Monty and I enjoy scary movies. Scary monster movies, (some) slasher movies, alien invader movies, zombie apocalypse movies, dark entities possessing people movies, devil children thrown into wells movies. Actually, that one has a scary story all its own.
Somewhat early on in our movies madness, we decided that we need a house. A certain kind of house, that is fortified against attack and provisioned and all of that. But, this house also has a special switch. It was a switch (which evolved into a voice command as well as an actual switch) that would turn on every light in the house, everywhere. The only exception is under one bed, so the cats have a place to hide because they like dark places. Otherwise, when the switch is activated, there are no dark places anywhere.
This dream house stems from our movie hobby, and one innocent-like child proclaiming "they mostly come out at night...mostly." We're ok with things going bump in the night, you see, but we're not going to let them mess with our days! So, the switch creates day by turning on all the lights. Get it?
Only a couple years into the life of his first son, Monty had a dream about this house. He relayed that dream to me and I asked if he would let me write a story based on it. He agreed. That was years ago. Like, seven or so.
I kept it on the back burner, constantly in the "one day, I will get to this" category of things to do. I don't know what clicked that made me actually do it, but I finished that story last month. For Monty's birthday present, I hand-wrote it in a journal with an apropos cover. I decided to mail it to him. It was after his birthday (he knew it would be a late gift because I was still working on it) and I wanted him to have it before I saw him next, because if I handed it to him when I saw him next, I'd want him to read it, and he'd likely put it down for later.
He called me on Saturday, though I didn't get a chance to speak with him, to say it had arrived, that he had read it twice, and that "it is among the best presents I've ever gotten." We did get to talk on Sunday. We discussed the story, the details that I added, the details of his dream that he had forgotten, and the understory - the things that were not stated and not even expressly implied, but somehow were known. He repeated that he had already read through it several times in the twenty-four hours it had been in his possession and told me he had parts memorized. It made me feel good, particularly when he told me it was clearly a labor of love. That's really what it was.
He said he wanted to find a way to bring it with him. They may not allow it, but he wants to find a way. I don't know if that's why I needed to finish the story now, before he goes. Maybe a part of me was hoping that our crazy little dream would help him through. Maybe it will. If they don't allow the journal (I'd almost be afraid something would happen to it) maybe I'll be able to send him a print out.
I was only slightly worried about this gift. You probably have experienced, gentle blog readers, how you can work hard on something, for someone, and find it unappreciated or underappreciated. I worried that he may not be as pleased with it as I was. Or, maybe it would not be as special as I was trying to make it. I had no reason to fear, really. It's essentially one big inside joke, and I'm glad we have it. This is very likely the last special, thoughtful birthday present that I will be able to give him until he's back in the free air. I'm glad I was able to share that with my friend.