I spent about a week during my summer holiday camping with one of my male classmates. We decided to organize the trip on a whim. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I wished to get to know him more. We set off on a Saturday, early in the morning. We agreed to get back to our anodyne city dweller routine before our next college semester. In other words, we had until Monday to savor a brief respite. We were seniors, yet we didn’t act the part. “We have to grow up at some point”, I thought to myself.
The rural scenes left us in awe. Breathing fresh air was a welcome change from the city’s pollution. Surrounded by flora and fauna, rather than cars and deafening noises at every time of the day.
On the last day of our camping trip, we came across a dandelion field. While my classmate was too busy setting up the tent and a small campfire, I chose to pick one dandelion. It was full of seedheads. I blew on it and wished for these fond memories with him to last forever. The wind sweeping the seedheads mesmerized me. For a moment, I lost track of time.
My classmate brought me down to Earth and asked if I was alright. I told him about the wish I made moments ago. The mood got weird and he told me I’d regret said wish. His statement came out of nowhere and threw me off. Before I could ask what he meant by it, my vision started to blur. I passed out.
I regained consciousness to find myself in the middle of a celebration of sorts. With no time to get my bearings on what was going on, a friend of mine called me over. She seemed miffed of my cluelessness.
She brought me back to speed. Turns out I spaced out during my own wedding. The ceremony was about to start. She was the ever diligent yet neurotic maid of honor. Her mission was for this wedding to go with no hitches nor surprises.
Hoping that her insight would quell my worries, I told her what happened to me. I was on a camping trip with one of my college classmates then passed out. Afterwards, I regained consciousness while wearing a wedding gown. She gave me the weirdest look. She retorted that I’ve dated this “classmate” for years, and finally got engaged this year. She expressed relief that I decided to tie the knot. She joked that I’d turn into a crazy cat lady by how slow I was taking my relationship with him.
While I’m sure she meant well, what she told me disturbed me. What ever happened between these events? How could I not remember my relationship with him? My mind was teeming with questions, yet my presence at the altar took precedence over any answers.
The ceremony proceeded as expected. Or so I thought. As we were exchanging vows, my eyes glanced at the window. The breeze outside whisked away several dandelion seedheads. Once more, I began to lose focus on my surroundings. I tried to calm myself down by closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. It didn’t work. By the time I opened my eyes, I was somewhere else.
I was in a dining room, of what I assumed was our home. We were about to eat dinner, judging by the food served, how and where everyone else sat. My classmate turned husband was there, and two strangers. One was a child, a boy no older than eight, at most. The other was a teenager, a girl whose bored gaze spoiled her otherwise good looks. Were these our children?
Unsure on how to proceed, as I didn’t even know their names, or even the current date, I stood in silence. The oppressive stillness ended as my husband spoke up. He began with some small talk, in an attempt to dispel this stilted mood. I didn’t work. In mere minutes, our children drew out their smartphones. They took matters into their own hands. Our boy’s attention drifted away by some game he seemed to love, as he kept spouting factoids about it. Meanwhile, our daughter was tapping away at her screen, calm yet focused. I surmised that she was texting her friends as a way to get away from her father’s blathering. I pretended to pay attention to what he was saying, out of politeness. In short, we were a family. Not a perfect one, that’s for sure.
Our daughter interrupted the dinner by leaving the table at once. My husband protested and asked what was going on. My daughter’s answer was short and to the point. She was going out with her friends, stating that she’d rather spend time with people she cared about. Right as she opened the door and was about to storm out of the house, it occured once more. In the distance, I saw it. A dandelion’s seedhead. I knew what was going to happen and resigned to my fate. I lamented the fact that I wasn’t able to utter a single word during my brief time with my family. As before, my cognition faded away as existence reshaped itself.
This time, reality was grim. I was bedridden. I was conscious, yet my body failed to respond. I could only gaze at the window, unmoving. My senses failed me altogether.
People surrounded me. I assumed I held them in great esteem throughout my life. Many came bearing gifts, such as flowers and cards. Others sat near me, sobbing. Any and all hints of happiness were absent. Take make matters worse, I failed to recognize anyone.
Detached as I felt, I let the charade go on for as long as needed. Dying felt like an eternity. Little by little, my sense of self began to dissipate. My grasp for the visual stimuli was the last one to go. In my last moments in this world, it happened. I was aghast. Was it fate? This known agent of chaos, disguised as an unassuming dandelion seedhead, showed itself. What was going to happen? The conclusion to my life was all but certain. Fear and anticipation interweaved in my heart.
I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. The wilderness of that fateful camping trip engulfed me. I was once more in front of the dandelion field. My classmate was right next to me, with a worried expression. He told me that I seemed to be in a daze for a bit, and joked about if this was my first time seeing a dandelion field. What happened?
I dismissed his comment and suggested that we should get moving before it gets dark. He agreed, but before moving on, he picked a dandelion. He began blathering, as usual. He told me to make a wish before blowing a dandelion. After letting their seedheads spread away, it might come true. I tried my hardest not to roll my eyes at him. If only he knew what I went through. This time, I refused to partake in his silly superstition.
One question would haunt my mind forever: what did he wish for?