Wednesday, 23 August 2017
A part from you
The dreams are similar but infinitely varied: sometimes it is day, sometimes it transpires at night; sometimes the whole school is watching, forty souls all holding on to an in-breath; shock, awe and almost spiritual terror keeping everything else at bay. Other times he is alone, but when he is in the wood he is not always alone; someone else is there beside him but he can not make out who they are.
But there is always one constant: It, the unknowable object that hovers in front of him, threatening to shut his rational mind down. It’s almost easier to contemplate seeing it in a dream, pretend that was all it was, that it never really happened. But it did, and his life was never the same.
Sometime he wakes up in a sweat, and for a second it’s like he’s back in the wood that first time; when he truly woke up. Everything else since that day has been a fantasy, ethereal; the world just a sponge: full of holes and malleable; nothing ever having any solidity any more.
Adam was 15 when the unknowable object landed in the playing field adjacent to his school. It was the end of the day and most of the children had gone home otherwise there would have been more of a panic. As it was, there was a handful of pupils that had stayed behind for special projects, but Adam was the only one who was brave(?) enough to venture close to IT. The remaining teachers and pupils were frozen in time, unable to move even if they had wanted to. Adam was insistent and managed to climb through a gap in the metal fence that the caretaker had been too lazy to fix.
Something drove him, pushed him closer, ever closer and with each step he felt the air become charged, denser as if he was walking through thunder.
It hung there, defying gravity, logic and God. It didn’t belong, it felt wrong; everything about it. The way it pulsated, changing colour like it was litmus paper, like a chameleon: silver, gold, red… the air was dense with the smell of ozone and a rose-petal scent as every atom seemed to vibrate in his body as he reached out. Now it was he who felt a prisoner in his own body, horrified as he watched his own hand reach out to IT, to touch IT. He knew that he couldn’t stop it; his only hope, that he could wake before it took him.
Lill felt like a prisoner in her own life, always living someone else’s; someone to be used, torn up and then discarded, and her dreams were no different. She only ever remembered the one dream anyways; always the same dream and, just as in her life, the dream was always happening to someone else.
It was a boy, someone she cared about; possibly the only one she had ever cared about, on a level that she never thought was impossible. It almost physically hurt knowing that she was a part from him.
Something was happening; something had appeared that should never have been there. She felt helpless, watching the boy walk towards it, every muscle in her wanting to do the same but unable to get her body to comply. The boy seemed as much prisoner as her, obviously not wanting to be there; the fear palpable, tears streaming down their face. His hand reaching out to the death of childhood, a stronger pulse, a searing heat and then her everything draining of colour, leaving her awake, barely.
She was used to sleeping alone; the night fears making it easier for Clive, her husband, to have his own bed. They had been married only six months, the latest in a long line of failed relationships. Clive, at least, did not physically abuse her.. but at least that would count as contact. Since being married he had gone from constantly putting her down to barely acknowledging her presence, to completely ignoring her.
And who knows, maybe that was all she was good for. She never seemed to have anything worth contributing. She was incapable of having children, possessed no qualities that made her worth remembering, which had kept her in the same position in work for many years, with no prospect of promotion. But then she had no desires of her own, no aspirations, she felt barren.
No, there was one person that made her feel whole, that had always made her feel as if she was someone: Adam, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember why that was. Her memories were so vague due to some kind of head trauma, no doubt. Yet when she heard the news broadcast she suddenly remembered what was missing and what she must do next.
Adam felt like throwing the radio against the wall after hearing the asinine broadcast about the reunion. They called it the “Return of the Mothership” and made it sound just like any other excuse for a drunken piss-up. Damn it! This was his life; it was the only event that had ever meant something and they had cheapened it.
“Is everything alright?” The woman lying next to him asked. The radio had woken her up; his dreams already acting as an alarm clock. She would never understand so he told her to go back to sleep. He couldn’t remember her name anyway, there seemed little point, he’d be gone in ten minutes.
Most of the time he could do without people; their inanities and insistence at their own self-importance nagged him. He alone had seen beyond the veil; the Object had taken him there; wherever that meant. Time just seemed to pass for him now, it was something else that happened to everyone but not him; he had no passion or drive –just for a completeness that he could never satisfy. Every so often thought he could bear it no longer and had to give in; drown that unquenchable desire to be one with someone and afterwards he would loathe himself for it.
