Walking on Water
CHAPTER FIVE ~ ANGELS
He used to be happy.
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Once when the sunset glowed in the sky amongst a bed of fiery orange clouds he had smiled at the beauty while the light bathed his face in the pale light, but now he thrived on darkness. In the dark he could almost forget that he even existed and there would be no light to illuminate his pain.
When he had awoken this morning he had cried again while holding a pillow close to muffle the sobs. If only the pain and love could be so easily quietened as well.
‘Why? Why, why, why?’
There had been little romantic happiness in his life. His heart was a fragile thing and had been so easily smashed and broken when a lover’s words turned out to be meaningless lies that were all aimed at entrapping the famous Brian Littrell.
Karine was different to them. She loved him for who he was. For once there was no talk of money or fame. For once it was just about loving him and making him happy.
He used to be happy, but now the monstrous hole of misery had gripped him tightly and was refusing to release his soul. All he could do was cry now and pray that somehow she would hear them and return to rescue him and his love for her.
His eyes stung after the hours of tears and were now red and swollen in comparison to the paleness of his deathly skin. He had wanted to hide away in the darkened sanctuary of his room, but Nick had ruthlessly dragged him away and forced him to sit in the kitchen where the wide windows let in the joyful shafts of sunlight. Here he could not use the darkness to hide form his pain.
“Look at you!” Nick had thundered. “Brian, you have to stop this! It’s like it’s killing you!”
Of course it was killing him. Karine had become a part of his a body, a vital life source that he needed in order to survive in the harsh world. It hurt to breathe when he thought about her.
He was seated at the huge, light brown table with his hands resting lightly upon the surface. He could feel it beneath his fingers, but above all was the heavy feeling that slowly crushed his heart until he wanted to scream in fear that it would explode leaving nothing inside of him.
At least he was alone now though. He had wanted to return to his room but Nick was watching him from the beach. Every few minutes the blond would look up to check that Brian was still in the kitchen where he could see them from the huge windows. At least he had not told the others about his ‘dream girl’ though. They merely thought that he was ill.
The light wind outside carried their joyful voices through the open window and to Brian’s ears. He could AJ’s loud laughter mingled with Howie’s as they simultaneously tackled Nick for the ball which he was trying to shoot into the goal made up of cheap, plastic bottles. Eventually Nick was tumbling to the ground throwing up a cloud of sand as he did. The others laughed wildly before charging off with the ball down the opposite end of the pitch they had set up on the beach.
Dusk had set in upon the sky now and the hues of pink and orange had splattered the once blue sky with the hues of sunset that only made the sands shine even more golden. After such a hot day they would almost certainly still be warm to the bare footed walker that wanted to bask in the glorious light of the fading sun.
Once he knew that he would have been eager to dash out onto the warm sands with his friends, although why now was beyond him. He could not remember how he had ever enjoyed himself with the love for Karine heating his heart and fuelling his life.
His fingers traced the lines on the wooden table as he looked away from the blinding light outside. Joyful pleasure was beyond him now that the despair had possessed every part of his aching body.
“Brian, how are you feeling?” Nick’s voice suddenly asked.
Brian ceased running his fingers over the smooth wood. He had not heard Nick’s footsteps or noticed his sudden departure from the game outside. He breathed deeply and felt the burning in his chest. He could see her face in his mind but he could never touch her again. Never was a word too many people took for granted. Now all he had were his friends, but he did not want to be with them. Instead he wanted his lover’s touches on his arms.
“Not too good, huh?” Nick asked as he softly sat down on the stool beside Brian. “Buddy, you gotta get over this. She was just a dream.”
‘Just a dream?’ Brian almost laughed. “Then I must be crazy,” he mumbled. “You don’t understand. You weren’t there.”
And never would be there. Nick could not even hope to understand what Brian had experienced.
“What I understand is that you’re making yourself ill. Whoever or whatever happened to you, forget about it. There’s nothing you can do.”
It was a cold statement, a cold fact. Brian closed his eyes and his skin had begun to quiver as the trembling of his body began. He felt sick. He placed a hand to his forehead and entangled his fingers with the light curls of his fringe. A tear had suddenly found its way out onto his cheek.
There had to be something… He had to be able to fight for the woman he loved. Karine was so special, he could never let her go. He could not forget and he could not move on. He was utterly trapped by her beauty and her love.
