Alice Lane vs. Maggie Williamson
“Need a hand?”
Mischief and amusement colored his words as he extended his hand back for me, a welcome sight that broke the monotony of mossy hillside that filled my vision for what felt like the thousandth hour in a row.
We’d only gone a mile or so over what felt like vertical terrain, jogging the entire way as we raced the setting sun. My breath sawed through gritted teeth and I felt the drag of it all the way to my toes. I took his hand, silently cursing the lack of strain on his part in scaling the tiny mountain into the stars.
He tugged, pulling me up alongside him until his hip bumped mine and he grinned down at me. It was meant to be reassuring, I think, but mostly he just looked affectionately smug.
“Not much further, love. You going to make it?” Amusement and affection laced his voice.
I glared at him. When his grin only grew broader, I caved. I found him utterly irresistible in every circumstance and I blamed my lack of resistance to his charm when my glare dissolved into an answering grin. I shook my head, dismayed but so utterly in love with him that I struggled to care.
His gaze softened, holding mine as the sun continued to sink below the rolling verdant hills. We were almost there, and likely high enough for what we wanted to see. The blaze of evening sun was somehow soft and fierce as it set the sky aglow.
I kept my eyes on the horizon, glowing a deep gold now as the sky above began to shift from bronze to gray. The watercolor sunset was a sight to see, but it wasn’t what we came for.
The promise of a velvet night and a sky full of stars over the ridges and rolling hills of the island coast was what we’d come for. I asked for stars and he promised to deliver. So here we were. Hiking the endless mountain, teetering on utter annoyance and anticipation.
He was right, there wasn’t much further to go. Before I could finish reminding myself how worth it the view was going to be, it took my breath anew. The ache in my thighs from navigating the soft ground and sharp incline seemed to dull as we created the hilltop and the valleys and neighboring peaks were bathed in the last licks of evening sun.
It set as we settled. He pulled me into his lap atop a rock, angling our bodies toward the clearest view of a rapidly darkening sky. I melted into him, my head falling back against one broad shoulder. His arms settled around my waist, lips pressing against my jaw briefly as he dipped his chin into the hollow of my shoulder.
I could have waited like this forever, or at least for the night. Patience and contentment blanketed me in a way I so rarely felt in life. My curves against his edges was exactly where I wanted to be, where I needed to be.
Between every breath, now matched in time with his, the sky shifted just a little further from the slate post-sunset glow toward the deep velvet of full night. The stars came out, muted at first but as the world pitched into darkness, they shone in stark relief.
When I caught sight of the first shooting star, my breath caught.
When the second streaked across the inky sky, I gasped.
His arms tensed around me and I felt him smile into my hair as he pressed a kiss to the top of my head.
“Surprise,” his voice was low, the heat of it caressing my ear as he spoke the word directly against my skin, “There’s a meteor shower tonight.”
Tears sprang to my eyes, one falling before I could stop it as I turned. I moved away from him but only to meet his gaze and let my gratitude and shock show in my eyes.
He grinned, looking equal parts proud of himself and excited.
I threw my arms around his neck, whispering a mantra of “thank you” against his skin between peppered kisses as he stood. He lifted me then, turning so I could still see the stars, falling at an increasing pace, over his shoulder as he held me.
Some time passed in silent wonderment as we stood, each of us focused on the magic of the night around us. Without making the conscious choice to, we began swaying in the starlight.
To the soundtrack of our heartbeats and the quiet of the wind, we danced under falling stars. In the dim light, the vibrant landscape was cast in striking monochrome contrast.
As if he heard my thoughts, he spoke.
“Somehow, even in a grayscale world, I can still see all your gorgeous colors.”
His lips brushed mine softly, the kiss so tender that my knees buckled. His arm tightened around my waist, holding me in place against him as he continued, “The entire world could be out of focus,painted in black and white. But you will always be crystal clear to me.”
I looked up at him, speechless at his tenderness, but he wasn’t speechless and he wasn’t done talking.
One arm unwound from around my waist as he took a step back and nodded vaguely toward the show that continued on all around us. I was caught between the wonder of standing atop a hill in a veritable snowglobe of celestial proportions and the wonder of the man in front of me.
“Look at the stars, love. Do you see them all?”
I looked out across the horizon, giving the stars my full attention as I nodded.
“We’ve come so far from those doorstep kisses we started with. Did you ever think we’d end up here?”
I shook my head, confusion beginning to stir in the back of my mind, but it was a distant third to the wonder of the things I was seeing and hearing.
“I didn’t either, if I’m honest.But here we are. Here you are. And there is nowhere else I want to be. Well….” he trailed off, taking a ragged breath and for the first time I noted the rapid flutter of his pulse as he stepped away from me. I reached for him, immediately feeling the loss of his touch as I always did. But he merely reached into his coat pocket briefly before pulling me against him once more.
