As usual, Wil dreamed that night. She usually had vivid, exciting dreams of superhuman abilities and daring escapes. Lately, though, she’d had recurring visions of walking through a dark place trying to find something she desperately wanted.
This night, Wil had on a romantically glorious, long, dark cloak with a hood. She could see herself and see from herself, peering through a dark and misty fog twisting between trees in a fantastical woodland. Her elegant, pale hands drifted from the cloak to part branches and leaves as she wandered.
As her mind drifted closer to wakefulness, she strove one last time to see whatever tantalizing object it was that was her goal.
Instead, she was jolted to consciousness by the abrupt aural slap of her morning alarm. Quickly, Wil turned it off and sat up. She stretched, then searched around for her favorite clothes to get dressed: dark jeans, dark purple hooded shirt, black scarf, long black coat. She pulled on her favorite striped socks, and then the boots with a faulty sole. Last, she pulled her dark hair back from her face in a messy ponytail.
Tiptoeing and sometimes squeaking down the hallway to her parent’s room, she saw through his open door that Jakob had fallen asleep in his clothes -again, with his homework as bedcovers -again. He was snoring slightly.
Wil gently pushed her way into her parents’ room and knelt by the bed to awaken her mother. Quietly, without bothering her father, she nudged Cynthia’s shoulder.
“Mom, it’s time for our walk,” She whispered near Cynthia’s ear. Her soft breath slightly disturbed her mother’s fine hair. Wil saw it glint faintly in the ambient light of the parking lot through the nearby window blinds.
Cynthia stretched slightly and opened her eyes a small slit. She stretched more, then curled into a protective ball as she was struck by a coughing fit. To her side, Rob rolled over in his sleep to lay a protective arm around her body.
The fit subsided, and Wil’s mother carefully set Rob’s arm aside and sat up. She smiled a pleasant smile. She allowed Wil to help her into her boots and stood up to don her coat. They left the bedroom to the soft “Eee” of Wil’s left shoe, and walked down the hall and out the apartment door in similar fashion.
Outside, a light fog muted the world. Their footfalls were dull and echoes came back hushed. Wil intentionally breathed into the mist and was happy at the white cloud she made.
“How beautiful,” Cynthia whispered, then hunched over to cough again.
After she recovered, they started on their morning walk around the complex. The familiar, dull blocks were relieved somewhat in features by eerie fog.
Wil referred to it as a promenade; her mother as a walkabout. When she had first been recommended to exercise daily, Cynthia encouraged Wil’s input to make the routine less monotonous. Wil found no delight in pretending herself elsewhere whenever she had time with her mother, however. She felt an increasing need to savor every real moment with her mother they had.
Sometime during the second circuit, as she ducked under a naked tree branch, Wil was struck with the realization that this exercise mirrored her dream of the night. Mentally awakened by this thought, she looked around to see if there was some clue or object of interest to help answer the lingering, questioning feelings she’d had.
Her only reward was the usual tall, dull blocks of buildings, the gray sidewalk twisting between them, the dark and ugly trees, and the dirty parking lots. Wil felt frustrated. Patience was low on her list of character traits.
Wil and her mother completed a third cycle and returned to the apartment. They went inside, and over to the couch. Wil helped her mother off with her boots, then covered her legs with Cynthia’s favorite soft blanket.
Before letting Wil go back to her room to get ready for school, Cynthia held her arm and said, “Tell me where you go when you get back tonight.” She smiled with genuine love, and Wil returned it with her own.