He dreamed he was on an island.
The island was unspecific. Palm trees, sand, berries; ocean, sea, water; perhaps a few birds nested on the island, but he was uninterested in them. It was always day on the island, the island in the dream. He named the island Missy, after his late feline.
Missy, he assumed, was somewhere off the coast of Cuba, because there was always the faint odor of cigar smoke. He had never been to Cuba, but he was under the impression that everyone smoked cigars in Cuba.
In the dream he would always lie on the warm, mattress-like shores of Missy and dream. He would dream that he was in a bustling metropolis, perhaps on his way home from a high-paying executive job for a company that manufactured lemons. He wasn’t positive that the company manufactured lemons, but in the dream’s dream there was always a faint odor of lemons. He called the city Lemon City, on account of the smell.
He often wondered what it would be like if Lemon City was the capitol of Missy, and that if he ever ventured beyond the thick groves of possibly bird-infested trees behind him he would see the sharp blue skyline of Lemon City, glistening and composed entirely of right angles.
He could take a taxi from the shore and be driven into the heart of Lemon City to buy shirts and tobacco and meet a nice girl who would take care of him and cook him dinner, and afterward they would make love, inhaling the sour and arousing scent of lemons and cigars. He dreamed he made a lot of money at his executive job and they would rent a very nice apartment.
After a few beautiful years of love-making and lemon-eating, they would be lying together in a bed surrounded by wine glasses and yellow rinds. She would whisper “Take me away,” and he would smile and ask her, sweetly, “Where, my love?” She would roll over onto her back, her perfect breasts only partially covered by a thin blue sheet, wisps of her beechnut-colored hair aloof across her face, and say “You decide.” He would consider it for a while, and he would decide that he could never leave Missy but that he could stand to leave behind the harmonious chaos of Lemon City, and so they would pack their few belongings and travel to the far coast, where they would lie on the sandy beeches and smell only cigars, and wonder how far they were from Cuba. Their lives would be perfect.
“Oh, no, I could never sell Missy, not for all the money in the world,” he would say to a man in a dark suit who would offer him a staggering sum for the island. The man would beg him to reconsider, as would she, and he would eventually give in and say “All right, you can build on all the shores but ours,” and so Lemon City would grow and grow, engulfing the entire island but a small patch of sand and one palm tree where the two lovers would sit and look at the endless ocean and wonder how far they were from Cuba.
But the smell of cigars would be gone, supplanted by an aggressive scent of lemons, and the smell would become so overwhelming that they would become unable to stand it. “Take me away from all these lemons,” she would plead, “I can no longer stand it, and I can no longer make love to you because the lemon smell is making me sick.”
He would see that she was right, that Lemon City’s lemon production had become far too much, and he traveled back into the now imposing prospects of Lemon City to search for a boat he could buy with the money he made selling the island to the man in a dark suit. He would look for the best boat he could fine, one that the two lovers could ride to Cuba and find out once and for all how far away they were.
When he finally makes it back, pulling his new boat behind him with a very strong rope, he would find that she was gone. Perhaps she has gone back to the city, he thinks, but then he knows she would do no such thing, because she cannot stand the smell, which is even stronger deep in Lemon City. He searches their entire area, which is about thirteen square feet, but she is nowhere. Then he spies the tracks leading from their blanket into the tide. She could no longer stand the smell of lemons, and while he was gone, she had walked into the ocean, to allow the salty water to fill her lungs and forever replace the lemon odor. He weeps, and he curses, and he kicks his new boat and pushes over the remaining palm tree. He decides, finally, that he will take the boat to Cuba after all, but first he will change the name of the island from Missy to her name.
But he cannot, because he no longer owns the island. With a heavy heart, and boat full of lemons he sails to Cuba, toward the scent of cigars.