It’s been an hour since I woke up and already I want to crawl back into bed. Not to rest. I just want to dream. Most of all, I want to be with my daughter again. I look back at my desk, at the mountain I have to climb. Books are laid out in front of me, one obstacle after another. And the amount of papers I have to write only adds to the pile, leaving a wall in my path that simply won’t budge. I begin the ascent again and again, but somewhere along the way my mind wanders off. My eyes falter. And soon enough, I’m somewhere else. I don’t know how many times this has happened, me staring at the wall and losing myself in the blankness of it as if it’s some kind of doorway into the dream. I realize I need an inspiration. Defeated, I shut the blinds, pull up the blanket, and allow myself to sink into darkness.
Where am I? I’m on a beach. My daughter’s here with me. Shania, I call to her. She turns to face me, smiling. She’s older now, probably in her twenties. How do I know it’s her? Because of those eyes. They shine brighter than ever, filling a warmth in me that lets me know I’m home. I’m right where I belong. Perhaps these are my last days with her. Or maybe it’s a new beginning.
It’s time, she says. She guides me down to the water and I savor every moment. Shania’s hand clutching my arm. The sand molding around my feet. And the sun, patting down on my back as if encouraging me to move forward.
We stop along the shoreline, where the water attempts to reach for me and fails each time. I admire its effort. I watch as it tries over and over again. A wave crashes down on shore, sending a thin layer of water rushing for me. For a moment, I believe it will take me. It seems to have no other purpose. Then, it pauses just inches away from my toes before receding into the deep blue. I realize it’s not trying to consume me. It’s welcoming me in, like a hand waving at me to come near.
Shania, I call to her one last time.
Yes? She looks up to me.
For what, dad?
I used to hate this place. This island took away so much from me. But it also gave me you. And because of you, this island has become a paradise again. It’s home.
Shania wraps her arms around me. I start to cry. No, I’m not sad. I’m crying because I’ve made it to the end of my journey, one that kept me away from her for years as I tried to finish college. One that had us separated even as I came home, because I always had to drop her off at her mother’s house. Now, we’ve reached a time in our lives where we can finally be together. No more obstacles. No more miles in between us. Just us, and all the time in the world, now rightfully ours to spend.
She falls to her knees. I fall down with her, unwilling to let go. I pull back to see the tears swimming in her eyes. They well up, threatening to pour over. The waves are about to break, but I catch them before they do. I carry the tears for her, because she has no right to feel sad. She deserves to be happy.
Dad, she says. The word makes me want to disappear in her arms, to sink deeper into the sand, to be taken away by the water.
Yes? I say, eager to her voice again and again.
Right when I least expect it, a ball of sand descends on my face. I wipe away the grit in my eyes and I see her laughing into the free air. I can’t help but laugh with her. Slowly, she starts to run. She thinks she can get away with this. So I run after her, carrying an armful of sand behind me.
She leans over to gather and throw more sand in my way. I do the same, kneeling down to scoop a handful and then tossing it, always missing each time. I don’t feel old anymore. I’m a kid again. We both are. This is how I want our lives to be. Not curling in the sand and apologizing for the time we’ve lost. I just want us to run up and down this beach, making a mess of things, and laughing the days away.
I wake up. I’m back in my room. Everything is just the way I left it: the books on the desk, the blank document on the computer. I check the time. I’ve only slept for 15 minutes. And yet, it feels like I’ve lived a lifetime.
What are dreams? I choose to look at them as movies played out in our minds. In it, we are the characters in our own story. We observe it and experience it at the same time. It’s an ideal world for any writer. Writing, I believe, is dreaming. It’s the ability to dream up stories and present them to the world as an imaginative portrait for others to lose themselves in. Personally, I use the dream to get closer to my daughter. Because in reality, we are so far away. But in my dreams we’re together. Now, are dreams real? Who knows? Then again, who are you to decide?
So where am I now? I’m at my desk with my hands on the keyboard and ready to type. I don’t know what will become of my story, or if it’s a story to begin with. Again, it doesn’t matter. I write to be with my daughter, to live in these moments where I can truly be a father to her. But what’s more important to me is that I allow the dream to happen, to really experience the world of my own subconscious rather than control it. Because the words aren’t coming from me, but through me. I’m only a vessel. The dream plays and I am here to film it as best as I can. Determined, I pull the chair closer and begin to type, disappearing into my daughter’s arms once more.