Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
He just can't do it. He just can't
He nodded at people walking past him to enter the building and took delight in how normal they all looked. Jim's cigarette burned down to the butt and he smashed it dead in a close-by ashtray. "Not only is it not... weird," he continued, "I might be helping a lot of people, and I'm making a few bucks while I'm at it, and there's nothing wrong with that." Jim leaned back against the pillar that supported his smoking shelter. He decided that it looked very quiet outside. Everything was covered in cold and gray, and it was boring. He sighed and glanced at the silver watch on his wrist. It said nine forty-six. Orientation would start in a few minutes.
Jim counted about twenty other people in the orientation. There were a few rows behind him, but he couldn't justify craning his neck around to add the people sitting there. A man in his late twenties entered the room a few minutes before ten o'clock. Jim presumed he was a doctor. He was wearing slacks and a white lab coat. Jim could see a green, bleach-faded tee shirt under the lab coat, and thought it made the man look unprofessional and messy. It made him look cool. The doctor talked, and everyone paid attention. He passed out a stack of papers, stapled together on one corner. It all reminded Jim of high school. He took a packet, turned to give the rest of the stack to the woman sitting behind him and realized his opportunity to count the rest of the room. There were twenty-three people there total. "A good turnout," he thought, but he didn't really know. The paper was still warm, and it smelled of fresh toner.
He skimmed through the first page; The Brigham-Manning Oneirological Institute would like to thank you for participating in this study. We believe the information collected here will provide a crucial stepping-stone toward developing a neurocognitive model of the human dream... Jim hated reading, and he could hardly follow anything more complicated than the newspaper. He flipped to the last page and signed an insurance waiver. A few minutes later everyone stood and they were led into a long hallway. A nurse came for each person in line, and showed them to their rooms.
Jim was impressed with his room. He thought it would be sterile and impersonal, and it was, but he could tell they tried to warm it up for him. The sheets on his bed were colorful, and the comforter was heavy and fluffy. An alarm clock and a glass of water waited for him on the bed stand. The nurse pointed to a bathroom where he could change into pajamas if he brought them. He thought the nurse was very pretty, and she seemed nice. He wanted her to stay and talk to him, but knew she had work to do. She waived goodnight and shut the door to his room. He felt silly. There was an electrode stuck to each side of his forehead, and a red and green wire hung down over his face. Before she left she showed him where to plug the wires. They were color coded, so it was easy. Apparently the wires would pump his dreams into some computer somewhere. He'd stopped worrying about that though. Jim just hoped the pads didn't itch his head during the night. He hated being itchy.
It was a few minutes after two A.M. when Jana Harvill really started fighting sleep. She was by herself, and the lamp on her desk gave just enough light to draw, which was what she'd been doing for the last half-hour. An infomercial buzzed on the television behind her. She liked to watch infomercials sometimes. She liked to imagine the other people in their homes, watching along with her, fingering their credit cards and trying to decide whether or not they really needed a new fur coat or samurai sword, but tonight the TV was only on for noise. The groggy nurse propped her feet on a nearby chair and took some time to stare at the ceiling. One wall of the room was a one-way mirror, and through it she could see a man sleeping. He was being very dull. Jana thought about the two books she'd brought from her apartment. She really wanted to finish reading one of them, and she really needed to finish the other for school. She knew she would feel either bitter or guilty no matter which she chose, so they both sat on her desk unopened.
She was in the middle of planning her lunch when the dream monitor beeped to life. She grabbed a notebook and a pair of headphones from the shelf under the monitor. Her notebook was new, and the glue in it's binding cracked when she opened it. She dated the top of the first page and wrote the time, 02:43. Her handwriting was girly and neat. On the next line she wrote Subj: Jim Cagle, W/M, 28yo. She carefully put the headphones on and crossed her legs. The monitor usually gave a few minutes warning before the dream actually started, so she took some time to get comfortable. When she joined the study she thought watching dreams would get boring, but it never did. Three months later she eagerly anticipated each one. Many of the dreams were wildly entertaining, and she secretly enjoyed the uncensored violence and cursing and nudity. It was far better than television could ever hope to be.
