Friday, March 23, 2007

Chapter 1: Etienne...

"Fiery Dreams"
© Lisolette Gilcrest

My dreams are usually quite vivid. I've always been a heavy sleeper and from discussions that I've had with other people, I've found that those who sleep more deeply tend to have more animated and fascinating dreams in general, but this dream... this was like no other dream that I have ever had in my life... I woke up so incredibly disheartened when I realized that I had lost him.

I laid there for two more hours trying everything I could to fall back asleep just to see him once more and when I realized that my slumber would not embrace me anytime soon, I finally got out of bed downtrodden and resigned to my frustration. All day long I was haunted with this lingering wish that it was time for me to go back to bed, but I was also haunted by this dreadful fear that by the time I got back to my dreamscape, he wouldn't be there anymore and I didn't know if my heart could take that disappointment. Mostly the fear tugging at my stomach was that he had learned the truth about me and left, just like all of the others had done. I think part of me felt so connected to him because I had this notion that he would have accepted it and maybe stayed for just a while longer – long enough for me to experience some of the happiness I had once known as a young girl.

He was enormous, standing at least two metres tall. He was so thick and muscular, so unlike the men I usually meet or even desire to be with. He had a crown of brown hair, slightly longer than a brush cut, with his thick locks just beginning to turn into the tight curls that would likely encompass his entire head if he let his hair grow out much longer. His eyes were a deep pool of dark chocolate, so dark in fact that it was impossible to tell where his pupils ended and where his irises began. His eyes were so piercing and enchanting that it was difficult to look away from him. He was clean shaven and well groomed and looked like the type to guard the Prime Minister - in fact, he felt important like that in this dream, though I am uncertain why he was dressed so plainly when I saw him. He had this simply incredible presence and I was so drawn to him, despite myself, that I couldn't help but stare at him unabashedly.

In this dream, I was at a reunion for the academé that I attended in Paris and this seemed strange to me, even within the context of this dream because I would never really want to see any of them again. I had very little in common with those students while I attended there a decade ago, and likely had even less in common with them now. Perhaps the dream was meant as a cruel reminder that I am not as young as I once was and how much of my life has been wasted with the path that I have taken since then – I am uncertain.

As I walked around having seemingly important conversations with faceless but familiar figures, someone stopped me to tell me an "Etienne" wanted to speak with me. I was confused, since I couldn't recall any Etienne that had gone to school with me, but as it was a dream, I just went with it and walked over in the direction that the man pointed me to. Etienne was seated humbly, nearly hunched over and this position did not reveal his massive girth at first. What was most amusing and anachronistic, was that he sat quietly as if waiting for the headmaster, looking down at his large, rough hands fidgeting nervously with them as he awaited their arrival.

"Etienne?" I asked nervously and doubtful of whether or not I even had the right man.

He looked up and my heart raced as his face brightened – with a smile as if a young child whose lost toy were returned to him.

"You've come... I never thought you would..." he said softly.

"You have been waiting for me?" I asked stunned, "For how long?"

"For nearly ten years..." he replied.

I stepped back. My world was spinning around me. He stood up and put his hands forth pleadingly. It was then that I realized how large and overpowering he was and I became even more anxious.

"Please..." he begged, "Lisolette, give me just a few minutes... I have been waiting for so long and I don't think my heart could stand it if you walked away now."

I stepped back again, though I am unsure as to why I did – perhaps because at this point he involved his heart with mine and I never invited or allowed him to do so. Nor did I even recognize him, as he was definitely not someone that I ever went to school with. Actually... I cannot say that I didn't recognize him entirely, since like most dreams, there was something strangely familiar about him: his aura, his voice, his forlorn eyes... he was nothing like my men.

