This piece is a fragment of a novelette that I rediscovered while rummaging through some old files. Although it’s not possible for things to be entirely clear, I think it could also stand on its own.
The landscape was unsteady, with flickering contours and sudden changes in scenery that were rather disconcerting. He was in the lightest phases of REM sleep, probably about to wake up. Perhaps it would have been better to leave and come back another time, but it didn't occur to me until it was too late.
He called me in his dream and, as I turned to the direction of his voice, I saw him walking towards me on this shiny wood floor; he was dressed in black again, eyes sparkling, so handsome. I ran to meet him and he reached for me, took me in his arms. It was so good to feel his warmth, so reassuring to lean onto him completely, that my guilt of intruding upon his dreams melted away again.
The hall was immense, its ceiling lost in mist, shapeless. Sun poured through colossal windows, past dainty off-white curtains fluttering from an imagined breeze. My dress was white, fluid. My hair longer. I still wondered how he did that, how he controlled his dream so well while dreaming it.
“Oh, Bernard…” I whispered.
He stroked my hair, pressed his lips on my eyelids. Warm, so soothing. My love for him flooded my heart, overflowing. I relaxed, ignoring the straitjacket of straps and electrodes, tying me down to my worn leather chair. I imagined my real body in his real arms.
“Where do you go when you leave me?” he said. “Where do you disappear, Zina?”
“Oh, Bernard…” I said again, not sure what lie to tell.
“I am looking for you, and you are nowhere, and all I can do is just waiting for you. You might come or might not, but most often you're not coming, and then, suddenly, there you are again. Explain this to me.”
We kissed deeply, with an urgency hiding the apprehension of future goodbyes. I ached to explain everything to him and just couldn't. Even when we came apart, even when he repeated his request, I said nothing. Instead, I circled his shoulders with my arms and clung to him, and kissed his mouth, his cheeks, his jaw line, his neck, delighting in the ardent strength of his arms on my back, in the audacity of his touch. Soft music came to surround us, out of nowhere, a sweet gentle melody spiralling to the misty ceiling. The room disappeared for a second, replaced by a gray blur, then returned, slightly changed. I should have left at least then and still I couldn't.
"I love you,” I whispered in my mind and his, mouthing the words with my real lips, in my little lab, under my tiny dome, lost in the desolation of the Moon. “I will always come back.”
“Then just don't leave anymore, my beloved,” he said, command softened by the gentleness of his tone. He almost pushed me away then so that he can look at me. “Come,” he said, smiling, “I want to show you something.” He took my hand but then stood still, as if unsure. Suddenly, the music changed, became louder, strident. An alarm replaced it, a piercing sound I realised wasn't coming from Bernard's dream. His image flickered, its consistency almost lost. I still waited, uncertain, incapable of leaving. Unexpectedly, he was far away. Then he was gone.
In the gray blur that remained, I distinguished new shapes, the interior of a room, a bedroom probably, austerely furnished, fogged by the weak light of early morning. I realised the sound we had heard had come from his alarm clock. I was no more floating through his dreams. Bernard was awake and I was looking through his eyes at his real world. Fear and excitement clutched my stomach. Still, I didn't leave. I thought myself expert at hiding, noiselessly, in the deepest refuge of one's mind. He couldn't know of me for I was only the shadow of a dream. I wanted so much to see him and hear him awake. And did I hear him.
He sounded terribly angry. “ZINA!” he shouted, over and over again. “Where are you? Where did you run? Come back, Zina!” He got out of his bed and went to the mirror. His glare was heavy, almost unbearable. He growled, “Can you see me, Zina? Where are you? Look at me!”
I did that; I looked at him, through his eyes, wondering why he thought I could see him, wondering how much he understood. He was handsomer than his dream persona, and anger brought a dangerous edge to him, one never encountered in the dreams.
“Where did you go? Come back! Where are you?”
I’m here, my beloved, oh, how I wanted to say it and couldn’t, just couldn’t. I ran away again.