CHAPTER FOUR ~ THE SHATTERED DREAM
The room was clad in an oppressive darkness with the thick, navy curtains hung across the window to ward away the unwanted sunlight outside. There was no sound except for the incessant sobbing and moans of despair.
He was lying on the cold floor with his arms wrapped about his knees to clutch them to his aching chest beneath a blue blanket and a plump pillow, trying to pretend that it was her that he held in his arms and kissed.
But it wasn’t.
Ever since he had been forcefully pushed away from Karine’s world he had wept his tears. His chest felt empty. Empty except for the bruised heart that shook with grief inside each time it shuddered with a terrible beat of life.
Brian felt as if a part of him had died. He could not breathe without pain ripping across his stomach because each breath would only prolong his suffering. How could he live in this world now when he had savoured sweet heaven itself?
He wanted to die. Death would bring a warming, beautiful oblivion that could sweep his soul up and rescue him from his torture.
A part of him almost wished that he had never met Karine or dreamt of her lush world of water and love. At least then he would be innocent to the pain he was feeling now. He had broken up with girls before, but nothing had ever left him feeling like this. Nothing had ever made him break down and cry like he was a child again.
He was plagued with her face and her body as if she were a disease that would not cease its feverish hold upon him.
“What did you do to me?” he whispered. “I loved you and you destroyed me.” From the moment he had met her, he had felt something enter his mind and now he had never been able to have peace without being with her. She was his addiction. He needed her. He needed her touch, her smile, her love. He was scared about what would happen now. He did not want to live in this world where he would be trapped by its ugly limitations. He needed his imaginary world. Imaginary? Was it only imagination?
Then why could he not let go?
“Are you real?” he whispered. “Or only my fantasy?”
He had no idea what he was going to do. He raised his head slowly and saw that the razor blade was still lying upon the table. He kept looking at it, he couldn’t help himself.
He slowly staggered to his feet again and limped weakly over to the table. He picked up the blade and turned it over and over in his hands. What did it feel like when the blade sliced through the soft tissue of the skin? His clammy hand gripped the handle tightly and he closed his eyes as he breathed deeply. He ran a finger over the blade and winced as something cut it. Instinctively he dropped the razor and turned his attention to sucking the tip of his finger to ease the pain. Pain was all he felt now. He felt nothing when he heard the voices of his friends or thought of his family. He felt nothing when he had looked out the window and saw the sun drenching everything in a delicious coat of shimmering gold.
He looked back down at the blade. In one cut he could peacefully sleep and never wake to this pain filled world again…
He closed his eyes and dug his stubby fingernails into the palms of his hands. He was a coward. It would be so easy and yet he was already trembling at the fear of God’s wrath if he took his own life.
‘Coward, coward! Stupid Brian!’
“Brian?” There was a knock at his locked bedroom door. “Brian, are you in here?” Nick asked.
Brian glared at the door but ignored it as he instead crossed to his bed and wrapped himself up in the covers. He wiped his red cheeks as more tears began to dribble. They were sore now, but the tears were still thrusting their way through, squeezing malevolently to stain his pale face.
Nick banged harder on the door. “Open up! I know you’re in there!” The handle bounced as Nick tried to push his way in. He wouldn’t get very far. Brian had locked it.
“Brian! I swear to God if you don’t open this door I’ll break it down myself!” Nick yelled furiously. “I could have gone swimming with the others but I stayed behind because I’m worried about your sorry ass! Let me in!”
Brian raised his head from the pillows. “Go away!” he screamed hatefully before throwing himself back down upon his covers and wrapping himself within the duvet. Maybe he could suffocate himself.
There was no reply from Nick and Brian felt his heart beating in anger at the intrusion. He needed time to be alone. They wouldn’t understand him now.
“Brian, I’ve got the spare key. Are you going to let me in or do I have to let myself in?” Nick asked.
“Drop dead,” Brian whispered to himself.
The room was silent for a moment except for Brain’s laboured breathing and sniffs of misery while a fat, heavy assault of tears trickled down his face.
His heart stilled for a moment as he heard the click of a key turning in the lock. He closed his eyes and lie perfectly still, trying to feign the death and oblivion that he longed for so much.
“Brian, what’s wrong?” Nick asked.
“I thought I told you to go away,” Brian snapped harshly. His voice was a croak, betraying the emotions that were content to chew him to pieces inside.
“I’m worried about you.”
“I don’t care. Leave me alone.” He did not even look up at him.
“Brian, who was she? Did she hurt you?”
“Shut up!” Brian screamed angrily as he jumped to his feet and threw the pillow at Nick’s head.
The blond caught the weapon and tossed it back to the bed. “What’s happened to you?”
“Nothing! Nothing! Why won’t you just get out of my life!” his voice was a frantic scream, as if he were blaming Nick for Karine. He had to blame someone. Someone had to be responsible for all of this! “I don’t want your sympathy, I don’t want this life! Leave me alone to die!” Tears rolled down his face in angry torrents as he tried to shove Nick out of the way, but his arms were pathetically weak.
