Walking on Water
CHAPTER THREE ~ FADING DREAMS
In sleep you hold me close,* * * * * * *
I see you, I breathe you,
I feel you in my mind.
But when I wake,
Where are you to be found?
Are you real my love?
Or do I only dream of you?
The reflection stared back at him, a pale face with weary, red eyes. He placed a hand up against the smooth surface of the mirror, disliking the eerie, vacant light that dulled his eyes. It was as if a piece of him was missing when he was not with Karine.
He pushed the thought away. Tonight he would be back in her arms, breathing in her perfume and tasting her kisses in his mouth. Maybe some day things would change so that he need not even venture into this pain filled waking world anymore.
He splashed cool water onto his skin, shivering unpleasantly at the coldness that prickled his skin. It felt rough upon his face and chilling, so unlike the refreshing velvety pool in Karine’s beautiful world that he was used to feeling upon him.
There was a sudden knocking at the door, startling Brian like a wild rabbit that had just heard the hunter’s fatal shot across the perilous field. Why did everything in this strange, waking place seem frightening and unnatural to him?
He dried himself on a pale, coarse towel as he turned towards the bathroom door, but he felt no desire to open it. The would only force him to go out with them or insist that he spend time outside or that he ate something. He did not want to be with them. He wanted to be alone to indulge himself in pleasant thoughts of Karine. He was happier alone with memories of her.
“Brian!” Kevin’s voice called as he banged on the door again. “You’ve been in there for over an hour! We only have one bathroom you know!”
Brian did not reply as he gazed out of the frost patterned window to the distorted, mingled splodges of sea and sand. Bright sunlight flickered through the window, the golden fingers trying to tempt Brian with the promise of a beautiful day awaiting him outside in the warm air.
It meant nothing to him anymore. A sunny beach of a thousand brown and gold hues could not pull his soul away from his dream world and lover Karine. He dreaded his entrance into this world now, dreaded being separated from Karine. He longed for the thick moonlight filtering into a dark forest full of the sweet smelling flowers and the soft trickle of the waterfall.
“Brian!” Kevin yelled again, banging even more furiously.
Brian barely heard him as he thought about Karine. He could picture the curves of her slender body, the soft flowing dark hair that danced about her shoulders and the mysterious eyes that put such a fierce spell of love and desire upon him.
Everyone else was insignificant now compared to her. No one was as smart or able to capture his ears with their voice. He needed her. He did not want to be trapped in this ugly world where his body stubbornly remained and dragged his mind back to every morning.
“Brian! Brian, you’re freaking me out now? Are you okay?” Kevin screamed.
“Leave him alone,” came Nick’s scorning voice. “He’s probably jacking off and fantasising about his imaginary girlfriend!”
Darkness surrounded Brian as his mind slipped into deep unconsciousness and he felt an overgrown, cobbled path beneath his toes. He smiled, keeping his eyes tightly closed as a sweet aroma of lilacs began to lightly ruffles his senses.
The dreams were coming to him much easier now. The second he lie down in the comforting dark of his room, the curtains shut to seal away any light that remained outside, he could feel the forest pulling at his soul. However the long, summer days were becoming increasingly more difficult for him to live through. The hours dragged on and the days were unbearable with the amount of light they shed upon the earth. Each evening Brian would have to find a new excuse to slip off to bed early. The others now annoyed him with their prattle of the pretty sea and tender village down the road. The local girls they spoke of would always seem dull and imperfect females compared to Karine. She was so beautiful that even the sun riding upon golden rays of sunbeams in the blue sky could not compare nor take her from his mind. She was still the only thing he saw when his eyes drifted closed and hers was the only voice he wanted to hear.
He opened his eyes as he felt a breeze blowing across his face and the sound of the trickling waterfall dancing through the air reached his ears. He shivered for a moment as he clasped his arms over his chest as the wind fearsomely tugged at him and sent cold chills through his body. The forest was cold this twilit evening but that did not matter. He would soon have Karine to hold in his arms and to keep him warm.
He happily stepped carefully across the path, careful not to trip on the uneven, craggy stones and he soon emerged into the clearing by the pool. Water splashed joyfully down the rocks at the far end to sprinkle into the pool, but tonight there was no sparkle upon the surface from the moon and the water rippled as the wind blew its zephyr breath upon it.
He seated himself on one of the flat stones by the water’s edge, hot after soaking up the sun’s rays during the day, and leaned over so that he could see his distorted reflection in the quivering water. He smiled slightly at the shimmer he saw within his own eyes, a glow that he had not seen for a long time. Love. He was in love.
He sighed deeply, his body already trembling at the expectation of seeing Karine again. It was becoming much harder to leave her and this world for his own. He could feel his own life in reality slipping away from him slowly as he wasted the days by longing for the night, but he could not stop.
