Dreams For Breakfast

Alexandria Christina Leal

In All Ways — 2383

“Bad dream again?”

“How could you tell?” In All Ways mumbled, half sarcastically and half out of genuine curiosity, as she sat down at the breakfast table. She was aware of the bags beneath her eyes, the bloodshot veins.

Eliah paused, setting his fork down. He finished chewing (thank goodness), and sat there, staring off and thinking.

“Your hair. It looks different. More frazzled. More outta order,” he finally said as he stood up and walked to the kitchen.

“Bullshit,” she replied. “Absolute fucking bullshit.”

“Nothing but the truth,” he said. She felt his lips against her cheek as he placed a mouthwatering plate of grits and eggs in front of her.

She grumbled, but did not challenge him on the issue.

The two sat in silence as they ate, enjoying the pleasure of a small routine moment with one another. She loved it when life was like this.

“What was it about?”

“Mmm?” She knew what he meant.

“The dream.”

She sighed. “An… old friend.”

He nodded, then swallowed a mouthful of bacon.

“Please do not choke. Zia would never let me hear the end of it. "

Eliah snorted. “It’s not like it could kill me.”

She rolled her eyes as he heaped more pepper onto another handful of bacon. They sat in silence for a few moments more. Having finished eating, In All Ways stared at the blue and white tablecloth, counted the whorls in the bit of wood it did not cover, and conducted a cartographic survey of her hands before her mind inevitably returned to that which she had been avoiding.

“In the dream…”

Eliah’s earth coloured eyes were instantly in her direction. He was using his utensils slower. A perfect midway point of “If you change your mind after the words leave your mouth, we can just keep on keeping on.”

Sometimes, he was infuriatingly charismatic.

“I talked to a friend who…” She fumbled around the words, her voice fell to a whisper. “I had a dream that ey…”

She closed her eyes, took a few moments to breathe in and out. When she opened them again, Eliah gave a gentle nod in her direction. She smiled ever so slightly, could feel some of the stress drain out of her.

This was here, and she was here, and that, that had been then.

“In the dream, ey, had forked. Long, long ago. And I was speaking to one of eir forks.” She was glad she had set down the silverware, she did not think she could have held onto it right now, even with having centered herself. “I… have not spoken to em in… a long while. And ey never forked. And yet…”

She thought back to it, to the moment in the dream where the changes had really hit her. “At first I was just so glad to see em again. But then, as the dream continued, it was like I was speaking to another person. It was if hundreds of years of individuation, hundreds of years of growth and change, and it all fit it all made sense- And that was when I started to realize that I had separate feelings for this person which ey had become. That ey was a different person meant that our relationship was inherently, irrevocably different.” She stopped. The words escaped her. The stake finally slid into her chest. She slouched back in her chair, deflated.

Eliah looked on with compassion and concern.

“And it was terrifying. Absolutely, utterly terrifying. In an instant, I realized that I was not talking to the person whose company I had missed all of these years. That our final conversation happened centuries ago.”

He sat there thoughtfully for a few moments, holding the fork aloft. Thinking. Then it hit him all at once. She could see it in his face.

She smiled sadly and nodded.

“You weren’t speaking to eir fork. You were speaking to em.”

Other times, he was just infuriating.

“No. It does not matter who I was speaking to. After all that time? Ey would not be the same person. After all, I am not the same person I was then.”

He nodded, and then there was silence. After a few moments she realized he was staring at her expectantly.

“That’s what I said.” He tilted his hat in her direction.

“No, it was not. You got the answer wrong, and not in a semantic way. Period. Flat out. End of story,” she shot back.

Finally, Eliah held up his hands and said, “All right, I get it. The skunk stops here.” He gestured vaguely to the place her tail would have occupied had she been a skunk that day. “I got it wrong. You got it right. End of story.”

It took her a few moments to get the reference and understand his gesture. She groaned.

“Eliah, you are so full of shit.”

“Nothing but the truth,” he said, shoveling another piece of bacon into his mouth, and then added, “For what it’s worth, I bet ey would be proud of who you are. I sure am.”

She bit her lip, thought about it, stared down at her breakfast.

“Thank you, Eliah. Truth be told, I do not know what ey would think of me now. But I know that I am proud of who I am now. And that… that also matters.”

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