Dawn Celebration

It is our anniversary, but we will not celebrate until dawn. It was the hour we exchanged our vows, not only because it was the most convenient time, but because it is also my name. Not my true name, but the one by which I am usually known.

It isn't easy, having a husband who is gone all night, every night, but his work is important. In recent years, he has trained others so he no longer has responsibility for each and every territory, but nevertheless, he is reluctant to give up his profession altogether and I understand.

I do not sleep while he is gone. I could, but I don't. I while away the hours until he returns. Tonight, I will spend some time preparing his favorite meal for our celebration at dawn. I will chill the sweet, red wine and polish the silver candelabra. The curtains are heavy and, when drawn, give the illusion of darkness, even though the sun creeps above the horizon. We will be able to sit across the table from each other and toast our anniversary by candlelight.

I turn on the radio. The rich, warm voice of the announcer tells me that this late hour is for lovers, but he is wrong...that will come later. I slip a cassette into the tape deck and dial the request line. I ask for a certain song...not exactly one for lovers, perhaps, but one which we consider to be ours, my husband and I. The announcer must think it close enough, because he grants what I ask. I record it to play later after we eat. He will find it touching and amusing.

The time passes quickly and I rush to the door to greet him. I take his coat and ask how things went. He sits at the table and tells me of the mother, worn out with a new baby who cries constantly...of the man, in the last stages of liver cancer who can no longer find peace in painkillers...of the small child, lost and bewildered, because her father was suddenly killed in a car wreck. He helps them all, and more besides.

We finish our meal, drink the last of the wine and then go outside to watch the new dawn rise. "She is beautiful," he whispers against my hair, "but she cannot compare with you." I thank him for that...and the fact that he remembers.

"I have a surprise for you," I say, taking his hand and leading him back inside. "Aren't you tired?" he asks, reaching in his pocket for the pouch which is never empty. I shake my head. "You know I seldom need that when you are with me. Anyway, we haven't yet had our anniversary dance...and I have something special this time."

I turn on the tape. He smiles just as I knew he would. He gathers me into his arms and I rest my head on his shoulder. We are once again young and immortal...Aurora and Hypnos.

We circle the room, flawlessly in tune with each other, as always. The music is soft and lilting...a little fast perhaps, but then it is foolishness to expect things to be totally perfect. "It's our song," I say and croon the lyrics into his ear. I have less than exact pitch, but it doesn't seem to bother him.

"Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream..."

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