Economics 101, a Novel, ch_31 -- Reality

(The story starts here:

The previous chapter is here: If you missed that, there will be some discontinuity here, so you'll probably want to go back and read it.)

When we learn to trust each other, we also learn how to forgive each other.

Bobbie bit her lip and wondered what to say.

Karel just kept staring at her, but his face began to relax.

"Ah, ... "

"I guess I shouldn't have done that?"
"No, ... No problem," Karel said with a wry smile. "Two more weeks and then you can kiss me when I'm asleep all you want."

"Sorry about that."

They looked at each other awkwardly, both praying in their hearts, looking for words to say to help each other.

"It won't kill me. So, ... why the kiss? Not that I'm really complaining."

"I had a kind of an odd dream, and when I woke up, you were talking in your sleep. So I came around to check on you, and, well, you just looked so sweet and you were mumbling something that sounded like you were saying you love me, and I was feeling a little strange because of my dream, and," Bobbie paused to think, "well, I just acted on impulse. I'm sorry."

"I don't guess I should see anything wrong with that."

They were both silent for a minute or two.

Karel asked, "So what was your dream about?"
"Oh. You remember the argument we had with Dan and Kristie in the cafeteria?"

"Dan. Kristie. Yeah. When they told us how unfair it was of us, not just to each other, but to them, too, that we refused to date each other."

"Yeah. That one. Both of them thought we should give up the research project until we could get our feelings toward each other sorted out."

"And we admitted that the dating experiment with them had gone on too long. They were unhappy with us. Not that I blame them, really."

"That experiment was sure awkward."

"They finally started dating each other after that."

"Yeah, they did. And we did, too, sort of."

"Sort of."

"I got a wedding announcement from them about a month ago."

"You did? Wonder why I didn't."

"It came to me, but it had both our names on it. 'Bobbie and Karel ... Pratt.' I didn't want to show it to you at the time."

Karel burst out laughing, and Bobbie joined him, their laughter echoing across the moonlit island.

When their amusement subsided, Bobbie continued. "It was like that, but how it might have been if everything that has happened in the last four months, including Wycliffe's kidnapping us, were just a long and detailed, continuing dream we had both had separately, together, to warn us to get married before we came."

"Really? Interesting."

"And I was dreaming it in the omniscient point of view. Pure Harlequin Romance stuff."

"Harlequin Romance?

"As if it hadn't been just an experiment."


"As if they had been hiding their true feelings for us all along."

Karel shook his head and chuckled.

"They were chasing us and we were trying not to disappoint them."

Karel raised his eyebrows.

"You come in, dodge their questions, tell me you're having nightmares about being alone with me on an uncharted island. And I know what you mean, but I'm scared to admit I've been dreaming the same things. So I quibble about you finding my company unpleasant."

They were both amused at the thought. Karel said, "Never."

"Uh huh." Bobbie's mouth wrinkled in a small pout. "And you come just right out and tell me it's rather the opposite. And I say that, if we are going to be kidnapped, we should do something to avoid the nightmare."

Karel pursed his lips thoughtfully as she continued.

"And you realize you hadn't mentioned the part about being kidnapped, so you know I must be having the same dreams as you."

Karel nodded.

"And Dan and Kristie have no idea what we are talking about, of course. And they go a little over the top with their attempts to defend their territory. And you and I walk off together to talk about making sure we would not be single."

"Sounds surreal, alright. Maybe some regrets?"

"Of course regrets."

"Both of us are still wishing for a present reality that isn't, aren't we?"


"Could we have handled being married before we came?"

"I don't know."

"Neither do I."

Neither spoke for a few moments.

"Anyway, when I woke up, I wasn't sure where I was at first. The dream had left something empty in me, but that emptiness went away as I recognized the stars and smells and sounds of the island at night. Even the hard ground was reassuring, but I suddenly wanted to hear your voice. I listened for you, and I guess I was going to crawl out to make sure you were there anyway, when I heard you talking in your sleep."

"Oh. And then I looked cute in my sleep and ...?"

"and I wanted just a little more reassurance that this is all real."

"Wow. So. You think you're happy here?"

"I don't think I'd be happy if this were taken away from us." Bobbie's face crinkled into a strangely shy smile. "So, what was your dream?"

"Uhm, I don't want to talk about it. It isn't obvious enough?"

"Oh, come on. Tell me!" Bobbie said. And then she drew a quick breath, thinking maybe she shouldn't be pressing the question.

"Well, we were arguing about something inconsequential, and I kept trying to tell you I love you. I love you, by the way."

"That's nice to hear. I love you, too. What were we arguing about?"

Karel winced and tilted his head as if he wanted to dodge that question. "Do you really want to know?"

"I told you what I dreamed."

"You were asking me why we needed to bother with the marriage license, and with waiting two more weeks."

"Oh. But that's not unimportant, ..." Bobbie considered what Karel was not saying. "Was I misbehaving?" she asked.

"Well, ..."

"Oh, never mind." She looked at the ground and smiled shyly. "But sometimes I do wonder why we need to wait any more."

"Me, too. But we need to know this is really what we want to do."

"We do." And she looked back up into Karel's eyes.

"And that's why we are waiting," he said, returning her gaze, "so we know what we are waiting for."

"Yeah," she sighed. "Sorry to wake you up. I really was not thinking clearly."

"Middle of the night, strange dreams, and this ambiguous situation, it's hard to keep a clear head. For both of us. And I am not that sorry you did." Karel chuckled wryly.

Bobbie giggled in response, and Karel reached out and squeezed her hand.

They sat together for a few more minutes, and then Karel stood up, a little stiffly. "Need some sleep still. How about you?"

"Me too."

And they went back to their bedrolls.

"Stupid ambiguities." Karel grumbled from the other side of the tent as he straightened his bedroll out.

"Good night Karel. Sweet dreams."

"Good night, Bobbie. And thank you for being you."

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