FALLING INTO EDEN: Short Story / Vignette. Copyright © 2019 by Tracy M. Kubiayk – Read time: 15 min.

I’ve never been to Eden, Connecticut, but somehow I’m aware of many details. Perhaps I had learned about it in school and forgot, or read about it in a book, or saw something on television and the details seeped into my subconscious, planting seeds into my imagination. I even wondered if I might have lived there in a past life. I ruled that out because I just don’t feel that to be the case.

This awareness comes from what my dreams show me. They are the most lucid dreams I’ve ever had. Like watching a movie, they are long, candid dreams. But I am not only the observer, I am the main character. Well, one of them. There is also Tucker, a very active participant in these dreams. He looks like nobody I’ve ever met before, but he looks the same every time I fall asleep: tall, lanky, blond, blue-eyed. Well, I shouldn’t say every time I fall asleep. I don’t go there every time.

There are many strange things about all this. First, the entrance into the dream. I usually have a choice. There are two gates, both are white picket fence-like gates. Beyond the gates are blurry images of paths. The path on the left is gray-blue with a yellowish background. The one on the right is a yellowish path with a blue background. If I choose the gate on the left I drift into sleep as usual. But, if I choose the gate on the right, I end up… somewhere else. Once I step through this gate, I slip into this other place in Eden, Connecticut, where Tucker lives.

Crossing over feels a bit frightening. Even though I’m already in the dream, it feels like I’m on the edge of wakefulness and sleep. Not like when you drift off into peaceful slumber or slump into sleep from exhaustion– it’s more like I am fighting to stay awake, but then I fall in.

Once I cross over, another strange thing happens. I feel a connectedness more powerful than my everyday waking life. This place seems more real than real life. While there, only a tiny part of my mind knows I’m in the dream state. And, once I wake up, I remember everything, amazed each time.

I journal my experiences, which brings me to the third strangeness. The weird thing here is the scribbling that appears at the end of my entries. Words, sometimes readable, sometimes not, which I do not recall writing. I have the dream, wake up in the middle of the night and journal it, then drift off into a regular night’s sleep. I wake up in the morning to find these scribbles.

The first time I crossed over was a little over a year ago. It was the night of June 28, 2017. It would have been a normal Wednesday night, except for the fact that it was my 28th birthday. My mom took me out to eat for a seafood dinner at a fancy restaurant in a hotel down the road. We live in a small town near Milwaukee, in Wisconsin. We shared a bottle of wine with dinner as well as a delicious double-chocolate soda cake for desert, then hit a movie. She fell asleep in the theater, but I enjoyed it. Regardless, it was a nice evening that left me quite tired by the time I got home. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, threw on a nightgown and fell asleep on top of my bed, no covers, with the window open, letting in the cool night air.

Tucker wasn’t there right away. I didn’t see any people. When I walked though the gate and crossed over the very first time, I found myself blinded by golden light. After my eyes became accustomed, things cleared up. That’s an understatement. Everything was crystal clear. It was like all my senses were working ten times better. The golden hue remained, just not as bright. The sandy path sparkled in the sunlight.

I walked to a crest of hill overlooking a lake and sat down. Two lighthouses extended out into the water, beacons for the incoming ships. But, there were no boats at all. Seagulls speckled the sky. The scent of fish and seaweed permeated my nostrils. To my right was an empty marina. Down a hill on my left was a long, empty beach surrounded by tall bluffs. Logs of driftwood formed benches and seemed strategically placed by the waves. My enhanced eyesight could see each beautifully colored stone, washed upon the shore, scattered upon the sand.

Behind me, a path led up a hill to a park high on the cliffs. I thought that would be a wonderful place to take pictures and considered heading up there. I searched my pockets for my phone. No phone. A black shadow trailed across my hill. It didn’t feel like a bird, so I looked up. Something was floating on the wind. It was ugly. An ink splotch on a masterpiece. When I realized it was a plastic bag, I woke up.

It was about three a.m. when I woke from this dream. I knew I would never forget it but wanted to write it down. I’ve always kept a dream journal, but because this dream was so different, so real compared to other dreams, I started a separate journal. Somehow I knew I would have more of these lucid dreams.

