I plunge head first into tormented and icy waves that lash against a rocky shore. Arms clasped overhead, feet tensed to a point, I fall toward the ocean floor. Hazy splinters of sunlight filter through the blue, leading the way. In my ears I hear my own anxious breath.
Then I see them.
Large and small glints of yellow, red and green scattered like celestial bodies in a galaxy of golden sand. With each swing of the tide the grains swirl and reshape, concealing and revealing the gemstones anew. I stretch my fingers. My elbows lock tight and my arms ebb and flow in a tug of war that draws the treasures close then pulls them just out of reach. The deep’s unrelenting squeeze grips my lungs. I surface hastily, gasping for air.
My eyes spring open and I sit up. The ruby numbers of my bedside alarm clock read 3:33 AM. I blink in the darkness. Same dream; same time; three nights in a row.
I’d been vacillating for a week over two job offers, and the decision date loomed. One would crown my resume with a fancy marketing title and a paycheck that would dissolve the debt of my overpriced college education; the other would have me working part-time as an entry level reporter for a no-name newspaper, promising little pay and a schedule wedged between games of dress up, finger painting, swimming lessons, and endless sing-alongs to “The Wheels On The Bus,” my daughter’s favorite tune.
On the afternoon of the latest early morning awakening, while the wheels went round and round, round and round, round and round for what felt like the 100th time in our living room, my daughter pushed up onto her feet, took her first three wobbly steps, and fell giggling into my outstretched arms. I held her to my chest, which swelled with pride.
I plunge again head first into tormented and icy waves that lash against a rocky shore. Arms clasped overhead, I zero in on the ocean floor. Hazy splinters of sunlight filter through the blue and point the way.
Then I see it.
Between the twinkling facets of yellow, red, and green gems, a glint of gold winks. I wiggle my fingers and stretch, reaching and digging my nails deep into the sand, curling my hands around a slippery golden block. I pull and twist, wrenching and turning my hand in a tug of war that finally releases a jewel-encrusted statue of a girl from the surrounding silt. I clutch her to my chest, which fills with pride.
I ascend slowly through the blue. The water clears and warms. The seas calm. I surface and inhale a bottomless, easy breath. In my ears I hear my own voice.
“You have chosen wisely.”
My eyes spring open and I sit up. The ruby numbers of by bedside clock read 6:07 AM.
I blink in the golden sunlight that filters through the blue curtains, then fall back into a peaceful sleep.