After a few minutes an image appeared on the screen. The picture was blurred, but she could make out what looked like a boat dock. Everything came into view in black and white. This was normal and she noted it on her log. The details began to fill in, and color washed over the shapes. Jana saw a big, wide, green yard filled with thick pine trees. The yard bordered an enormous lake, and the dock stretched into the water near the base of one of the trees. She wrote that the dream was being manifested in a first-person perspective; that was normal too. Jim's eyes panned across the horizon, and then down to his feet. She saw that he was wearing black and white striped shorts and no shoes. She smiled when she realized how close the ground was, and how short and chubby his legs were. "He's a little kid," she said out loud and began to describe his little kid feet and bald legs in the next paragraph in her notebook. That detail was unusual, because normally her subjects appeared as their own self-image, or they looked in the dreams the way they thought they looked in real life. She thought for a second about the time she helped a very slim woman after seeing that she appeared to weigh three hundred pounds in her dreams. The woman was bulimic.
When Jana looked up again little-kid-Jim was walking toward the dock. There were two boats tied to the shore next to it, a red one and a green one. The picture started to bob up and down with increasing intensity. She wrote, running toward dock. He ran to the end of the dock and stopped. The scenery was beautiful. Jana took a deep breath and imagined the wind and lake smells. After a few moments he looked down to the wooden deck below him. A green turtle, as big around as a coffee table, was standing next to him. The turtle stretched it's neck to look upward and it appeared to smile. Jana had an affinity for turtles and this one made her happy. Suddenly the animal was knocked several feet forward, nearly into the water. Jim turned to see a man wielding a long metal pole. He stabbed at the animal's shell again while two young girls cowered behind him. Jim watched as the turtle fell into the water, and the girls cheered for the man's victory. Then, the monitor went black, and the machine in front of Jana beeped again. She leaned back in her chair and grinned. Most dreams were like this; incomplete thoughts at best. She decided that was what happened when your brain got to run around all willy-nilly like. Jana finished writing what had happened and recorded the time from her cell phone. She heard the television in the corner again, "...and if you order now you'll not only get the forty ounce bottle of Zapp cleaner, but we'll throw in this detail brush and a tube of Zapp Sealant at no extra charge..." Out of the corner of her eye Jana saw a light switch on in the other room. She watched Jim get out of bed and shuffle his feet toward the bathroom.
The books on the corner of Jana's desk started to call her name again. She rarely saw more than one dream per night, so she was ready to check out. Still unable to decide which to read she closed her eyes and reached over her head until she felt one. She pulled it off the desk and sighed when she saw the cover - Physical Examination & Health Assessment, 4th Edition.
The nurse doing lunch relief walked into the room quietly, "Hey hun!" Jana was startled by the singsong voice. Her cheap shoes slid on the dusty linoleum, and the book in her lap tumbled to the floor. She realized she must have drifted off, but had no way to know how long she'd been asleep. Jana smiled and pushed her hair back, "Sorry, you scared me. It's quiet back here."
Jana opened a warped Tupperware container, and took out two dark pieces of bread, some Ziploc bagged turkey and a slice of swiss cheese. She assembled the sandwich and laid it on a paper towel, then washed her hands and sat by herself in the university's break room. She glanced over to the door, then looked up at the clock. She put her elbow on the table, and rested her chin between her thumb and forefinger. "You're always late, Jonathan."
After a few minutes she heard footsteps in the hallway outside, and she planted her chin even harder in her hand. Jonathan Suvino opened the door and smiled, showing his teeth. "I'm always late. I'm sorry."
"You're fine, I just got here," she fibbed.
Jonathan opened a brown paper bag from a restaurant down the street, and carefully slid out a box of french fries. "How's work?"
"Meh," she shrugged, "nothing special."
They talked for a minute about his day. He said he was tired, and told her about a problem he had with one of his friends earlier that evening. He told her that she missed an important episode of their favorite show. That made her smile. It was the first time she'd ever shared a show with someone, and it was exciting. Jana had known Jonathan for about a year. She met him at school. He wasn't her boyfriend, but they had kissed before, and sometimes, during movies at his apartment, they would share a blanket and let their feet touch. They talked about dating before, but he told her he didn't have time for a girlfriend. She thought she was worth the time.
Their conversation slowed when the food was gone. He gathered all the trash, and she wet a papertowl to clean some mustard from the table. Jonathan was wearing a dark brown corduroy jacket and ripped jeans, and he looked nice. The university's library was open all night during the week, and he worked at the information desk. "Well, I'll head back I guess," he told Jana, "my lunch is over."
"I'm back," Jana told the girl at her desk. "Anything happen?"
"Nope, all quiet. I took your trash out."