A few faint stars coldly glowed in front of him as the water reflected their light, but they were suddenly extinguished from the twilight gloom when a thick layer of cloud rumbled across to the sky to obscure them in it’s mist.
Curiously he turned his gaze to the heavens and was greeted by a light patter of cold rain. He shivered as the drops gained speed and began to plummet more violently to the ground, ruining and destroying his tranquil pool by smashing and breaking up the surface.
The forest seemed to rapidly grow darker and a loud echo of thunder rolled across the land, bawling its wrath like a lion does before leaping upon its frail prey.
He stood up as a crack of lightning illuminated the cloudy sky above, his hair now dripping with rain of its own as they drops scurried down his face. His teeth were chattering as his thin clothes absorbed the rain and he clasped his arms about him to try and preserve what little body warmth remained.
The rain hurt his face as it pelted it ruthlessly, forcing him to bow his had to the powerful assault that nature flung at him. Drops of rain hit the ground so hard that it made a drumming sound to accompany the cacophony of thunder and the harsh glare of lightning’s cruel eyes. The pleasant sound of the waterfall had now accelerated to a fearsome rush and roar that now longer soothed, but send a ripple of fear through him.
He turned frantically to stare about him but a thick wall of rainwater and darkness now engulfed the ugly, wet forest, crushing the flowers beneath its weight and beating the long grass into obedience.
He dashed towards the shelter of the tall trees, but still the rain found him. He weakly cowered beneath a leafy oak and above him he heard the pursuit of water.
He peered into the gloom of the forest. It was no longer friendly and the leaves now seemed dark and unfriendly as they grinned at him from the shadows. The flowers were closed and sealed in brown buds and beneath his feet was the stench of rotting leaf mould and fungi.
Lightening strode proudly across the sky shedding light upon the unwelcoming forest for a moment but in no corner could Brian see her beckoning to him.
“Karine!” he screamed into the night. “Karine!”
His heart hurt as thunder roared in the cloudy sky, almost as if it were bellowing rage at the strange intruder that it had suddenly realised was sneaking into its realm and canoodling with its precious child.
What if she was hurt? Something here had gone wrong surely?
His dream world had taken a dark turning and the branches above were twisted into ugly contortions that were slowly being strangled and suffocated by life sucking ivy and once beautiful honeysuckle.
“Karine!” he was desperate.
He could hear his hard breathing and for a moment his mind whirled in nausea at the thought of being separated from her. His breath clouded the air as cold brushes of ice painted his body and teased him with shivers.
He turned about him, the rain suddenly finding a way through the jigsaw canopy and falling delightfully upon his already dripping head. He furiously pushed his fringe back and began to run through the forest, but everything seemed determined to hinder him. The saturated ground wriggled beneath him and he slipped on the wet mud to stumble clumsily to the ground. He stared at his hands and saw that they were now coated in brown slime.
He groaned slightly as he pulled himself back to his feet… and then suddenly she was standing in front of him, her dark hair wet from the rain but still being blown about her shoulders by the wind.
She looked like a bringer of death. Her pale form was clad in a long black dress that reached to the muddy ground below her feet. A black veil shielded most of her face from his eyes.
He smiled in relief, his eyes closing and a tear working its way down his cheek. He had been frightened that the inclement weather was a foreboding omen about Karine. She seemed to be merged with the forest, but what had caused this storm now? What caused the cold wind to tears at his skin to rub it red raw and to coat him in a heavy rain of grief and coldness?
“Karine,” he whispered, his arms seeking to enclose her in his arms and pull her close to protect her form the vicious onslaught of weather.
She stepped back away from him, her head bowed low beneath the veil. At the same moment, the coldness finally reached Brian’s heart, shuddering inside of him like a deranged sickness had enclosed it within piercing talons.
The lightening tore open the sky in a terrible wrath of white and yellow pain and he saw her face for a moment. He saw her darkened lips coated with misery and they tears that slid from her melancholy eyes. Her lisp parted to speak, but Brian did not want to hear them.
He felt sick. Dizzy. Dead…
It was over.
“Brian, I can’t see you again,” she whispered softly, so soft that he barely heard her over the scream of the rain and the groan of thunder.
His fingers were ripping into the palms of his hands. He could feel blood seeping from his veins, but what did he care? He needed some way of dragging the pain out of his blood that his bruised heart pushed about him.
He shook his head. “No… Karine… no… Please God no!”
“I can’t see you again,” she said, her warm breath clouding in the cold air before vanishing in the rain. “I can’t do this to you anymore.”
His hands were stretched out like a sick and dying man whose only source of hope lies in front of him. She was his only hope.
He love burned him inside, but burned him a beautiful array of light and warmth and fizzed through him to burst into a bubble of lush joy and delight. She was the reason he lived through the dull days in his own world, she was the reason he lived, breathed, slept… she was everything.
