Ben poured out a cup of coffee, added some milk, and took a few sips. Then he stopped, leaned back in his chair, and turned his head to Miranda.
“Am I starting to have weird dreams now, or did you wake me in the middle of the night to tell me about a trapped kid?”
It sounded ridiculous in the sunlight and solid shapes of morning. But Miranda still had a sense of something being wrong. “It was so real, Ben. You know how some dreams are like that? It was like I was there and could hear him. I’ve had several of these dreams now, about the same little boy.” She hesitated a moment before continuing. “I’m beginning to think they mean something.”
Ben looked up, doubtful. “Like what?”
“I don’t know. What if there’s a child trapped somewhere? That’s the feeling I get. And that dream about the predator. And the daycare incident. It all makes sense. Somehow.”
“Our man Jasper,” said Ben, and bit into the English muffin. “Besides, you said nothing happened at the daycare.”
Everything was starting to get mixed up. Dreams, rumors, her insecurities. “I know it sounds crazy – but haven’t you ever had a flash of intuition, when you just know something?”
“No. I haven’t. Look, Miranda. The kids are fine. You speak to them every day. It’s that shelter. You said so yourself. I don’t want you going back there.”
She leaned against the counter, considering his words. “No, that’s not it.” She sat down and wrapped her hands around her coffee cup, as if for warmth. “Anyway, I told you, I’m not going back. I brought the last of the clothes.”
“Good. Then the dreams will stop.” Ben took another bite. “I think you just need to move on with things.”
“What does that mean?” Miranda asked defensively.
“Just that – the kids are gone. And you need to find something else to fill your time.”
“You think I’m fabricating dreams to fill my time?! My God, Ben, my sense of self is a little stronger than that.”
“I’m not saying that, but you’re letting these dreams get in your way. You spent so much of your time with the kids, and now that they’re gone – ”
“I don’t believe it! You think I have empty nest syndrome. I hate that expression. It makes women sound like they have only one purpose in life. That’s really outdated, Ben.”
“I didn’t say that. You did. I’m just saying now’s your chance to do something else. For a change.”
They ate in silence, Miranda wondering why she had snapped at Ben.
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