It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday. This time, today’s story is even longer than usual, so I’ll be dividing it into three parts. You can find Part Two here tomorrow. Now don’t be afraid… This is only fiction…
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Part One of Three
By: Rachel Carrera
Claire gasped as she bolted up, then rubbed her eyes as she looked around the dark room and tried to gather her bearings. Van’s soft snoring next to her assured her that she was home in bed. It was only a dream. She rubbed her arms until the goosebumps disappeared, then snuggled next to her husband as she willed herself to fall back asleep.
The following morning, Claire yawned as she scooped scrambled eggs and bacon onto four plates. “Billy, Susie, breakfast is ready.”
The kids came running downstairs, and Van straightened his tie then set his fedora on the table as he snatched a piece of bacon. “Good morning, Darlin’. Did you sleep well?” He kissed Claire’s cheek then sat at the head of the table.
Billy and Susie scrambled to get in their chairs as Claire untied her apron and handed Van the newspaper. “Not really. How about you?”
Van opened the paper without responding then raised his eyebrows. “Oh, King George died. It looks like England’s got a new queen.”
Susie yelped. “Oww! Mother, Billy hit me with his yoyo!”
Claire brought the plates to the table and said, “Billy, you know we don’t bring toys to the table. And what are you wearing? You can’t wear dungarees to school. After you eat, you need to march upstairs and change into your corduroy slacks.”
Van raised an eyebrow. “Don’t sass your mother, son. So, what’s everyone got planned for the weekend? I need to take your mother shopping for a new lamp Saturday, and I thought we might drive up to Hallinger’s Falls for a picnic after church Sunday.” He lit a cigarette then bit into a buttery slice of toast.
Billy wiped his milk mustache with the back of his arm and grinned. “Howard Stevens’ dad just built him a tree fort, and they asked if I could spend the night Friday. I’m gonna take my BB gun, and we’re gonna play Davy Crockett.”
Van smiled. “Of course you can, son. What about you, Princess?”
Susie smiled and smoothed her pinafore. “Donald Fredericks asked me to the Valentine’s Dance Friday night. I was hoping Mother would help me let down the hem of my red dress.”
Claire tensed, and the color drained from her face. She dropped her fork to the floor with a loud ting. Her eyes grew large, and the tendons in her neck protruded. “I… uh… oh, Susie, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
Van picked up the utensil. “Billy, get your mother a clean fork. What’s wrong, dear? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Claire’s hands shook, and tears welled in her eyes. “I… well… I had a dream last night, and, well, I just don’t think Susie should go to the dance.”
Susie frowned. “What? But, Mother! You know I’ve been waiting all year for Donald to ask me out.”
Van patted Susie’s hand. “Claire, a dream? Really? What kind of dream?”
Claire bit her lip and blushed as she averted his gaze. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but I had a dream that Donald would ask Susie out. She was in her red dress the night of their date, and he telephoned to cancel. It broke her heart. Oh, Van, we can’t risk having him hurt her like that!”
Susie’s jaw dropped open. “What? Mother, I’ll have you know that Donald’s a very nice boy! He’d never do such a horrid thing!”
Claire knitted her brow. “Susie, you were in tears, and you couldn’t be consoled. I just don’t think—”
Van chuckled and patted Claire’s arm. “Now, Darling, I have to agree with Susie. Relying on a dream is a little farfetched. Besides, my firm is trying to get the Fredericks account, so I don’t want to make old Jimbo angry if my daughter doesn’t accept his son’s invitation to the dance.” He looked at Susie. “Of course you can go, Princess. Now, you and Billy had better get on upstairs and brush your teeth before you’re late for school.”
Susie stood and kissed Van’s cheek. “Yes, Daddy. Thank you.” She and Billy rushed upstairs with a loud clamor.
Claire hung her head and rubbed her temples as Van stood. He rubbed her shoulder then grabbed his fedora as he said, “Don’t be such a mother hen. Susie’ll be just fine.” He kissed her cheek, then took his briefcase and left.
* * *
Friday after school, Donald drove Susie home and accompanied her inside. “Hi, Mrs. Keene, I’m Donald. Susie thought it would be a good idea for me to meet you before the dance tonight.”
