I had a nightmare last night, though it wasn’t exactly frightening; it was just terrible for its dark depressiveness. I was 25 (but I’m not sure if I was actually me) and I met a 26-year-old (about whose appearance I can remember nothing but that he was dressed in a Superman costume every time I saw him…but that really detracts from the seriousness of the whole thing, so I am going to disregard that bit henceforth). We fell in love almost immediately, and it was a deep, very passionate sort of love…well, he ended up being an alien from somewhere (I really should have seen it coming with the Superman costume). The complicated thing about it all was that he was able to travel only between his planet and Earth, at intervals of 13 years. While on his planet, he was immortal, whereas on Earth, he was immortal, as long as he did not stay here for more than a period of 3 consecutive 13-year intervals, or 39 years. If he attempted to stay more than 39 years, he would die a sudden Earth death. I got the impression that on his planet, inhabitants were one age and remained at such forever. But at each return to Earth, he would begin life again as an infant. There was a way that after remaining on Earth for 13 years, he could return to his home planet for another 13 of our Earth years, and then come back again, his age advanced 13 years from where it was when he left, for one more 13-year interval…but at the end of this time, he would be forced to give up his life forever, both on our planet, and on his own.
We loved each other so much that we decided to spend the next 13 years together; we were married immediately. Life was fantastic for the duration of that time period. We had a son, sometime in one of the final few years. He was very young when his father left—probably only around 3 or 4 years old. The years following his departure, however, were very dark, cold, and disparaging. I was not able to hold a high-paying job, and I could barely make enough for the two of us to get by. Somehow, we managed. We had a ramshackle apartment somewhere in a foreboding area of New York. My job (whatever it was) kept me out late at night, and one particular night, when my son was around 16, and had a part-time job of his own, I sauntered home down a dark street, closely following three giggling prostitutes, who must have been, by that point, about half my age (which was, oddly, older than I am now). I glared disdainfully at their backs, judging them for what they were, and started walking faster so as to pass them and avoid a meeting altogether. But as I stepped in front of them, one of them said, “Hey…you don’t look like you’re much better off than us.”
I stopped and turned to look at them. “How could you tell?”
“Well, you’re a woman alone, wandering the streets of New York at this time of night. We’ve seen you before, you know.”
“I’ve seen you before, too,” I answered.
They asked me if I had a place to stay; they offered to allow me to stay with them. They invited me to their apartment for a cup of coffee (what the heck??—I don’t even drink coffee), and for some reason, I obliged. Their dwelling was much nicer than mine. I phoned my son to tell him I would be a bit later than usual. I spent a good part of the night talking with these girls, who all turned out to be quite warmhearted. I’m not quite certain yet what it is that I learned from this talk with them—something about judging others before you know them, I would guess. At any rate, the occurrence seemed to shed a new light on life. There were others arguably worse off than I, who looked at life from a brighter perspective. Why wasn’t I like that?
And then one night, perhaps a year or so later, I returned home from work to find my son and my husband seated together at the kitchen table. He had come back. I had never expected him to. This would mean that he was sacrificing his immortal life for us, and for only such a short time. He was 52 now, and I was 51. Somehow, from that point forward, things got better. He had money from somewhere, and saved us from our destitution. And the passion returned. But all the while, the threat of ever-encroaching darkness hung over our heads. The dream abruptly ended this way.
I’m not even sure if any of that math works out because I cannot math when I’m awake, so I have no idea what those numbers were doing in my sleep.