Daniel Pentland is a broken man; torn between the two women in his life. He is tormented by guilt over his love affair with a beautiful English girl he met while living in Italy, and the loyal devotion of his wife, Amanda.
Two years after the tragic death of his lover Kit, he is continually haunted by her memory. Across the sands of the Mojave Desert, her voice calls out to him, pulling at his heart and his memories.
Each night as Daniel wakes screaming and fighting against the phantom of Kit’s killer, his wife does her best to soothe his pain and help him overcome his grief.
Sometimes in Dreams is a story of redemption through a love that simply refuses to die.
MILITARY FAMILIES IN REVERSE
As depicted in Sometimes in Dreams
Sometimes in Dreams is in part about a military family where the wife is the military member and the husband is a civilian. This is something I know about. In 1977, I was out of work and it was decided that my wife would join the U.S. Air Force. There was a lot of talk about women’s lib at that time but we joined up because the job prospects for me were slim. Besides which I wanted to be able to write full time. This issue was complicated by the fact that my wife and I already had two sons, one six years old and the other just under three. When we joined up we were one of only a half dozen reversed families in the Air Force. It is much more common now, but still not something that is encountered every day.
In Sometimes in Dreams, the Pentland family has fallen into the same trap that many military families fall into. The service tends to swallow up the military member and if that member is dedicated, the strain on the family is great. Added to that normal strain, Daniel and Amanda Pentland had the strain of being reversed and Amanda, a dedicated Air Force member has let her career interfere with regular home life. At the time of the Bosnian civil war women were still not technically allowed in combat, though there were many young women who actually were very close to the front lines. Amanda had volunteered for dangerous missions in the past and now she volunteers for another, that is to carry a kidney dialysis machine into the Sarajevo Airport. She is fully aware that this will not make her husband happy and, if the mission had gone smoothly Daniel would never have known about it, but the mission gets shelled in Sarajevo which gets broadcast all over the world so Amanda can’t simply forget to tell her husband.
As with normal military families long absences make the possibility of “short term liaisons” ever present. This is partly what happened to Daniel. He was lonely and smitten with the beautiful Kit. Amanda was away and Daniel tempted fate by going to Venice. He didn’t seek out Kit, but fate, or God, or Satan decreed that Daniel and Kit should meet when both were most vulnerable and the affair began. It is possible that if Kit had not been in such need of comfort and Daniel was not the man he was, the affair still might not have happened, but again fate in the form of a group of revelers dressed as characters from the Commedia Del Arte stepped in and forced them together.
The major trouble with military families is that the military member is “owned” by the service. That means the military member is on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week no matter what. Death or grave injury are the only acceptable excuses for not reporting for duty when the call goes out. This again contributed to the liaison of Kit and Daniel. Amanda is sent away from home again. That separation again makes possible Daniel and Kits on-going affair. They are almost like husband and wife because Amanda, the real wife, is absent because of duty.
During the 22 years that my wife and I were in the Air Force there were many separations, some for mere days, but some for months. Several times my wife would be gone for three months, return home for two or three days and be put on another air plane for another three month assignment. While she was gone I took care of children and wrote. Luckily I was never faced with a situation like Daniel’s. No beautiful English, or Spanish, or Italian woman crossed my path when I was vulnerable, but I did see many other military people fall into that quagmire. Some managed to reconcile and save their families, some broke under the strain and considering that, makes the affair between Daniel and Kit very real now with so many military families both the reversed and the regular separated because of deployments around the world.
G. Lloyd Helm is a 'ne'er-do-well scribbler'—novelist, short story writer and poet—who has tramped around the world for the last forty years thanks to his long suffering military wife. He has lived in Germany, Spain, and Italy. His epitaph will read, “He married well.”