“Would you like to buy a dream?” asked the woman sitting on the park bench, bundled in so much clothing that the eye was unable to discern individual layers and left observers confused about where her body actually began. She asked with a gentle smile on her lips that just barely reached her eyes. She might have been 30. She might have been 60. The passersby she asked could barely look at her. Their paths eddied around her as if she took up much more space than she actually did. Budding trees behind her pulled her into their reality, making her seem a natural part of this scene. I drank my quickly cooling coffee and was sharply aware of the contrast between this downtrodden woman and I, in my clean, pressed suit.
“Would you like to buy a dream?” I asked a nice-looking woman walking by with her young daughter, and felt a little bit of my hope sink within me when she glanced sharply at me from the corner of her eye and pulled her daughter closer to her as they passed.
No one knew what it was to dream anymore, it seemed. No one understood this gift that I had to offer. I felt it, the dream, wriggling around under my many layers, and I wrapped my arms tighter around myself in order to keep it from flying away. It was mine to give, and I was trying to give it to someone who was worthy of it. Letting it fly off on its own—it might end up with someone who didn't deserve it, or worse yet, get stuck in a tree somewhere and be lost forever. It was best to keep it tightly under wraps until it could find a new home.
I could see the young man looking over at me, sharply bound in a suit of predetermined future. I felt sorry for him. Where were his dreams? I wondered if he wanted to come over, to ask for this dream I was offering, but was too shy. He wasn't quite able to meet my gaze. I understood, though. He wasn't quite ready yet to let go of his cut-and-paste lifestyle. It had been hard for me, too. I would let him take his time. When he was ready for a dream, I would be here.
Unless, of course, someone else bought it first.