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What a weird dream.

I was on vacation somewhere with some friends, and I was sitting in a car, outside a large but no-name bookstore (or maybe it was a library), waiting for one of my friends to come back out. I saw a group of women walk in, one of whom was a tall blonde wearing a Kenston Bombers letter jacket. Now, that's my high school, and furthermore I was reasonably sure I recognized her. I went inside to investigate this improbable coincidence, and say hi, if by chance I was right. Well, I wandered around for a moment, waved to Megan (the friend we were waiting for), and lemmed upstairs to try to find the mystery girl in the Bombers jacket. Well, I found her, and much to my surprise, she was with a few other people I knew from high school.

I greeted her, and commented on the improbability of the meeting, and quipped that I really don't think of the school at all anymore except once in a while in nightmares. She giggled, but it earned me a snort of derision from one of the others I knew, an asshole who I remembered as Fred.

It was about then when she wandered onto the scene. I froze. Here was the girl that, 14 years ago, I subjected to some really freaky prank calls. I'd felt like a rat about it ever since. I felt like even more of a rat for not coming clean, and for denying it when confronted. Even worse, I think at least some of the people involved believed my denials. She didn't, though. Worse, she recognized me. Now maybe I do just look that distinctive, but it was kinda weird.

I just stood there in stunned silence for a second. Finally, I managed to stutter out 'Bozhe moi. This was not a good thing.

"Oh, Karah, wow, isn't this an improbable thing," I stammered. Finally I just decided to stop fumfering and say it. "I guess this is as good a time as any. I want to..."

I didn't get as far as saying "apologize" before Fred was on his feet, waving a can of pepper spray in my general direction. Fred always was an asshole. Karah, Kelly and some of the others who I didn't recognize started paying closer attention now, looking as if they were about to intercede, but nobody actually did.

"Oh, it's you, the little pervert punk! I didn't expect you'd ever have the 'nads to even try to apologize for that stunt of yours!"

I sized up the situation. Fred was still shorter than me - about 5'9". In high school, though, he'd been a medium-sized guy, while I was a scrawny beanpole, maybe 130 pounds despite being around six feet. Now, I was two inches taller and seventy pounds heavier, plus a martial artist. I had the physical edge, but I hadn't come here to get into a fight, and I sure didn't want to. But he had that can of OC. If he used that, it would take about twenty to thirty seconds to render me useless, and in that time, I would pound his smug, fucktard ass to beetle paste. And then any attempt at reparations here would be worse than useless. So, I had to think fast and cool, and defuse the situation. Going immediately on the defensive wouldn't help.

"Fred, I hadn't the foggiest idea she'd be here. Or you," I countered. "I just saw somebody with a letter jacket walk in the front door, and figured I'd see who it was."

"But you left all those freaky," he started to say, but Karah cut him off.

"That was a long time ago, Fred," she said.

"Yeah, fourteen years," I said. "And I'm a very different person now, but that's not the point."

About now, Fred sat back down, but he was still fumbling with the pepper spray can. Karah stepped up and got right up in my face, like a drill instructor. "So then what, exactly, is the point?"

I didn't back down - I'd done this kitty-cat dance before. "The point is, that I apologize. I feel terrible about it, and I feel terrible that I lied, and didn't own up to it."

"And you came all the goddamn way out here to tell me that?

"Not exactly. I'm here with some friends. Like I just told Fred, I was sitting out in the car waiting for my friend down there," - and I pointed across the way, indicating Megan - "When by sheer dumb luck I saw Kelly walk in the door. If she hadn't been wearing the jacket, I might not have even made the connection."

"Oh, so you were following her, then?" She didn't budge a micron. Not yet, anyway.

"No - just looking into what I figured had to be a case of mistaken identity, or at best, one hell of a coincidence. And then you walked in, and suddenly all the guilt from that incident hit me like a ton of bricks."

Her visage softened a little. "So, you really didn't have a clue any of us were here?"

"No," I said. "Not in the slightest."

"Maybe you really did change."

I couldn't help but be vaguely peeved by that comment, conciliatory though it was. "After fourteen years, I should sincerely hope I did. I was a mostly-useless, freaky, perverted little teenage creep back then."

About now, some kind of alarm sounded in the real world, that I was vaguely aware of, and the dream went strange, with something about terrorists posing as police, and trying to arrest my cat, so that part's not relevant. But the stuff about Karah, that just freaks me out.

See, the weird part is, most of that is at least plausible. I really knew a Fred, who really was just that big of an asshole. And Karah, yeah, I really did perpetrate a bunch of prank calls, and I really do feel like a low-down dirty rat for it.

So, Karah, if by some insanely improbable chance you're reading this, I do apologize. I'm not sure that it means one cursed thing, this far after the fact, but I do. I feel awful about it, and I feel even more awful about not admitting it. I'm not sure I ever had you or Robyn convinced, but I think I managed to convince Laura and Joel, and the last part is what I really kick myself for. I never came clean to Joel about it, and now he's dead, so now I never can, except maybe in the Summerlands. What I did, I can explain - though never defend - as the actions of a bored, randy teenager. My failure to admit it, though, was a much larger failing. I'm sorry that I did it, but I'm even more sorry that I couldn't even find the moral strength to come clean about it.

And there are dates which are meaningful, which mean something. You forget them sometimes, and it's okay, because I forget them too. Dates like August first, or July or June or any other first, are important, so are the fifteenths, because we want to have heat and roof and bags of green tomatoes and red onions to fry and grill and chop.

So sometimes money is more important than love.

And sometimes there are even more important things like making sure to work hard enough and look like a go-getter, to go places, to fill spaces, own the room, get out of the box, climb the ladder, drink the corporate Kool-Aid, things I never expected to do, but some principles of youth were dissolved by necessity and industry. And to then come home and takes a few hours to remember I am in a loving place. And even then I can't love as much as I'd like, because tomorrow it is back to the Ministry of Humorless Irony, to serve the Secretaire de Sade.

This is just complaining and about an easy life by most standards. I will keep typing with two spaces after the words and apologise about it all the time. I will be driven crazy by spell check but refuse to properly spell. I will pick fights and feel guilty for getting my madness on you. I will pack and bang the dishes. I will run you off to the woods for a week in the rain to pretend at a life that is complete and untarnished and set lightly on a fulcrum between the valleys of Delight and Rest.

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