The sand squeezed up between his toes as he walked along the beach. Jack looked over at his beautiful wife Caroline and smiled. The turquoise blue Caribbean Sea lapped gently over his feet as he took her hand. He couldn't believe how lucky he was to have found Caroline. She has become everything to me, he thought, my love and my life
He laughed as Caroline ran ahead of him, splashing through the warm gentle waves. She turned around, smiling, and waved at him. He waved back and started to run after her. Catching her, Jack swung her around and kissed her soundly. He wondered what it would feel like to make love to her right here on the sand.
Caroline slipped away from him and went deeper into the water, splashing him as she went. He heard a noise that gave him pause. He turned away from her and looked back over the gently rolling dunes trying to identify the sound.
Gradually he became aware of a temperature shift in the sand. He turned back to see Caroline, her face filled with confusion as slowly the beautiful Caribbean Sea began to change. The water disappeared, absorbed by a coarse gravelly sand that burned the soles of their feet. Caroline hopped from one foot to the other
Jack knew this place. This was desert sand. Jack felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He opened his mouth to call for Caroline but she was already moving toward him. Everything began to happen in slow motion. He felt the rush of air very close to his ear and watched as Caroline's head swung to one side. Slowly, her eyes on him, she dropped to her knees
Then he heard it, the loud crack of a sniper's rifle. He watched, frozen in place. Caroline fell face forward, blood pooling around her head then disappearing quickly into the hot thirsty sand
As if released by an invisible hand, Jack sprinted to her side. No, No, No, Jack screamed in his head, tearing off his shirt and pressing it on the spurting neck wound. Not my Caroline, not my Baby, my bride
Looking frantically around for the source of the bullet, Jack saw a man standing just at the edge of the horizon. Even from that distance Jack heard the voice say, "Paybacks are hell, aren't they Jack?"
"No!" Jack sat up in the first class seat on the airplane, arms and legs akimbo. He opened his eyes and saw Caroline's wide eyes staring at him. He also saw several other passengers leaning out of their own seats staring at him.
"Sir, are you okay? Do you need anything? A glass of water, a cool cloth, a drink?" The flight attendant leaned over their seats very concerned.
"No," Jack cleared his throat, rubbed his hands over his sweaty face and sat up straighter in his seat. "I'm okay; just had a bad dream is all."
"Are you okay, Jack?" Caroline asked softly.
He nodded, reaching over to grab her hand.
"What happened, Jack? It wasn't one of those nightmares, was it?" Caroline said, leaning over her own seat toward him.
He nodded, laid his head back on his seat and turned to face her. He ran a hand through his hair. His heart hammered in his chest, pumping adrenaline through his veins. He wanted off this airplane.
Caroline squeezed his hand and wrapped his arm in a hug. "Want to tell me about it?"
He leaned into to her and kissed her hard on the mouth.
"Okay, that was nice. Want to tell me what prompted it?"
"I lost you, Caroline. In the dream, I lost you."