Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Return", Chapter 2


And, so, Chapter 2, very short, but introduces the second timeline.



Chapter 2

I awakened with a start.

What had I been dreaming? I remembered it seemed vividly real, whatever it was. But all I could recall now were tears and fear, and the feel of lips on the palm of my right hand. I could still feel those lips. I looked at my hand in the dim predawn light filtering into my bedroom, touched my palm. Not even that could erase the sensation left over from my dream.

I had been myself in the dream but...not. I had been in another place, another time. An impossibility.

I looked at the clock on my nightstand. Eleven o'clock, straight up. I'd only been asleep for an hour or so. I'd been in bed before ten, ridiculously early for me. I'm never in bed before midnight. But I had been so sleepy that I couldn't keep my eyes open. When I'd dozed off grading papers and put a thin red line down an essay I was reading, I figured it was time to give it up and go to bed.

It was hot in the house, and I got up to get something to drink. Since it was still so early, I considered staying up for a while to do some more grading, but I was so distracted trying to figure out what the dream had been about that I just went back to bed.

How could a dream be that realistic? The details started to come back as I sat on the side of my bed and sipped from the glass of ice water I had brought back from the kitchen. I was remembering everything that had happened in the dream, remembering as if it had all happened to me. It was a total memory - sight, sound, odors, touch. It wasn't just the sensation of that kiss on my palm. It was the cold of the night and the warmth of the long cloak over my dress, the weight of it, the texture of the fabric, the hood over my head. I could feel the man's - John's - arms around me, holding me close. I could feel his lips on mine, the tickle of his beard against my face.

I could feel the motion of the cart, hear the clopping of the horses hooves on the packed dirt road. I could smell...what?...rain in the air, the fragrances of the flowers in the garden, other aromas I couldn't quite identify. Why could I smell rain in the air, still? It hadn't rained in over two months.

Most of all, I could feel the love between these two people. It was sweet, it was passionate, and it was deep. It was something they were willing to risk everything to hold on to, even their lives.

I lay back down after a while, knowing I should go back to sleep. The alarm would ring early. It was a work day tomorrow. But I lay in the dark staring at the ceiling for a long time, trying to figure out what had just happened. And trying to decide if I was more afraid that I would have another dream like it or that I wouldn't have another like it.

Copyright, Elaine Frei, 2014