“Karine…” Tears. Hot tears streaked his face before the rain mocked them by showering him with its own polluted water, cold and searing and full of icy truth. She was leaving. He would be alone.
“I can’t stand by and watch you be destroyed in your world,” she said, her eyes never once meeting his.
He was gasping in pain, a physical pain and split open his heart as the emotions sought to escape and scream in fury. He shook his head frantically. “You can’t destroy me!” he cried. “You complete me! We belong together like night and day!”
“Brian!” Her voice was filled with a sob. “I love you!”
Her honeyed voice was filled with sincerity and warm emotion that would normally have swept his mouth to hers in a sweet kiss, but now it only brought a wrenching to his soul.
“I love you!” he screamed.
He had never known love until now… never known that what he had felt with other girls before could be amplified so much that his very heart seemed to float inside of him and a feeling that drew his feet off of the mortal ground of physical existence. He loved her. She loved him.
“I want to be with you!” he yelled as he seized her hands possessively in his own, her gloved fingers entangling with his own to connect them in the way that they fit so perfectly together. “I would die for you!” Blood spiralled from the cuts on his hands, but it could not reach her skin because of the gloves that kept them apart.
“I don’t want you to!” she wailed. “You’re dying in your own world! Each moment you spend her is killing you in your own world! You must have noticed the way you have changed! You’re paler, your eyes are dull! You are dying because of me! You can’t live here! You don’t belong here! It will kill you in your world if you stay!”
“But I want to stay!” Brian jabbered, hardly hearing a single word that drifted from her voice to him.
He was the bee and she was the sweetest nectar that he needed to survive. Without her, he would grow old and palsied and die of a fractured heart, divided as the most vital part turned away from him now.
“I love you so much Brian!” she cried as she pulled him close and kissed his lips through the thin barrier of her veil. “I love you and that is why I cannot let you die! I cannot take you away from your world because you love it and your friends!”
“No I don’t! They are nothing!” His voice was filled with rage at the thought of them. It was because of them and his pathetic existence in his foul, waking world that he could not inhabit paradise with Karine and live forever in the overpowering waves warm crested waves of love.
“Listen to yourself! How can you say that? You love them, but this world is changing you! You can’t stay, you can’t stay! I will not let you be destroyed!”
He was clinging to her like a tiny child to its mother. His fingers had wound themselves about her wrists and he refused to let go of the only sunbeam that glided through the misty, damp valley of his life. She turned her hands over and unclenched his desperate fingers.
“I’m sorry Brian,” she whispered.
Brian shook his head. “No! No! We belong!”
She shook her head. “You are in one world, I the other! How can we belong?” She released his wrists and then pushed him back a few paces.
Brian gave strangled sob, not afraid to cry in front of her. His knees were swaying as they dissolved into nothingness. If only his pain could so easily disappear.
He found himself hitting the wet floor below, throwing up chunks of damp, rotting leaves.
He was screaming in pain and he clutched at his heart as the a deep, crumpling pain seemed to take hold there before rapidly spreading to consume every part of him until his entire body was quivering in agony.
He raised his head to the dark, black canopy and as lightening flickered pathetically once more he saw the deep crevasses in the clouds above. The rain eased up, but watery tears still flowed warmly down his wet cheeks.
Karine leant down on the ground and clasped his hands again with one of hers. Her other hand reached out and stroked his face soothingly.
“You are so beautiful. I will always think of you,” she murmured as she kissed one of his hands.
Brian sniffed miserably and leant closer to her, burying his face in the black veil by her neck and pressing his lips closely to her, desperate to somehow taste the sweetness of her skin.
She reached out and pushed the veil back for a brief moment to reveal her red, tears filled eyes. He watched one tear roll down her cheek and he delicately swept it away with his one hand before tilting her face to kiss her deeply.
Her hands tangled in his hair and the warm passion he felt almost lifted him above the ground. He tried not to let her pull away, but a vital need for air and life forced them apart. Whimpering he leant closer, needing her kisses again and she allowed him to place a soft, loving kiss upon her lips once more.
Her arms suddenly began to draw them apart. “Brian, goodbye my love,” she whispered gently.
He looked at her through a shimmering barrier of tears and pain and then he felt darkness closing in about him to drag him away from the forest. He heard the waking world about him mingled with the last moan of the wind in Karine’s world.
“Karine!” he screamed. “No! Don’t!” he was begging her…
But it still did nothing to prevent the parting. Her hands were removed form him and his lips were suddenly cold and alone in misery. Blood trickled from his hands where his fingernails had tore open cuts and the liquid dribbled through his knuckles. He was sucked out of the forest and everything rushed about him in a nauseating whirl of images and nightmares as his heart and soul were pulled from their true home and ripped apart for the world to see what grief lie within.