Frank James had the same dream every night. He tossed and turned between his 800 thread count sheets and dreamed he was someone else.
Someone that possessed certain special powers; someone who had the innate ability to bring people back.
He dreamed that his words and deeds had no consequence. And if they did, he would flip a switch inside his special head, and flash a beam of light from his special eyes, and anyone who went away would come back to him.
Tumbling in reverse until they were back to the moment they stepped away.
Frank liked the way they fell in line, poised to hear his next few words. And what his next few words were always going to be were . . .
Finally repairing the damage of right vs. happy. He had learned this lesson the hard way, after the very last person he let himself love went away.
So now he sleeps, bringing them back. All of them.
But the thing is, Frankie cannot sleep. And when he does, it doesn’t last.
So he spends most days at the bus stop, putting himself into other bodies. Using the special beam of light to make himself into someone else so he can sit next to strangers. Getting as close to them as he can without scaring them away.
Feeling them breathe and swell with emotions he once felt.
He sits and he remembers.
It lasts as long as it takes the next bus to arrive, and then they are gone—off to the places where people go.
Sometimes he uses his special powers to leave first. He gathers himself and walks to the next bench, to soak up the human vibrations that others take for granted. And then he leaves when his body is full.
Frank never knows when he is dreaming. He only knows that he must bring them back . . .
All of them.
So he starts with “her”. She was the last- the greatest- the name he still whispers in the thinnest part of the night, while the rest of the world sleeps.
He brings her back and she sits at the bus stop, not quite knowing why she is there. Bound to the bench and waiting.
Frank sits next to her, the beam of light in his eyes fades as he begins to unwind the memories of them. He does this by touching his thumb to the tip of his pinky finger, then his ring finger- his middle, his pointer, then back to his pinky.
He does this while he thinks.
He considers for a moment, why he is still alone.
He sits and he tells her all that he remembers;
She lived across the street from Disneyland, and every night the fireworks from the castle would light up her room-
Throwing color across her walls in tidal waves of red, white, and indigo. Finally fading back, shrinking to the blackened hush of her life, returning to the distant cheers of the crowd inside the magic kingdom.
He remembers she told him these things in the slick quiet moments after they threw their desperate naked limbs together.
He tells her he remembers dismissing these facts as trivial- as having no consequence to the quality of life whatsoever. It is only in this moment, telling her, that he suddenly remembers her face when she used to kiss him hello. And how the small of her back tightened like a flower at dusk when they made love.
It is also then, that he wonders where it all went wrong.
He tells her this as she sits there beside him in a body he safely dreamed of her having, a body old and worn.
A body that he could tell that he was afraid.
Afraid like a boy in the dark after the lights went out, and all was quiet.
So he tells her these things; all of them….
That his leaving was cowardly, that the life he saved was his own.
His own and no one else’s.