As soon as she walked into her apartment, she locked the door, then peeked around the blinds to make sure she'd not been followed. She took the Dremel tool kit and put it on the shelf in the front closet, then took off her coat and hung it up, her scarf stored in the coat's left sleeve. There wasn't precipitation of any kind that night or for the previous days so her shoes were dry; she kicked them off and put them in front of the door. Then she got into bed fully clothed, having set her alarm clock for the usual time. She fell into the deep sleep of exhaustion right away.
She had dreams of Handsome and Kevin. Kevin with a tall, female version of himself, lifting a small child so he could put their favorite star on top of the tree. Mrs. Kevin stringing popcorn on strong white thread to make a garland. Kevin singing Christmas songs along with their iPod, his voice loud and clear. Handsome bursting through the door saying, "I brought the old ball and chain and she's made cookies," and she swept in after him, with giant cookies, each the size of an actual Santa or tree, decorated in great detail, the cookies loaded sideways on a dolly.
"Can I bite off Santa's head?" asked the small child.
"That's too much Santa for anyone," she said.
"Here's a branch, my friend," said Handsome, and gave her a fast peck on her cheek as he broke off the giant tip of one of the tree cookies. "If it's okay with your folks."
They all looked at Kevin and his missus, a stronger drag version of of Kevin the longer the dream went on.
"Oh, go ahead," said Mrs. Kevin, sounding like her husband speaking in falsetto. "But no more, young man. It'll spoil your appetite."
"What's for dinner?" she asked Mrs. Kevin.
"Just a simple turkey with roasted root veggies, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts the way Kevin likes them..."
"Overcooked and burned?" asked Handsome hopefully.
"Of course," said Mrs. Kevin.
"Yum!" she exclaimed and squeezed Handsome around the waist.
"We have tossed green salad, stuffing for the turkey, cranberry relish, and there's carrot cake, French Silk pie, and pumpkin pie for dessert," added Mrs. Kevin.
"My mouth's watering," said Kevin. "It'll all be ready in about an hour."
"Cranberry relish is the specialty of my divine here," said Handsome, nodding his head her way.
"I'm really hopeless in the kitchen," she said.
"But she makes up for it with her cranberry relish and the very excellent reservations she makes," said Handsome with a smile.
"Oh, stop," she said teasingly. "You're going to make me look like a lazybones."
"No, no, no," said Handsome, waving his hands and shaking his head. "You pick the best restaurants and there's never a bad meal to be had."
He kissed her sweetly on her lips.
"Aw, you're too good to me," she said.
"Nothing you don't deserve," he said.
The Kevin offspring hugged her legs.
"I love Christmastime so, so, so, so much. And I love you," he said as he squeezed her tightly around her knees.
Everyone was smiling and when her alarm clock went off, so was she.
She oddly felt better than she had the night before. She was still frightened out of her mind but she thought about what the dream meant.
Nothing. It meant nothing.
Her mind was trying to calm her down so she wouldn't cry in the hardware superstore and take a cab ride for a one-block walk. It was trying to get her to do the one thing she hadn't. She hadn't told Lee about any of this. He was as sensible as anyone she knew and she knew he'd have an opinion that would be solid and smart.
She stripped off all her clothes from the day before -- really? she thought. Did I really go to bed in all my clothes -- and turned on the shower to get it warm and called Lee while she waited.
"Really?" he answered. "Five thirty in the A and M and you're calling me?"
"Yep," she said. "I need to talk. Are you free tonight?"
"No," said Lee. "I'm having my niece and nephew over for dinner. But if you come then we can talk after. Want to? We're having turkey with root veggies and mashed potatoes, and my roommate's making Brussels sprouts the way I like them -- overcooked and burned. There's stuffing for the turkey and salad and cranberries -- not your relish because I don't have time to do anything but open a can tonight. And my niece is bringing a carrot cake and a French Silk pie. And a pumpkin pie. Want to come?"
She hesitated about a second.
"Yes," she said. "I'll bring some wine."
"No," he said. "There's a couple of bottles of champagne in the fridge. Just bring yourself. I'm excited! Yay! See you tonight!"
That dream meant nothing. It meant nothing at all.