He hadn’t always been this way. Life used to have meaning back when he was a child, before…
There had been …
..had he touched the object? Everyone had insisted that he had but he couldn’t remember. His memory was terribly fragmented –he knew that he had reached out to it, his fingers tingling the closer he got; then there was a blinding light and he was awake; deep in Franklyn’s Wood at night, whereas it had been daylight beforehand.
For twenty years he had lived with this unknowable thing, this loss; but no longer. The fates were conspiring and he could now get some answers with someone else; for maybe she would be there too.
There were two types of people at the re-union; those that had actually witnessed the incident and wanted some closure and the weirdo’s, those that wanted to believe and had watched far too many episodes of the X-Files (and had watched Buffy before that, wanting to believe in vampires, and if they had lived in Conan Doyle’s time then they probably would have believed in fairies at the bottom of the garden rather than think for themselves.)
Then there was Adam and Lilith. No one noticed Lilith when she walked into the hall where the reunion was taking place. Everyone assumed that she was one of the “believers” and she was too shy to actually start a conversation with anyone.
When Adam walked into the room everyone turned as one. Everyone knew who he was and why he had come; even if he didn’t. He had wanted to blend in, walk about as inconspicuously as possible and almost turned around to run out again; but then he saw her. Like long lost lovers they ran to each other and embraced, everyone else looking at them with obvious bemusement: just who was she?
Time passed, Adam and Lill chatted like they were old friends, almost forgetting what had brought them to the reunion, and then a voice from the stage brought the present crashing back down.
“Please could all those who were there that night follow me to the fence outside. We don’t want anyone else there; we’ll know, so please don’t try. This isn’t for you; this is for us, so we can hopefully understand what happened.”
Like a procession, both ex-teachers and ex-pupils gathered at the now rusting fence, a crudely chalked “X” on the field in front where the Object had hung.
Adam stood at the back with Lill, holding hands and when everyone had reached the fence they all turned round to look at her. “Why have you come here?” Someone demanded. “We asked only for those who were there that afternoon.”
“I was there.” Lill protested.
All shook their heads whilst Adam protested her innocence. They didn’t want to know, “Yes, you were there, Adam. You were the one that brought this upon us; you wouldn’t listen and had to touch it… but she wasn’t there.”
Lill shook her head in disbelief, this couldn’t be happening. This was the only event that had ever held any meaning for her and now she was being told that the people that she hoped would understand her couldn’t remember her either. She started sobbing and wrenched her hand away from Adam. The gap in the fence was still prominent, like a tear into the past and she slipped through it and ran for the sanctuary of Franklyn’s Wood, now deep in night time shadow.
Adam looked at those who he’d hoped would give him some resolution but he could see that they were just as empty, looking for him to add meaning. It was her, it was Lill; she was the only one that could help him and he knew that he could help her so he ran after her as fast as he could.
The past doppled around him as he got the strangest sense of déjà vu. It took a couple of minutes but he finally caught up with her. She was inconsolable at first, wanting her life to finally have meaning. He held her face in his hands and kissed her lightly on the lips: “You are the only one that’s ever meant anything to me.”
As they kissed again the air around them became electric, a sodium light pulsated throwing flickering shadows across the wood. Adam knew why they’d been brought back there and he also remembered what had happened that day.
The Unknowable Object had held everyone stationery for hours, no one aware of the passage of time until suddenly it flew up into the air, releasing everyone. Adam couldn’t let it go; his compunction was to run after it, especially when he saw it land in Franklyn’s Wood.
He not only chased it, but he found it hovering where they were standing now. It was then that he had reached out as it was spinning, pulsing a globulous red, but it was cold to the touch. He never registered the shift to unconsciousness only the groggy coming to later.
“And had you looked to your side upon waking you would’ve seen me lying there where I had not been before.” Lill replied to his unspoken question.
“I’ve always known that you existed even though my conscious mind would never allow it.”
“So what now? How can we carry on?”
The light coalesced in front of them, red shifting, become whole. They looked at each other, Adam and Lillith, originally one soul. Holding hands, now of one mind, they smiled, perhaps for the first time; knowing no other and walked as one into the light.