And for my last post for this “Hump Day” (Wednesday, April 12, 2023), I present to you another take on the dream sequence from Reunion I shared yesterday. This time, though, I asked Microsoft’s OpenAI (aka Bing chatbot) to rewrite this scene (which was the first bit of the story I started writing way back in 1987) in the style of Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad, Manhattan Beach).
I hope you like this one; the dream sequence is one of my favorite sections of Reunion; indeed, it’s the foundation on which the rest of the novella stands.
‘A Visit from the Dream Squad’
(A scene from Reunion: A Story, as reimagined by OpenAI/Bing Chatbot in the style of Jennifer Egan)
11 AM: South Miami Senior High/ The Library
The library had been my refuge for nearly an hour when the weight of fatigue and emotional exhaustion finally descended. I flipped through the pages of the school newspaper’s final issue with a sense of detachment, barely registering the words of the lead article (Assistant principal announces retirement). My eyelids fluttered closed, and I surrendered to the pull of sleep. Classes were a distant thought – nothing ever happens on the last day – and I let go of any sense of obligation. My head rested on the table as my mind drifted into a hazy dreamscape.
And this is what I dreamed:
I am alone in my old English classroom, seated at my familiar desk with Shakespeare’s Macbeth open before me. The only sounds are the steady ticking of the clock and the soft rustling of pages. Then, Martina Reynaud enters – the most stunning girl in the Class of ’83. She is tall and graceful, a vision in a black dress that showcases her dancer’s legs. Her complexion is flawless, her chestnut hair cascading over her shoulders. She is the epitome of feminine elegance.
I try to return to my reading, but the scent of her perfume – jasmine and orange blossoms – is intoxicating. She takes the desk beside me and offers a smile that sets my heart racing. I know men who would do anything for one of Marty’s smiles. Her hazel eyes are warm and affectionate.
“Hi, Jimmy,” she says, her voice soft and melodic with a hint of a British accent.
“Hi,” I reply, feeling as eloquent as a mango. With effort, I turn my attention back to Shakespeare.
“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,” I recite haltingly, “creeps in this petty pace from day to day…”
I hesitate, my eyes straying from the page to steal another glance at Marty. The temptation is overwhelming, impossible to resist. I put the book down and look at her, hoping she won’t notice.
But her hazel eyes meet mine.
I freeze, expecting to be flung across the room.
I brace for a rebuke, a sarcastic laugh, a sharp blow to the heart.
But nothing happens.
I open my eyes and blink. The classroom has vanished, replaced by a grand ballroom in a fashionable hotel. Confused, I look to my right. Marty is still there, smiling at me.
“Come on, Jimmy, let’s dance,” she says, extending her hand. A swing band in white tuxedos begins to play in the background.
I hesitate, taking her hand but feeling rooted to the spot. “I’m not a good dancer,” I protest.
“Come on,” she urges gently. “It’s a slow dance.” She tugs at my hand and I can’t resist.
The music starts and Martina pulls me close. My left hand rests on her waist as we sway to the beat. She was right – it’s a slow dance. I feel like Fred Astaire.
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