"You don't even know my name," I say to the man standing in the shadows. "Why'd you call me?"
The man shrugs. "No idea." I think he is smiling in the dark. "I guess you remind me of someone."
"I see," I lie. It is a windy night, not really cold, just windy. I listen to the wind scratch the fallen leaves against the pavement while silence ensues between us. He is studying me I think. I wonder if I should leave and go back to the party or wait for him to say something.
"Well?" I state, growing impatient.
"I'm looking at you," he says. "I'm looking at the wind is blowing through your hair and pressing that silver gown against your body."
"You're full of poetic bullshit," I say. I turn away from him, whoever this stranger is.
"You're sad," he says.
"Therefore?" I mutter, mostly to my self as I walk away from him. I take off my shoes to give my sore feet freedom. "Maybe I like being sad." The concrete below my feet is deliciously cool as my soles crush the fallen leaves.
"Do you know why you're sad?"
I wish I did. sometimes I feel such emptiness it hurts to live. I just want to forget. I just want to be happy. I look up at a lamplight while the wind blows the leaves about in the air.
"Maybe it's a gift." I whisper. I can still hear the music from the party. I start dancing to it, under the lamplight, with the leaves swirling around me. I reach out for the leaves. "Sadness brings out the soul in you. Helps the artist. I seem to remember something now though I'm not quite sure what. Whatever it was came and left in a blink but it's making me feel happier. I smile.. I feel so beautiful. Then I realise the man is looking at me. I don't stop. I don't want to stop feeling beautiful.
"Lilia," the man whispers. I stop. The music stops. The wind stops. The air suddenly seems to get cold.
"Come out in the light and let me see you," I tell him. The man approaches me warily. I don't recognize him at all and I tell him that. He reaches out to touch my face, and then quickly draws back his hand.
"I didn't think you'd recognize me, let alone remember me." He smiles. I think it's a sad smile. "But you remember the name Lilia."
"My name isn't Lilia," I tell him the truth, but I can't look into his eyes with the name in my thoughts.
"I know," he says. He is a handsome man. I can't make out his age, he seems ageless. There is a coldness about him, yet that coldness is softened by his warm eyes. No not warm. Tired, weary maybe. Or perhaps softened by the years. But not warm.
"Leave me alone," I tell him, my back to him as I clutch the lamp post.
"You'll never change," he tells me in a soft gentle voice. I'm sure he smiled when he said that, maybe a soft gentle smile, maybe a kind smile. "Sleep well Deidre."
He's already gone when I turn to him. Deidre, that's my name. I shiver. I can hear the music again but the cold won't leave me. I just stare at the space where he had been. I reach out to catch a few falling leaves in my hand.
"What are you doing here?" a familiar voice calls out. In his space I see Terence walking towards me, smiling. I smile back. Terry is a sweet guy. He loves me a lot. I don't know why. I wonder if even he knows.
"Nothing." I smile at him. "Nothing at all."
"You look beautiful," he says. He takes my hand, brushing the leaves away. "Etherial, like a fairy princess." He kisses my forehead. "Let's go back," he whispers and leads me through the swirls of leaves.
"Fairy princess huh?" I smile and giggle. The warmth of Terry's arms drives the chill away from me. He stops suddenly. "They're playing our song. May I have this dance?" he asks politely. He wraps his arms around me and I close my eyes. We dance under the moonlight, leaves snowing on us.
"When I saw you there, I thought I knew you from another world," he whispers almost dreamily. "Maybe another time."
"Hmm?" I ask, not really paying attention.
"Nevermind," he says with a smile and places a light kiss on my lips. I just hold him tightly.
Oh my lord, you are God, but I am merely mortal. Let me go home.
Let me return to my world. The Mother She beckons me. I must return.
I must die upon the land that gave birth to me. Let me go.
That night I dream. I don't remember the dream. It was about Lilia again I think. But the words. Those damn words, they're still in my head. Terry is soundly sleeping beside me. I wonder if he would understand if I told him, about those damn words, the damn voices and the damn images- they stay in my head for hours and hours until I paint them away, make them solid, real. Only then can I put them away.
I kiss his arm and then stare at ceiling, listening to the sounds of the morning- the birds, the vehicles, the bark of dogs.
