A huge flower arrangement was centered on the deep mahogany table. There were white roses and tiger lilies along with large purple irises. Their fragrance filled the room. She was walking through the dining-room, pushing a chair in and straightening the doilies on the table. The early morning sun streamed through the windows and it sparkled off the chandelier creating an intricate pattern on the west wall.
On the same wall was a buffet with a large beveled mirror hanging above. The mirror reflected the lovely French doors and the flower garden beyond. It did not, however reflect the image of Felicia as she straightened the silver and china that elegantly graced the top of the cabinet.
Her steps seemed muffled as she walked across the polished wood floor, through the doorway, across the foyer and into the front parlor. This room didn't get the direct sunlight and the cool of the morning came in with the breeze through the open windows making the lace curtains dance.
Felicia crossed the room to the large, velvet divan and plumped the pillows that were trimmed with cream-colored tatted lace. She picked up a newspaper from the floor and folded it neatly, laying it on the end table beside the high-backed chair. There was a bag full of knitting that she placed out of sight under the table.
Then she walked into a room that she hadn't seen before, but in the dream, it was as familiar as her own name. It was the kitchen. This room was all practicality and no décor. Big iron pots and cast iron skillets hung on the walls that were blackened here and there from the huge wood cook stove.
A large wooden table filled the center of the room. It looked like it had withstood years of abuse with scratches and burn marks marring the top. There was a large basin with a hand water pump. Felicia reached for the handle to get a drink and the dream dissolved.
The alarm clock had cut her dream short. Felicia sat up and turned it off. Just for a fleeting instant, she was sure that the house was real and that she knew where it was. Just as quickly the impression was gone, leaving her feeling a little lost. Every time she woke from the dream, she felt a tangible sense of loss, the feeling of peace and contentment was suddenly ripped from her.
She looked at the clock and realized that she had a few minutes before she had to get up. She always set the clock a little early so they had time to be a little lazy in the morning.
Felicia scooted over and cuddled with her husband, consoling herself in his warmth. This was the third time she had this same dream and it was unlike any she ever had before. Each time had been a little different, and so real. There was no murkiness or fogginess in them. It was almost the same as real life and she remembered every detail.
She could tell that Jared was awake. Should she mention it to him? Not now. She wanted this day to be perfect with nothing to put a damper on it.
After a moment, she sat up and looked at him. His dark hair had fallen across his eyes. She pushed it back and he gave a loud snore. Chuckling, she kissed him on the forehead and jumped out of bed.
Today was their one year anniversary. She had met Jared at her cousin's wedding, nearly two years ago. They looked like a mismatched pair. He looked like a lumberjack, tall in stature and wide shouldered and she was a dainty blond. They had found a common bond in their love for houses. He was a construction foreman, she was in interior design.
They moved to Chicago right after they got married. Jared had a job waiting for him, but Felicia had to build her business from scratch. She had done pretty well for herself, she thought, a wonderful husband and great career. Life was perfect, as she saw it.
Felicia showered and dressed carefully. She had an appointment this morning with a new client. Mrs. Forbes was a stuffy, older woman with a lot of money and clout. If she could please her, it would go a long way in bringing in more influential clients.
She was just running a brush through her blonde curls when Jared joined her in the bathroom and hugged her from behind.
"Careful, you'll rumple my outfit," she told him, smiling at his reflection in the mirror. It really was unfair that he came straight out of bed looking perfectly groomed. His neatly trimmed beard substituted the typical stubble that plagued most men every morning. Felicia, on the other hand, looked dreadful first thing after getting out of bed, in her opinion, anyway.
She wore a blue pant suit and a white blouse. Dressing for a meeting was always different than dressing for actual work. She dressed casually in jeans when she was working a job. She was a little nervous with this consultation and she was still trying to throw off the melancholy that the dream had left her with.
Deciding that Mrs. Forbes would approve of the pearl necklace and earrings rather than the diamond tear drops that she would have rather worn, she fastened the heavy strand around her neck.
The last touches of her make-up were applied as Jared stepped out of the shower.
"Woohoo!" he said, wrapping the towel around himself. "Who are you gettin' all gussied up for?"
"I have that meeting with Mrs. Forbes today. You've heard of her. She is the chairwoman of the downtown business association. You don't think I overdid it, do you?" Felicia wondered if she had overdressed for the occasion.
"No. I think you look perfect." He looked her over nodding his approval. "Of course, I think you look perfect every day, every morning." He chuckled as he watched her blush.
