Mona hung up the phone and looked through the window. The sky was monotonously grey. Tall pines in front of the building were snow laden. Clouds shaded delicate snowflakes. Mona was watching their elegant movement in the air. She forgot about the telephone conversation as her thoughts drifted towards the harmonious dance of the frozen drops of water. Mona was mesmerized by their unique shapes and sizes, by their subtle differences in color.
Mona’s window was facing north-west. She often thought that it would be nice to move to the south-east side of the building, to have more sun during the day. Mr. Gould’s apartment was facing the south. It had been empty since last October. If it would be posted for rent, Mona may consider changing apartments. But then, she would miss picturesque sunsets and the view on the park across the street. Watching old trees guarding their place was giving Mona a much needed sense of stability.
With their roots in the earth and their branches in the sky, trees have always reminded Mona about everything that grows. She would like to watch her favourite maple tree grow, if only she could stay in one place long enough. She would go for walks and touch its bark, admire its wide branches, watch changing colors of its leaves. Mona believed that trees can mirror a lot about people. She looked at the elms in the park. It had been a while since her last walk there.
The view in the window has inspired Mona to go out. The park at this time of the day had a peaceful ambience. Large snowflakes were floating in the air giving an impression that everything around is turning in slow motion. A small spruce made Mona think of a tale about the fir tree. The fir tree was like many people who cannot be happy in the moment because they expect better things in the upcoming future.
It was fearful and restless, constantly embarrassed by its small size, but it was afraid to grow. Eventually it became a Christmas tree, but its glory was short. Mona looked in the direction of the tall pine and saw the familiar figure of Mr. Gould. She was surprised to see him again. Last time she had seen Mr. Gould was on the day he was taken to the hospital. It was in October. There were rumors in the building that he is not coming back.
‘Hello Mr. Gould. It is nice to see you.’
‘Hello my dear. Did you come for a walk? It would be lovely if we could sit here and have a chat. We didn’t see each other for a while.’ Mr. Gould made a gesture of invitation pointing to a nearby bench. Mona was taken by surprise, she couldn’t refuse. Mr. Gould was always polite and friendly to everybody. When Mona moved to her apartment, he offered to show her the neighbourhood. He fixed the leaking sink in Mrs. Smith’s kitchen. He was taking care of a small flower garden in front of the building.
‘How is your life now, Mona?’
Mona wanted to tell Mr. Gould about her work, about her last vacations in Greece, but all she could think about was Karl. A lot has changed since Mr. Gould had left. The time when Mona was looking at life through her pink glasses was gone. Karl came to her life like a storm and nothing seemed the same since.
‘I have become a dreamer, Mr. Gould.’ Mona avoided the direct answer to his question.
‘And you don’t want to tell me about it … Then my dear, let me tell you about my dream.’
There was something different about Mr. Gould. His face expression was not as animated as it was in the past. His posture was strait, and he moved with unusual lightness. His voice was soft and quiet. Mr. Gould’s insistence to tell Mona about his dream was surprising.
‘Whatever was he thinking?’ Mona didn’t know that he was a storyteller.
‘My dream was about the pink nebula floating somewhere in the universe. Yes, my dear, I saw it moving in a slow, elaborate motion. It was surrounded by white star dust. I was watching its elegant movement turning into a harmonious dance. I could feel its lightness and its joy.’
‘Was it about love?’
‘It was about happiness, my dear.’
‘Can such happiness exist in the world full of suffering, struggle, and pain?’
Mr. Gould looked up at the sky.
‘The nebula was far away from suffering and struggle of our material world.’
Mona was listening in silence. A large snowflake landed on her hand. She was imagining the nebula of happiness moving slowly in heaven. The snowflake on her hand was melting.
‘Why then, we can’t exist in the form of a nebula. Why has our physical world come into existence?’
‘The whole process of creation in the universe evolves around the material world. Without this physical part, the nebula would diffuse into an infinite expanse.’
Another snowflake had melted in Mona’s hand. A tiny drop of water was shining on her skin.
‘If the existence of the nebula is bound with the material world, the material world should be able to become like a nebula.’ Mona took a deep breath. She was not sure why she continued this conversation. Karl would say that it is the nonsense of metaphorical thinking.
‘It could happen when the physical world would lose its equilibrium. When the destructive force will prevail over the creative force, the nebula could restore the balance with its creative lightness and joy.’
Mona thought about Karl. He would say that struggle is a part of life, and that only the strongest will survive in the end. He believed that distraction is inevitable in life. According to Karl, egoism is a driving life force in the world, and anger is a motivation for action. Karl used to joke that Mona doesn’t have an angry bone in her body. Mona was afraid that if Karl will not succeed with his goals soon enough, all he will be left with in his body will be angry bones.
‘Did you find your happiness, Mr. Gould? I mean, not in your dream, but in your everyday life?’
‘In every moment of life there is something to enjoy, something to be happy about.’
Mona looked at the tiny drop of water on her hand. It had almost evaporated.
‘There was a time in my life, when everything seemed to fall into the right place. I was coming here for a walk and all those trees seemed strong and beautiful. Then, I saw their broken branches and cuts on their bark. They are still here, but they are not as invincible as I thought.’
Mona has realized how much she wanted to believe in Mr. Gould’s dream. How much she needed the joy of the pink nebula in her own life. Of course, Karl would say that Mona is naïve if she would tell him that she believes in the existence of the pink nebula. He would say that happiness comes with money, power, and health. He would shake his head in disbelief if Mona would tell him that she was losing time watching snowflakes.
‘I will have to go, Mr. Gould. Thank you for sharing your dream with me. I hope to see you again.’
On her way home, Mona looked at the windows in Mr. Gould’s apartment. Nothing has changed there since he went to the hospital in October.
At home, Mona made a raspberry tea. It had a fruity flavour and it was delightfully warm. It was time to turn on the TV, but Mona’s mood was too dreamy for the evening news. She found her old book with short stories by Truman Capote. The story she wanted to read was about someone in New York, who was selling dreams to somebody who couldn’t dream. Mona was compelled to read this story again. She had a feeling that last time she had overlooked something important in it.
Mona was about to go to bed when the telephone rang. It was Karl.
‘I was trying to reach you the whole afternoon. Where have you been? I was working long hours. I thought you could come this evening to cheer me up. It was a hell of a day. Business is not good. I am afraid to think about the next week. Did you hear the news? There are floods in China, and a volcano has erupted on one of the Pacific islands. Disasters!’
Mona looked at her hand, where a snowflake had melted as Mr. Gould was telling her about his dream.
‘It is time to change.’ she heard the echo of her own voice in the phone.
‘It is time to change what?!’
‘It is time to become like the pink nebula.’