"Your beauty is unstoppable,
Your confidence unspeakable.
I know you know, I know you know,
I know that you know..."
~John Grant, "Where Dreams Go To Die"

April 1999

I have no one to turn to, no one to consult with. No one to help me analyze, rationalize, or quell my anxiousness. And as a result, I can feel it in the pit of my stomach, a boulder that can't be moved even the slightest bit. It's not that I don't have people in my life who are close to me, people that I love, people who care about me as much as I care about them. I just know what would happen if I told them. They probably wouldn't believe me; I wouldn't blame them if they didn't. Part of me still can't believe it, even though the issue has planted its roots in the forefront of my mind. But even if they did, I know how it would go. They would think me insane, laugh in my face, or, worst of all, relay this juicy bit of information to you, the person it involves. And I can't have that.

So it's up to me. I have to deal with it on my own. Maybe if I start at the beginning, I can actually make some progress, instead of running in circles with my arms flailing, trying to grab onto something that was never there in the first place.

About a month ago, I started having the dreams.

On the first morning after, I tried to shrug it off as a random and fleeting trick that my mind had played on me in my hour of weakness, in the moments when I could do nothing to stop it. But even if that truly was the case—and I had come to realize quickly that it wasn't—the dream had consumed me until it was all I could think about. Overanalyzing, picking apart every last detail I could remember until it drove me absolutely insane. I almost didn't want to sleep that night, for fear of the dream's reoccurrence, but while my friends in college could pull all nighters I never had that power, and I drifted off against my will. And when my night was dreamless, I thought that I was free.

But they came back. They wouldn't let their grip on me go.

They don't come every night, but they come often enough. Some nights, I want nothing to do with them, but they slip into my mind anyway. Some nights, once I began to warm up to them and rely on them like an addiction, I try and will them to come but they never do. But most nights I won't even be thinking about them, and they will take me by surprise. And every time, I wake up gasping for breath in a kind of exhilaration I had never truly felt before, followed by sadness from the fact that there really isn't another presence in the room, however real that other realm might have seemed.

In the beginning, we never left the bedroom. I would be half asleep under the covers of my bed when I heard someone walking through the doorway. I could see a shadowed figure that would simply stand there for a few moments before letting out a little laugh. It was the laugh that shocked me the first few times. God…I know that laugh anywhere. It could be twenty years since the last time I heard it, and I could still tell you who it is; there was no mistaking that voice. I could remember clutching the sheets close to my body, as if that would make me safe. But then again, these dreams are never about wanting to feel safe. I would watch as the figure came closer to me, until it was straddling me on the bed, and any objections were melted away in a fierce kiss that turned me insatiable—never in my life would I think to call myself insatiable, but there isn't another word that would better describe it. But I always seem to wake up before I get what I really want.

As the nights passed, the setting would change. The living room, the elevator, my office, the darkness of the swatch room in the middle of the night. Sometimes we're a little more daring, pressing our luck in public places, risking being seen for a moment of sheer pleasure. But it is always the same person. And while it thrills me by night, it terrifies me by daylight. Scared I might slip, scared I might look a second too long, scared the tone of my voice would give me away. Because let's face it: I know I wouldn't be able to come back from a revelation like this.

The dreams started a month ago. And I haven't been able to look at you the same way since, Karen.

At one point, I thought that if I deconstructed everything that could possibly make you in any way desirable to me, it would shatter whatever fantasy was living in my subconscious. A couple of weeks after the dreams started, I had waited until you left for the day to think it over. It wasn't the money; I can be a bit shallow at times, I'll be the first to admit, but I would never sink that low. And it wasn't the way you constantly criticize me; I'd like to think that I'm not that twisted in my desires—although it's getting harder and harder to surprise me lately with the unexpected discoveries in that department. But what about your confidence? The fact that most times, you act like a rock in the face of adversity? Always in control, never settling for the passenger's seat. There was something alluring about that. And there was the feeling I get, the suspicion that you would tell anybody anything as long as it was what they wanted to hear, and even if it wasn't true, they would believe it wholeheartedly. It was the idea of feeling safe when you're freefalling to the concrete below.