A sob spluttered gracelessly from his lips and rubbed a hand over his face. Now he knew how Adam had felt when he had been plucked firm the Garden of Eden. How could a person live after tasting something so sweet and beautiful? He had finally found true love in the form of a girl who understood him, made him smile in the rain and more importantly, someone who loved him for nothing more or less than his own self.
But now she was gone and Brian was left with the raging emotions and the tears of pain. An emptiness had crept into his body. He was numb without his soul mate.
“Nick, I can’t go on like this,” he whispered. “Help me…”
Nick was silent but his arm found its way across Brian’s shoulders. “I don’t know how,” he whispered. “Brian, come outside and play ball with us. Find your life again.”
‘I can’t imagine life without your love…’
He would rather die.
“No, I don’t want my life. I want her. I want to sleep. I want to find her and speak with her.” There had to be some way he could reach her. There had to be somewhere near the forest where she lived and maybe he could find her and talk to her. She loved him, he loved her. The just both had to be prepared to sacrifice everything for each other.
“Brian, no!” Nick said forcefully. “Look what she’s done to you already! You’re practically fading away! You’re nothing like your old self! You have a chance to get out now and live, don’t go back that way again!” Nick had grabbed his arm, his fingers entwining tightly about his wrist. “Don’t,” he repeated.
But Brian could not obey. He was consumed by only one thought, that of Karine. He could feel his passion for her thumping through his veins and if he wanted that feeling to last forever in eternal love, he had to be prepared to take the risk.
What kind of life was there on this world anyway when his heart had lodged itself somewhere else?
The thick trees swayed and rustled branches in the slight breeze that softly ruffled the air with light touches and gentle breaths. A few leaves lazily tumbled to the pool that sheltered below and delicately settled to peacefully float upon the surface whilst a nightingale cawed quietly in the darkness of the night.
Brian stood barefooted on the cobbled path staring at the foliage above him that created the canopy. The leaves were beginning to fade to orange as if the dying season of Autumn was attacking the forest now that Karine was no longer here to bless the place with her beauty and sweet nature.
He had to find her. He turned in a circle to stare at the realm that surrounded him. On every side there were bushes of filled with fading flowers that had now wilted or tall trees that towered high. He remembered the way Karine had seemed to appear from on their last meeting and he turned to his left to follow an overgrown path into the midst of the thicker trees.
The ground here was no longer coated in thick grass or leaves but instead was dusty with hard packed earth as the roots stole all the nourishment from the soil, making it impossible for even the tiniest of flowers to nestle beneath their boughs.
He pushed back the heavy branches of one tree that barred his way and slipped into a much denser part of the forest which was alive with thorny brambles that curled and twisted in bizarre shapes. Here the canopy was so thick with heavy leaves that there were no gaps for the moonlight to trickle through to illuminate the way. In parts where the canopy thinned though, the cool light of the moon filtered through to cast green cascades upon the forest floor.
“Karine!” he called, wondering if she could hear his voice. “Karine, I want to talk!”
He knew she had t live somewhere close considering she used to meet him here every night. All he had to do was to find to her and to talk to her. He knew that if they met again he could convince her that their love was forever.
‘If we meet?’ More like when they met… He would die before he abandoned his pursuit of her.
He made his way steadily through the trees, careful not to trip on the tangles of a bramble or the remains of fallen branches. His heart was beating hard in his chest and he could feel sweat dampening his hands as he thought about what tonight could bring for him. Waiting was always the worst part.
‘I need to tell her how I fell. It’s too late to turn away now, I’m already in too deep. She’s so special. So pretty…’
He had to stay calm and controlled, not allowing her to decide what was best for him. He had to be in control so that he could explain that it was his choice. He would not allow himself to break down as he had before. This time, he would not let her walk away. She loved him, why else was he still brought to this land every night? She would not let him go and all he had to do was to make her see that.
He cursed slightly as hi feet slipped on slightly damper patches of ground and every now and then he would wince as something sharp cut into his feet. He knew they were bleeding from the stinging sensation that now assaulted his toes, but he pressed on relentlessly. He had not seen this part of the forest before, having normally remained about the pool when with Karine.
The trees were slightly gloomy in the dark but when the moon did succeed in piercing the heavy canopy, it was ablaze with light. Even without spongy grass and dainty flowers, it still held a beauty that cold take his breath away.