"Oh, thank you," she replied, embarrassed. She hadn't noticed that it was full. The other nurse peeled a Post It note from the pad on Jana's desk to mark a page in her magazine, then left the room to relieve someone else.
Jana sat in her chair and spun for a minute. She was thinking about Jonathan. He told her before leaving that he planned to ask a girl named Melissa out to dinner. It was an awkward conversation and she wondered the whole time why he was telling her. She knew what would happen if Jonathan and Melissa started dating. She decided that he was telling her so she wouldn't ask him about their relationship anymore. Jana had made that mistake twice. Once when she'd had too much to drink, and once when they fell asleep together at his house. He slyly avoided the questions each time. It made her feel foolish.
Mid-spin she heard the monitor beep again. It was a pleasant surprise; a welcome distraction. She rolled her chair to the E-Dream rack, and plugged in her headphones. She was slightly dizzy from spinning, and it took a minute to focus well enough to write, 04:08am - Subj: Jim Cagle, W/M, 28yo - dream #2. She positioned the notebook on her crossed legs and waited.
Fans whined, and processors chirped as the machine began working. She was amused by how the archaic looking machinery held such cutting edge technology. The computer case had the same yellow-beige patina she remembered from old computers in high school. The monitor popped and crackled and woke from sleep, and as the image sharpened she saw that the dream had already started. A stage appeared, in the middle of a well-lit auditorium. She began writing, Auditorium, stage, lights, curtain. Jim stood still for a few minutes, and appeared to be taking in his surroundings. The problem with observing dreams was that, even while you were privy to what the subject was hearing and seeing in his dream, you had no way to know what he was thinking. She thought many dreams and actions lost their significance because of that. After about a minute it became clear that he was slowly walking down one of the aisles in the theater, toward the front of the room. Some colored lights filled an area near the front of the stage. As he approached the bottom of the auditorium he looked back over his shoulder, revealing that all of the seats were empty. Dreaming-Jim walked up a set of stairs on one side of the platform, and continued toward center stage. The lights in the rest of the auditorium dimmed, and saw she his arms rise on each side of the screen.
He kept his arms in the air for a very long time. He just stood there at the front of the stage, looking around. When he looked up to his right hand she could see that he was holding a conductor's wand. Conductors wand, standing still, front of stage, empty auditorium. She finished writing and smiled, wondering if this was the point. She found joy in trying to analyze dreams. "Maybe... maybe his co-workers won't listen to him," she thought after noticing that he was performing for no audience, and there was no band for him to command. Her mind flooded with the possibilities; financial problems, sexual frustration (which made her chuckle), troubled children... but her thoughts were cut short by a piercing chorus. The sound was like nothing she'd heard before. The cacophony startled her, and it caused her to rock backward, nearly jerking her headphones off. The theater fell quiet again, and Jim lowered his arms quickly. Jana's heart was racing.
He stood motionless for what seemed like several minutes, and she was still also, intrigued. Finally he raised his arms again, and began to wave his right hand in a short, staccato rhythm. A pulsing beat filled the auditorium. The sound had no obvious source, and the note was impossibly deep and smooth. It reminded her of a whale's song, and she imagined the sound shaking his body violently. Then, on the left side of the screen, she saw his other hand shoot into the air. Suddenly a world of sound exploded around them. It was incredibly complex and beautiful, like nothing she had ever experienced. It was a psychic overture. Jana sat at rigid attention, shocked by what she was hearing.
For the next several minutes she listened with her eyes closed, tears streaming down her face. The piece spoke to her. It was breathtaking, and it made her remember why she loved music. By then the man's arms were waving in a frenzy of direction. The song formed a dramatic crescendo, and then began to fade away. For the next minute she could hear a faint, muffled crackle. It sounded like the noise in your head when you plug your ears and stand under a shower; like a very hard rain. Then the stage lights dimmed, and the theater faded out of view. Her headphones fell silent again.
She later said this about the incident; "If someone gave me the duty of explaining the colors of the rainbow to a blind man... I'd let him listen to that. I think he would get it."
Jana stared at the, now blank, monitor for quite some time, and everything in the lab seemed to settle around her. The room was as still and quiet and cold as ever. The man lay, unmoving, in his bed in the next room, and she could see him through the one-way mirror that separated them. For a moment she watched his chest rise and fall, then wiped the wet from her eyes.