Another world another time. Perhaps. Just perhaps. When Terry begins to stir I decide to start the day, first with a cup of tea. With that in hand I sit out in the balcony to enjoy the early morning rays. It's a beautiful morning, sky crystal clear and the air so fresh. Dalewood is a beautiful town.
Yet I don't belong. I get that feeling again. It's not a new feeling, but it seems to be getting stronger as the days pass. I'm begining to feel more lost. I smile a bit when Terry comes and sits beside me.
"You're looking ponderous again," he says to me and tucks a stray lock of my hair behind my ear.
"Sure, right." I roll my eyes.
"The artist is out in you again," he jokes "Should I go and fetch your canvas and easel before the thought passes your mind like a faint whisper? What medium do you prefer today? Oil, pastel, water colours?"
"You're learning poetry, I see," I state.
He chuckles. "Yeah, I've been hanging around you too much. You bring out the poetry in me."
"Romantic fool." I rest my head on his chest.
"Definitely." He smiles. "I see the tortured soul in thee, and it saddens me thus. Will my love tell me what drives this soul to the depths it is into? I cannot rest, for my soul seeks thine. But where does thy soul lie? Why can I not reach thy soul?"
"Thou art filled with bullshit," I mumble, stroking his cheek. Terry is smelling nice, of a fresh bath and something else. If dreams had a smell I think that's what Terry's smelling of. A fresh bath and dreams.
"Only for you, my love, only for you am I filled with such."
"Idiot. Time to shut up." We chuckle quietly, basking in the sunlight filtering through the filigree of creeping vines.
Little mortal, you will never defy God again.
I blink. I can't remember the words I was about to say to him.
"You okay? Looks like you blanked out for a second there."
"Yeah," I rub my face uneasily. "I received a message from my home planet." I manage a smile.
"Just as I suspected." Terry pats my back and goes back to reading the papers.
Marta comes to visit us for lunch. She's a fortune teller, and she's actually quite good at it. Except when it comes to me it seems. The last time she tried to read my fortune, she said she saw nothing but mist. Terry doesn't believe in such things and insists on not having anything to do with it either. I don't like Marta much. It her eyes I think. Sometimes she stares at you so intensely that you just want to evaporate. Either her eyes or the fact that she doesn't like me because Terry used to be her boyfriend before I came along took him away. Terry thinks I bitch too much about her.
We are having pizza for lunch. I'm craving meat but Marta is a vegetarian. She doesn't like other people consuming meat in front of her either.
"I had this really lovely dream once," I tell Marta. "A dream with me living in this community thing... primitive sort of. We had very nice clothes though. We chanted some prayers to a mother goddess. For some reason the language was middle English, or something like that. Anyway this was just before winter so it was something we had to do, you know, you can't farm when it snows."
Terry pinches my thigh. I ignore him.
"Anyway, we chanted some words, to the spirit of the animals and then we went hunting, for bison like things. They weren't really bison. More like yaks, with white fur. We chased after it with spears and we killed it. The first spear, and our spears were magic so they never missed, went straight to the head, so don't worry, it died quickly."
Terry pinches my thigh again and glares at me. I give him a quick pout.
Marta looks at me with her piercing blue eyes. I quickly look away from her and go back to eating pizza. Her eyes are scaring me.
"Interesting dream," she says. "How well do you remember it?"
"Very well," I reply. "Do you want desert? Oh the bison was old and sick and would have died from the cold anyway. The spirit told us that. I'll get the dessert."
I leave my half finished slice of pizza for the kitchen. I hear Terry sound a little appologetic on my behalf. Then he comes up behind me and bites my neck. "You little bitch," he says, laughing.
"That was a very calculating dream. I'm sure you had it just so that you could taunt her with it."
I look at him. "No, I really had the dream. It was a very realistic dream. I mean the blood on our hands felt real... warm and all, even as we rubbed it on our faces. I left that part out. I'm not that insensitive. And after that thing I dressed up in this dress... a lovely dark green dress." I get entranced remembering my dream. I can even smell the air of the forests and feel the chill of autumn. "And I was wearing a crown made of vines with red berries. I think I was a princess. And there was this really strange music and I was dancing and leaves were falling all around me. I was feeling so beautiful." I smile. But Terry suddenly looks concerned. "What?" I ask.
