Home > Only Him (One and Only #2)(2)

Only Him (One and Only #2)(2)
Author: Melanie Harlow

According to another site, running away from a snake that’s chasing you might symbolize someone or something you’re afraid to face. Again, I couldn’t really think of anything I feared. Of course, I had questions about life—was I on the right path? Would I ever find love again? Did I have a higher purpose? But those weren’t exactly fears.

Occasionally, I struggled with feeling like I had given up my ballet career too soon and missed the feeling that performing in front of an audience gave me. But I’d taught myself to find validation from within, and the truth was, I hadn’t liked living in New York City at all. I had left my apprenticeship with the American Ballet Theater after just one year.

But I didn’t think that was it, either. When I searched my soul, I felt no regret about leaving the ballet world, with its constant pressures, strict hierarchy and intense competition. It wasn’t for me. I much preferred the inner peace and harmony I got from yoga, and running a successful studio afforded me a good enough income to live on my own, travel a little, and treat myself to the occasional luxury. I was happy. Healthy. Balanced. Fulfilled.

At least, I had been before the nightmares. Now I was exhausted, irritable, off-kilter, and full of doubt. Was the universe trying to warn me about something?

I googled a few more things—being naked in a dream (did I feel vulnerable? Had I been caught off guard?), the clock in my hands (was I concerned about time running out?), the locked door (did I feel confined by something?)—but felt no closer to decoding my psyche than I had before. With a frustrated sigh, I closed my laptop and set it aside. It wasn’t helping. What I needed was some deeper self-reflection.

Yawning, I rose to my feet, switched off the lamp, and promised myself some extra meditation time tomorrow. It was late, after 3 a.m., and I had to teach class in the morning, which would be followed by an afternoon shopping excursion with my sisters to look for bridesmaid dresses for Emme’s wedding. She’d gotten engaged a few weeks earlier to a great guy, a single dad who adored her. I was thrilled for her—this was her dream come true. As girls, when I was filling my scrapbook with pictures of ballerinas and pointe shoes, she was filling hers with brides and bouquets. It was no surprise to anyone that she grew up to be a successful wedding planner.

I got back in bed and eventually managed to fall asleep, but it felt like I had barely closed my eyes when my alarm went off three hours later.

Groaning, I dragged my ass out from beneath the sheets and went to work. I was uncharacteristically grouchy at class—at least three people asked me if I was feeling okay—but at least I stayed awake through it. When I got home afterward, the only thing I felt like doing was stuffing my face with bad-for-me food and taking a nap. But I didn’t ever buy any bad-for-me food, which made me even angrier with myself, and I stood in front of the open snack cupboard muttering curse words and willing a box of frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts or at least a bag of Fritos to appear. When the universe failed to deliver, I had to settle for Craisins.

Fucking Craisins.

After polishing off the entire bag standing at the kitchen counter, I stuffed it into the trash and stomped down the hall to my bedroom. I pulled down the shades, kicked off my flip-flops, and crawled beneath the covers, pulling them over my head.

“You okay?” Emme frowned at me in the mirror of our huge dressing room at the bridal store. “Or do you really hate the aubergine?”

I looked down at the deep purple dress I wore, which had to be the ninetieth one I’d tried on in the two and a half hours we’d been here. On my best day, shopping wasn’t my thing. Today, it was akin to torture. “No, the color’s fine. I don’t hate it. I think I’m just done trying on dresses. They’re all looking the same to me.”

“Hey, what about this one?” Stella breezed into the room holding up a long, one-shouldered dress in navy blue.

“I think Maren might have reached capacity.” Emme shook her head. “I don’t know how we have a little sister who doesn’t like to shop.”

“Sorry. Can I take this off now?” I was already slipping the heavy dress over my head.

“Go ahead.” Sighing, Emme handed me a hanger. “I guess I’ve seen enough for today. Let’s go get a drink.”

We left the dressing room, and Emme thanked the saleswoman who’d been helping us, telling her we’d probably come back another day to try on some more. I hid my grimace as well as I could.

It was a beautiful summer night, warm and clear, and I tried to let the fresh air and pretty sunset cheer me up as we walked, but my spirits dragged. Less than half a mile up Old Woodward, Emme led us into a wine bar called Vinotecca, and we found three seats at the bar. I sat in the middle.

“Ooh, I want bubbly,” Emme said, clapping her hands. “I’m going to have a glass of Prosecco.”

“I’m not supposed to have any alcohol,” I said glumly, eyeing the bottles of wine behind the bar.

“Why can’t you have alcohol?” Stella asked.

“I’m detoxing my pineal gland.”

“You have a penile gland?” Emme blinked at me.

“Pineal gland, not penile.”

“Why on earth would you need to detox your pineal gland?” Stella wondered.

“Because it’s the third eye chakra,” I explained, sorry I’d mentioned it. “Some people believe the pineal gland is the source of human intuition. Poor diet and exposure to toxins can calcify it, causing us to lose perception. I’m trying to get some insight into why I might be having that stupid snake nightmare.” I sighed and stared longingly at a bottle of zinfandel, my favorite. “But I think I’d rather have a glass of wine.”

The bartender came over and we each ordered a glass of wine—Prosecco for Emme, pinot noir for Stella, and zinfandel for me. I figured it couldn’t do any more damage than an entire bag of Craisins, which probably had a shelf life of about a thousand years.

“Tell me again what the nightmare is about,” urged Stella, a therapist whose favorite activity was probing people’s minds, even when she wasn’t in the office. She’d put on what I called her Therapist Face, which said you can trust me, and touched my arm. “Maybe I can help.”

Taking a deep breath, I described the crowded room, my inability to be seen or heard, my nakedness, the snake, the clock, and the locked door. They listened, rapt with attention. “And then I wake up,” I finished, “right as the snake is about to bite me.”

The bartender brought our wine, and I took an eager sip.

“And you can’t fall back asleep afterward?” Stella asked.

I shrugged. “Sometimes, not always. Not last night.” From the corner of my eye, I glanced at Emme. “Last night I got out of bed and googled the dream.”

Emme beamed and puffed out her chest. “And?”

“Let me guess.” Stella held out a hand. “The Internet thinks the snake is a penis.”

I pointed at her. “Exactly.”

Stella rolled her eyes. “Good old Freud.”

“Is there a penis in your life we don’t know about?” Emme gave me a pointed look over the rim of her narrow glass.

I shook my head. “Nope. Not one that isn’t battery-operated, anyway.”

She snorted. “Maybe you need a real one.”

“Maybe.” I swallowed some more wine. “But I don’t really think the dream is about sex.”

“Let’s think about one of the other things from your dream,” Stella suggested. “Like the clock.”

“Maybe it’s a biological clock,” Emme said. “Maybe you’re subconsciously thinking about getting married and having kids, and worried about waiting too long.”

“But I’m not even thirty,” I protested. “I don’t feel any pressure whatsoever to get married. And I could always adopt if I wanted kids.”

“How about the door?” persisted Stella. “What do you think that means?”

“I’m not sure,” I said. “The Internet thought maybe I was feeling confined by something. But I can’t think what.”

“The door was closed, so maybe you need closure on something.” Emme sipped her Prosecco. “Or someone.”

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