“There is nowhere else I want to be,” he repeats, “And no one else I want to be here with. There will never be anyone for me but you.”
Once more, he withdrew the hand at my waist and opened it, palm up and shaking.
The breath in my lungs stilled as my heart began to pound at the tenderness, intention in his words and what lay in his hand.
“The way you love me left me with no choice but to give that same love back to you. Not that I’d ever choose differently. I’d choose you a thousand times over and nothing else. I promise to love you for the rest of my life, if you’ll have me.”
In the starlight, the shimmer of a gem caught and so did my breath. I met his eyes, speechless for the most part.
Except for the one word that mattered most.
The only one in my mind or my heart.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“Yes?” he echoed as he reached for the ring he held.
“Yes.” Stronger this time, louder, as the grin began to creep across my face and tears gathered once more in my eyes.
All around us, the stars continued to shimmer and fall as he slipped the starlit magic he held onto my finger. With wonder and tears in his eyes, he kissed my knuckle just above the ring that now marked me as his before pulling me into him.
He hugged me, and I held him right back.
“I make no promises,” I said softly, “beyond this one.”
His eyes met mine.
“I promise that I’ll love you for the rest of my life.”
I echoed his words back to him, and then I kissed him. Among the stars, the sky and the entire world, there was nothing but us.
Even as time slowed, we continued to dance and the stars continued to fall.
What was the last dream that you had? My dreams are often long, epic, and make me feel more tired than when I fell asleep. But sometimes, my dreams can be so mundane that I have no idea if I'm awake or asleep. What if I told that one of my dreams happened in reality?
It was a dream from a long time ago, if high school is a long time ago. In this dream I was walking down a road that I didn't know, yet it felt very familiar to me. I belonged there but I had never been there before. It was a very surreal feeling. Dreams often come with a surreal aspect, but this was just a little more than usual.
When the dream started, I was walking down the sidewalk into a small looking town. I felt comfortable. There were schools of some sort with kids running around yelling to left and a Church I had never seen before down a little way on the right with someone just passing through the gate. There were brightly colored road signs that I could see markings on, but I couldn't read them. They weren't in any language that I knew or recognized but that didn’t faze me.
It was a hot day with clear skies, although it was hazy. I remember being perturbed because of how hot it was. While walking, I realized I wasn't alone and there was a shorter woman next to me. I couldn't see hear face all that well but she was smiling. She was talking and some of it was just all fuzzy and some of it was in focus. What really stood out to me though was the lilt of her voice. I knew she was speaking a language I understood because we were having a conversation, but the rhythm and cadences were unfamiliar to me. I was having fun and smiling along with her.
Just then, a huge dark green car came up to us and stopped for a moment. I couldn't make out what was said, but the conversation was short and tense. Then, the car was driving away and we started walking again, though the atmosphere from before had been ruined. We exchanged frustrated words about the car that had come and gone. Just when I looked over to her, her face was pulled out of my vision for a reason unknown to me. She let out an exasperated sigh and agitatedly pushed a clump of her long black hair behind an ear, causing a simple cherry blossom earring to twinkle in the sunlight. 'How pretty' I thought to myself.
That was the end of the dream.
It was a sudden and jarring end. I woke up completely disoriented and couldn’t recognize where I was. It felt like I was sinking slowly back into my body. There were a good few minutes before my eyes recognized the dresser drawers of my bedroom and the mess on the floor. During the entire time I regained my bearings, I felt like I had just been ripped away from something that belonged to me, a place that I was supposed to be. A heavy loneliness passed through my body followed by a strange longing to get up and go. Where? I had no idea, but I wanted to go, to leave. That was soon replaced by this unexplainable feeling that everything was going to be fine and even though I wasn't there anymore it was something for me to look forward to.
When I finally realized where I was, my heart was light and I had forgotten most of it. The only thing I remembered clearly was that beautiful cherry blossom earring and how it twinkled in the sunlight. I couldn’t forget it. It became a fixture in my class notes. While the teacher was lecturing, I would sometimes draw this earring if my hands were idle. Looking back on it now, this dream may have been the spark that lit the fire of travel in me. I've always had this longing to go somewhere else, somewhere on the other side of the world. It was more intense afterwards. It was after this dream that I sat down seriously and started a list of places around the world that I wanted to visit.
8 years later.
By this time, I was in Korea and had been teaching English for about a year. I had indeed left to the other side of the world like I had always wanted. It was the middle of the summer and I was not happy about it. If you don't know, summer in South Korea is brutal. The sun is scorching and there is so much humidity hanging in the air that sometimes it feels like you are breathing underwater. Every breath is laborious and just doesn't have enough oxygen. It is the kind of summer where you stand outside for not even a second and you have got rivers of sweat running down your forehead and back. It is the kind of summer that just pulls all the energy out of you. Nothing ever gets dry and everything molds.
