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[Fiction] Only in her Dreams

By Susan Delgado

The distance between the two of them used to be 2,253 miles. Now, the distance is even greater. They had communicated with emails. Now they can’t. She can only meet him where space and time are not. Only in our dreams can we conjure meeting some people.


Thus, in her dreams is where their rendezvouses takes place. And so, when she climbs into bed at night and snuggles underneath her down comforter and blankets, she is preparing for their meeting. She sets her iPhone to play soft ocean sounds throughout the night to keep her in as long as possible. She closes her eyes, gently shutting out the light of the moon, stars, and the earth’s presence. She dreams about another place and time. She begins her journey to him in her dreams.  


It is day and the seagulls are screaming overhead, dive-bombing in and out of the waves, scooping up small fish with their strong beaks and fighting each other to keep their catch. A light, warm, salty breeze sprays water delicately across the ocean’s blue body. The sun is beaming down on the sand, heating up the atmosphere as it continues its ascent up into the white-blue cloudless sky. A sky so perfect it only exists in dreams.


He was beside her.


“Let’s stand here for a little bit and watch the sets roll in and out. Remember I told you the ocean has her own language.” she said to him, as she carefully watched an outside set begin to take form outside the reef.


“Yes, you also said the waves are seasonal and they can travel 7,000 miles to the southern coastal waters, he smiled. I do take in what you are teaching me.”


She looked at him again. He was watching the first wave take shape. In her mind she could picture him as a young boy with blond hair, running, climbing, getting scraped knees. And now, he is older with strands of silver hair and small defined wrinkles around his temples. Yet, he was enthusiastic to learn to surf. Just like her when she started to ride the waves.


To have such picture-perfect waves meant it was their lucky day. Out in the ocean, a pod of dolphins could be seen jumping, making noises, swimming in and out of the waves, frolicking with the surfers. They could hear the surfers waiting for the next set to roll in, like she had done many times, laughing and talking to the dolphins while the dolphins played in the surrounding water.


“Do you think we might get close to dolphins too?” he asked. His blue eyes twinkling in the sunlight, his nose scrunching slightly from the glare as he stood looking out to the horizon.


“Maybe, if we are lucky,” she said.


Suddenly, she felt a sense of urgency. Fifteen minutes passed since they arrived on the beach.


“Let’s suit up,” she suggested, pointing at their gear lying on the sand.


He eagerly took off his t-shirt and kicked off his new flip-flops. He pulled out the black neoprene shorty, dropping it onto his surfboard. He reached for the waterproof suntan lotion, SPF 30+, and lathered it all over his pale white body. She watched him apply the white zinc oxide onto his nose, adding more just below his eyes and onto the crest of his cheek bones. He pulled on his wetsuit and with his long fingers reached for the long lead on the zipper. Carefully, he pulled it up and the neoprene hugged his body tightly.


She watched him closely and hoped desperately that when she awoke she would remember this dream. There never seemed to be enough moments. She quickly stepped into her wetsuit and gracefully slipped her arms into the long sleeves of the black neoprene, applying suntan lotion to her face and her exposed tan legs, just as he had done.


The sun burning strong now, the beach was beginning to fill with sunbathers, tourists, and other surfers. People were crowding the sand and water. An invasion. This was their beach; these were their waves. They had more to do.


She taught him how to wax his surfboard, properly building the wax up in the middle of it, allowing him to find his balance and stick a stance preventing him from falling. He had practiced popping up several times on the sand before he was ready for the real thing.


 “Ready?” she asked him.


“Let’s do it,” he replied.



Under her down comforter, in the darkness, her eyes moved rapidly back and forth beneath her lids, dreaming deeply, in REM sleep. Outside her window, the coyote’s high pitch screams did not disturb her from her dream state. The salty air from the fictitious ocean breeze seduced her deeper, into her unconscious mind. Her arms, legs, and body relaxed, not unlike seaweed when it’s being caressed by the oceans’ currents moving back and forth. And so, she stayed and so, she drifted.