I pulled out a fresh notebook and jotted down a few things about the dream. My eyes became heavy. The next thing I knew, it was morning.

I did remember everything crystal clear. My journal lay open beside me. The first entry was one and a half pages. At the end of the entry I had scribbled some unreadable pen scratches across the page. I figured I must have been writing when I fell back asleep. The rest of the night’s sleep had been normal, and I felt refreshed. I closed my journal and went about my day.

I met Tucker a few nights later. It was another hot night and I slept above the covers. The same options were before me and I took the yellow path on the right. This was the second time I crossed over.

I was sitting on my hillcrest watching a group of geese float around in a section near the marina. The marina was still empty but I did see a woman. She was standing on a paddle board out on the water, near the southern lighthouse. The peacefulness of simply relaxing lakeside is a blessing. I was so connected to the land and water and air that, at the time, my body tingled. I felt connected to the woman on the paddle board, too. If I concentrated I could feel the balance of her being as she rode the waves.

I lay back on the hill and let the sun heat me. After a while, I thought it might be wise to put on some sunblock. When I sat up I noticed a sailboat on the water. It took some time to get here, but it docked in the marina. The name Olivia was painted on the hull. A bunch of people, three men and two women walked up the pier. They carried blankets, a cooler, a few tote bags, and two large fish. One of them pointed to an area in the park, high on the cliff where there stood an outdoor grill, as well as a couple picnic tables overlooking the lake.

They nodded as they walked by, but one, the tall blond guy, stopped and said hello. “I haven’t seen you here before,” he said, smiling sparkly white teeth.

I wasn’t sure how to reply because I wasn’t sure where I was, so I just smiled back.

“My name’s Tucker,” he said, extending his arm to shake my hand. “Tanya,” I replied. My palm tingled as I shook his hand.

He invited me to picnic with him and his friends. I accepted and we walked to the park together. One of the guys cleaned the fish at one picnic table, the other guy was starting the grill. The two girls were setting up the other table, placing blankets on the benches and pulling snacks and plates out from the bags they had carried over. Tucker first introduced me to them, Liv and Lila. They were very welcoming. I felt I had met them before. But, I wasn’t sure where or when, so I didn’t mention it.

Liv was married to the fish cleaner, Rob. The rest were all just good friends. “Randy, come over here and meet our new friend,” said Lila. The man who was tending the grill walked over to the table. He wiped the palm of his hand on his shorts before offering me a handshake. I felt the tingle again, this time it traveled up my wrist. I wondered if there was something wrong with my hand, but I ignored it as I listened to Randy tell the story about his catch. We were having Northern Pike for lunch.

Soon, the smell of seasoned Pike drifted over from the grill. While Randy cooked, Rob and Tucker discussed the other catch, made by Tucker. The girls offered me chips to go with my sparkling water. Every now and then Tucker glanced at me and smiled. His eyes were filled with friendship and I felt right at home with these kind people.

We had a perfect view of the beach. I watched a man on a horse trotting across the sand. A dog followed, running in and out of the water, barking happily. It was a scene right out of an old novel, but much more real. The man looked up, waved. We waved back.

After lunch, which was delicious, we all played Frisbee. They then packed up their things and headed back to their boat. “Walk me back to the pier?” asked Tucker. I nodded, yes. We followed the others, trailing behind. He stopped at a statue of an anchor as tall as him. We stared at the blue metal piece of art, admiring the weight of it.

“I hope to see you again,” he said. I was about to take the plunge and ask him where it was we were, when he looked over at a sign beside the anchor statue. It read, “Welcome to Newport Marina, Eden, Connecticut.”

Connecticut! How on earth did I get to Connecticut?

“That would be nice,” I replied. “Thank you again for lunch.”

“It was a pleasure,” he said, heading off, smiling and waving as he walked away.

I stood there staring at the sign. Their sailboat floated off. The seagulls sang. The clouds feathered across the sky.

I headed back to my hill to watch them sail away when I heard a loud engine. It was just a pick-up truck pulling into the marina, it was hauling something, probably a boat, but I couldn’t see because it was covered in black smoke. It was the exhaust from the truck, billowing darkness across the parking lot. It was then I woke up.