He continued to move forward, his hands up in protestation and I continued to step back in some sort of shock. He was terribly handsome, with big strong hands and a commanding presence, but his eyes were immensely sad. I had a rush of emotions – attraction, concern, confusion and mostly anger. How dare he invite himself into my life like this??? Especially now. In real life, I would have run out, but as usual with dreams, I was oddly compelled to stay, even if only for the moment.

Others began staring and some turned to see if I needed aide. One man even stepped toward us and Etienne snapped a glance at him, as if to warn him to stay out of the matter, and then Etienne immediately retracted his visual threat by looking down in submission and stepping back apologetically.

I looked at the unknown man, a bit surprised to remember that anyone else was even around us, and Etienne stood there helpless, looking down at his own hands. Damn Etienne... He was so... beautiful and I would never normally use that word to describe a man. Etienne's face was well-sculpted, as if chiseled from quebracho, yet his child-like humility made him all the more intriguing and appealing.

"It's alright, Yves," I assured my intercessor. I was shocked that I even knew the unknown man's name.

Then I turn and spoke to Etienne again for the first time since he confessed that he had been waiting for me for ten years. "Etienne, come with me." He looked up and stepped forward immediately and obediently. Oddly, I remember thinking in the dream that things would go well between us if he continued to yield to me as such. I think I was resentful that he commanded so much of my interest and attention and now I was thankful that I could at least command his actions for a short while, since I was so tired of being commanded or even having to be available on demand.

Next thing I remember is that we are outside in some alley – each leaning against the outer brick wall of the building about a metre away from each other and facing one another. He was staring down at his hands again and I was just staring at him – his face, his lips, which seemed to be quivering at this moment. I waited and watched for a long time – at least it felt like it. You can never really tell in dreams. Maybe it wasn't even that long, but Etienne eventually spoke and said, "Forgive me for stalling, I just want this time with you to last."

"People pay me for that," I thought, but didn't dare say.

"You probably don't remember me," he continued. "I was always very shy and I usually stayed to myself. I watched you all those years ago and never had the courage to approach you. I fell in love with you then and I have loved you all these years..." His words trailed off and Etienne stood there with his head resting against the brick wall, awaiting a response from me.

I was floored. I think he knew to be patient, since I hadn't left and I hadn't slapped him either.

After a long quiet and with as much thoughtfulness as I could muster for the situation, I began to speak, barely audibly. "You cannot possibly love me, in the manner that you are speaking, any more than a cinematic film – if all you did was watch me ten years ago and are now replaying those images in your mind. It seems I am nothing more to you than a projected image, purified and glorified through the years. No wonder you think you love me... you remember me as a young girl – I love those memories, too. You..." I paused and spoke emphatically, "Etienne... don't have a damn clue as to who I am today and to think that I am no more experienced, wiser, learned and different is insulting."

Etienne wanted to make certain that I was done and nodded to indicate that he heard every word I said, and had in fact expected each word from me as it flowed like the chorus of an operetta.

"I expected such words," he said, yanking my proverbial soapbox out from underneath me. "And if that was all there was to my story, you would be right. But there is so much more you need to hear, Lisolette, and I can only pray that you will show the same mercy and patience with me that He does."

This struck me in a way that I was not ready to even explore myself at the time. It particularly stung and soothed at the same time, as I had been struggling for years with my faith, though I had resolved myself to one thing: somewhere, somehow God will make things right. It hurt too much to think that He wouldn't.

"Lisolette..." he interrupted my thoughts, "give me one chance, one courtship or even one night with you... please let me have just one chance to taste life at your side, rather than afar. I promise you will also taste something that you have never, ever experienced..."

I looked at him and squinted my eyes just a bit with attention, and to indicate that he needed to identify which thing he thought I'd been missing.

He concluded quickly, knowing that he'd sparked my interest, "appreciation... You've never once felt that, this I know. I also know that if you give me this one chance, you will never again want for it again." He looked up and straight into me, with his piercing brown eyes.

What did he say next? What would he do? I can only imagine for I was woken up by Gaston's snoring... but that is whole different story...

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