Then, of course, there's the whirlwind of your beauty. It doesn't matter who you are, it will suck you in and take you for an uncontrollable spin before spitting you out, leaving you breathless, out of sorts, and trying to piece together what just happened.

I took all of it into consideration and to my disappointment, I loved it, I still do. If anything, magnifying those qualities in you had only made the dreams become more vivid.

Which is why it completely took me by surprise when an invitation for a girl's night slipped from my lips, landing in the middle of the floor for both of us to marvel at, unsure of whether or not to take it seriously.

I had watched as you put on your armor to war with Stan over the phone—some incident involving his look lingering just a little too long at a woman who didn't have his ring on her finger. Only able to hear her side of the conversation, I could only imagine how Stan was reacting. If I were in his shoes, I probably wouldn't even be able to speak; I would simply let you yell, Karen. If you were that worked up, he must have done something incredibly wrong. I wasn't about to ask questions, I wasn't about to intrude. The rage I saw in your eyes was enough for me to keep my mouth shut. And as you slammed the phone down on your desk, I couldn't help but reach out to you. I thought you would laugh me off. I thought you would leave the building. But to my surprise, you considered it. To my surprise, you smiled. To my surprise, you said yes.

And that weak and nervous feeling that became all too familiar lately had amped up the intensity.

But that's got nothing on the way I feel now, with you sitting close enough to brush my skin softly and a couple shots of tequila already in me.

When you got here, there was an awkward wall that I couldn't break through. Somehow, I wasn't surprised. While I've always respected you for the clients you've plucked from your address book for me, it was apparent from the moment we met that we lived in different worlds (maybe that's another reason why I keep having these dreams; the exotic world you live in makes that much more enticing. You're someone I normally can't touch, but in my subconscious, you can touch me). And with what little I knew about you, I rushed for the bottle of tequila, grabbed a couple of beers to use as chasers, and hoped for the best. What I didn't take into consideration was how the alcohol would affect my judgment.

It was clear from the start that you had the ability to drink virtually anyone under the table. What I didn't expect was the urge to keep up with your pace. I saw how the liquor in the bottle had dwindled, I knew that I had a major part in that. But at that time, I didn't feel anything. For a moment, it made me think that I would be fine, I could handle it, give me one more…and one more after that. Confidence isn't the right word. I'm not a heavy drinker; given the chance, I'd much rather have a glass or two of wine and call it a night. Maybe it was reassurance. If you could do it, who said I couldn't as well?

Now I'm starting to regret that decision.

There's a cloud over my mind. It feels nice, a fuzzy little haze that keeps me from thinking. I know I should be keeping my attention on my words, my actions, the things that could potentially spill the fact that you come into my dreams at night and it's happened so often that I don't mind it anymore. But the haze that keeps me from thinking keeps me from caring, it keeps me from monitoring. And I can hear myself slurring slightly, almost unnoticeable at first, but growing as time goes by.

You laugh, you smile. You refill my glass and cut another lime wedge. You do it all with such grace that it makes me feel as though I can't let your actions go to waste. I can feel the tequila slide down my throat, my aim getting worse with each shot as I toss the lime wedge at the fireplace, hitting the mantle instead. You delve into stories more personal than I'm used to hearing from you, and I know there's a chance I won't remember them once the sun comes up.

But god, I want to remember this.

I want to remember the way your hand brushed up against mine accidentally as we both reached for the bottle of tequila. I want to remember the way your face scrunched up at the taste of the first lime, before you got used to it. I want to remember the way the alcohol blended with your gardenia perfume to create a unique scent that can only be associated with Karen Walker. I want to remember the careful way you say my name, and how it doesn't change no matter how much you drink. I want to remember that we connected at one point during our time together.

Before I'm too far gone, please lock this up safe in a corner of my mind, so I can revisit it when I wake up.

About a month ago, I started having the dreams. And I know that tonight isn't helping matters.

If anything, it makes me want you more.