Jana made a few final notes on the log to finish her paperwork. They were very vague, and simply read, "Music plays for several minutes. Dream ends." She couldn't find words for what had just happened, and refused to decry the incident with her poor writing skills. For the first time in months she felt full inside, but the emotion was fleeting. She could feel the warm song leaving her with every new thought. There simply wasn't room in her for all of it. The nurse sat in her chair, and took a few more minutes to study the ceiling. She felt like something had just been recovered; something she lost a long time ago. Whatever it was, it wasn't "lost" like it had died, but more like she just forgot where she put it. It was like eating a thirty dollar steak after years of forgetting meat existed, and you moan and say, "Oh, good Lord" between bites.
It was nearly five o'clock when Jana finished her paperwork for the night. She was ready to go home - to go to bed, but she had class at eight. Her current load of medical classes was exhausting. She drove to school every morning doubting her decision to quit the music program to become a nurse. For as long as she could remember, everyone told her how talented she was. When she played the piano for her family they told her she was pretty, and they said her music was beautiful. It gave her value, and when her mother told her it was stupid to try to make music her career she was crushed.
When Jana thought about her childhood, she thought about all of the music in it: the recitals and lessons and performances. She thought about bowing in front of the best-dressed people, and feeling important because she had something they didn't. Then, and Jana could only reason she said this because she was getting old and she was alone and bitter, her mother told her she'd probably get pregnant, and turn out like all the single mothers on Phil Donahue. She told Jana she'd better try to make good money while she could, because, chances were, all the good men had died before she was even born. She told Jana that she was no Brahms, and if she had her head on straight she would start a career with some demand. If she were smart she'd start doing something someone needed her to do. The worst part, for Jana, in hearing all of this was believing every word. Her mother was a smart, single career woman, and she'd made a lot of money in real estate. To Jana, and nearly everyone else, that proved her competence.
Jana sensed her mother's disapproval after expressing interest in a liberal arts college in Maryland, but she ignored it. She loved the school, and won an award for a piece she wrote during her first year. Her teachers believed in her, and she was praised in most everything she put her hands to. She thought later, that must not have been enough, because the instant her mother voiced her objection Jana saw the school in a whole new light. She could no longer see past graduation, and became very cynical. She could never say exactly when it happened, but she developed a disdain for everyone around her wasting their lives pursuing something that nobody needed. The next semester she transferred as many credits as she could to a good nursing program, and made herself content. She knew that eventually the sting of giving up on her dream would subside, and it did. Also, she figured the boys and alcohol would hurry the change along.
At five thirty Jana heard a door open outside her office. It was her morning relief, and he was early. The dayshift would watch each subject until they woke, and spend the day processing paperwork and entering information into the foundation database. Jana gathered her forms as he took his jacket off and found the morning news on television. She handed everything to him, and wished him a good day.
"Are you ok?" he asked.
She hesitated for a minute, "yeah, I'm fine... why?"
"You don't look like you feel well. Your hands are shaking."
Jana looked at her hands, and they were shaking. She rubbed them together and smiled at him, "I'm chilly... and sleepy." Then she laughed, "I'm ok. Thank you for being concerned." She meant that.
Jana walked to her car in the parking lot, and took a backpack, with a change of clothes, from the trunk. It was very cold out, and the sun was just starting to hint that it would be coming around soon. Back inside, she started some coffee in the break room, and took a shower. She didn't mind using the locker room that early, because she always had it to herself. Jana sat on a bench toweling her hair dry, trying to remember everything she had to do later in the morning. She wasn't feeling very motivated. It was the last week before finals, and she'd just missed a lecture, but all she could think about going home to write and play piano. She shut her eyes, held out both hands, palms down and started fingering air-notes. She could practically hear the music, and if felt good in her soul. She was humming softly, and tapping her foot with the silent beat. It was odd because she wasn't particularly happy or excited, which was why she normally did that kind of thing. She had music inside her that needed to be let out, and when she realized that her hands stopped moving and she opened her eyes. There hadn't been music in her since that day in Maryland, when she gave up everything she ever remembered wanting. Suddenly it came rushing back to her: the feelings, the hope, the rhythm. She shut her eyes again and imagined standing on the stage from Jim's dream. She populated the theater, and put old men and young girls in the band with all of their instruments. They were looking to her. The band was waiting for their cue, and the audience for their fulfillment. Then it started to rain. Water poured down in sheets from the rafters, and it pooled at the front of the stage. Still, they all waited, completely unfazed by the storm, watching her every move.