She and he walked to the water’s edge. They laid their surfboards upon the wet, sandy beach and attached the long black rubber leashes to their ankles. Once secured they ventured into the ocean, lying flat on their boards only after they were waist deep. She waited patiently for him to settle on his surfboard, watching his every movement, and noting details like the crease on his forehead to the bit of sunscreen behind his ear that was not rubbed in.


She felt the need to remind him of rules said while on dry land, “Paddle out and don’t stop until you get past the breaking of the white water. And duck dive with your board if a wave sneaks up on you. I will be off to the side a few yards next to you, and don’t forget to breathe,” she smiled to soften the list of tips.

She dug deep, like he did, and with each stroke as they move forward she reminds him,  “I will be right here.” His long, lean body and surfboard moved in tandem with the ocean. She knew that he might be disappointed with the time it would take them to paddle out. It always takes longer than anticipated. But she also knew that his excitement would grow each time his arm and hand pushed through the water and that the delay would heighten the anticipation. She looked over to see. He had a wide smile plastered across his lips, just as she hoped he would, as the oceans’ salty water gently sprayed his face. As they continued to paddle out to sea, he often turned his head to the right to see if she was alongside of him, each time she met his glance and smiled as she paddled smoothly along the water.



In her bedroom, the music coming from her iPhone continued to play softly. Her body was getting stiff from lying so long on her back. She fitfully rolled onto her right side, breathing slowly and deeply. Her heart rate pulsed excitedly as she drifted back into the ocean with him.



They paddled far out, beyond the break. The other more experienced surfers were sitting on their boards exchanging conversations. But this was their time, their waves. They paddled away from the pack. Straddling their boards they waited for the right set. In the lull, she felt the need to remind him of his surf etiquette.


“There is more I need to know?” he asked.


She nodded emphatically and began, “Don’t try and catch the same wave as another surfer. And no dropping in on another surfer once he or she is riding down the face of a wave. Make sure to always attach your leash so that your board does not hit another surfer or damage their board,” she said, pausing for a moment to think. “Okay, I think that about covers it,” she said smiling.


Despite his earlier objection, he seemed grateful to be getting the rules of etiquette, because like an astute student he was taking mental notes and his face reflected that same serious tone she had seen before. She hoped that he would feel his body come alive after learning this new language and skill, one that did not require a computer and required full sensory immersion. She watched him listening to her intently, one ear cocked the direction of her voice, while letting the salty ocean air and sunshine penetrate his whole being.


While they kept an eye out for a set to come rolling their way, they watched the experienced surfers and noticed when they begin to paddle, when they popped up, what their stances were like, and when they decided to bail and exit a wave. She wanted him to have the perfect wave for his first try but it had not come yet.


Twenty-three minutes rolled by between the etiquette talk and answering his questions. She could feel her adrenaline begin to slowly rise. Each wave that passed felt like yet another missed opportunity.


Suddenly, there it was. A set, the perfect set, was forming on the outside break. The water began to gently pick up speed. One wave, two waves, three waves were building in strength, power, and speed rolling up from behind. The ocean’s waves were getting bigger and starting to peak. Each wave curled over itself and thrust its energy forward as they sat on their boards watching and feeling its energy pass beneath them.


“Get ready!” she yelled. “Lie down on your board. When I tell you to paddle, dig deep. But do not take the first or even the second wave. Be patient and go for the third one.”


Over her own heartbeat, she only heard him say to himself, “I can do this,” as he pushed his body to perform. As he moved through the water, she imagined him later, at his computer in his office writing a short story about learning to surf. A man renewed by the ocean’s power. He would never get the chance. She would never read the story.


“Okay, now. Paddle! Paddle! Come on you can do it! Feel the wave beneath you. Feel the power. Embrace it!” Her excitement, tangible energy, invigorated the two of them. She watched him as the ocean’s body gently rocked her surfboard from underneath. She was happy and content. She loved the way surfing made her feel warm and light.


