When Harland Rose entered the kitchen that Saturday morning, his mother was whisking
an egg for an omelet. If his appetite needed whetting, the aroma of chopped bell peppers,
onions, and mushrooms, sizzling in spices in a skillet on the stove, foreshadowed the promise
that a delicious breakfast was in the making. He was ravenously hungry, however, no
appetite whetting needed. Even if he had been nose blind, completely oblivious of the appetizing
aroma seasonng the air, he still would have expected a quality breakfast, knowing well that his
mother was a sorceress in the kitchen, and transforming an ordinary egg into a delicious omelet
but one of her countless culinary enchantments.
“Morning, Harl. Good timing,” Jenny Rose said cheerfully.
“Thanks to the text message you sent me.”
“The marvels of modern technology. In the old days, before I started using a smart phone, I would
have been standing outside your room, screaming my lungs out so you could hear me through your
“Mom, smart phones have been around forever,” Harland said. “It’s about time you finally got up
to speed, and If memory serves me, the reason I started using headphones in the first place was
because you didn’t want to be subjected to my music at all hours of the day.”
“And night,” Jenny amended, transferring the omelet-to-be to a pre-heated skillet coated with olive oil.
“Would you get started with the toast and set the table? There’s fresh orange juice in the fridge.
I’m going to have to give this omelet my undivided attention for the next few minutes.”
The kitchen had sufficient floorspace for both Jenny and Harland to comfortably move around, plus
room for a small dinette table. Twenty-three years ago, when the three-bedroom bungalow had come
on the market as part of a new housing development, it was largely because of the spacious kitchen,
its full range of modern appliances, and walk-in pantry that Jenny, two months pregnant with Harland
at the time, had convinced her husband, Joseph, that the bungalow was the right home for them.
For the nine years that Joseph had lived in the house, until the night he died, he never had cause to
disagree with Jenny’s initial assessment.
Harland fed the toaster two slices of whole wheat bread. “I had a really weird dream last night,” he said.
“Oh? Good or bad?”
“Hard to classify, but definitely weird. Out of this world weird, literally.”
Using a wooden spoon, Jenny transferred the chopped veggies to the omelet skillet, layering the mix
over half the omelet. “Is it decent enough to tell me about it?” she asked.
Extracting three dinner plates and two small dishes from a cabinet, Harland said, “Mom, if it was one
of those dreams, I wouldn’t even have mentioned it to you. It’s strictly PG, okay for kids and moms.”
After setting the two small dishes for the toast on the counter, he brought the dinner plates to the dinette table,
setting each plate in front of a chair.
“So tell me about it,” Jenny prompted, drizzling a handful of shredded cheddar over the other half
of the omelet.
“I dreamt that I had an encounter with an alien,” Harland said, going to the refrigerator to get the
orange juice. “But she wasn’t your basic garden variety extraterrestrial. You know, the stereotypical
three-foot tall, big-headed, bug-eyed gray. She wasn’t one of those.”
“I thought little green men from Mars was the stereotype.”
“Nah, that was before Roswell.”
Shooting Harland a sly look, Jenny said, “So this alien was a she? Hmm… What did this untypical
alien look like?”
Harland set the glass decanter of orange juice on the dinette table. “Well, she was around five-six,
with long blond hair and blue eyes. She was pretty hot, I have to admit. She had all the right curves
in all the right places,” he said, chuckling.
Jenny shook her head. “Do I know my son, or do I know my son?,” she said, waxing rhetorical to the
picture book window above the sink.
Earlier that morning, Jenny had drawn the curtains open to let in the sun, and now the clear smooth pane
momentarily flashed bright white. An imaginative mind, open to the Shakespearean idea that there
were more things in heaven and earth than dreamt of by Horatio’s philosophy, might have interpreted
the flash as a mirthful wink.
Harland continued to speak as he set two slices of toast on one of the small dishes, fed the toaster
two more slices, and went to the cabinet to get glasses for the orange juice.
“At the beginning of the dream, I didn’t even know she was an alien. Not until she told me she was
from another dimension. One strange thing about the dream is that I knew I was dreaming. She
told me that she had come to me that way on purpose, because if she had made contact with me while
I was awake, then I most likely would have crapped myself, or at least raised holy hell, waking you up in
the process, and that wasn’t part of her plan.”
“Wonderful language,” Jenny said. “Did she actually use those words, or are you paraphrasing?”
“Her exact words,” Harland said, setting the glasses down on the dinette table. “She had the lingo down.
During the course of our conversation, I mentioned that she didn’t talk like I expected an alien would.
She told me that she had extensively studied our culture and was familiar with our language and our slang.
Using the common vernacular of the host language helps them to put the contactees at ease.”
“I suppose that makes sense, if one feels at ease with gutter language,” Jenny said. Sliding a spatula
under the half of the omelet with the cheddar, she carefully folded it over the other half of the omelet,
achieving a nearly perfect moon-shaped crescent. She covered the skillet with a lid, then raised her
arms in triumph. “She shoots, she scores, and the crowd goes wild!”
“Mom, don’t be such a juvenile.”
Jenny turned and looked at Harland. “Tsk, tsk, spoken by someone whose only experience with food
is in the consumption of it. No appreciation of the art that goes into making a terrific omelet,” she said drily.
