't answer.
   
Eddie repeated the question.
   
"A farm?"
   
"A farm?" Daphne laughed. "What? Do I look like Old McDonald to you?"
   
"So where do you work?" David asked. Rachel felt the jealousy emerge and scolded herself for it. What did she expect....David to be only interested in her? What kind of jealous freak was she? And it's not like they were married or anything. Not that she thought marriage would allow her to be so jealous.... so possessive.
   
"None of your business." Daphne said to David.
   
"Ready for the next question?" Eddie asked Jason.
   
"Yep."
   
"How many kids does Daphne have?"
   
"Ninety-nine."
   
David laughed.
   
"Are you laughing at me?" Jason asked. Rachel felt sorry for him. He looked so sad.
   
"No. Daphne," David said. "Can you imagine her with kids?"
   
Rachel had to laugh at that.
   
"Those poor kids," David said. "Yikes."
   
Daphne glared at him.
   
"Sorry," he said. But then laughed again. "Sorry, can't help it."
   
"David," Eddie said. "Stop. That's enough."

"Sorry," he said again.
   
"Where was Daphne born?" Eddie asked the next question.
   
"China."

Wrong," Eddie said. "No points for you." He suddenly looked like a parent about to give a lecture. "You guys did really bad. You need to talk more. Get to know each other. Stop being strangers."
   
Daphne rolled her eyes.
   
"Okay," Eddie said. "Your turn."
   
"Fine," she said. "Shoot."
   
"What is Jason's occupation?"
   
"I don't know," Daphne said. And it was obvious that she neither knew nor cared.
   
"I was a writer." Jason said.
   
"Cool," Rachel said. Kind of just trying to be nice.
   
"That's minus 1 point."
   
"We're not doing good," David said, looking straight at Daphne. "What is that?"
   
"- 4 points so far."
   
"All together?" David asked.
   
"We'll discuss it later," Eddie said. Then to Daphne, "Next question: What was Jason's first job?"
   
"I don't know and I don't care," Daphne said.
   
"I worked as a shoes salesman."
   
"I can imagine that," Daphne said. "You probably had some kind of perverted foot fetish."
   
"Last question," Eddie said. "Where does Jason live?"
   
"In my imagination."
   
"Wrong," Eddie said.
   
"Not wrong," Daphne replied.
   
Eddie groaned and covered his face with his hands. "Why? Why? Why did I get stuck with you?" He looked up. "Okay. David. Your turn."
   
"I'm ready," he said. He looked at Rachel and winked. She smiled at him, then worried Eddie would ask something completely humiliating. She stopped smiling.
  
 "Who is Rachel's best friend?" he asked.
   
"Jessica," he said. Rachel was a bit surprised he remembered. Maybe a part of her thought he just asked the questions to be nice, but would never remember.
   
"Right!" Eddie said. "Good job! That's two points for you!"
  
 David looked pleased with himself. He gave Rachel a high five. Or well, he tried. Rachel, being the incompetent klutz that she was, put her hand in the wrong position. And it was just an awkward mess. But David didn't seem to mind.
   
"What kind of blog does Rachel have?"
   
"It's about food." David said.
   
Daphne rolled her eyes. "I hate people obsessed with food," she said. "Especially thin people. It's sick." Rachel forgot about the words hate and sick. All she heard was the word "thin" and for a moment she actually kind of liked Daphne.
   
"Two more points for you!" Eddie said. He sounded truly pleased and proud.
   
"And last question. What does Rachel keep under her pillow?"
   
Oh crap. Rachel wanted to die. But then she realized Eddie had never given out the real answers when Jason and Daphne had their turn. The answers only came out if someone volunteered it. Hopefully, it would be that way for her. She could never ever ever let David know about the magazine.
  
 "I don't know," David said. He seemed disappointed with himself. "What is it? A rose?"
   
"Wrong," Eddie said. And Rachel felt safe. They would move on. But then Eddie said, "A magazine cover."
   
How completely unfair! Rachel wished she could disappear.
   
David laughed...defintely laughing at her. He probably thought she was a complete freak now. Well, if by some miracle he didn't think so already.
   
"That is so weird," he said. And he didn't even know what kind of magazine yet. "You're not going to believe this, but I kept a magazine cover under my pillow when I was younger.
   
"You did?" Suddenly, Rachel felt a little okay.
   
"Entertainment Weekly
. The issue with the greatest movie scenes. I thought it would bring me good luck." He grinned. "I guess it kind of worked."
   
"Can I leave now?" Daphne asked.
   
Eddie ignored her. Rachel decided to do the same although she thought it could be fun to remind Daphne this was all in her mind, so why did she need permission?
   
"How about you?" David said to Rachel. "What kind of magazine do you have under your pillow. And why?" His inquisitiveness was so sweet. Yeah, but there was no way in hell she'd answer that.
   
And now Eddie came to her rescue. "Rachel, your turn to answer questions about David. Ready?"
   
"I guess," she said. They had never really gotten around to talking about David during their phone conversation. And yeah, she knew everything. But she didn't want him to know she knew everything. Yet she didn't want to make them lose points.
   
"What is David's mother’s name?" Eddie asked.
   
Crap. She knew the answer to that. She was kind of hoping he'd ask something she didn't know, something never reported in any magazine or TV show. Make her feel less conflicted.
   
"I don't know," she said.
   
"Next question," Eddie said and Rachel wondered if he was psychic. Could he read her mind? Well, yes. Couldn't he? He already knew all these answers about them. So he knew Rachel was withholding information. "How old was David when he was in his first movie?
   
Rachel shrugged her shoulders.
   
"You don't know?" Eddie said.
   
"No," she said in a quiet voice.
   
"I suggest you try harder. You're making your team lose points," Eddie said.
   
Rachel didn't know what to do. She didn't want to be the cause of David's brother dying over and over. But she didn't want to make a fool of herself.
    
"What is David's middle name?"
   
Eddie started to hum the Jeopardy theme song.
   
Rachel decided she had to do the right thing. Even if it made a complete fool of her. She tried hard to make it look like she was completely guessing. "Um? Gary?"
   
"Good! 2 points for a total of 6!" Eddie said.

She looked at the floor, planning to never look at David again.
   
"You know my middle name?" David asked.
   
Yes, she was a stalker. Caught by her victim. She begged herself to wake up, and never return to these dreams again.
  
 David put his hands on her elbow. "You know my middle name?"
   
"It was just a guess." She continued to look down at the floor.
   
"No, it wasn't." He laughed. But it wasn't a mean laugh. Not at all. He was happy. "I never would have guessed."
   
"What?" She pretended to direct all her attention at a crack in the table.
   
"You're a fan of me!"

 "Oh, you are so stuck on yourself," Daphne said-then mumbled, "or my version of you is at least."
  
 David grabbed Rachel by the hands and pulled her into a standing position.
   
"What?" She giggled nervously. Very nervously.
   
"You like me! You like me!"
   
"Of course I like you. You're nice."
   
David laughed. "Oh don't give me that. You're a big fan of me and you know it. I'll bet you've seen all my movies. Memorized them."
   
"Well--"
   
"You love me. You love me," he sang in a teasing voice. He smiled at her. "I never would have guessed."
   
Daphne groaned. "How stupid are you? Why do you think she was so tongue tied around you? Why does she act so stupid? She's a little girl with a crush."
   
And to Rachel's great relief, she woke up. But she actually didn't feel too embarrassed anymore. She felt okay.
   
Sort of.
         


















Comments