Wake
too. His muscles ripple in the sunlight. His body is tan. It glistens.
    It looks like they are on a deserted, tropical island.
    He doesn’t move.
    He doesn’t have a rope anymore.
    He’s sitting in the sand.
    She waits for him to do something, but he doesn’t move.
    “Remember, it’s your dream,” she hears. It’s her other Janie speaking, the one who is aware that she is dreaming.
    Janie hesitates and approaches Cabel. “Hey, Cabel.”
    He looks up. “I care about you,” he says. His eyes are brown and turning muddy. Janie wants to believe him. And so she does.
    “What about Shay?” she asks.
    “Dreams aren’t memories,” he says. “Please talk to me.”
    6:29 a.m.
    Janie smiles in her sleep. She watches over herself in the dream, and plunges back into it, taking it in different directions, starting over at various spots to make it fun, or sexy, or beautiful, or silly.
    November 27, 2005, 8:05 a.m.
    The alarm clock rings. Janie keeps her eyes closed and reaches to turn it off. She lies in bed, going over the dream in detail, remembering it. Memorizing it. When she has it solidly in her mind, she sits up and writes it in her journal. She can’t stop smiling.

    It’s a small step. But it gives Janie hope.
    She studies the books all day, until it’s time for work.
    9:58 p.m.
    It’s quiet at the nursing home. The residents are all tucked in their beds, doors closed. Janie fills out charts at the front desk. She is alone.
    The call panel is dark, until a white light flashes from the room Miss Stubin once occupied. A new resident is there now. His name is Johnny McVicker.
    Janie sets down her pen and goes into the room to see what he needs. But Mr. McVicker is asleep.
    He’s dreaming.
    Janie grabs hold of the wall as she goes blind.
    9:59 p.m.
    They are in the basement of a house. It’s lit moderately, and it’s not very cold down there. Janie sees gray leaves blowing and piling up outside the venting window. Everything is in black and white, she realizes after a moment.
    Mr. McVicker is perhaps twenty years younger. He stands at the bottom of the stairs with a young man, whom he calls Edward.
    They are yelling.
    Hateful things.
    Mr. McVicker looks horrified, and Edward storms up the stairs and out of the house, slamming the door.
    The old man tries to follow, but he can only move in slow motion. He tries speaking, but no words come out. He is mired by the weight of his feet, sinking through the steps. He looks at Janie, his face cracked and broken, lined with tears. And then he looks past Janie.
    Janie turns around.
    Miss Stubin is standing behind her, watching. Waiting. For something. She smiles encouragingly at Mr. McVicker.
    His face is anguished.
    Fresh tears fall from his eyes.
    He is sinking into the steps, and now he can’t move at all. Miss Stubin stands patiently, watching him, compassionate. She closes her eyes, and her brow furrows. She holds deathly still.

    “Help me,” he finally cries, as if it’s forced from his lungs.

    Miss Stubin glides over to Mr. McVicker.
    Holds her hand out.
    Helps him out of the stairs, which magically repair themselves. But instead of guiding him up the stairs, she brings him back to the starting spot of the dream. Miss Stubin glances at Janie and nods, then turns back to the old man and tells him something that Janie cannot hear.
    They stand there, Janie looking on, for several moments. And then the dream begins again. Mr. McVicker and Edward are yelling.
    Hateful things.
    Mr. McVicker looks horrified, and Edward turns toward the stairs. Miss Stubin says something to Mr. McVicker again. The scene pauses. Mr. McVicker reaches for Edward’s sleeve.
    “Don’t go,” he says. “Please. There’s something I have to tell you.”
    Edward turns around slowly.
    “Son,” the old man says. “You’re right. I’m wrong. And I’m so sorry.”
    Edward’s lip quivers.
    He opens his arms to his father.
    Mr. McVicker embraces the young man. “I love you,” he says.

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