“I appreciate a well-made omelet as much as anyone,” Harland protested. “I just wouldn’t liken it to
Michael Jordan shooting the winning basket in a playoff game, that’s all.”
“Who said anything about a playoff game? Or Michael Jordan, for that matter? He’s not making
this omelet, I am.”
Harland could have countered by wondering what a basketball game, any basketball game,
had to do with an omelet, but deciding to concede this round of good-natured repartee to his mother,
he remained silent.
“Okay, so what did your alien have to say? But spare me the curse words, please. This is supposed
to be a PG-rated dream, remember.”
“Technically, crap isn’t a curse word. But if that’s too indelicate for you I suppose I could have said
that she didn’t want me to make bad gooey poo poo in my jammies,” he said smirking.
“Harland, we’re about to have breakfast!” Jenny cried, laughing despite herself. Memories of Harland
as a young boy having untimely accidents in his pants, too graphic images that she preferred not to
recollect at the moment, nevertheless surfaced in her mind, humorous in retrospect.
Continuing the recount of his dream, he said, “She, the alien that is, said she wasn’t from this universe
but from a different dimension. She explained it by way of an analogy, using a television set, to think of
each channel existing in its own space in its own universe. Her civilization had figured out how to move
from one channel to another. She said if I substituted dimension for channel in the analogy, I’d have
a rough idea of the concept. She couldn’t tell me more than that because she wasn’t one of the
scientists that knew how it worked. She said she was just an operative. There was this gizmo around
her neck that she worked like a dimension selector.”
“Interesting,” Jenny said.
“It gets weirder, though. She said that she was physically in my bedroom the whole time during the dream,
that she had projected a mental version of herself into my mind. The people of her world have the ability
to sense the electrical brainwaves that emanate from people in close proximity to them. It’s as fundamental
to them as the sense of touch or sight is to us. She just thought herself into my mind.”
“That sounds scary,” Jenny said.
“I didn’t get the sense that she meant me any harm, though. I didn’t feel threatened, and it was just a dream
Harland carried the two small dishes with the toast to the dinette table, placing a dish by each one of the
plates at opposite ends of the table. The third place setting had received neither a glass for orange juice
nor a dish of toast.
Lifting the lid off the skillet, inspecting the omelet, Jenny said, “This omelet will be ready in a minute.”
“One last thing,” Harland said, taking the butter dish to the table. “She said she would be contacting me
again, in the same manner, appearing to me in a dream. When she thought I was ready to handle being
awake during the visit, she would come to me in person. And then the dream ended and I woke up.”
“Hmm, overall I’d say it was a good dream,” Jenny decided.
After setting the flatware, Harland sat down at the dinette table. His eyes lingered on the empty plate
set in front of the chair to his right. Fourteen years had passed since his father, Joseph “GI” Rose,
had responded to the domestic violence call that had ended his life. The twenty-year-old victim had
suffered two broken ribs and extensive bruises to her face and back, but Jenny and Harland had lost
much more when the woman’s twenty-four-year-old boyfriend, wasted on meth and armed with a
.38 revolver, had fatally shot Joseph in the chest a split second before Joseph’s partner had put a bullet
in the boyfriend’s skull.
Harland had been eight years old then, when he had been introduced the hard way to the reality that,
although the majority of people were decent, peaceful, law-abiding citizens, there dwelled among them
human scum whose calling cards were written in violence, whose contributions were measured in misery,
thugs who, for the sake and safety of the innocent, needed to be rounded up and locked away for good.
Setting a plate out for Joseph at mealtimes in the Rose home, a practice Jenny had started the day after
he had been taken from her and Harland, had a therapeutic effect as well as a symbolic meaning. Jenny
had explained it to Harland by saying, “Your father’s physical form can’t be with us any longer, but his spirit is
with us always, and his spirit should never miss a meal.” When the young Harland had wondered why
the plate was always empty, Jenny had said, “Well, honey, he’s a spirit. Spirits don’t eat food.”
Using the edge of the spatula, Jenny cut the omelet into two unequal portions. Harland received the lion’s
share, while the portion she assigned to herself was so small it would have been declared scanty by even
the most hardnosed practicing bulimic. Though Jenny loved to cook, she made a point to eat sparingly,
maintaining that when she linked up with her Joseph in Heaven, she intended to still have her girlish figure for him
to admire. At forty-five, the bloom of youth had disappeared from her face, but except for the faint beginnings of
crow’s feet below her blue eyes, her skin was at tight as it had been at twenty. Her black hair was lush and thick,
with a few gray hairs scattered among the locks. She stayed fit through regular exercise at the YMCA.
Joseph would be pleased.
After loading Harland’s plate and hers with the shared omelet, after adding the skillet and spatula to the
other utensils in the sink, Jenny joined Harland at the dinette table. As she began to say grace,
Harland dipped his head.
“Good morning, Lord. Thank you for this new day and for the food we are about to eat. We will try
to live up to your high standards and have only positive thoughts no matter what we hear on the news today.
And Joseph we love you very much as always and hope you are having a good time up there in Heaven. Amen.”
Harland and Jenny began to eat.
Perhaps relaying a cryptic message sent by the eavesdropping sun, or perhaps reacting
mechanically to a coincidental alignment of mindless matter, the glass pane of the picture book window
lit up again with another timely and momentary radiant wink.