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The Two Boys

by Charlene Wexler
(Richmond, IL)

I found myself sitting up straight in bed screaming, “Jeff, Mark!”

It took me a few minutes to realize no one was in the room with me, not even my husband, Sam. I was breathing hard, and my body was trembling. I’ve had many dreams about my son Jeff before, but none of them had ever before been so vivid. His image was so clear; I felt like I could reach out and touch him.

He and his best friend, Mark, were about ten years old in this dream. I knew, because Jeff had a full head of dark brown curly hair, and he was wearing a yellow shirt with his image on it, and Mark had not yet started to sprout up to his six-foot height. At ten, Jeff was in remission from leukemia and his hair had come back after falling out during chemotherapy.

I rose from my bed and went into the bathroom, still shaking. It had been 30 years since Jeff died of leukemia, and five years since his best friend Mark joined him, dying of lymphoma.

I said to myself, “It was only a dream. Pull yourself back together; you have a big week ahead. Your darling granddaughters are coming to visit--if you haven’t botched things up with your impatience and big mouth.”

For some reason, I was really nervous about the eight- and ten-year-old girls, the daughters of my son Mike flying by themselves.

As I slipped into a pair of jeans and a tee shirt, I couldn’t get the image of Mark and Jeff out of my head.

I was surprised that my cat, Tyrone, wasn’t pawing me and meowing for his breakfast. I glanced at the clock on my nightstand. It said 6:33 a.m. I thought, “There goes my one morning to sleep in.” My husband, Sam, was on a bike trip, and I had been dreaming of sleeping in until at least 9 a.m.

“Oh, well, I’m wide awake, might as well go downstairs and make coffee,” I thought. I was trying to calm myself, as I was still shaking from the dream.

I went down to the kitchen, still wondering about the whereabouts of the cat. I called “Tyrone, Tyrone,” while searching for him. He was nowhere in the house, but I saw movement out the patio door.

I walked out to the patio, and stopped cold. I felt the blood drain from my face as I gazed upon my son Jeff, and his best friend Mark. Two little ten year-old-boys were standing with their arms folded and their faces in angry scowls.

Jeff approached me and said, “Why did you call us here? This is not our home.”

Then Mark said, “This is not Glenwood!”

Glenwood was the town we lived in long ago, when Jeff and Mark were young boys.

I felt my head and my arms to see if I was real. “I must still be dreaming,” I said to myself.

I reached out to touch Jeff, but my hand went right through his body. I tried to scream, but I had no mouth.

Suddenly I heard barking. I looked up and saw Charlie, Jeff and Mike’s long-dead collie, flying around the house. Mark pointed to my cat who was under the patio chair, shaking like a leaf.

Mark said, “Charlie can’t come to help us while the cat is here.”

In an accusing tone Jeff said, “Put the cat in the house. If this was Glenwood you would have a collie, not a cat.”

As soon as I put Tyrone in the house Charlie, with his full shinning brown and white coat, came down and rubbed his nose next to my leg. Tears were streaming down my face.

Then Jeff said, “We don’t have much time here. Why did you call us?”

"I need you to make sure my granddaughters arrive from Tucson safely--and that their father forgives me for the time I didn’t spend with him while you were sick.”

The two little boys broke out in mischievous smiles, and they shouted, “Come on Charlie. We need to pay a visit to Mike!”

As the three images faded, I heard Mark say “We need to stop in Glenwood first. There are no fireworks here!”

The Fourth of July was approaching, and Mark always managed to have his own great fireworks in Glenwood.

Later that day, my granddaughters arrived at the airport safely. With the help of two ten-year-old boys, I’m sure.

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