His legs were growing weary now after countless trips over gnarled roots and his feet ached but he was determined not to turn back. Karine had to be somewhere nearby, but what if the night ended before he could find her? He raised his had to peer through a gap in the green canopy and saw that the moon was still riding high in a stream of starlight. He still had a few hours before he was dragged back to his own world and he was now certain that this was more than a dream. He could feel the pain as thorns tore into the skin of his feet and smell the dampness of the forest. Nothing could be this real and yet be a dream.
He breathed deeply for a moment, tired after the long walk but up ahead he smiled as he saw that the trees were beginning to thin and beyond it looked like there was open space…
He began to run, excited by the prospect offending something beyond this forest. He leapt over roots that protruded from the ground as if to prevent him from leaving and finally burst from the edge of the forest.
He was on an open plain of sweet grass that was silk to his feet after the trek through the thorny forest that had given his toes so many bruises. He sighed as he squeezed his toes into the green cushions below and then he noticed what was in front of him.
A magnificent building rose before him proudly in front of the trees like a bold queen addressing her nation. The walls were adorned with the elegant carvings of exotic fruits, flowers and knights fighting fantastical creatures that breathed flames upon their shields. Rising on the pillars were the huge, white angels with arms out and welcoming. Their wings were swept behind them and the sculptor had showed every strand of hair that framed their handsome faces and kind eyes.
Awed he slowly broke from the protective cover of the trees and stared down into the tiny valley where the palace stood. Separating it from the forest was a light grassy slope that led to the well kept gardens below. Marble statues reflected the moonlight and shone in the darkness, their faces forever fixed upon the land around them. The gardens were set in levels, the first being on the same ground of the house and was nothing but grass but steps led down to a lower level which had been covered with stone slabs over. Here the statues sat along with pots of colourful flowers that craned their heads to stare at the moonlight.
The final level was more wild and overgrown, but from his view Brian could see that more angel statues were nestled there, dancing in the lush green of life and protected by veils of flowers. From somewhere close he could hear the trickle of a fountain as the water burbled down the stone.
He took a deep breath and already he could smell the flowers. He sat down for a moment upon the grassy hill that led down to the palace and merely gazed at the place. Before in the forest it had seemed impossible to imagine anything manmade in a place that was ruled by nature and her wildness, but this building was as beautiful as the forest itself that surrounded it.
He took a moment from the high vantage point to survey the rest of Karine’s world. The forest seemed to surround the house but the light of the moon and the thousand glittering stars illuminated the rest o the world. He could see ornate roofs rising in the distance between the tress and far on the horizon half obscured by a twilight mist were the shades of rocky mountains.
“Wow,” he breathed. He imagined what it would be like in other parts of this land. The beauty of the forest had seem incomparable with anything else, but from here he knew at once that the rest of the land was just as enchanting. He wondered what it would be like to see it when the honeyed fingers of the sun touched the land at dawn to spread a veil of golden light. Then he would be able to see the colours of the mountains and the hundreds of different greens he knew that the tress of the forest offered.
Maybe one day he would see it, if he was ever granted his wish and allowed to remain here indefinitely with the woman he loved. Surely God could not frown upon such a desire? Karine was kind and caring, not some wanton whore who was interested in the physicality of any relationship. His own desire for Karine was not based upon sinful lust, but on the love that had burst inside of his heart the moment he had seen her. He wanted to explore that feeling more, knowing that he had never felt something so special with anybody else before.
“Karine,” he whispered. He took a deep breath and then proceeded to cautiously slip down the slope towards the palace walls below. As he drew closer he frowned as he saw that they reached higher than he had originally anticipated and that he would be unable to climb them.
He bit his lip slightly as he reached the wall. He would have to try and head towards the gardens and hope that he could slip into the lower part where he could conceal himself in the wilderness until he was rewarded with a glimpse of Karine. He could then draw her aside to speak with her.
He nodded pleased at his plan and set off along the walls towards the gardens. The air about him was silent except for the close flow of water. The palace before him seemed to sleep in the night and demand silence from every other living creature so that it could be soothed by the constant flow of the fountain.
He smiled as he saw that the walls about the first garden were much lower, but he still decided to sneak into the bottom garden. He slipped down another slope and then another, now going deeper into the valley so that even if he looked up he could no longer see the trees of his forest.
Finally he reached the desired location and he grinned as he saw that it was only protected by a white, ire fence. Easily he clambered over it and dropped down into the garden beyond. It was indeed wild and left to the reign of wild, tangling flowers that had entwined the fence making it look as if it were made of vines and flowers in some parts.
