On Their Own Ground

One night, Gordon Baker dreamed he was standing in his pajamas on the sloping roof of the Williams’ house and staring at the stars. He awoke to actually find himself sliding off the edge of the Williams’ roof. On his way over the edge, he grabbed the rain gutter, which separated from the house but broke Gordon’s fall and allowed him to land gently on the yard. Gordon sprinted three blocks home, used a key hidden near his back yard door to enter the kitchen, and leaned against the refrigerator, his heart beating wildly.

In the morning as he drove to work, Gordon passed the Williams’ house and saw Jerry Williams standing on a ladder in the front yard, trying to refasten the damaged gutter to the roof. Gordon recalled the day he broke up with Sheila Williams when they were both young and single because she seemed so primal and outspoken back then, and he asked himself where the time had gone. Suddenly, he missed his mother, who died when he was nine years old, and he wondered if all he had been doing since then was trying to follow someone else’s directions. Gordon decided to keep the events of this night to himself.

A few weeks later, Gordon woke up in the middle of the night from a dream he couldn’t remember and found himself standing inside a closed bookstore four miles from his house. He was holding a copy of The Little Prince and repeating the words “Live as if you’ll die today.” After a few minutes, he gained enough composure to scurry out a side door, but he took The Little Prince with him. As he jogged home, again dressed in his pajamas, he began questioning his sanity and the very nature of reality. He couldn’t imagine himself sleepwalking all the way to the bookstore, but he decided to start sleeping in a set of light clothing.

A month after the bookstore incident, Gordon dreamed he was soaring in the sky with his eyes closed, the warm wind blowing through his hair. Then, he felt himself descend into the seat of a moving car. He opened his eyes to find himself sitting in the passenger seat of a Porsche 550 rocketing down a desert road. The driver, a timelessly handsome young man, shouted over the roaring engine, “It doesn’t matter why you’re here, but in case you’re wondering, I’m driving all the way to the East Coast. You’re welcome to join me. I’ll let you drive once we hit the Nevada border if you want.”

“Sounds great,” Gordon said. “You’ll need a break by then. It’s good to see you.” He tilted his head back, closed his eyes again, and wished the moment could last forever.