I was panting by the time I reached Brad. I bent down, hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath. When I looked up, I couldn’t believe he had stopped in front of the Juice Palace. He knew that passing in front of the place and seeing the multi-color signs covering the glass façade made me sick.
“I’ll wait here,” I said. I tried to sound cheerful and hoped Brad didn’t notice I was out of breath. No matter how hard I trained, I couldn’t keep up with Brad. He was faster and could run much longer, but I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that. I felt dizzy.
“No, come on. Let’s get a smoothie. It will be good for you.”
“I’ve told you I don’t like smoothies. Get yours and leave me alone.”
This was not the first time we’d had this conversation. Brad knew I couldn’t down a milkshake if my life depended on it, but he insisted. It had become his latest challenge to get me to like the blasted gross thick liquid.
After a couple of minutes of arguing, while passersby watched, I calibrated between dying of embarrassment on the sidewalk or fainting from the smells inside. I summoned all my courage and walked in. The obnoxious malty odors smacked me, and I brought my hand to my nose. I looked down to the floor, trying to avoid eye contact or see what was going on behind the counter.
“What are you going to have? The Tahini is made with peanut butter and has no dairy. It’s delicious try it,” Brad spoke loudly. I concentrated on the shoes of the woman ahead of us in the line. How considerate, not proposing I have something with milk! It wasn’t only dairy I hated; I couldn’t stand the gritty texture on my tongue of all smoothies. I didn’t find them creamy nor smooth.
“No, thanks. I don’t want anything.” I looked up and saw the guy behind the counter pour what must have been a blended mixture of spinach and kale into a big container. The assault on my senses was too much. I swooned, and Brad caught me by the arm and pulled me outside.
“What is wrong with you?” he yelled, not caring that several people were looking.
“I’m sorry I can’t. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t.”
Later that night, Brad had gone out with his friends. After the smoothie incident, he had spent the rest of the day pouting and not talking. Thankful he had left me alone, I laid down to watch TV. I must have dozed off when I suddenly jumped up and screamed, “NO!”
I had dreamed a man was holding me down. I couldn’t see his face, only his big, muscular arms. He encircled my skeletal body with one arm, and with the other, he forced open my mouth. I struggled hard trying to bite him, but he was too strong. A woman, her hair wild and her face red from the effort, was trying to force-feed into my gaping mouth this white, frosty substance. I screamed and kicked, but they still fed me the stuff until I vomited, a green, smelly projectile that hit the woman right in the face.
The dream, like all my nightmares, left me shaken and frightened. It would be much later when Hillary finally told me the truth that I made the connection between my abhorrence to smoothies and that particular dream.