Felicia slipped her feet into her navy blue flats and headed downstairs, leaving him to finish getting dressed.
Their townhouse apartment was small, but cozy. The living-room, dining-room, and kitchenette was really one large room, sectioned off by only different flooring and wall covering. Off that room, there was a small bedroom that Felicia had turned into an office. Her business was growing, but she had no need for a downtown shop space as yet.
She entered the kitchen with its hideous green and yellow wall-paper that Felicia had begged the landlord to let her change. He had refused even when she had offered to cover the expense herself. She comforted herself with the knowledge that they wouldn't live here forever-just until they decided to buy a real home.
She quickly mixed up some pancake batter and threw in a handful of blueberries, then fried some sausage and eggs. She wanted to start the day off with a special breakfast. They say that the way to man's heart is through his stomach and that especially seemed to apply to Jared. How he could eat so much and still stay fit was totally unfair.
In between flipping pancakes and eggs, she made Jared a couple of sandwiches for his lunch cooler and packed it with the usual potato chips, candy bar and bottled water. On top, she added a sweet little note telling him happy anniversary. She sealed it with a kiss, smudging her lipstick and giggled to herself. She knew he would get teased when the other guys saw that!
When Jared came down, she innocently placed his plate, piled high with pancakes, sausage, and eggs down in front of him.
He sat down at the table dressed in a green flannel shirt and jeans.
"Wow! What's the occasion?" he asked.
"What do you mean, what is the occasion?" She looked at him crossly.
"Well, usually I'm lucky to get a frozen waffle," he stated, smiling at his plate of pancakes.
Well, if he didn't remember, she wasn't going to say a word, she thought, indignantly.
She sat down at the small table across from him. She ate slowly, willing him to do the same.
As if it was just any typical morning, Jared began to tell her about what had happened at work the day before. She supposed it was supposed to be a funny story, but she found it hard to respond with her usual humor. It seemed that he really had forgotten.
He didn't seem to notice her lack of response and went on to tell her how the building was coming along.
"Well, anyway, the job is about half over and the guy still hasn't forked over a dime for the revisions he tacked on. I'm afraid that I'm gonna have to just get a little pushier about it."
"I agree. Sometimes, you are just a little too nice," Felicia said, trying to add something to the conversation. It was true, though. Jared tended to let people take advantage of his generous nature. Only a few months ago, he had contracted for an apartment complex. He had built three large storage buildings and when he had finished, he had gotten only half of his pay. The owner of the complex had cheated him, but he hadn't pushed it because he knew the elderly that lived under the slumlord needed it so badly. Felicia felt that the creep had deliberately used Jared and it was the first real fight that the two of them had. Forgetting their first anniversary would be the second, she thought, biting her lip.
He had cleared his plate in ten minutes flat from the time he'd sat down. He gulped the last of his orange juice and stood up.
"Gotta go, babe. We have an early start today." He gave her a quick kiss and was out the door, acting as if he hadn't a clue.
Felicia stayed seated and finished her breakfast alone, feeling dejected. How could he forget? She looked at her watch. It was still a little early, yet. What could be so important that he had to run out of there like his pants were on fire?
She wished that she hadn't left the note in his lunch box. Now, he would feel pressured to run out and get her a gift or something after work. If she hadn't done that, she could have just pretended that it wasn't their anniversary. Now, she would just get a guilt gift instead of a celebration.
By the time she had cleared the table, anger had flared its ugly head. She slammed the dishes into the sink and noisily washed them. What did she expect? He may be totally loveable, but her husband was about as romantic as a rock!
She managed to not break any dishes in her rage. She carefully put the plates and glasses back in the cabinet and then slammed the skillets into the bottom cabinet making a satisfying clatter. All the while, mumbling about the insensitivity of men in general.
Felicia finished wiping the counter and realized that she had wasted time in her anger. She ran to the bathroom and repaired her make-up. She noticed her red scarf hanging on a hook on the bathroom door and threw it around her neck for an extra flair of color. With one last look in the mirror, she approved herself for the illustrious Mrs. Forbes.
Still seething, she was ready to walk out the door when she passed the coffee table in the living-room. She stopped as she saw a huge box of candy and a vase of a dozen red roses. She couldn't help burying her nose in the roses and breathing them in. The card read, 'To my woman from your stud.' She laughed out loud. The big jerk! At the bottom, he wrote, 'Don't make any plans tonight. We're going out.' It was just like him to make her think he'd forgotten.