The floor was criss-crossed with cobble paths that guided him around the towering statues of angels. He crept close to one for a moment and gazed up to meet it’s stony eyes. So still but even so they were filled with kindness as if they understood his reason for coming here this evening.
He looked up and could just see the ornate windows on the first floor of the palace above him, but they were darkened. He thought hard for a moment, but eventually decided that the best option would be to stay here until he could think of a way to sneak inside or find out if Karine even lived here.
He sighed and looked about him at the wild, overgrown jungle. The wilderness and untidiness of the place did not make it look ugly or messy but on the contrary gave a natural feel to the place. The stone angels looked or the more magnificent with wild clematis decorating the dresses.
The flow of a fountain had grown louder now and Brian curiously followed a broken path until he arrived at a huge stone fountain with a white cherub with a harp dancing on a stone pillar amid the water. The water bubbled out around the statues feet in a spectacular display that made it look as if it were rising from the water or dancing upon the surface. He smiled at it as he leaned against the edge before he heard the sound of footsteps.
He sharply turned, anxious in case he was seen and ducked behind a nearby angel. He tentatively peered about the side and gasped as he saw a figure in a blue dress standing upon the steps that led down to this part of the garden. He quickly pulled back and smiled to himself. Karine. She did live here after all.
He held his breath as the angel drifted closer to him, her dark hair flowing freely about her shoulders but she had entwined tiny blue flowers within it to match the long dress that trailed along the floor behind her. There was a voice called after her but she ignored it as she came further into the garden. Brian carefully concealed himself behind the stone angel, not wanting to be seen by the caller.
He pressed his back against the statue and closed his eyes as he smiled, his heart fluttering in his chest and threatening to sweep him off of his feet. He was trembling at the thought of finally meeting her again and casting the dark waves of misery aside. At last he could be free from them.
Melancholy would not reap another victim today, not when Karine was so close to him. She alone could stop him from falling into that cold pit.
He heard her coming closer to him and he opened his eyes again as he waited patiently. He was finally rewarded when she emerged into his sight. He watched her, amused that she had not yet noticed him still beside the statue. She leant down and picked a blue rose from a vine that covered an angel cradling a tiny child in its arms.
He carefully snuck up behind her and then reached out and grabbed her arm. “Karine!” he hissed.
She turned, startled by his sudden presence but then her eyes glowed as she recognised him. “Brian!” she cried and his hear leapt as he saw her smile at him. She glanced about them nervously. “Brian, what are you doing here? If anybody sees you - ”
“He silenced her warning by using her arm to puller closer and draw her into a passionate kiss to savour her sweet taste. He sighed in ecstasy as her arms wrapped about his back before they slowly broke apart. “Sshhh,” Brian whispered.
Her head was bowed and she would not look up into his face, but her eyes were closed as she tasted his kiss upon her mouth. He ran a hand through the silk blackness of her hair, smiling at the flowers she had weaved into it. She slowly clasped his hands and then kissed them softly, her lips sucking lightly on the skin.
Nervously she looked back the way she had come. “Come,” she said. “We need to be further away.” Her fingers entangled with his and she quietly dragged him further back down into the garden until they reached the wire fence. She turned to face him and took his face tenderly in her hands. “What are you doing here? I told you to forget about me,” she said softly.
He reached his own hands up to clasp hers from his face. “I couldn’t forget you.” Brian was breathing deeply, his skin tingling all over. He wanted to weep with joy at seeing her again and for the first time he could smile without feeling it was empty. He had his angle back with him.
“You shouldn’t come here,” she replied her voice low. “I told you it was over. The more you come here, the harder it will be to return to your old life.”
Brian gently bowed his head and fell to shower her neck with light kisses, pleased when she did not resist or try to push his inquisitive lips away. “What makes you think that I want to return to my former life? I can’t imagine how I ever lived without you… and you still love me, don’t you? That’s why I still dream of your world, you wouldn’t let me go completely. You wanted me to come and find you.” If she had wanted too truly break with him, he knew that she could make it so that he never entered this dream world again.
Her eyes had until now refused to meet his but finally she raised her head and looked deeply into his blue eyes searching for his love there. Her lips trembled for a second before they were crashing against his own.
Brian moaned faintly in pleasure and longing as he pulled her close, his lips entangling with her own as they anxiously sought for the taste of each other that they had both missed so much. Her hands were running up and down his back while he tangled them in her hair and pressed his hips closer to hers.