Jim woke to a nurse pushing his arm. Apparently the alarm didn't wake him, and it was time to go home. He covered his mouth to shield her from his breath and nodded. She smiled and left the room. Everyone was being very nice to him. He sat back for a minute to let his eyes clear, and thought that a comfortable bed and a night of compassion was worth more than the thirty dollars they were paying him to sleep. He changed out of his pajamas, brushed his teeth and sat on the edge of the bed to put on his shoes. Jim wondered if they got a dream out of him, and he tried hard to remember. Something came back to him, something about a turtle. Then he remembered something about a stage, and a strange feeling came over him. He didn't know how to process it. He squinted and thought hard about the dream. With his eyes shut he could almost see the lights and the empty seats, and he remembered a pounding sensation, but there was something else there that he couldn't put his finger on. Thinking about it made his head feel like it was turning inside out. Jim took a deep breath and finished tying his shoes.
Jana sat up quickly. She had fallen asleep on a couch in the break room, and the alarm on her cell phone was going off. She had to be in class on the other side of campus in half an hour.
From where she sat she could see morning shining through the windows down the hall. She rolled off the couch, and took her toothbrush to the bathroom. Even after a shower, Jana felt gross this time of the morning. Staying up all night did awful things to her, and she usually had heartburn going into her first class. It was ok though. She smiled in the bathroom mirror, and rinsed out her toothbrush. It felt like some big, important part of her had been sleeping, and now it was back to make up for lost time. Despite her lack of rest, she felt refreshed. Jana packed her backpack and walked out an exit on the side of the wing. She wanted to walk the long way around the building to her car so she could enjoy the crisp morning air.
Her shoes were wet on top from kicking the dewed grass, and she held her pants by the pockets to keep the cuffs dry. She hadn't walked around the building since spring, and she was surprised by how quiet it was. She stomped the dead grass from the bottom of her shoes in the parking lot, and fished her keys from a pocket in her backpack.
Jana was walking toward her car, thinking how nice it looked in the morning light, when she heard footsteps echoing in the walkway behind her. She saw a man walking to the parking lot from the BMOI entrance. She recognized him as the man from her study - the dreaming virtuoso - the man who inadvertently saved her life.
Her stomach seemed to bunch up in her throat, and she was suddenly very excited. She unlocked her car, and sat her bag inside. "When he walks by the car," she thought, "I'll just say, 'Hi'." She wanted to ask him how often he had those dreams, and where he'd heard the music, or if it was his own. She wondered if he was some kind of artist, or genius.
He looked quite normal, and he was plainly dressed. He was watching the interstate to their east, and she could tell he was still waking up. He took one hand out of his coat pocket, and held out his keys. The car behind Jana beeped and unlocked. When he got near her car she cleared her throat to get his attention. He glanced up at Jana and smiled, then looked away and walked around to his driver's side door.
She watched him take off his jacket and adjust his shirt, "Excuse me..." He leaned into his car, and shut the door. She furrowed her eyebrows, and ducked down to look at him through the passenger side window. "Excuse me!" He tossed his jacket into the back seat, and jerked his hand back when he saw her looking in at him.
"Hello!" he didn't say anything, "Jim?"
He looked startled - confused.
"Hey, I was your nurse... inside..." she pointed over her shoulder toward the university, "I don't think you could see me, so this is probably weird." She looked up to make sure nobody was watching. "I just wanted to ask you some things, about your dream."
She looked at him through the window for a few seconds, and waited for him to respond. "...if that's ok with you."
He cocked his head to the side and mouthed back to her, what?
She was becoming flustered. This encounter was way outside her comfort zone. "I just want to talk to you for a second, about one of your dreams."
He still looked confused. She began to feel like she'd made some kind of mistake. She saw herself in the reflection of his car window - she watched the fog pour out of her mouth and nose. Inside the car Jim held up one finger, telling her to hold on. He opened his glove box, and pulled out a pile of papers. Jana watched him, puzzled. Jim's driver door opened again, and he stepped out of the car. She looked him in the eyes - they were green. He smiled and slid something across the roof of his car to her.
It was a notepad. She stopped it with her hand, to save it from falling off the roof, and looked up at him again. Jim made a motion for her to write on the pad. He pointed to his right ear and shook his head. Jana looked at the notepad again, and then back to him. He mouthed to her, You have to write.
