Part I: Swan Dive
“Oh, yes, I’m sorry. Yes, in the first dream you knew you were sleeping.”
There was a pause; a halt. A stop in your breathing. This interruption of breath sped up your heart like you were being chased, but not by a thing, just a feeling. It rushed and whirled around you. You were breathless and the aching in your lungs kept you alert. The voice continued.
“You know these dreams; you’ve had them before. Once, you spoke French. This was shocking to you, even as the words fell from your lips in drips of fluency. This was the language of your subconscious. Not of your schooling. Not of your interests; it was the babel of your ancestors. The words formed on your mouth with ease, your lips brushing against the rippled down of your pillow. Your body was upright, but relaxed and stable in your bed. Somehow, without reason, you were straddling the planes of this waking life, and that good night, sweet prince.”
The voice paused again. It was difficult for you to think with its constant chatter, though it was difficult for you to be anything without it. Your heart was still beating harshly and swiftly, your own breath choking you, trapped under flesh that no longer belonged to you. As a chill passed through you, the voice spoke again.
“But you weren’t speaking French tonight, were you? No, you were falling. Falling so, so fast that even the wind fell far behind you, scared of what would stop it, what would stop you. Why didn’t you feel the ground? Where were you falling if not to the bottom? You remember thinking you should feel something. Surely, the plummet and the rage your body experienced touched something. But you felt nothing. You heard only silence, the loudest of muffles. All you saw was a swirl and suddenly, black. Your eyelids shivered. Your lashes sung to a silent cadence. They fluttered like wings; wings of a bird that would never fall like you. They knew better. They could soar.”
“You were not made to fly.”
Part II: Fluttered
A tear fell into your palm; the first thing you felt since the voice began. You felt the grainy wetness of that drop, like ocean waves that sprayed and foamed at your feet. You were not sad, but you knew that surrounding you was a shroud of anguish, of sorrow. Still, you were as unfeeling as the voice that prattled on without a resolution. You knew that the dreams were not over and that the voice would continue to narrate the story of yourself, something that was written without you but that utterly and completely belonged to you. This was a story that, as much as you wanted to finish, you didn’t want to reach the end. As you waited and listened for the voice, a shadow hovered, blocking the light that was growing brighter around you. You heard the hiccoughed sobs that escaped in uncontrollable waves, as tears that momentarily clung to familiar lashes crashed to the ground.
“The wind was in front of you now, pulling at your hair, ripping through your clothes, and you knew this was your second dream. Standing there, you wavered but stood tall. You stood like you were waiting, waiting for some time that wasn’t there, that never would be. You stopped asking yourself how you arrived at this place. Perhaps the question was somehow more terrifying than the answer, or maybe it was that you were content in your confusion. All you knew was that you were here, and it would not be for long.”
There it was. The final pause. There was only one page left to your story, and it was turning with a swiftness. It held those last words, followed by punctuation that was pressed deeply and permanently into the paper, allowing nothing else to pass it. It was in this moment you realized you were no longer breathing, the tear had dried in your hand, and the light was blinding.
“Your arms raised in line with your shoulders, your sleeves stretching into triangles of delicate plumes. You looked at each and thought they spanned for miles, and for one second you considered wrapping them around you. They were light, yet warm, and strong. So, so strong. They could hold you up, you could glide with them. They could keep you safe from the force of the wind. Instead, you chose not to use them.”
“You chose to dive.”