Three a.m. again. I jotted down the dream, recalling the fun afternoon I’d had in the middle of the night. It was no problem for me to fall back asleep.

In the morning, I looked at my journal entry. Sure enough, there were scribbles at the end. This time I could read them. “Rejoice! A new dawn yells.” Odd, I never thought of the sun as yelling at me. The words gave me a feeling of urgency. I refocused my feelings toward excitement and began my day.

Sometimes I would choose the blue path on the left and drift into the usual dreamy sleep. I’m not sure what prompts my decisions to choose which gate, but about half the time I have chosen the yellowish path on the right. I have visited Eden many times.

On another occasion Tuck showed up with Rob. They docked at the same pier. There were more boats in the marina this time. The three of us played Frisbee again, then Rob went back to the Olivia. Tucker asked me to take a walk. We hiked past the park onto a path through the forest.

Tucker pointed out the diversity of trees, including dogwood, ash, red oak, eastern white pine, and a variety of birch trees, among others. I thought the pignut hickory was an interesting name and asked him if pigs like to eat the nuts. He laughed and replied, “Probably. They are nutritious and attract many wildlife. I don’t think there are wild pigs here, though.”

“Can we eat pignuts?” I asked. He laughed and said yes, but we wouldn’t want to because they tasted bitter.

He told me he liked to canoe and said we should go sometime. The lake connected to a river and sometimes he spent days on the water and portaging to other areas.

We talked about many things, but we also hiked on in silence, enjoying nature. I smelled the green and the land sparkled hazel and gold hues. The path wrapped around and we walked past a bubbling brook where we sat on a bench for a moment watching the wildlife and listening to the water trickling over rocks.

As we hiked on we ended up at another area in the back of the park. Tucker pointed to a large oak tree.

“It’s nearly 300 years old– the oldest tree in the woods,” he said.

He walked up to it, leaned forward and put his palm to the trunk. He closed his eyes. “What are you doing?” I asked. He motioned me toward him with his other hand.

I walked over, slipping on a few acorns but not falling down. I held on to the tree. We faced each other, our eyes closed, palms to the tree. He whispered, “Can you feel it?”

I gave it a moment, breathing calmly. And, I did feel it. Through the bark, into the tree, the life force coursing, tingling my palm, my entire hand.

“Her energy is deep and wide, like her roots,” he said.

It was powerful, yet calm. The energy moved, yet it was sturdy, like a core.

With my eyes still closed, I felt Tucker lean close to me. His soft lips touched mine, and I kissed him back. Unlike any kiss I’ve ever had, this one didn’t lift me to the clouds but instead grounded us, connected like magnets.

“Walk me back to the pier?”

“Sure,” I replied, smiling.

“I like you, Tanya.”

“I like you, too, Tucker.”

Just then I heard a noise, getting louder. “What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s a tree cutting machine, I think.”

“What?”

“I read that they are putting up more malls.”

“Will they reforest what they cut?” I asked.

“I sure hope so,” he replied.

As we walked, the noise grew louder still. As it increased, my vision started to fade, like cloud cover dimming the sun. By the time we reached the pier all was black and I woke up. Three a.m.

I journaled the dream and went back to sleep.

In the morning, I checked the entry. My penmanship morphed into scribbles again, at the end. It read: “Rowan, Oak, Birch.” That day I bought a sapling and planted it at the edge of the yard. I named it Tucker.

Tucker took me sailing on the Olivia once. I had been on boats before, but never a sailboat. He taught me how to turn the boat to the left (port) or right (starboard) so it’s about ninety degrees off the wind.

It seemed like he spoke another language as he described trimming and heeling. Our boat waltzed with the wind and we were able to relax. I spent some time sun tanning on the bow. There are so many parts of a sailboat, I do not remember all of them. We shared a bottle of wine and a tray of mini sandwiches he had prepared.

I told him more about myself and my family. He was genuinely interested. I made him laugh a lot. He looked even more amazing when he laughed.

Tucker talked me into going for a swim. We were about to jump in when we spotted a shiny dark shape. I absolutely love ducks, especially mallards. But I took this bird to be a loon because it was black. However, it didn’t have the white spots. As it floated closer it became more clear. I could see that it was indeed a duck, covered in oil. It didn’t make sense. It was then that I woke up.

