The new year creeps on, raising hopes and expectations. Like the soft feet of a mischievous cat, the new year pads quietly most of the time, occasionally knocking something fragile to shatter on the floor.
Kassandra feels a general apprehension in the coffee shop on the first day of the year, folk wishing one another a happy new year quietly, like they do not want to wake something still sleeping.
She falls into bed that night depleted, and unsure why, Usually her shifts energize her, seeing the lovely side of most humans. But this night, she skips dinner and goes right into a fitful sleep, dominated by her dream of friends speaking about her as if she is no longer there.
It’s as if she’s back in the coffee shop but invisible, eavesdropping on people at each table. She moves slowly, struggling to make sense of the murmurs she hears.
Then, in the dream, images and sounds become crystal clear. Franny sits at the small table by the back door, speaking to someone Kassandra only sees from behind.
“She was such a love,” Franny is saying. “Such a dear, genuine, kind person. Whenever I do the loving-kindness meditation, she comes to mind. I never met anyone else who had so little guile or sarcasm in them. She radiated acceptance. I’m sure that’s why River adored her. I can’t believe she’s gone, really. I keep expecting her to be behind the counter, every time I walk in here.”
Kassandra wakes in a sweat, throws off the covers. She writes those words down, quickly, before they disappear from her waking mind. She feels fear, wondering if the dream is a premonition, if this is a fever, if she is ill, after all this time, if she is now the one who is desperately sick.
She takes her temperature, and it is normal. She recognizes what this is – not a virus or a bacteria, but a kind of dis-ease, nonetheless.
It is the demand of a new art piece, and she bundles up to walk through the cold night to the garage studio and get started.