Finally the vital need for air drew them apart and they were left gasping in the cool night air amid the calming fall of the water in the fountain.
“Is that a yes then?” Brian asked breathlessly.
She smiled at him and opened her tearful eyes. “Yes…” she said as she kissed him again and again on his lips. “Yes.”
Again they shared another heated kiss, emotions rapidly rising in both of them so that they both trembled from longing. She placed a hand on his face as they parted again. “But I don’t want to ruin your life. I told you, you’re forgetting your old life and drifting from your friends. You love them, they love you. I don’t want to separate you, but…” Her eyes were moist with tears. “I can’t let you go.”
“Don’t worry about them,” he said. He was too far-gone to think of them anymore. He kissed her on the cheek and then gently nudged her face up to meet his. “Don’t you want me?” he asked seductively.
“Always,” she murmured as she gently kissed him again.
“Then give us a chance,” he begged.
“Your life in your world will be destroyed,” she said. “You won’t notice, but you’ll lose everything there. You are a part of this world, or yours. You can’t have both.”
For a brief second something flashed into Brian’s mind. He was with Kevin and the others laughing as they splashed each other in the choppy waves of a sun-drenched sea. He had not remembered that before when he was awake. All he had known was misery, he had forgotten about the good times he’d had with his friends.
“You’ll lose them forever,” she said. “You’ll forget them. You already are.”
The image was gone again and as he tried, he could not recall it, or any other happy moment with them that had happened. There was only one conclusion then, he had never been happy with them… or had he already forgotten? Wouldn’t he have noticed if he had forgotten?
“Baby, you’re confused,” she said as she stroked his face. “Think about it.”
He looked at her and her dark eyes seemed to melt a part of his soul. He shook his head. “No, I’ve made my mind. I was never happy with them. They don’t care about me. I want to be with you.”
She smiled, but there was something sad about it. He was already hers and as much as she wanted it, there was still a string of guilt in her mind. Brian had already forgotten how much he loved his friends.
“I love you,” she whispered, her voice a whisper. A tear slowly trailed down her face.
Brian used a finger to trace its path down her cheek. “Don’t cry. It will be okay, we’re gonna be together.”
“I should never have come to you,” she said softly. “You would still have you life then.”
Brian was stung slightly and he gripped her hands tightly. “Don’t say that! You are the best thing that has ever happened to me! You are the sun that lit up my life! You have no idea how happy you’ve made me. I wasn’t happy before I met you.”
She stroked his hands. “Yes you were.” Her voice was melancholic, her eyes betraying some sadness that rested inside of her.
He shook his head to contradict her. She was his happiness. She was the only reason he was happy. “No I wasn’t.”
“Yes you were, you just don’t remember it.”
Brian frowned, not understanding what she meant when she kept talking about him like he knew nothing of his own life. “I don’t understand.”
She closed her eyes and then made her choice. She pulled him into her arms and buried her face in his neck and comforting cologne. “Never mind.”
Brian gave a deep sigh and his arms held her possessively while he breathed in the scent of the flowers in her hair. He kissed her face passionately, knowing that this time when he woke from the dream he would no longer have such a deep unhappiness brooding inside of him. She was his now.
“How do I leave my world?” he breathed excitedly. “There must be a way.”
She nodded slowly. “One way… but…”
He tilted his head eager to listen to her words. “What?”
“But only if you’re willing to die in your own world.”
He looked at her face taking all of her in. he squeezed her hands within his own. “Okay.”
He smiled at her. “Yes.” He kissed her on the mouth his hands sliding about her body and sighing as they felt the familiar curves. “Yes, I’ll do it.”
She gave a faint moan of joy, her face bursting into a warm smile as they began to kiss again, their hands rapidly wandering about each other’s bodies. Brian looked about them until he spotted a patch of soft grass. He smiled as he took her hand leading her towards it. In a moment, they were falling to the ground and Brian atop her kissing her face, hair, neck and anything else that he possible he could.
“I love you,” he whispered.
She pressed a finger against his lips. “Three more dreams,” she whispered. “Three more dreams and you’ll be mine. In the third dream you’ll die in your world and we’ll be together. If you change your mind before then, I will leave and I promise you will never dream of me or my world again.”
“I won’t change my mind,” Brian said determinedly as he kissed her lips. “I’ll die for you.”