It became obvious that ugly things woke me up, a shadow of something bad. The emotions I felt that night were powerful: sadness, empathy, anger, fear for the duck. The little guy had seemed so real and alone. My journal entry that night was twice as long as the others. The end scribbles I read in the morning said: “Only love is vital in awareness.”

I didn’t over-analyze these scribbles. I simply thought them odd and moved on.

Another dream which had led to a legible scribble involved just Lila and me. We walked the storefronts down the way from the marina.

A wagon full of fresh red apples drew our attention. There were baskets of Red Delicious, Macoun, and my favorite, Honeycrisp. They were almost too beautiful to eat. We offered money for a couple apples, but since we only wanted two, the attendant gave us our pick at no cost.

I don’t know if it was because my senses were so in tune, or if I was really hungry, or if it truly was the best apple I had ever had, but it was just that. I’ll never forget it.

I looked up at the sign above the storefront: Rimrock Market. “Shall we?” I asked. Lila nodded, smiling, and we went inside.

Quaint, clean and friendly. There were homemade jams and local honey in jars tied with plaid ribbons. Local syrups were artfully displayed on an endcap as well. Lila purchased a small bag of cherries which she shared with me and gave some to the apple vendor outside. We continued our walk, passing gift shops, art and yoga studios, and a deli.

On the sidewalk, outside the deli, I noticed stomped out cigarette butts. Beside the bike rack there stood a sand-filled ashtray with a few more butts. In the parking spot near the curb around the corner a pile of smoked cigarettes and gray-black ashes lay heaped on the pavement as if someone emptied their car ashtray right there. When I saw this, I woke up. Three a.m.

My message that night read: “Live inside love always.”

After that dream, the scribbles were unreadable until the last time I crossed into Eden. It was the night before my twenty-ninth birthday. It was just Tucker and me. We were hiking again.

We came upon a glade where two deer stood shimmering in the sunlight. The buck had smooth, large antlers, ten points, nearly perfectly symmetrical, pointing toward the heavens. The doe’s eyes, outlined in bright white fur, glowed calm yet spirited. She rubbed her nose on the buck’s cheek, giving him a kiss.

Tucker grabbed my hand and squeezed. We smiled at each other. He took a step toward me, snapping a twig. The deer, instantly alerted, pounced into the forest. We watched their white tails bob away. Tucker kissed me then. We laid down a blanket in the clearing and got comfortable, picking the grass and wildflowers, now and again kissing and petting.

The sky turned pink and lavender. Soon after, the stars came out. We remained in the glade, in the comfort of each other’s arms. We made love through the night as the moon rose and fell above us. We fell asleep in the starlight.

I woke up at midnight that time, not the usual three a.m. Nothing ugly sent me back to my home. It was more like a goodbye. I wrote a brief entry into my journal and fell back asleep.

In the morning, I woke up to sunshine and could hear my mom singing in the bathroom down the hall. I looked at my journal. As usual, scribbles I didn’t remember jotting down were scrolled across the page. They read: “The unconscious collective– keep environmental respect.”

More scientific, I thought. Before I could put more thought into it there was a knocking on my door. Mom wanted to take me out to breakfast for my birthday. I was very hungry, so that sounded wonderful. I started picking out my cloths for the day when she told me to wait and showed me the present she had been holding behind her back.

I opened my gift. I was a sterling silver necklace with a charm– an anchor. The entire charm was inlaid with blue topaz. It was stunning. “I love it!” I told her.

“I wanted to get you something extra special this year since you’re moving out.”

It was the perfect gift. Not only because of my dreams to Eden, but also because I had recently accepted a job offer as an Associate Research Assistant at The School of Freshwater Sciences housed at UWM’s Harbor Campus. Mom was very excited for me.

It ‘s been a few months now. I just moved into my new loft apartment. Truth is, once I turned twenty-nine, the dreams stopped. It was only during my twenty-eighth year that I was able to visit this place called Eden. Oh, another thing– I looked it up. I’m not sure why I never did before– I had simply taken the words on the marina sign to be true. But, Eden, Connecticut, doesn’t actually exist. There is no such town.

There was for me, though.

I will never forget it.

THE END

PHOTO taken by author

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