A Dream about Love

by Rolf Witzsche


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65 min

 

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When the border blurs between dreaming and reality.


The story has many facets where fact and fiction become intertwined. It is located in Germany. The video dialog presents Chapter 4 - A Dream about Love.


 

      "The past cannot be altered, but the future can be determined," said Erica. "This is the reason why I have taken up the research of love."

      "Really?" I asked. "Or was a part of the reason the potential it holds for wonderful things to happen? Maybe I should take up the study myself."

      "I would have recommended that you do, if you hadn't started that research already," she answered, and laughed. "Once you have started, you cannot break away from it; and believe me, you really have started, possibly for that reason. I took up the study of love for a different reason. An incident happened some months ago, which literally forced me into it. It wasn't the kind of incident you might suspect. Peter, I came close to being raped."

      I shook my head in disbelief. It took a long time to absorb that shock. "I am terribly sorry," I said quietly when the shock wore off. "There shouldn't be men like that."

      Erica agreed. "But don't be sorry for me," she added. "I am not sorry that it happened. It was an eye-opener for me."

      She told me that she was on her way home, walking from the mathematics building to the streetcar-stop. It was late. It was dark. She said that she suddenly realized that there was someone behind her. She turned around. It was a man. She walked faster. So did he. She told me that as he was about to pass, he grabbed her, and held her mouth shut from behind. He said he needed her. He pushed her towards a doorway. Once inside the building, he told her not to make a sound, then slowly pulled his hand away from her face. She said that he turned her around, towards him and held her tight. She said she felt like screaming, but was too scared. "Then, as if someone spoke to me," she added, "the idea came: Don't struggle. Don't resist. If he wants sex, give it to him. That way you won't get hurt." So, instead of waiting for him to force the issue, I kissed the man quickly. It wasn't easy to do that. Still, I even allowed him to kiss me back. I was resigned to let it happen for as long as he needed it. But it only lasted for a few seconds, then the man exploded into his pants. Moments later he sighed and apologized."

      Erica said that he apologized profusely, saying again and again that he didn't know what had come over him. She said that he even asked her for a date at the end, in a very quiet tone of voice. She said she turned him down, of course. She told him that friendships couldn't be established by force, but by kindness and by enriching one-another's life. She told him that he looked like an intelligent person, and that he therefore should be able to establish a proper relationship with someone. She said that she told him that he didn't need her. She paused, and looked at me with a sad expression. "He replied to me, 'I know, I know, but I find all the doors closed. For people on the outside, life is difficult, lonely, and often desperate. You don't know how lucky you married folks are, to have someone to be with.'"

      Erica told me that she felt sorry for the man afterwards, when she was in the streetcar, and that she felt also sorry for her that she hadn't given the man a chance to have a date with her. She said, "emotionally, he was like a beggar who hadn't eaten for a month, who needed something, anything, even if it was just a kiss."

      "You felt compassion for the man who attacked you," I said quietly, "that's remarkable, Erica. Not many people would be able to do that. He tried to force himself on you to commit rape. I know only one person in the world who would feel sorry for such a man, with an honest compassion, and that's you. It shows what a remarkable person you really are."

      "Thanks for the flattery, Peter," she said and smiled. "To me, that incident tells me what a rotten society we have become. What a world have we created in which such beggars are commonplace among such riches as we hold in ourselves? The man spoke of closed doors, Peter, and he said please, and I answered him with a harsh, no! Why couldn't I respond to his need, and say yes?"

      She asked me what it would have cost her to give the man a date in a public place, for a chat, for a kiss, or even a date at the beach. "It would have cost me nothing," she said. "In fact I would have gained a little self-respect, by being able to help someone in need."

      She told me that if a student had asked her for a date to discuss microbiologic engineering, she would have gladly helped. But the man had asked for so much less and needed help badly. "What a person am I that I closed the door in the man's face, as probably everyone else had done before me? Was he not a human being? That's when I began my research of Love, Peter. That's what prompted it."

      "But you couldn't have responded to the man's need, being a married woman," I said to her. "If anyone had seen you kissing, all hell might have broken loose between you and your husband. That's probably why you couldn't respond as you now feel you should have. I also would venture to guess that you never had a boyfriend, much less a close boyfriend for all the years since you were married."

      "Of course not," she replied. "That's not possible. Obviously, neither did you ever have a girl friend, much less one that you could be close to -- close enough for sex. That's plain to see. But why haven't you, Peter? What crime have you committed that you may never in your entire life be permitted to call another woman a friend, and have a close association with that woman, meeting also each other's sexual needs, as would be natural for human beings? You people in the West cry like hell about the Iron Curtain that divides the East and West, and believe me we do this too, while each of us impose a much more impregnable division against one-another in our private worlds. We impose a division in our own life that goes deeper and is wider than all the political and religious divisions. For this we trash our humanity and our civilization, without batting an eye. In fact, we do it in the name of love. We are a bunch of hypocrites, really. Are we not?"

      "Have you ever hoped," I asked her, "that it was possible for you to have a man, or several men, as very close friends that you might go out with once in a while to the movies, or for a dinner, or for a chat and a dance, someone to share your innermost thoughts with, even a smile with a kiss and a sexual embrace?"

      "You must be dreaming," she said and began to grin. "You obviously had similar dreams. This too, is plain to see, but is the grass really greener on the opposite side of the fence?"

      "That's an invalid question," I interrupted her. "As a scientist studying love, you should have asked, do we love one-another more as human beings by creating an institution that radically prevents us from loving one-another on a wider scale? Does the separation and isolation that we practice make us richer as a society, or does it make us very much poorer? Do we even know how to love unconditionally and universally? I would say that we don't. Yes, Erica, I have been dreaming such dreams as you suggest. I would love to have a few girl friends. I have far too few friends as it is, except on a superficial basis. The only basis on which those dreams could ever be fulfilled, would be on a basis of concealing, hiding, scheming, and plain lying to one-another. I haven't succumbed to that yet, and never will, Erica. Still, the tragedy cannot be ignored that we call this tragedy, which we have created, civilized living. And it is a tragedy. The man that you spoke of, who was desperate enough that he nearly raped you, was caught up in this tragedy. But whose was the more honest reaction, his or yours?"

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 from Chapter 4 of my novel:  Discovering Love
online page 18 to 25 - transcript

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