Tuesday, October 29, 2013


It was the day before Christmas Eve. Charlie woke happy. The winter sun was golden in the window, reminding him of an excellent December morning he had known long ago. He was happy also because he had just awakened from another dream of Margaret.

In the dream, she had encouraged him to go to Benny and Carol’s Christmas party. “No,” he said, “I don’t like parties. I’d have a better time staying home and watching a movie.”

“You need to go this party,” she said. “Promise me you’ll go.”

“Okay, I’ll go. I’ll make an appearance and leave early.”

“No, don’t leave early. Stay till midnight. Do not leave any earlier, or any later. Promise?”

Charlie had learned from experience to do whatever Margaret told him in these dreams.

“All right,” he said. “But midnight is awful late.”

“Do not leave one minute earlier than midnight, or one minute later. Promise?”

“I promise.”

So he went to the party and stayed till midnight. It was awkward, staying so late, because all the other guests were gone by eleven.

Charlie sat uncomfortably in an easy chair while Benny and Carol sat across from him on the sofa, trying to conceal their impatience while making conversation.

“My goodness Charlie,” said Carol, “when did you become such a night owl. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you stay out so late.”

“Yes,” said Benny, stifling a yawn, “you are quite the party animal tonight.”

“Well, it’s great being with you guys,” said Charlie. “I’m alone so much of the time now. It’s good to be around people for a change and such good friends. Yes, it is. It certainly is ...”

“I think I’ll start cleaning up,” said Carol, going into the kitchen.

“I understand, Charlie," said Benny. "I know it’s been hard for you, losing Margaret and having to get used to living alone.”

“Yes, it has. It's been very hard ... so very hard. You're right. It's been hard.”

Benny stifled another yawn. Charlie glanced at the clock.

They went on making pointless conversation a while longer, then at midnight Charlie exclaimed, “I’ve got to go!”

Benny had started to doze off. He jumped up, wide awake. “What! You’re leaving?”

“Yes, goodnight, Benny,” said Charlie, grabbing his coat and heading out the door. “Goodnight, Carol! Great party!”

He got in the car and started driving home. Why on earth Margaret had told him to stay till midnight he could not imagine, but he figured there must be a good reason …

(To be continued)