Paradise. I thought I'd found it on my stumbling, unclear journey into the depths. As I lay my head on my pillow, closed my eyes and let out a sigh, I was sure paradise was awaiting. And it was for a time. In my dreams I'd found a place so… unique. Beautiful.
And it was because of her.
"Katrina." I moved towards the woman sitting by the lake. Donning her usual, white, slightly ripped nightgown, she turned to me. A smile cut into her pale face, lit by her luminous blue eyes.
"My, my. You're late this time, man from my dreams. Tsk, tsk." Gently she dipped her foot in the water, her eyes locked on me. "Do you know how to swim? Swim in the dreams?"
"No." This was my fourth time coming here-to my dreams. The place where I awoke. Every night for the past week I would fall asleep, only to 'wake up' in this vivid dream space. Paradise. It was trippy, but I wasn't one to question the hand that was dealt to me. I simply took this 'dreaming' as a gift.
"Well let me show you." Katrina, swaying in the light breeze, walked over to me, grabbing my hand. Firmly, though not entirely solid. So it was in the world of dreams. "Swim with me."
"Stay with me forever, promise? Don't go to sleep, darling. Stay here forever." Katrina lay next to me, her body cold and pale. A cool 'morning' breeze drifted over us as we lay in the shade of a willow tree. On our grassy hill, which overlooked a clear, pristine lake, we ruled the dream space. No one else inhabited the place-absolutely nothing.
"I don't know." I wasn't sure I could live here forever. In fact, I was sure I could not. This place was fantastic. An escape. But reality? Hardly. I'd known from the beginning this wasn't going to be my 'new' world. I still had life back at home, a family. A wife.
This was a dream. Or so I told my embattled conscious whenever I thought of my budding relationship with Katrina. "Please. Stay with me." Again, she was begging me.
"Maybe." I tried to think of my life 'elsewhere', but found the details foggy. I knew of earth, I knew I had a family. I knew I had a life. Then, as if this was reality and 'earth' was the dream, I found the details hard to recall.
Only by falling asleep, could I awake in reality.
And remember who I was once more.
"I can't…" My eyes were closing, sleep was overcoming me. It would only take a second. "I'm… I'm falling asleep." Then I left Paradise, waking to the early morning light of reality. I blinked slowly, turning my head so I could see the sleeping form of my wife. So peaceful.
I got out of bed, aghast at my reflection in the mirror. "Oh no." I was as pale as could be. Dark rings underlined my eyes. A ghost.
I called in sick that day, spending most of it in bed, worried. Tired, but not sleeping. Never again, how could I go back there?
I could still remember the last words Katrina spoke to me. "Fall asleep and I will kill you when you return." She'd spoken matter-of-factly-honestly. Gone was the look of innocence from her eyes, replaced instead by deadness. Death. I was beginning to fear the girl of my dreams.
I was beginning to fear sleep.
I can't go back there…. Never again.
Those were my last thoughts before my eyes finally closed, sleep overcame me and I dreamt.
I dreamt of Paradise.
Katrina was waiting, as usual, on the shore. My hazy thoughts returned and everything slowed, as it was in the world of dreams.
I stood where I always awoke-only a few meters away from Katrina. I took in a nervous breath, wondering why Katrina hadn't turned around. Perhaps I'd gone unnoticed?
"Hello my dream-crossed lover." Katrina turned to me, her eyes startlingly dark. Just pupils. Her skin was ghastly white, while her white nightgown was stained with red. Blood. "You're back."
I took a step back, wondering where I could go. Sleep was impossible, running would only get me so far. I stared back at Katrina. "I have to go, Katrina. I can't stay here anymore."
Katrina only sat on the shore, gazing at me with her soulless eyes. She pursed her lips, frowning as the waves lapped up at her feet. "You want to die?"
Then it hit me-I knew how to escape Paradise. The lake… drowning. Death. Perhaps then I'd wake up in reality, never being able to return. It was an idea.
"No, but I might have to." I could make it, she'd never be able to catch me.
Katrina began to get to her feet, her eyes speaking of knowing my intent. "Man of my dreams."
"Goodbye… woman of my dreams." I shot for the lake, running with all my strength.
"No!" She shrieked, running parallel to the shore, sprinting towards me. "I love you!"
No you don't, you don't even exist. Or so I argued against my heart as I leapt into the ocean, her fingertips grazing my legs. I dove into the frigid water as it immersed me. Fear ballooned in my mind as I thought of my impending death.
Could I purposely drown?
I didn't have long to think it over before the girl wrapped her hands around my ankle. The woman of my dreams. I kicked out at her, my foot connecting with her face.
For a second her grip loosened, then tightened as I swam towards the bottom of the lake. Oh God help me! I opened my mouth as my lungs screamed for air. Sucking the water in as I attempted to breathe, I was pulled back by the girl.
Katrina still had her hands around my ankle as she tried to pull me back. To save me.
No! In one last attempt I clawed for the bottom of my lake, brushing against the rocks and seaweed with my fingers.
Then I fell 'asleep' in Paradise for the last time.
"Man of my dreams!" Katrina Delroy screamed in anguish as she sat up in bed, drenched in sweat. Darkness came around her while the numbers on her clock read: 6:15. Tears came to her as she screamed in frustration, replaying the scene in her head.
He'd just thrown himself in the lake, all to escape her. "I didn't even know your name." She whimpered, brushing away a few more tears.
Perhaps there was still hope, she thought with a miserable smile, maybe he'd be back there tonight. Waiting on the hill, just like he always did. And she'd be on the shore, hoping, praying, to kiss his face one more time.
At least she hoped as she went through her day, going through the daily grind. Breakfast. Work. Traffic. Dinner. Date. Movie. Bedtime.
Hastily she crawled into bed, her mind focused on what awaited behind the veil of sleep. "Please God, just a glimpse of him. Just one glimpse."
When her eyes eventually closed and sleep fell upon her-she dreamed of Paradise.
Wearing the same silky, torn and bloody nightgown, Katrina sat on the shore of the water. A chill wind swept off the lake, blowing in her face. Dark clouds drifted in the sky, blocking the sun's warmth.
"Hello man of my dreams." Katrina spoke, a hopeful smile on her lips. "You're back." Steadily she turned her head, anticipation causing her heart to ache. When her eyes landed on the hill, however, the green was barren.
And so it went every night afterwards. Every dream of Paradise.
Until she drew her final breath, Katrina would wake up in Paradise, call for the 'man of her dream's and see the barren hills. The desolate sky.
But so it was in the world of dreams.