I'm with a beautiful woman. A young, beguiling and attentive woman, the kind of woman that hangs on every word with sensuous allure in her eyes, which is good 'cause I'm in the mood to talk. At this moment in my life, she might even be considered "the woman of my dreams".

Only glitch being she's from France or Norway, I'm not really sure which and it doesn't matter anyway. The thing is, she doesn't speak English or more importantly, doesn't understand English, but then again, that's not exactly a problem. I may be in the mood to talk, but I don't actually need her to understand. I just want someone to listen.

We're sitting in a quaint little restaurant downtown. What? You were thinking something else? Get your mind out of the gutter; this isn't one of those stories. We're in a secluded booth in the back sitting across from each other drinking cappuccinos, rather she's drinking a cappuccino, I'm drinking coffee.

I've been restless all week, tension building within me, anxiety gnawing in my gut. I've been thinking about Mom, thinking about my life, thinking about my dream.., just thinking, and I need to let it all out. I just need to hear the words I keep buried deep within me. Maybe if I give voice to my thoughts it'll all make sense. Maybe…

I always think about Mom on her birthday and on the anniversary of her death. It's not a conscious decision and sometimes I'm not even aware of the dates approaching, it just seems to happen and my mind wanders back to Mom. It's not like she is ever truly out of my mind. It seems like she's always with me, close in my thoughts. Truth is, I don't ever want her to leave.., I need her.

See the thing is, when I was twelve I had a dream of Mom. One fleeting moment in time when I saw her and felt her presence so strongly I knew it wasn't really a dream, I knew I was with her.

Dad had taken me on a hunt, my first where I actually got to see some action. Normally I was just the lookout or the gravedigger or the reader of the spell while Dad saw all the action and faced all the potential for harm. By the time I was twelve I had seen more than most men see in a lifetime, more than most men would ever be able to believe, much less stand and face.

Facing the Supernatural is just what we Winchesters do. It's all I've ever known. Oh, I remember a few things from before… before Mom was murdered. Bits and pieces, mainly emotions… like feeling safe and protected, not by salt or spells or amulets, but by loving parents and a kind world.

I remember being happy, really happy. I remember thinking all was right in my secure little world, surrounded by Mom and Dad and my little brother, Sammy. I remember what it was like before…

Anyway, when I was twelve Dad took me on a hunt against a creature that was kidnapping kids and sacrificing them to some evil… something or other. Dad was never one to explain all the fine details.

Finally, I felt important. I was going to help save some kids. I never worried about the danger; Dad would never let anything bad happen to me. That much I knew.

Well, things didn't go so great. I did everything Dad told me to do yet the plan wasn't working. Next thing I knew the creature had me. It was twisting my arm so hard I heard the bones crack before I ever felt the intense pain. Pain like I had never felt before.

I remember looking at my dad, wondering how this could be happening. Dad knew how to fight anything that came our way. How could this creature, this obviously inferior creature, outsmart my dad?

It didn't take long for Dad to rectify the situation. The creature died, the kids were rescued, and I had my arm in a cast for six weeks.

One unfortunate incident and a nagging doubt had invaded my thoughts. How could this have happened? Dad was my hero, heroes don't fail, heroes don't make errors in judgment. Do they?

The first night with the cast on was uncomfortable to say the least. The painkillers had me loopy and not feeling right. I didn't feel in control when I took them. I felt vulnerable, not competent to take care of Sammy, and that just wouldn't do.

I never took them again after that first time; I just lived with the pain. I was used to ignoring the hurt. I had felt a pain in my soul since I was four; this really wasn't that much different. In fact, it kinda helped in a strange way. Now at least I had a physical reason to be in pain. It helped to focus the pain onto my arm, which let my gut relax a little.

The second night is when I had the dream. I couldn't fall asleep 'cause the throbbing in my arm kept pounding through my body, reverberating like a jackhammer. Dad seemed concerned, but I just brushed it off. I wasn't about to confess I'd flushed the pain meds down the toilet. That would really piss him off.

Sammy wanted to sleep in my bed again and he was the only comfort I needed. He snuggled into my side and I wrapped my good arm around him and focused on his steady breathing. He found comfort in me as I found comfort in him. He knew evil existed and was just waiting to strike and he thought I would protect him, just like I thought Dad would always protect me.

I wondered how long before Sammy learned the truth, that I was no more a hero than Dad. I hoped it was a long time, 'cause I couldn't bear the thought of disappointing him. I needed him to believe in me so I could believe in myself.

As the night wore on, sleep refused to come. My arm was killing me. I actually regretted tossing the pain meds at one point, before reason again steeled my resolve. Pain was not going to get the best of me.

