The silence was deafening. The silence was screaming for silence. The web of love and lies that people weave and then the day when it all comes to light, it is a lot of shouting, harsh words thrown at each other, accusations, insulting barbs and then silence. This was that silence.
Fred sat looking at the woman whom he had lived with for the past ten years, his lawfully wedded wife but what he saw was someone he could not even recognize. He had no reason to look away from her, she did. Gloria, she knew it would come to this. But then life had thrown her the one chance and it was her last chance. She had to take it.
“You do know that the dream machine does not work twice for the same person? If you get it wrong there is no coming back to this marriage Gloria. Do you really want that?” Fred spoke in a quiet tone, now that all the shouting was done.
Gloria took a deep breath and spoke with all the equanimity she could gather. “Fred, you are everything that a woman would want but you are not everything I want. I loved Michael. Always have. And now this dream machine gives me the chance to relive the one dream that I want most and I want that dream. I know you don’t have the money. I have saved enough money and I can pay the dream makers for my own dream.”
“Do you know how the dream machine works?” Fred was almost accusing her of being careless and thoughtless once again. “Yes, I have done all the research. You get one shattered dream to mend and I want the dream I had of being with Michael to be mended. I fought with him, moved away from him over… over something really petty and I have missed him everyday. I cannot let that one chance go.”
Fred could not stop the tear from escaping his eye. He was shocked. He was shocked that she did not love him like he had imagined all through his marriage. What was worse, now she wanted to make use of this new invention that mended a shattered dream and correct her one dream. But what about him? What about his dream?
“You are going to mend a shattered dream by shattering a dream that I am living?” Fred asked Gloria in a choked voice.
“Don’t make this more difficult than it is already for me Fred. It’s been a tough decision for me. The Machine will go back to the time when Michael and I parted and warn me not to fight. I hope that means that we end up together. It is a big chance I am taking. I could well be alone and all by myself at the end of all this.”
Fred said no more. He stood up from the couch and walked out of the house. He needed air and some clarity. By the time he got back home Gloria would be gone and the dream machine would have changed all the reality around him. All signs of Gloria for the last ten years in his timeline would be wiped out. He cursed the man who had invented this machine. He wondered how many dreams were broken for every dream that was mended.
He was surely going to sign the petition to the President that wanted only those dreams to be mended that did not shatter someone else’s living dream. But he also knew that the petition would do nothing. The dream companies were paying millions to the powers that be. Nothing was going to come out of it.
When Fred got home he saw that all the signs of Gloria were gone. What hurt him the most was to see himself alone in all the pictures in which they had been together. She had gone to the man she loved. And he… he had to now live with the memory of the woman he loved.
Six months later, Fred was at an agency that sold virtual office spaces for start up businesses. He had no idea that he would bump into Gloria and Michael. They seemed very happy together, beaming even. Michael seemed to be starting something big and wanted all the space on the island sim that was available. Gloria looked at him and smiled, she had never met him in her timeline. She did not know who he was but he could see that she found him familiar. He was right.
So Gloria walked up to Fred and asked him in her lovely voice, “Excuse me, have we met before?”
Fred smiled back, “I am… I am afraid not. You must be mistaken.”
Gloria looked at him for a moment longer and then nodded. “I must be mistaken. Wait a minute! Have we not met at the dream machine? I thought I saw you there.”
Fred could feel a lump in his throat, “I could never afford a dream machine. I realized that a dream is nothing but a reality that refuses to change and so I just changed my reality.”
Gloria suddenly looked very sad. “That is a beautiful thing to say.” she said. “Beautiful. I have been to the dream machine guys but they tell me I have already used my chance of mending one dream. According to the rules they won’t tell me what my reality was before that dream but when you said what you did I felt you touched something inside me.” Fred smiled. “When you shatter one person’s dream to make your dream a bit of that nightmare always follows you.” Fred could say no more and he walked away.
Gloria could not understand why but she began to sob.