I had planned to avoid the evening summer sun. However, my plans instantly changed when the Art teacher at my school asked me if I would like to accompany her on a walk with her dog. Her dog was an absolute gem. I loved him so much. Her dog was a big dog in South Korea but actually only a medium sized dog when compared to dogs in the USA. He had wiry grey and white hair with the kindest brown eyes. His paws were big and he was an absolute coward. Of course, I was going to go on a walk with the Art teacher. She was also my good friend and always took care of me. There was no way I could say no.
School had finished and we had agreed to meet in ten minutes. That was just enough time to go home and set our bags down. There was no rush as I went home but I remember this fluttering feeling, as though something was about to happen, flitting around inside me. I didn’t give it much thought and brushed it off as left-over stress from a full day of teaching.
The sun was still high in the sky when we started our walk. Her dog was very excited and refused to leave any slack on the leash as we strolled around our small town. Along the way, we talked about students and how they were doing in both English and Art class. The students were in the middle of projects and both of us were afraid that they wouldn't be able to finish them before the end of year festival. We had hoped that these projects would be displayed in a gallery for the parents and grandparents to view before the closing performances. We talked about dance class and plans for summer vacation. We were just about to finish our loop as we walked past the school when I felt something shift.
I was looking at her dog then my eyes caught a familiar silhouette and glanced up to double check. The road stretched out in front of me in a strange way and time seemed to slow a fraction of a second. I felt a disconnect in that moment. The colorful road signs said 'slow' and 'school area'. I heard my students playing soccer in the field across the street on the left. One of the students yelled in frustration that another was cheating. The Catholic church, where I just noticed one of our administrators walk into, was just down the way a little on the right. I made a joke about being just as dehydrated as her dog sounded as he pulled against the leash. She laughed a little. It made me smile.
Something in the back of my mind brought up such an intense feeling of nostalgia that I had to pause mid step. The Art teacher looked at me in confusion as I looked around. It felt as if I was seeing everything for the first time again. It all looked the same but different and lost all sense of familiarity. I couldn't tell if I was dreaming or if I was awake.
While we were stopped, a huge car with camo coloring pulled up beside us. There was an old man inside who pointed at the dog and reprimanded the Art teacher for not picking up her dog's feces. He claimed that she was being irresponsible and that her dog was the one making a mess of the town. She raised a bag that had been used at the beginning of the walk and waved it at the old man who sported a disgusted expression. She told him she knew what she was doing and thanked him "politely". He shook his head and then roared away.
This all happened right next to me but I felt like I was watching from the wrong perspective. It was disorienting. I looked over to apologize to her for stopping so suddenly. Just then, her dog rushed forward and yanked her out of my vision. She let out a frustrated sigh and pulled him back. He sat down and the Art teacher pushed a clump of hair that had fallen into her face from the sudden movement behind her ear to reveal a that beautiful pick cherry blossom earring. It glinted in the sunlight and I said "That's pretty."
In a rush my dream came back like a ton of bricks and my disconnectedness resynced. It was all there. It was a strange sensation as the peripheral details filled in like ink. The kids yelling became them playing soccer, the person entering the church became an acquaintance. The colorful signs in a language that I hadn't known how to read back then were there but now I understood them. Everything was the same, down to the color of the car and the old man. The Art teacher was there and her face filled in. That cherry blossom earring was exactly the same as well. I now knew why we had stopped and why the Art teacher suddenly disappeared from my sight. It made sense why she had to pull her hair behind her ear.
I was floored and swayed slightly because I was suddenly dizzy. The Art teacher gave me a concerned once over and declared that it was time to end the walk and go home to get some water in us. I chuckled and agreed since we were almost home anyway. We went back to our respective houses and I sat down on my bed in shock for a moment. Something unbelievable had happened.
Now, I have experienced Déjà Vu a few times, but this time it was quite a bit stronger than the others. There have been small ones and there have been other big ones like this. There have been some that have happened quickly and there have been some that have been years and years apart.
Scientist try to explain Déjà Vu by saying that it is a memory that has been misfiled in the brain. However, after that experience, I can't say that I agree. I don't know exactly what Déjà Vu is, but I can tell you that it could be a misfiling for memories but it also could be something else. How else would I have known about the earring and drawn in for years afterwards? Unless my brain made up those memories on the spot. But, I know that's not true because I checked my notes.
So, are some Déjà Vu actually prophetic dreams? Or are they really just a mistake of the brain? I don't think we can ever really know the answer to that. What do you think?