Around four in the morning, exhaustion finally offered me some respite and I drifted off. I don't know how long it takes to get into REM sleep where you dream, but it seemed like just minutes and I was dreaming of Mom.

I didn't know what the dream was when it started, obviously didn't even know I was dreaming, you know how when it really feels real? I was walking on a floor of glass, a vast expanse of transparent glass with clouds everywhere. You could see them below your feet through the glass and all around you and above. No walls, just the glass reflecting the clouds and stretching on forever. I felt more at peace than I have ever felt.

I knocked on a door, I don't remember a building or enclosure, just a door with a brass knocker that I picked up and let fall, echoing noise through time and space. A pleasant old man with long grey hair and beard and a flowing white robe came to answer the door.

Looking back now, he looked just like Gandalf in that Lord of the Rings movie. Of course I couldn't have thought that then, it was ten years ago, Peter Jackson was still fantasizing about directing Tolkien's novel, and I had never read the book.

This is where it gets kinda weird, 'cause no words were spoken, still I understood. It was the strangest thing I've ever experienced. The concept of words didn't even enter my mind. He smiled at me and turned, and I knew to follow. The clouds then seemed to spill over upon the glass floor and we were walking through them. Wisps of clouds floating all about us. It was magical.

We walked for a time and then I saw her. I didn't recognize her at first, her back was turned to me, but I clearly saw the easel she was painting at. Strange, but I don't remember what the painting looked like, but I know it was beautiful.

As we approached she turned and smiled at me. The most serene, contented smile I have ever seen. Again, no words were ever spoken. I felt such peace and love, and all the pain consuming my soul vanished. I had never felt so blissful and I wanted to stay there with her forever.

Silently I handed her the package I had been carrying, the package I didn't even realize was in my hands. She lovingly took the box and carefully opened it to reveal an artist's palette. She smiled again, gently taking the palette into her hands, the warmth of her smile filling me with everything that had been missing from my life.

Time seemed to still and we just gazed into each other's eyes, years of conversations and love silently passed to the other. Any unfinished business instantly reconciled and all emotional hurts healed. She gave me one last lingering look, and then she turned back to her canvas.

I wanted to stay and never leave her side. I wanted to always feel this happiness and contentment and not have to return to my empty life. The life I now realized was void of all these feelings, a life filled only with evil and unimaginable horror, yet in that instant I knew. I knew this is where she now belonged, and I knew I didn't.

I turned and walked away knowing she was alright. She was no longer suffering and while this was not my time to be with her, I also knew my time would come.

Until then, Dad had a purpose for my life. He had a job for me fighting evil, and I was going to engage it in one hell of a fight. Sammy needed me and I would do everything in my power to protect him.

One day I would return to Mom, but for now, I had work to do.

When Dad woke up that morning I asked him if Mom ever painted. He seemed surprised by my question and wanted to know why I would inquire about such a thing.

I never told him about the dream, figured he wouldn't understand. I just told him I wanted to know more about Mom. Was she artistic? What hobbies did she have? Did she paint?

He told me she used to play the violin when she was in school. He said she was quite good, but didn't play much once she married and had kids, not enough time. As far as he knew she never painted.

Two hours later Dad came over and confessed a memory my inquiry prompted. He remembered one time when they were first dating and he took her to the museum because it was free and it was all he could afford. She was looking at a Monet painting and she whispered to him that she always dreamed of having the talent to paint something so moving and beautiful.

I think about that now. I think about my dream and I'm glad she's painting. I guess she always had the talent, just never the time to pursue it. I'm happy she's free at last to follow her dream…

Beyond the door
There's peace I'm sure.
And I know there'll be no more...
Tears in heaven

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Will it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong, and carry on
'Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven

Dean opened his eyes to the familiar strain of Clapton, the alarm reading six o'clock. He reached to turn it off and closed his eyes, hoping for a few more minutes before Dad would come to wrangle him out of bed. It seemed like he had just closed his eyes. How could it be morning already? He lay there pondering what drills Dad might have for him and Sammy today, and then suddenly he remembered.

It seemed so real, was he dreaming? He opened his eyes, staring at the ceiling above him, wishing he could see past the plaster and the wood into heaven. Is there a heaven? Is Mom in heaven?

The hunter he had become over the past eighteen years said no: no evidence, no proof; yet the boy who dreamed of it tried desperately to believe.

Do I believe? No.., not really. But stranger things have happened, and I honestly don't know what to think. All I know is I'd like to believe.

The End

In loving memory of my dad, Stanley Grant "Pete" Peterson.

Thanks for the visit, Dad.

bjxmas August, 2006, updated March 2008

All standard disclaimers apply.