"Why are you looking so troubled?"
"I'm not." He takes the ice cream from me and goes back to the living room.
My Lord, what do you wish of me? Do you wish to break my will?
Ah my Lord, be kind, for the mortal heart is friviolous.
The heart seeks only to be happy. How have I wronged thee?
Have I not loved thee well?
I cannot love thee fully if my heart wishes my home.
For my green valleys, for my trees for my earth.
Lord, let me leave.
I suddenly get a headache. The room seems to spin around me. Then I feel the cold floor hitting against me. Everything is spinning around me, spinning and spinning. I close my eyes to wish it off. I leave my eyes closed for a long time.
"Deidre? Sweetheart?" Terry whispers to me. I'm on a bed with a sheet pulled up until my neck. I open my eyes, only to see Marta looking straight into them. I almost gasp in fright. "Hush," Terry says soothingly, "it's okay, I'm here." I think I hear him say "I'm here to protect you" but I'm not sure because it sounds like he's talking in another language. Perhaps he never said it at all. Perhaps I'm delirious. Strange to be so aware of delirium when you're suffering it, I vaguely think and dismiss.
I cannot hear your words mortal. Your voice is poison in my ears.
Sentinels, take her away!
"Deidre, what are you holding inside you?" Marta asks. Her gaze holds mine. "You're holding something."
"Marta, no," Terry says. "Don't do that to her."
I cannot move. "I'm not holding anything," I say. I'm feeling very cold.
"You don't understand Terence," Marta tells him. "There is a deep dark secret within her." She is looking at him now. The rooms starts spinning again.
"No," Terry says defiantly.
"It could be dangerous."
I hear them argue but their their voices are fading fast.
"Terry!" I call out. The room is spinning faster and faster. I feel like I'm being sucked into the whirlpool. I close my eyes again.
My dear Lord, you are God and I am merely mortal. Why do you taunt me so? Why do you hate me so? Cannot God create a creature of his wish? Why do you taunt me so?
"You!" I call out to the man. We are standing in darkness but we can see each other, though just vague shapes in the mist. "What are you doing here?"
"Hmm, is that defiance I hear in your voice?" the man says. He's smiling. It one of those smiles a person has when he's remembering a sweet memory. I begin to feel the wind blowing around us. And then I hear the trees. We are now under the lamplight again, me and that stranger. Tiny yellow leaves from the flamboyant trees speckle my hair.
"I asked you a question," I tell him flatly. Again that smile from him.
"I came to see you," he says with a smile.
"What do you want from me?"
"Nothing," he says. "You've paid heavily already. I cannot take anything more from you. I just came to see how you were doing. Is that too much?"
"If I knew what the hell you were talking about, I might be able to decide for myself, don't you think?"
He smiles yet again. "Spunky, as always. Beautiful, as always," he looks like he is talking to himself. "A will that will not be broken. You suffered heavily for that."
"You've got the wrong person I think."
He smiles, sadly this time. "Perhaps my dear, perhaps." He approaches me. Again he's about to touch my cheek, and again he withdraws. But he takes my hand this time and kisses it. Then he begins to disppear. I try to hold on to him but he slowly slips away and it grows dark.
My Lord? MY LORD?? Why my Lord? Where are they leading me to? My Lord! Let me go. I beseech you. You're breaking my heart.
Terry helps me sit up and brings me a cup of tea.
"God I feel like a baby," I growl, feeling his hands clasped warmly over mine as he helps me drink it.
"I'll bet you like it," he says with a wink. He does not mention what happened yesterday. I can't remember and he won't tell me even if I ask. He says I just fainted, that's all. But I don't believe him. "How many husbands would pamper their sick wives? You aren't even sick." He sticks out his tongue. He draws the curtains open to let in the morning sun. Today is a bit cloudy but a nice day nevertheless. I'd like to go out for a walk later.
"So why are you doing it?" I ask, trying to look suspicious. Terry is such a sweet guy. And good looking too. And I think he'd make an excellent father. A new age man, or a fairy god husband. Same thing.
"I have my own selfish and convulated reasons," he replies, opening the windows. He takes a deep breath of fresh morning air. "And does the word 'love' mean anything to you, by any chance?"