Until suddenly she shivered, her whole body quivering beneath her wetsuit. It couldn’t should not have happened. The day was too warm and her wetsuit too protective. This was their perfect day. She looked up, the clear blue sky had darkened quickly and a fog bank began to roll in. Goosebumps crawled up her arms and down her legs. as her wetsuit began to fade away she felt them plainly underneath her pajamas


No! Not yet, she thought. But it was too late, she could hear the morning birdsongs. The air in her bedroom was cool and still. She automatically pulled her blankets up, underneath her cold chin, rolling over onto her side making herself into a cocoon. She would fight for her dreams.


Her breathing increased. Her heartbeats fluttered fast, then slow, and fast again. Her eyeballs were actively rolling back and forth under her closed lids. If she concentrated, she could feel the ocean’s waves underneath her sleeping body, gently rocking her, like her surfboard. She could still smell the salty air burning in her nostrils. She wasn’t ready to stop dreaming. He hadn’t caught a wave yet. She wanted to see him catch a wave, and then another. She dropped back in if only for the briefest of moments.



She was back on her surfboard staring at the endless horizon. She waited patiently for him to catch a perfect wave. She watched him, the power of the burgeoning wave lifting his surfboard from underneath. He popped up quickly like she had taught him and now was flying down the face of it.


“Yes! Yes!” she could hear him shout and she, too, was hollering with glee. He was riding the face of a wave just as he had always dreamed. 


And like magic, a perfect set was rolling right towards her. She dug deep with her arms and then felt the power of the wave underneath her. She popped up on her board instantly and she and the wave became one. Whiteness engulfed her overhead as the wave’s power pushed her into its crest and back into the light of the rising sun reflecting off her bedroom walls.



She laid in her bed for a few minutes allowing herself to fully awaken and listen to the early morning birdsongs. She was enjoying the warmth of her blankets as the sleepiness was leaving her body. She slowly pushed the blankets off, taking in the frigid air. “A new day,” she said out loud, and reflected on her dreams. In the span of a few heartbeats, reality hit her. Like being thrashed by a bomb. She was now fully awake as the sadness and grief washed over her, rubbing her raw. She wished she could fall back into her dream, back into the soothing, comforting, body of the ocean.


Through rote memory, she got out of bed and walked down the hall to get a cup of hot coffee, and sat down and to open her computer and type in her password. Last night’s email was still in her inbox, the text looming larger than the actual size on the screen. It was the one from his friend, a notification of death. Tears welled in her eyes again. A melancholy wrapped itself around her. She stared at the words, letting them roll in and out of her mind, ebbing and flowing at their will. He was gone before she ever got to actually meet him in person.


He was her editor, a good one too. He believed in her written words. Questioned her gently when he needed clarification. Asked deep curious questions about her work. They exchanged many words and emails about her work. He said he always dreamed about the ocean and learning to surf. He had grown up in Brooklyn.


She replied to him; she did not learn until she was forty. She encouraged him to try. There is no time limit on learning something new. She asked about his stories, too. They had shared things about their lives. His independent company had published several pieces of her writings. She sat back from her computer and looked out her large living room window. A good editor will work with a writer and not against them, in a state of flow, like surfers and waves. He was a friend from afar.


They had always been two thousand, two hundred, and fifty-three miles apart. Now he was even further away. The sun was beginning to rise. It was going to be a beautiful day. But she could not wait until night, until her dreams, when she will meet him again.





Susan Delgado is a San Diego writer and a native Californian. She is Creative Director of her jewelry site, Thousand Watt Co. Her writing has appeared in Ruby Literary, The Kelp Journal, The Sunlight Press, San Diego Decameron Anthology, Journal Publications and Anthologies. She has been nominated for Best of The Net. She finds writing to be essential.


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