Flash Fiction: In My Dream, or, the Fountain of Youth

For obvious reasons, real names have been changed. David is not the name of the person in my dream. We’ll leave it at that. And yes, this was MY dream from MY brain, so please don’t steal this and claim it as your own. Thanks!

“Closer, closer,” the wind says. I am having a hard time believing the wind anymore. It has taken me this far, and still I am unsure of the why. “Keep walking, keep walking,” the wind says. “You’ll get there.”

But I do not know where I am going. I have been here for hours and possibly years, walking and walking and simply walking and now I am told that I will get there. Before, there had been doubt. Now, there is fear. If I get there, what will I find? No one has been able to tell me.

I am not sure where I am. A forest, yes. There is an impossibly green canopy above me and an impossibly green floor under my feet, tickling my toes and protesting beneath my weight. The moss cries out in anguish, but it knows I must go on so it pushes me along to save itself.

A forest, yes. But a forest where? In my dreams? In my nightmares? In some kind of limbo that I am doomed to wander forever? I am not able to discern this, and it frightens me. Where am I?

And all at once, a memory hits me. David. David laughing, David crying, David somber and working out a plan. His eyes were always so green, so impossibly green. Like the canopy – like the floor. He stares at me in my memory, willing me to see him in the trees. He is not next to me, but in my memory, he is. I feel an old wound peel open – the scar that healed over the hole he left is pulled back. I covered his memory up so long ago – when he disappeared, I was determined not to disappear with him.

And yet….David. Somewhere inside me I know that he is here. That the wind brought me here for a reason – that the whispers I had heard in the empty silence so many nights the last few months were not my imagination, but something beckoning me to this place, something calling me here, here, to this empty and unknown forest because of David…David. The wound opens a little more, sore since the last time and obviously not healed as I had thought. I am here for David.

I continue to walk, my heart now threatening to break free from my chest, tears welling up in my eyes from being opened so wide. I am anticipating something painful.

And there it is. What I am here for, what I traveled halfway around the world for. The crystal pool in the center of the wood. The water is so clear, that I can see the glistening pebbles on the bottom from where I stand, each one shining like a precious gem. I hesitate, but not for long because curiosity is overwhelming me. Something is in this pool, something I need to see.

As I near the edge of the spring, the trees begin to fall away and the moss is replaced with grass and grains of sand that stick in between my toes. I enter the clearing and finally see what is there – by the mouth of the spring there is a young woman, kneeling by the edge of the pool. She is not naked but my eyes believe her to be at first – she is wearing a thin white sheath, but her skin is the color of milk and so the sheath does not look like clothing, but rather a thin veil of mist hovering around her. Her eyes are the color of honey and her white blond hair flows down around her shoulders and she is, quite literally one of the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen.  She is weeping, openly, and does not see me because she is transfixed by her own reflection.

She seems to make a decision and stands. She is startled, as am I, by the sudden appearance of a man beside her. He looks at her lovingly, his impossibly green eyes smiling down on her and he shakes his head. She stares up at him in relief, as though he has stopped her from doing something she was not prepared to do. She leans into him and kisses him on the neck. But I am wrong. It is no kiss, and I realize this too late.

Blood begins to run down the side of neck but he does not sway or look faint. He cries out in agony and in pleasure and for a moment I want to run to them and stop her, but I am rooted to the spot. She pulls away, and he smiles down on her and she laughs, her giggle like windchimes on a breezy summer afternoon and I fall in love with her too, for that moment, until the man turns to look at me.

His green eyes bore into mine and fire erupts in my chest. “David!” I want to scream. “What are you doing? Come back with me! Please, come back with me.”

There are stars in his eyes. One by one they fall, showering down through an endless night sky and he looks at me imploringly, willing me to understand and to be okay with it. I am like a statue, frozen to the spot, and I simply watch those stars fall, until one by one they fizzle and the last one falls, leaving his eyes as they once were, an impossibly green sky devoid of stars. He turns to the girl, and begins to bristle like an angry dog. She does the same, fur sprouting upon their backs, their arms, their hands. They are forced to bend down on all fours by some unseen force and both of them howl, ghost-like, and they are transformed, magically, wondrously, into large wolves, hers white, his black. They both look at me, honey and green, staring with a mixture of pity and sadness. They both turn their backs on me and run swiftly from that place where my heart is bleeding openly, my palms are spread wide, and I am, as always, rooted to the spot, unable to comprehend how I just saw David become a wolf and disappear from me, truly disappear from me, as one does in story books, in hospitals, and in misty forests with heartbreakingly clear springs.

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