"I'll think about it and tell you next year."
"I'll wait, my mistress."
"Terry! You're so sweet!" I complain. There's a story in the newspaper about a headless body of a woman found in the woods. For some reason I think of Marta. I shake the thought off. "I'm so cold and heartless and you love me so much. You take such good care of me. I feel so bad sometimes."
"Ah my love, you do thineself great injustice, for you are my delicate flower that must be cared for and loved for it to blossom. And if I hear thee say that again, I shall punch thee personally."
We start giggling. And then we kiss. And then we make love. But all the while I get this feeling of being watched.
YOU broke my heart mortal!
Sentinel, call out her punishment. Call out her doom. Call out the years that she must spend with no end in sight to fear and to pain.
Sentinel, why that silence? Sentinel, do your duty. Ignore this foolish mortal's tears. Turn your gaze away from her.
Terry goes off to work. I laugh when I think about being married to a model. My friends still don't believe it. I decide to do a bit of gardening. Not really gardening. I just sit out in the sun basking, then I borrow the neighbour's puppy for a while.
I begin to get that headache again. I crush a flower in my hand.
No more, mortal! Speak no more.
I ask myself why this is happening to me. I don't get a reply. Words just spin in my head, words and voices.
"Something troubles you?" It's that man again. My headache goes as suddenly as it came, but the voices are still there. I don't answer. I just stare at the flower I've just crushed. "A new one will bloom one day. You can pluck that one."
"Who are you?" The same words over and over again. Mortal, immortal. "Perhaps you don't exist." Perhaps I don't exist. I looked at him.
It is so dark in here lord. I'm so hungry. So thirsty. How long are you going to keep me here?
"Close your eyes," the man says.
I close my eyes. The man holds me in his arms. He swallows me. The voices get louder. One of the voices is mine.
Ah my Lord. We are but mortals. God you are. You taunt us so, if so you wish. You crush us so, if so you wish.
My day has come. I cannot believe it. It has finally come. Shackles around ankles and wrists I am led out. For the first time in a long long time, I am led out. I can finally go home.
The Sentinel half holds me upright, for I have grown so weak and these chains and shackles outweigh me. I think I remember the Sentinel's face but I am not sure. He doesn't look at me. I think I have forgotten how to speak. I can barely open my mouth. The Sentinel hands me over to the ladies in waiting. I am to be cleaned and dressed to be presented to the Lord. It is the Lord who is going to release me.
I am brought before the Lord. I can barely remember why he had done this to me, this handsome, noble looking Lord. He bows to me. "Your Majesty," he calls me. I don't know if I ever was one. All I want to do is go home, to my green valleys crystal lakes and my people.
Oh dear Mother Goddess, how I have missed you so. How I long for you to let me rest on thy bosom, and let me sleep, just sleep.
The Lord has laid out a bouquet for me. But ah, I've forgotten how to eat, drink. I sit at the table, as the meals are eaten, in my honour I think. Not a morsel goes in my mouth, not a sip touches my lips. The Lord does no ask me why I have not eaten or drank. I have forgotten to taste. He does not look at me. He is trying to avoid my eyes. I only want to go home. Then the Lord unlocks the door for me. The Sentinel is beside me. He will lead me out. Ah, I realise, this is the same Sentinel that led me to my prison. How appropriate it seemed. How ironic.
The door is opened before me.
Where is my world? Why, all
I see is dust, dust more dust.
An endless flat horizon.
Nothing but the pale grey ground.
Nothing but this dust.
Oh my land! The trees! The valleys!
The lakes! The people! Nothing now.
Just like my heart.
I kneel upon the ground. I feel it with my heart. But this is my land.
"The time of your world is ending," The Sentinel tells me. "Your people vanished a long time ago."
I clutch the ground, the dust. I feel an intense bitterness, loneliness. Hatred. My people were not meant to hate. But now I hate.
"My Lord asks you to come back with me, My lady. The sun is about to set. It will never rise again."
I look back at the doorway. There are so many things I want to scream out. But I can't. I've forgotten how to speak. I just clasp the ground while my bitter sobs tear me up inside. I have no tears to cry. I shake my head to the Sentinel. It is getting very cold. The sun is touching the horizon.
