After another restless night tossing and turning, I dreamed. This one hit close to home, somehow. Past life? Ring of Life selection room? Parallel universe? I woke up with tears in my eyes.
He leaned in really close to whisper in my ear, “I need you to ask him which way the wind blows. We need the shot.”
I held either a cell phone set to video or an actual video recorder, the old-fashioned one from the early 20th century. I seemed to know my way around cameras, and art. I’m not a writer this time.
My hand, the one holding the camera, shakes a little as I approach this couple for our feature. It’s the man I need to focus on, the man I have to ask. He tells me his name, “Haem,” but my hearing’s bad. My hearing’s always been bad, I realize. This is probably where my reporter’s instincts started, for the next life.
Instead of addressing the subject by his first name, lest I get it wrong, I simply say, “Hi,” then ask the question, opting to not be clever about it, just get it on film. But the camera buckles and gasps. There’s an issue with the machine itself, not me. Static. Filming is held up all day until we agree to wait until tomorrow. I get another chance. Everyone agrees it’s not my fault. We’ll fix the machine.
This other man, the one I think I work for and am in love with, adores me. Or seems to. I work hard. I’m endlessly creative, brilliant at times. Traits that draw me to him. I earn his trust after this project, and a portion of his love, which I sense he does not like to give easily.
We talk for a long time, bonding over our project. He learns more about me. He does what nobody in my past lives have ever done: He asks me questions to get to know me better; he seems genuinely interested in what makes me tick.
When he goes to tend to a short errand, I overhear other people in the room talk about the shoot as if it’s a fait accompli. I look up from my tapes and my portfolio, where we had moments earlier laughed and pointed at the pictures I drew of the couple — “He looks so harsh! But you’re really good at drawing,” we laughed and laughed.
Sigh. I look up and address this other group, asking for details. “Don’t you know? He finished the shoot with that couple. It’s done.”
Somehow, this information upsets me deeply. It feels like a horrible betrayal from a man who never lies, a man of honor and integrity. Lies, all lies. The love, my talents, a mixed signal of lies.
I hurriedly pack what little of my things are around the room. I summon my son. He’s the same son in this life. We finish gathering what remains, my portfolio, letters (“just go, hurry, go before he returns!”) when he does indeed return.
He tries to ask me what’s the matter. I head for the door, barely able to hide my tears. When he turns to my son, he knows in an instant. I hear my son tell him and then ask him never to speak about me after we’ve gone, “do that much for her, after all she’s done for you.”
This man I gave my heart to stands in the doorway, debating whether to pursue me but he honors my son’s request. Sorrow and maybe regret pour out of him in a negative, static energy. Wishful thinking. I’ve always been an egomaniac.
I take off, a response I’m used to by now. I vow never to let myself love or trust anyone again. I feel awful. Why would he or any man love me? I was just his pity project. Look at me, after all.
The betrayal guts my confidence. He said I was good at art, at filming. But he’s a liar, like everyone else. Words, useless, pretty words.
I abandon my dreams as an artist. I am not an artist. I am not talented. I am undeserving of love or trust. He lied to me about the shoot, about everything.
Now, I recognize him. He’s a musician. I once reviewed his album. We both suffer from crippling self-doubt and an aversion to closed spaces.