“Brian!” Nick cried as he grabbed his friend’s arm. “Brian, talk to me!”
“No! Go away! Go away!” Brian wanted to push him but he was trembling and then he was sobbing again. His legs hurt and he realised that he was sinking to the ground.
Nick had suddenly wrapped his arms about him to stop him from falling and Brian clung to him like a babe to its mother’s arms. He pressed his head against Nick’s warm chest and cried the tears within.
She had left him, but why? It was perfect… They were perfect together.
“Shush, it’s all right,” Nick whispered. “It’s okay.” His arms rubbed Brian’s back softly. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I-I’m just worried. You’re acting so strange.”
“She left me Nick,” Brian sobbed. “She left me.”
“My dream girl.”
“There’s other girls.”
“Not like her… Nick, she was in my dreams! I dreamed of her every night and now she’s left me!”
“What do you mean ‘she was in your dreams’? You mean that it was just a dream you had?” Nick frowned slightly and Brian realised with horror that his secret was out.
‘Congratulations, you’ve now freaked your friend and he’ll be packing you off to see the psychiatrist by the weekend.’
Brian shook his head. “No, it was so much more. I dreamt of her every night but they were so real! I have never experienced anything like that before. I could feel her, I could breathe the warm air and hear everything…” He trailed off. Something cold shook his body and prickled the skin on his arms. “Nick, do you think I’m crazy?” he asked quietly, his voice a fearful whisper.
Was he crazy?
He thought of the perfumed wood with the wet leaves and dewy grass beneath his feet. Then there was the dainty flowers which scented the air with sweet aromas and the clam trickling of the cool water that could calm heated skin and wash over him so smoothly.
How could he have dreamed something so beautiful? It was like another world that he had stepped into or a forbidden paradise where human eyes should not gaze because they would become like Brian; consumed with misery and a longing for something that he could now never have.
Nick regarded him carefully and Brian could see the emotions running through his eyes, before concern for his friend’s tearful appearance finally took over. “No,” Nick said. “I think at some point everyone will have a dream that they become attached to, but you have to realise that they are just dreams and not reality.”
Brian pulled away from Nick and gazed up at him. “You’re wrong Nick. You have no idea how real these are. How could id ream of the same girl over and over again?” He watched Nick’s eyes, waiting for some reaction but he saw nothing that could help him. He turned away from him and folded his arms as he stared at the curtained window. “Maybe I am crazy.”
“Maybe you’ve just been shutting yourself away too much,” Nick suggested. “Look at you, you’re pale, you’ve lost wait, you don’t eat… Why don’t we go grab a snack? You’ll feel better after.”
Brian shook his head. With Karine when he was hungry, they would pick ripe grapes from vines near the river. No fruit in this world could burst against his tongue to leave such a bittersweet taste in his mouth and it all seemed so unpalatable now.
He was changed forever. He remembered how he’d ad a life before here with his friends, his family, his job but now he hated all that. It was like he was stuck in a nightmare here.
“Brian, come on,” Nick said.
“No, I want to sleep.”
Sleep… He had to find Karine and make her explain. He had to show her how much he cared, how much he loved her. He would die for her if he had to. She loved him as well, he knew that so why had she broken up with him? Was there someone else?
His heart stung as if a spear had impaled it to leave it dead and bleeding. No… there couldn’t be. She had promised him that he was her only. She wouldn’t do that…
But what if someone had made her?
Nick sighed slightly as he came to stand just behind Brian. “She’s only a dream. She doesn’t exist.”
“You don’t understand.”
“I understand that it’s changing you. This is your life Brian, here and now. Don’t waste it by chasing after a fantasy. Dreams are nice sometimes, but that’s all they are.”
“It’s real Nick. It’s like I’m being pulled into another world. I can’t describe it and I know it sounds nuts. I love her. I fell in love with a dream and I don’t know how.” He turned back to his friend. “I’m scared,” he whispered. “I don’t know how to live anymore.”
Nick approached him and placed his hands upon Brian’s shoulders. “People have vivid dreams sometimes… or maybe you’re right and that there is something more happening here. I don’t think you should pursue it though,” Nick warned. “Look what state it’s put you in.”
“I’m fine. I think I’m just tired and confused. I’d like to be on my own,” he replied as he turned from Nick again. He could not face the outside world again for the moment. Now he loathed it for putting such a fierce barrier between himself and his heart.
“Brian - ”
“I’m not crazy. I don’t need a shrink. I need space,” Brian defended. If Nick had seen what Brain had, then he would understand why it was so hard to let go.
“All right, I’ll leave you here for now but tomorrow you’re coming out,” Nick warned. “This whole thing is spooky. It’s almost like this dream girl has cast an evil spell upon you to make you forget your life.”
She had certainly enchanted him in some magical way because even now Brian could not banish her face or her voice from his mind.
Nick paused for a moment as he stood by the door before turning back. “You say you’re not crazy,” he said. “But you soon will be if this carries on for much longer.”