The Maid’s Dream

When waking life seems like an unreal simulacra, and drudgery the only wearying reality, our dreams may escape into us. Part of the dream/life triptych.

Lately she’d been waking with the sense of having an important dream forgotten in the moment of opening her eyes. The dream would be transformative if only she could remember it.

Each day as she slipped on her brown uniform and tied her apron with its big pockets for holding the necessities of her job, she wondered why if it was the same dream, she couldn’t remember a single detail.

She drove to the hotel feeling that the day — the sun an orange ball stuck to an ashy gray backdrop of a sky — was the unreality. What she’d left behind in her wide bed, before she washed ashore from sleep, was maybe her true life.

The cars stretching in a chain before her on the highway seemed like toys. The road signs accessories some giant had sprinkled about.

One morning on her way to work she caught herself just in time from running into the red pickup in front of her, something she’d had the urge to do, to test if there’d be an impact or if the vehicle would crumple like the paper cut-out it seemed to be.

A horn blast from behind got her moving again. If only she could remember her dream!

At the hotel, she was assigned the top five floors of the east wing.

In room 501, the second bed was untouched, and she removed her shoes and spread herself across it. Turned off her phone.She spent a long while trying to let go. To forget, temporarily, her duties. To ignore the collar stiff on the back of her neck.

Her legs were cold and she covered herself, pulling the sheets and blanket up to her waist. She breathed deeply, holding the inhalations and exhalations each for counts of five. Focused on relaxing bit by bit each part of her body beginning with her toes.

She may not have gotten beyond her knees. She was curled on her right side, the sun through the windows warm on her eyelids when she felt the body slip in next to her.

His arm wrapped around her waist in an embrace that seemed familiar, the press of his chest on her back natural, his breath rippling her hair somehow expected.

Transformation, she thought, unwilling to open her eyes.

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Peg Alford Pursell

Peg Alford Pursell

Peg Alford Pursell (the dream/life triptych) received the South Carolina State Fiction Award and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her stories have appeared in Joyland Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, Emprise Review and others. She is a NEH Independent Study Fellow, a fiction editor for Prick of the Spindle, and curator of the Why There Are Words lit reading series.

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