This is part of Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge. It was started with 200 words by Ambien Grey and continued 200 more by Tony Taylor. I decided to continue it and bring it to 800 words, so Ambien could finish it if she so wished. It’s called Dreamcatcher.
Miles away she was dreaming about him again.
As in real life, he was sitting on the edge of a low wall, on some unidentifiable beach, his left hand raised toward the sky, fingers spread wide. Sunlight filled the spaces between. The sound of waves rolling by filled his ears – and hers, in her dream – and the scent of salty water hung in the air. She could smell it, too.
She watched him from a rise ahead, but he didn’t see her for the longest time. He looked magnificent, ethereal; unreal – the sun cast a yellow light around him, making him glow. His ginger hair lit up in a fiery brilliance, contrasting strongly his pale features, altogether emphasizing his deep green eyes. The ocean and the sunset behind him, everything to see back there, yet his arm was raised as though reaching for something ahead.
And then he saw her, his eyes sighting her between his fingers. Slowly, carefully, they closed, as if around her – she could feel him around her, like he’d caught her in a hug. Tighter, and tighter, squeezing until she could no longer breath.
Eyes shut tight, her mind racing desperately; finally, she forced herself awake.
It wasn’t safe for her to keep returning to the dream. The habits of years and the heaviness of heart beating all these years had taken their toll. Her psychiatrist warned that her constant recollection of the incident and refusal to let go would affect her health and mind.
Was this an infection of the mind?
Turning over in her bed, she pulled the covers tightly around herself.
How could she ever put Michael’s death behind her? Even in the pain, the dream was now her only way of keeping Michael alive and in her life.
Despite her Dr. Mitchell’s insistence, this dream was more than just a dream. Michael’s appearance, and the ocean always remained the same with every smell…with every sound.
She moved through the dream so that she could get to that one point, where Michael closed his eyes and she would welcome the stifling grasp of his soul to her soul.
Even half asleep, she felt her breathing shorten. This wasn’t some errant wish to change reality. Michael was reaching out to her and she had to be there for him even if it meant damaging herself in the process.
What mother wouldn’t sacrifice all for her child?
If dreaming was the only way for her unborn child to feel his father’s presence, she would cling to it despite her doctor’s advice.
She found a cool spot on her pillow, closed her eyes and tried to go back to sleep, steadying her breathing. Her hand was on her stomach, where a part of Michael was growing inside her.
Soon, the smell of salt and the sounds of the ocean came to her. She saw the wall, then Michael’s figure. His hand reached for the sky. He saw her through his fingers. This was her chance, before he closed his eyes and suffocated her. She longed to feel the embrace that always came, but knew she needed to do this, for their child.
She put her hand up, for once taking an active part in the dream. Green eyes stared at her from the wall. She tried to take a step, but her feet couldn’t move in the sand even if she desperately wanted them to. The distance between her and the wall where Michael was sitting stretched longer and panic washed over her.
She was losing Michael. He was still looking at her but he was receding in the horizon.
“Michael!” she shouted, but no sound came out, her voice mute. Cold wind was now coming from the ocean, the waves rolling higher.
She could feel her baby in her big belly, like a separate entity, its weight and shape well defined inside her.
With the next wave, the dream shifted. Michael was behind her. He put his hand around her and stroked their baby. Her heartbeat slowed and she realized it had been racing. Michael’s hand was warm on her stomach. She felt the heat reach the womb. Calm, like a heavy blanket, came over her. All she could feel was the connection between Michael’s hand and the baby.
She was at peace, with Michael at her back, his hand on her stomach, the baby protected.
All too soon, Michael’s presence melted into her body, taking up space, squeezing her lungs, her heart. She knew what was coming. The familiar embrace closed around her, like a vice, tighter and tighter. The feel of Michael’s hand on her stomach dissolved into a hot sensation going through her, through the baby, to merge with Michael’s melting presence at her back.
She barely heard “thank you”, a mere whisper carried with the waves.