Claire forced a smile as she shook his hand. “Of course, Donald, it’s good to meet you. Why don’t you and Susie go sit in the living room. I’ll bring you some cake and lemonade, and we can get to know each other.”
Donald tipped his head. “Yes, ma’am. Thank you.”
For the next hour, Claire served Donald six slices of her famous apple crumb cake as she asked him question after question. As soon as he drove away, Susie scowled and put her hands on her hips. “Mother, I can’t believe you! Why’d you have to ask him so many personal questions? That was so embarrassing!”
Van walked in the front door and hung his hat as Claire said, “Honey, I was just trying to see if his intentions were honorable. I told you that in my dream he—”
Tears welled in Susie’s eyes. “Oh, you and that silly dream! I don’t want to hear another word!” She spun on her heel, then raced upstairs and slammed the door to her bedroom.
Van shook his head and kissed his wife’s cheek. “Hon, I told you to leave that dream business alone. You’re name’s Claire, not Clairvoyant.”
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A couple of hours later, Susie emerged downstairs in her red dress with white polka dots and red kitten heels. “Mother, I can’t find my white cardigan, and can I please borrow your pearls?”
Claire sighed. “Your cardigan is hanging in the back of your closet, and it’s may I please borrow your pearls. Yes, you may. They’re in my jewelry box. And, Susie?”
Claire bit her lip and looked sideways at Van who set his newspaper in his lap. She forced a smile. “Nothing. It’s nothing. You look beautiful, Darling.”
“Thanks!” Susie grinned as she hurried back upstairs.
Van shook his head. “Claire, don’t say anything. You’re going to ruin this dance for her. It was just a dream.”
Claire sighed and nodded. “Alright. I understand.” They both jumped when the phone rang.
“I’ll get it,” Van said as he stood.
As he walked to the kitchen, Claire nervously clutched the arms of her chair. She struggled to hear but couldn’t make out what he said. She held her breath as she waited for his return.
Susie ran to the bottom of the stairs just as Van came back. She grinned, and her dress flared as she spun in a circle. “Well, how do I look? Mother, these pearls are simply darling! I think a bow in my hair would look better, don’t you?”
Van sucked in his lips. “Princess, I—”
“What is it, Daddy?”
Claire clenched her hands into fists and bit her lip.
Van nodded and hugged Susie. “Princess, that was Donald’s mother on the phone. He can’t take you to the dance.”
“What? Why not?” Tears welled in Susie’s eyes as Claire stood and approached them.
Van smoothed his daughter’s hair. “His mom said that he—”
Susie narrowed her eyes and glared at Claire. “This is your fault, Mother! You scared him away with all those silly questions this afternoon! I can’t believe you! I’ll be the laughingstock of the whole school!”
Claire reached for her daughter’s hand, but Susie jerked away dramatically. Claire furrowed her brow. “Susie, I just—”
Van sighed. “Princess, Mrs. Fredericks said that Donald is sick. She said the doctor just left their house and said he needed to stay in bed all weekend. She said he feels horrible about having to cancel.”
Susie’s chest heaved as she sobbed even harder. “It doesn’t matter! It’s the biggest dance of the year next to Homecoming and Prom, and now I don’t have a date! I’ll be a laughingstock!” She spun on her heel and fled upstairs. Moments later, her bedroom door slammed.
As Van and Claire headed back to their chairs in the living room, Claire sighed. “I just knew it would turn out this way. I just knew he’d cancel—”
Van spun on his heel and scowled. “What? Hon, I didn’t want to say anything in front of Susie, but she was right. You did cause this.”
Claire’s hand flew to her chest. “What? But I didn’t do anything. I—”
“Mrs. Fredericks said that Donald’s in bed because he’s got hives. She said he’s allergic to apples, but apparently you plied him with half a dozen pieces of your apple crumb cake today, and he was too polite to turn you down. Darling, you really need to calm down. Let’s just get through this evening and hope Susie gets over it quickly.”
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Be sure to come back tomorrow for the next installment of Visionary…
Let’s talk: Have you ever had a dream that came true? Do you believe in self-fulfilling prophecies?