By Helen <email@example.com
Submitted: November 2001
Summary: A lonely woman has dreams of something or someone. Could she have made a wrong choice sometime in her life?
The lamp on the bedside table left interesting circles on the ceiling. The spider's web in the far corner shimmered quietly. The dust under the bed sat silently as it always had and probably forever would. The quilt was embroidered and warm looking, the pillows were matching, but the furniture was a mixture of old and new. The curtains blew slightly as a breeze floated through the open window. They were handmade and matched the quilt.
A woman lay under the duvet, book in hand, but forgotten. Her eyes were closed and her hair mussed. Her skin was porcelain in the dim light and her hands were small and somewhat dainty. The covers hid her satin nightie and her varnished toenails. She lay in a double bed, but she was alone.
I am alone. Her last thought before sleep overcame her stayed within her mind. Alone, alone. Forever alone. She was in desert. The sun beat down on the sand dunes and the wind whipped her hair. She was wearing a linen wrap and her feet were bare. There was no one in sight in any direction and only the sky for company. A bird wheeled towards her as if jumping out of heaven. It was a dove.
She reached to catch the bird but it flew away elusively. She felt an urge to follow, to leave the loneliness of her meagre existence and the bleakness of the sand.
She was in the air. In a moment of panic, she felt herself fall towards the sand, but somehow she stayed up. The dove was ahead of her and she thought she imagined it turning towards her, beckoning her to follow. 'I am mad,' she thought, 'but I am dreaming.'
It was raining. It always rains in England. She was standing on a bridge overlooking a river. Sand coloured buildings banked onto it and punters raced sedately up and down its damp waters. I've never been here before. A group of tourists brushed past her in one direction, a flock of happy youngsters, wet but laughing, danced past the other way. A car horn sounded, and a cyclist with a wicker basket speeded onwards. I am alone. I am in Cambridge and I know no one. A bird landed on the stone in front of her. The dove. She felt its calling and she was away.
She was floating in heaven. The Earth circled as it had always done somewhere beneath her. 'How did I die?' she thought. The sun lit up the ocean and darkened the moon, the stars shone like she had never seen before. The air rushed past her face and she wondered if there was air here. Was heaven a vacuum? The dove flew to her face, leading her, jogging her memory of things past, of people and tears. Why am I alone? This is not right.
She was standing on ice. Crevasses surrounded her feet. How am I here? I am not dead. The ice felt cold between her toes. The air was filled with perfect snow flakes and the horizon ended in snowy peaks. Behind her a rocky gully fell away to nothing far below, and in front of her the glacier flowed silently and slowly to a finger lake somewhere. Where am I? There was no one in sight, but she was used to this she remembered. Alone was normal for her. This was what she had wanted, wasn't it. But why did this cold solitude seem so foreign?
The dove. And then she was in a field. Yellow stalks brushed against her arms. The pale blue sky merged somewhere with the land. There was a word for this colour she thought aimlessly. Spanish. Pardo. She tried to step forward but her legs would not move. She was thirsty but she could not see water. Is this hell? Where was the dove to take her away? The dove. The dove. She chanted the word, an incantation to the masses that tripped her up and left her on the pavement to come back and take another look. I am alone, but it your fault. Is it? You are alone too, dove, alone in the skies with nothing but the sun and the moon and the stars for company. I have seen your world now. Take me home. Take me where?
It all went dark. The sun's light was extinguished in one burst and the world was black. The stalks wilted under her fingers and her toes sunk into the collapsing earth. 'Dove,' she cried, 'dove.' And then it ended. The earth swallowed her up and was no more.
She opened her eyes with a start. I am dead! I am swallowed! She looked around her uncomprehendingly. The quilt. A birthday present. The curtains, the chest of drawers. The spider's web in the corner.
I am alone. The thought struck her suddenly and then she finally remembered. She looked to her side and saw her husband asleep beside her. What time had he come back? Where had he gone without her?
You are there for me. I am alone. It is your fault my life is like this. Let me follow the dove and find reality. She whispered his name under her breath and sank back onto her pillow.