Jana smiled. She understood. There was a pen in the spiral binding on the top of the notebook, and she slid it out. She wrote on the pad, I'm sorry, I thought you were someone named Jim from the clinic. You look like him.
She walked around his car and handed the pad to him. Jim suddenly noticed how attractive she was. He took the paper from her soft hands and read what she wrote. She watched his face, and she was ready to take the pad from him and write again that she was sorry. She was going to tell him to have a nice morning.
He put the pad up against the window of his car and penned his reply - I'm Jim. He watched her face as she read. Her hand fell to her side, and she stared at him. Jim felt very uncomfortable. This strange girl knew him, and he had no idea how. She had an odd expression on her face, and he was beginning to think she might be angry with him.
Jana pressed the pad onto the hood of his car and began writing quickly. You're deaf? When he read it he nodded. She walked around him, looking him from head to toe. Jim backed against his car door, and she grabbed the pad from him again. Why don't you wear hearing aids? He read the note and looked around the parking lot for help.
He swallowed and wrote: ...because I'm deaf. I can't hear anything. My ears don't work. He kept underscoring words for emphasis.
When Jana read the note she put one hand on her forehead, squeezing her temples. She wrote: When did you, and paused for a second, searching for a word, become deaf?
He wrote: I was born deaf.
Jana wanted to cry. She felt cheated. He had no idea what he'd dreamt. Jim was a freak, and his brain was just firing off a bunch of crap that sounded like music, and Jana was the sucker who fell for it. Her throat tightened, and she could feel tears coming.
Jim saw her eyes watering. He began writing again.
Can I help you with something? What's the matter? If I did something to you, I'm sorry.
She took the notepad and wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her sweatshirt. She shook her head and wrote: No, I'm sorry. I was going to ask you about one of your dreams. She stopped writing for a second, and looked at him. Do you remember one where you were in a theater... on a stage?
Jim wrote back: Vagely. He spelled it wrong.
Jana began to feel sorry for Jim. There was obviously something special about him that he'd never be able to comprehend. She smiled at him graciously, and she took the notepad.
I don't know if you'll ever understand it, but there was music in your last dream. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard. I love music. I used to write and perform, and I've never written anything half as beautiful as what was in your dream.
Jim read the note and squinted at Jana. He was thinking very hard. He shrugged his shoulders.
I'm sorry. I don't remember it. That is very strange.
Jana nodded her head. "It is strange," she said out loud. She looked at her watch, and realized she was going to be late for class. She didn't care. There was too much on her mind. "How could that even happen?" she said. He watched her lips and shrugged his shoulders again. Jana kept turning it over in her head. It didn't make sense. It was like a blind man dreaming about Picassos and sunsets. There aren't words to explain those kinds of things.
She took the pad from Jim.
I'm sorry to keep you here. I thought you could help me with something. She stopped writing to flip the page, and looked at him again - looked into his big green eyes. She had always been intrigued by the shape and color of the human eye. She always wondered how everyone ended up with such wonderfully sculpted features. It all seemed so perfect, and planned.
Then, Jana began to tear up again. She looked down at the pad and wrote very slowly and carefully.
Do you believe in God?
Jim didn't know what to think. The conversation had gone in so many directions - he was barely even surprised.
...yes, do you?
She took the paper and gave a resigned chuckle.
...but, I think I have to now. I don't think I have a choice.
I don't know how else to explain this. You, your dream.
Yeah, he didn't give me a choice either.
And then, it made sense to Jana. She chose to let it make sense. She didn't know if God had given the song to her or to Jim, but she knew it had a purpose. She remembered thinking how unfair life was, but... at least she could hear. At least she lived in a world where a deaf man could accidentally reignite someone's passion for music, and their will to live. She took the pen from him.
Your life isn't a curse. You know that, right? Your disability, it isn't all loss. I know that I'm meant for more than this... being a nurse or whatever. You helped me realize that, and I'll never forget it. Thank you.
Jim read the note, and he thought he understood what she was saying. He mouthed to her, you're welcome.
Jana hugged Jim and waved goodbye. It was the strangest conversation she ever had. He got into his car and started the engine. Jana's cell phone began to ring. It was Jonathan. She thought for a second, and pressed the button to silence it. She was worth more than he was willing to pay, and she was ready to deal with that.
The sun was up, and it was a new day. The orange and yellow warmed her face, and she said out loud to the sky, "Thank you."