It was getting harder to see the street signs. I didn’t realize how late it had gotten until I was looking at darkness. I sighed, a miserable feeling still playing with my face and heart. I was concerned about her, concerned about me for being concerned. Yet, after I turned the lights on so I could see the road, I kept going.
I didn’t turn around, thinking only of the worst-case scenario.
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I woke up several years ago, having experienced a dream unlike any other. In it was a stranger whose face I never forget. The eyes, the voice, everything. I knew what she was like and I had never met her. Not once did I consider her to be a figment of my subconscious imagination. I knew her, I knew she existed.
The dreams happened often. I would be there, she would be there, we saw each other, were drawn to each other. What I saw in those dreams didn’t sit well with me. At times she was happy, other times she wasn’t. Those were the times that hurt the most. I wanted to do something, but every time she looked at me, I would look away, afraid.
Last night was the worst one yet.
I saw her crying. Such sadness I could not take my eyes away. She tried to hide it, but I knew then and there I had to do something. For my sake as well as hers. I needed to talk to her, really talk to her. Not the dialogue of the mind. She was the first to find out where I lived, it took me longer to find her. All that I had to do was get in my car and drive on roads I’ve never driven before, go somewhere I’ve never been and knock on her door.
The fact that I never heard her knock on my door was what kept me from visiting her in the first place. Perhaps that’s the same reason she never did come to see me. Maybe we were both scared of knocking on the door and finding someone else. That alone would break the illusion that we both so thoroughly believed in. Fear made it easy for us to stay apart, better to keep dreaming and never lose each other.
I had entered the city.
My thoughts on how it all started, on the dream I had the night before, paused for a moment. I followed the GPS to the street, gliding through late-night traffic. The buildings were ominous against the midnight sky. Their imposing silhouettes seemed to crane over me, looking down on me. I wanted at that moment to call someone I knew, tell them everything and have them tell me to come home. I needed a reason to make me run.
But I didn’t pick up the phone, I didn’t search for that reason too hard either. The street was coming up. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know if I could even turn my head to look for the building in the first place. My heart was fit to burst.
The tears I saw her cry last night played in my mind. My eyes watered.
I started looking for the building. I didn’t look for long. I saw it almost instantly and it took all my attention. I parked the car before I crashed into someone and I sat there at the wheel, mouth hanging open as if I were already seeing her in the flesh. Breathing became slow as if my body resisted the urge to exhale.
“Please be real,” I began. “Please, if you are real, tell me that you know me too. Don’t hesitate, I-I don’t know if I have the strength to...I don’t…”
I had sat there long enough. It was close to dawn when I entered the city, but now the sun was peeking out over the horizon. The road was still in shadow, but it wouldn’t be for long. It was so early in the morning. Should I even bother her now? At this time? I didn’t have any answers, not one. I was a boy again, called up to the blackboard and asked to solve a problem I could barely understand.
I was on the pavement. How did I get there? I didn’t know. I just thanked whatever part of my paralyzed mind and walked slowly towards the door. She was asleep, she had to be. Yet, I didn’t care. I reached towards the door, stopped and saw the doorbell. No hesitation, I pushed it.
I could see her so clearly in my mind now. Standing there, blonde hair and eyes that told me she recognised me. There was no response at the door, but I didn’t ring the bell again. I knew she heard, I just needed to wait. Oh, waiting was hard enough.
I heard the clicks of locks and the door swung inwards.
I could have cried then and there.
It was her. The one I wanted to promise everything to, give my all to. She looked a little different, perhaps the hair a little shorter or a little longer, or the curve of her lips, or even the shade of her eyes. She asked me something.
“Can I help you?”
I didn’t know what to say. Her face didn’t betray any recognition. She looked at me with caution, one hand resting on the door. I wanted her to close it and save me the embarrassment. I wanted my body to respond to me so I could respond to her. Instead, it waited for something to change. I felt something in my mind go cold, a strange connection.
“I-I wanted to ask you something,” I finally said. It took so much effort to even bring myself to speak to her.
Her expression changed a little. Caution was still there, but I saw something else. I couldn’t pin it down, but it was something that gave me the courage to ask her.
“Do you know me?” I asked.
She let go of the door and met my eyes with more confidence. I saw myself at that moment. She had the same level of awkwardness, that same insecurity. It was her, from the dreams.
“I know you.”
I saw the tears and at once we embraced.
“I was hoping you would s-say that.”