I’ll try to write it exactly how Paige said it. She said:
‘You were in my dream last night. You were going to the grocery store because I was out of Froot Loops and you said you’d never let me run out of Froot Loops again because Froot Loops are my fuel and you needed me to keep going. I couldn’t tell if you were talking about me staying alive or just going in general. Then I got this feeling that, if you left the house, you’d never come back. You opened the door and the light seemed so threatening and I said, “Hold on, Greg. Stay. I don’t need the Froot Loops.” But you slipped through the light anyway.
‘Yeah, I don’t know if the light thing was supposed to be about me being sick. Shouldn’t I have been the one going through the door?
‘Anyway, when you faded through the light, it spilled – like light went everywhere – and the whole world was white for just a second. And then, suddenly, I was a guy named Bob, and I had this friend whose name was Fuckbob, and we were both riding two camels. No, not like that. I mean, instead of each riding one camel, we had two each and we both had our legs clamped around our two camels, squeezing them together with our thighs as we rode. It took a lot of strength! Oh god, I know – it’s ridiculous. And Fuckbob looked at me and said, “This is way more comfortable than riding one camel at a time!” And I agreed! It really did feel nice, in the dream. It was like, having just one camel would’ve felt cramped. With two camels, we got more air.
‘I love hearing you laugh. This is why I tell you these dumbass dreams. You get all teary-eyed when you laugh and I think in all of my best memories you’re laughing in slow motion. Damn it, Greg! Don’t start crying now. This is bigger than you – this is about the camels. Then the camels…’
I wish I could remember what Paige said here – her exact words – but I think I was beginning to zone out, just for a little bit, because my eyes were still glazed over and my vision was blurry and the morning sun was putting orange in her fading green eyes and the light hit her cheeks and I knew exactly what she meant about her best memories being in slow motion, because I was experiencing one at that very moment – a mental snapshot of her sun-splashed face beneath the veer of my own dotted tears, making her into a kind of shiny mosaic. But she told me what happened to the camels and I wish I could remember. I wish I could ask her and get an answer. I wish I could go back. But I remember she said this:
‘Suddenly it was just me and you again and we were on this beach, walking up a sand dune. And you pointed to the top of the dune, where there was this beaten down cabin. I felt the cabin so strongly – it was warm and lonely, the way objects and visuals sometimes have feelings that only make sense in dreams. We walked up to the lonely cabin, and thunder shook the sky. We walked inside the cabin and the door shut behind us all by itself.
‘The walls of the cabin were covered in these picture frames, just for us. They were memories, and they moved like videos, except you could smell them too. There was the night we got lost on the trail and almost had to sleep under the trees, the Hornets game when we were joking about attacking the mascot, that drive to the beach with Bob Dylan on the stereo, the time I spilled coffee on your shirt and we used it as an excuse to ditch class and have sex instead, our everlasting graduation hug, that awful burnt-burgers cookout you sat through to get my dad’s approval, and the night you cried on my chest after the diagnosis. I’m sorry to bring that up – but in a way, it’s actually one of my best memories.
‘We were watching these memories and I put my arm around you. My brain was buzzing. It was warm and it was spiritually lifting, somehow, my soul filling with air. We were so connected and everything we had made together was literally laid out right in front of us, and something inside me was just soaring, pulsing, burning, screaming to the sky, in all of the best ways. You felt it too – in the dream, I mean. We sat on the dusty sofas in the cabin and talked and laughed about everything we remembered from the pictures, trying to piece together the names of the people we met and the places we went. We drank PBR from a cooler that was put there just for us.
‘Then there was a huge crash. It wasn’t thunder – but it did come from the sky. We walked over to the window and lifted the blinds to get a good look. The sun was split down the middle. Ribbons of light were peeling off like it was made out of plastic, and now it was melting. The sky turned green and orange and purple in waves. Swirls of pulsating colours and shadows bounced up and down all over the cabin. As the sunlight dripped down to the horizon, the ground caught fire. It became an ocean, and it kept expanding, coming for us.
‘I looked at you for the last time, and you smiled at me, put a hand on my shoulder, and said, “It’s okay Paige. Everything is okay.”
‘And I felt my skin get hot and I kept my eyes closed so that I didn’t have to see us burn. And then I woke up here, thinking about the apocalypse and camels.’