3 Words: Cobbler, Purge, Forgotten (November 30, 2012 prompt)
by Jon Clapier
A young woman sits by a table at an open air café, checking her watch often.
“Would you like to order now?”
She notices the waiter is getting impatient and thinks it’s a bad omen coming from someone so good-looking, “No thank you. I’m sure my Aunt will be here any minute.”
“Can I refill your drink for you?”
She wants to say yes, but feels self-conscious about a third refill, “No, thank you.”
He nods in resignation and moves to another table.
The woman lifts her glass to her lips before remembering that it’s empty and hurriedly sets it down again. She reaches for her purse and pulls out a cell phone and looks at the screen for several long seconds.
“No, I won’t,” she says to no one and tries quietly not to scream, setting the phone down on the table.
“Melissa? I’m sorry I’m late.”
Another woman approaches her table, in her forties but ageing gracefully. The gray in her hair accents her beauty rather than detracts from it. “I had to finish some things at the office and then got caught in traffic.”
She seats herself and says, “Have you ordered yet?” She opens a menu, a glance over the top edge at the younger woman’s face, and she sets it slowly back down.
“What’s wrong, dear? Are you in some kind of trouble?”
“No, no, I’m fine. Order something Aunt Jessie; I don’t want to ruin your lunch. I’ve heard the cobbler here is excellent.”
Aunt Jessie reaches across the table to rest a hand on her niece’s. “Lunch can wait. What is it?”
The waiter approaches their table in time to hear. He sighs and asks what drink Aunt Jessie would like before he moves away.
Melissa tries to compose herself as powerful emotions cross her features. “I had a dream last night.”
Her Aunt smiles, “Is that all?”
“Isn’t that enough?”
Aunt Jessie leans back in her chair, “Depends on the dream and what prompted it. Have you met a new man?”
Melissa shook her head, “No, I haven’t. There’s been no one since Jack and I broke up.”
“Was your dream about Jack?” Aunt Jessie asks as the waiter sets down a glass of water in front of her.
“No, I don’t think so.” Melissa plays with her empty glass. “It was about someone I’ve never met, I think.”
“Now you’ve piqued my interest; tell me all about it,” Aunt Jessie says and then sips her water.
Melissa takes a deep breath and says, “I’ve forgotten most of the details from the dream except that he was not as good looking as I would have liked, even though I can’t tell you what he looked like. He has a good heart and is in most ways a very good man, and that’s… about it.” She looks at her phone as she finishes talking.
“Most men aren’t as good looking as we would like, dear.” Aunt Jessie furrows her brows and asks, “There’s something else, isn’t there?”
“Yes, when I woke up I knew one thing… his phone number.”
Aunt Jessie chuckles warmly, “So that’s it. You can’t remember the number and it’s haunting you. Am I right?”
“No. I typed it into my phone as soon as I woke up.” Melissa notices the look of surprise on her aunt’s face. “Is that normal?”
“Many people dream phone numbers. It’s probably just a random string of numbers. You know that, don’t you? Unless the phone number is 867-5309, and then we sue the J. Geils Band.” Aunt Jessie smiles but Melissa is confused by the reference.
“The J. Geils band… never mind. I take it that you haven’t called it yet?”
“No I haven’t dared to. What am I supposed to say? ‘Sorry to bother you, but is there a young semi-attractive man there with good character who wants to meet someone who recently had a bad break-up because her ex-boyfriend cheated on her with her ex-best friend?’” Melissa bursts into tears.
Aunt Jessie switches chairs to be next to Melissa and leans her head onto her shoulder, holding her. “It will be all right dear. I’m here for you.”
After a few moments Melissa straightens up, and dries her eyes, “I’m sorry Aunt Jessie, I didn’t mean to drag you into my soap-opera. But you’re the best friend I have since we lost mother.” She chokes slightly as her eyes tear again.
Stroking Melissa’s hair, Aunt Jessie says, “Don’t apologize, dear. We’re family, and families are supposed to help each other.”
Melissa nods as she dries her eyes with a napkin and says, “I wanted to meet with you to ask what you thought of my dream, professionally.”
“You know I’m not a psychologist. I only work with one.”
“But you are a real counselor, and I value your judgment.”
Aunt Jessie nods, “Are you sure? You may not want to hear my opinion.”
“I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want to know.”
“Okay, I think that dreaming a phone number is your mind’s way of keeping hope alive. Subconsciously it gives you a way of overcoming your break-up without having to deal with it in other ways; something greater than yourself hinting that there is someone destined for you who is a better person than Jack was, validates your belief in yourself as a good, desirable person. But I can tell you that you are a good person. You don’t need a dream number to know that.”
Melissa nods, “Then you don’t think I should call the number?”
Aunt Jessie shakes her head, “No, you shouldn’t. It was just a random string of numbers or an old pizza delivery place or something equally as odd. Purge it from your mind.”
Melissa’s phone begins to ring. Both women stare at it as it lies on the table, vibrating softly. The screen reads, “Unknown number.”