Oh my world. My jewel. I feel thy life fading inside me. I feel my life fading inside me. I was born out your kindness. I shall die with thee now.
"Lilia?" The Lord's voice calls in my head.
Is that my name? I had long forgotten my name.
"I betrayed you in this life. I betrayed your love and I betrayed your heart. But shall we ever meet again-"
"Go," I manage to tell the Sentinel, giving him leave. The word just barely manage to escape my mouth as I reach out for the last rays of the sun.
"I shall love you and cherish you..."
I am numb. I cannot move. I think I have frozen. I hear the wings of the Sentinel as he flies away.
"I grant you death now."
The sun sinks down the horizon. It will never rise again.
The man is looking at me. I recognise him now.
"Why are you here, my Lord?" The last two words a tinged with bitterness.
"I want to appologise. I never appologised."
I slap him. He takes the slap calmly. Smiles, infact. A sad smile. "Hatred stirs in those lovely eyes doesn't it?"
I don't answer him. I crouch on the floor, empty, thoughtless. Then I cover my face with my hands and sob. Perhaps these are the tears that I couldn't have shed when the sun went down.
"Let's go for a walk," he says after a while. He holds out his hand to me.
I look around me. "I'm home," I gasp. Tall ancient trees tower above me. I take his hand and he helps me get up. I brush a motley of leaves from the dark green dress I'm wearing.
The man smiles. "No, this is your dream," he says.
I sigh. "It's lovely. Was my world like this?" I have a crown of vines and berries on my head and my hair is speckled with tiny golden leaves. I take a deep breath of the strange air. I feel giddy, overwhelmed.
He nods. He picks up from a red leaf forest floor and gives it to me. "This is a virgin world. There is no one here but us. Just you and I. I met you here..."
"You took me, I didn't want to be yours," I finished. The leaf slips from my fingers. I look for it but there are so many other leaves on the ground. I don't know which is mine.
"I'm giving you a boon." The man then says. "Ask for anything you want, revenge, if you wish."
"You deserve a boon for what I have done to you." The man sighs and looks distantly into the forests. "When you walked back into your world I realised I had punished you for the very reason I love you." He touches my cheek very lightly. "Your spirit: free as a bird, wild as life. I loved you for it. Yet those are the very things that took you away from me. You walked out of that door. Had you come back I would have granted you anything that very minute. I would have tried to mend your broken heart. But you never came back. Somehow you took my heart with you, again."
I sigh. "Hard to believe you're a god. Are you really a god? Or The God?"
The man chuckles. "Not for you to know. Not this lifetime. Wish your boon love."
"Make me forget," I say softly, tears welling up in my eyes, for him, for me, for us. "Let me be happy. Maybe another lifetime you you can come back to me and make it up."
He nods and smiles. He kisses my forehead. "I love you," he whispers.
"Baby, wake up," Terry whispers in my ear.
I open my eyes to see him looking down at me, smiling. He places a kiss on my lips. I'm in the garden lying on the grass. I must have fallen alseep or something. It will take a while to get rid of the tan I suppose.
He sits nearbye, looking at me all the while.
"Why are you looking at me so smugly?" I ask him. I'm holding a lovely white flower in my hand. I smell it. Its scent is... unworldly. "Aw, thanks honey! It's lovely! I love you too." I see a strange red leaf on the grass. The wind must have blown it here. I pick it up. I'll press it and keep it in my diary.
"Hey!" Terry shakes my arm. "I kept my word."
"I fixed the kitchen tap," he anounces proudly.
"Ah, I release you from your bond," I chuckle. "Go where you will, my angel."
"I will to go where you, my goddess, goes, at least in this lifetime." He winks.
I kiss him. "You're so full of it."
About the writer in her own words: "Hi, my name is Minoti Baro. I'm a 21 year old woman from the northeast if India. I'm actually more of an arts and crafts person, but I do write now and then when I'm terribly depressed or when I get struck by lightning. I'm currently studying English Literature at Miranda House College in Delhi (and no, Eng Lit hasn't helped me become a better writer- almost close to flunking the subject), with a 3 year diploma course in book illustration on the side. I like vanilla ice-cream and chubby Americans."
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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