I had this story published on a writing site called Quaterreads. As seen as they are now defunct, I thought I’d share it here. I have far too many short stories go to waste and hoped you might like to read it so that another didn’t.
In the Arms of A Dream
I’m adrift in the middle of an endless sea, lost in an ocean of I know not where, nor care, floundering in currents of non-liquidity. Time has paused between being and not: I wait.
My eyes open to stars, trillions of stars. They appear to me as snowflakes in a maelstrom sky flicking across tired eyes before I can focus on any individual one. These little pieces of something incredible whirl and spire about me, or I they, I aren’t sure which? The myriad flakes do not fall for that would indicate an up and a down; this place has neither. Instead, they hang like adornments to a cosmic night. I envy this star stuff. I envy this space they occupy as I know I have none. I feel myself passing through them though like a ghost through a door. I do not know where, nor why, as I catch a glint of emerald green in the never-ending night.
A moment of darkness is replaced by a scene of grey. It is snowing, but barely. A snowflake lands upon my outstretched palm; it tickles. The feeling is momentary, a fleeting fraction of time. A greyness which I realise to be fog sucks the porcelain prize from my hand. The loss cripples me. For a time I think myself in purgatory, the silence almost unbearable. But I realise it is not silent and that the trickling thoughts I hear are not my own, but a river. The thing sweeps past to one side of me. I see the undulating waters clearly as the fog unravels. There is a paved path beneath my feet although I cannot see them. It is dusk, or so it would seem, a streetlight flicking on to confirm the movement from day to night. I am almost alone, but not quite. Two young lovers huddle close together immune to the fog, impervious to life. They stroll as one down a long promenade. I don’t recall this place, yet I know it is Paris and the river that streams past is the Seine. The place is idyllic in its own way. I think it somewhere I would like to see, or visit with someone special, or honeymoon, as two more lights flick into being gold tinged with emerald green. I want to watch them, but there is no time for me to meander, as the scene fades and desperation strikes.
The chasm is enormous, almost a land of its own. The old, gnarled tree hangs over it with a precariousness that sends a shiver of fear down my intangible spine. Or is it just a cold, northerly breeze: I no longer know the answer to such things. I peep over the edge of the cliff I stand upon and watch as snowflakes drift languorously from a cloudless night to descend the depths of the fissure. The tree watches with me, roots that dangle into the darkness seeking purchase wherever they can. I doubt the tree has long left. It is such a pity. The arboreal giant strives so hard not to fall for it is the last of its kind, unique and very alone. I do not know how I know this, but I do. For some reason that I cannot control, I take hold of a flailing branch lowering myself out over the nothingness, my unseen feet astride two strong looking roots. But I am wrong, they are weak. I hear the sharp cracking of wood, the peeling of bark, and feel myself falling into infinity between two flakes of vivid, green moss. I have companions in my enforced night, but they blink out of existence and all turns to pitch.
I have never been a good swimmer. I know this not from memory, but from the fact that I flounder beneath fathoms of darkest sea. My arms flap, my legs kick; I drift ever downward regardless. On and on to the sea floor, a thing made of sand and dust phosphorescent against the liquid night, I travel relentlessly. The trip takes fractions of a second, yet forever. I see everything that the ocean has been, everything that it will be, as the trench swallows me in a world of sub-aqua torment. There are creatures here. I find it unbelievable, but true! Tiny, microscopic animals that glow like neon signs in the city. The things do not stop to look at me in their vermillion and sapphire splendour, but continue to go about their business. They are as unaware of the leviathan that swims towards them as am I. Right up until it opens viridescent eyes, that is, and I know I am about to be swallowed whole. It is a relief to be honest. I slip down the giant’s maw with an ease that should not be. It is a blessing that I am lost to all, including me.
The alpine pasture may be covered in snow, blanketed in bland anonymity, but it still fills my eyes with wonder. All is white, all is still, not a footprint stirs the sleeping snowflakes, not even my own. Yet, despite my desire to be here standing amongst such purity, I feel something tickling at the back of my mind, an itch that I cannot scratch. I look this way and that frustrated at my own sense of unknowing until I see two curled flowers that have pierced the deep snow. I drift towards them, but not, frustrated by my inability to close the eternity between myself and such beauty. Then, I am beside them the distance gone. The flowers are starting to bloom unravelling their packages of delicate petals. What should be taking hours is in fact taking seconds; they are consuming time instead of light. The flora photosynthesise the seconds converting them to movement until their blooms are revealed. I bear witness to the birth of twin emeralds. They are crying. I am crying. I kneel down beside them to cup the jewels in my hands, but I have no hands! I wish only to be content.
I have not got long, I know that now. My eyes open to a sterile, white room. I am lain in some kind of bed. Beside me, stretched in recumbent beauty is a woman I think I know. Curling, chestnut hair is splayed across her shoulders, she sleeps. I cannot speak; I cannot move; I cannot tell her that I love her. My only wish is to see her open her eyes as my heart beats slower in my chest. I have wanted nothing more since the moment I was born. I never will. Time is stalling for me, my heart dying. I am leaving. She stirs. The angel opens tired emerald eyes and sees me, and I see her. Then, I am gone. I pass away in happiness.
“He’s gone doctor.”
“When did it happen?”
“Did he wake?”
“That’s a shame, she waited so long.”
“Yes. Was she terribly distraught?”
“To be honest, no. For the first time in weeks, ever since he arrived here in a coma, she seemed at peace with herself.”
“Have you asked her if she needs anything?”
“Yes, doctor, she says not.”
“Anything from her at all?”
“That it was his time.”