Writing: A Beautiful Dream

I decided to bite the bullet, swallow the bitter pill, take a leap of faith (I think you get the gist, don't you?) and share something special (to me) with you. Writing fiction is something that I spend my time with when I'm not plotting new blog posts or talking nonsense on Twitter. I've been contemplating posting this little short story for the better part of a month but it's taken my up until now to just go for it.

If I debate any longer, this story will never see the light of day which would be a shame I think as I'm actually quite happy with it (which is amazing in itself as can be my own worst critic). This story was originally inspired by a somewhat sad Chinese ballad I've fallen in love with, hence the reason why the story also has a Chinese title (which I pray is correct otherwise this may just be really embarrassing). Since I'm posting a story, I'm not going to bore you with endless chatter from my side, so uhm, enjoy, I hope.

Author: Selly
Title: My Beautiful Dream / 我的美丽梦 (Wǒde Měilì Mèng)

I shiver at the cold and push my hands deeper into the pockets of my winter coat. It’s only autumn but it is unusually cold today. My cheeks are reddened from the sharp gusts of wind that are sweeping through the park. The sky is clear and the sun is bright but no matter how hard she’s trying she just can’t seem to warm me – or anything around her for that matter, the a clear layer of frost on the grass would be the proof for that. It is only early afternoon but the park is deserted. There’s not a soul around. I seem to be the only one who chose to venture out into the crisp cold.

Autumn used to be my favourite season of them all, now I just feel indifferent about it. It doesn’t move me like it used to. Then again I feel indifferent about most things these days. Nothing fazes me anymore. One day melts into another. Weeks turn into months. Seasons fly by, they turn into years. One. Two. Three. Four. Has it really been four years? It seems like only yesterday that we walked through this park on our way home from lunch in the city. It seems like only yesterday that you were animatedly telling me about your grand plans while I laughed and ridiculed you for them because I could. It seems like only yesterday that you nudged me, calling me a fool for not believing in dreams.

Truth be told I did believe in dreams. In fate. In destiny. I even believed in fairy tales. Ever since I was a child I had dreams, hopes, wishes. Some reasonable, some silly beyond comprehension. They’ve all shattered now and I never bothered to piece them back together. Except for one. One dream. One wish. One hope that someday you’ll walk by my side again. One wish that someday I’ll get to see you again. Hear you again. Touch you again. One dream that someday I’ll get to wrap my arms around you and never, ever let you go again.

That one is the silliest of them all yet I cling to it. It’s my essence. It’s the only way to numb the pain of living with a broken heart. It’s the only way I know how to manage getting out of bed every morning to face yet another day. It’s the only way I can bear the memories of what I had. What I lost. What I’ll never have again.

I can’t have cared enough. I know I didn’t. You were there. There was no need for me to I care. To worry. I didn’t even care when I hurt you or when I was selfish. I didn’t have to. You were always there. You just were. It was a given. I never questioned it. I took it for granted. You were mine and it didn’t even occur to me that this may change. Now you aren’t here anymore and I cannot fathom why. I’ve given up on questioning it. There are no answers. I’ve given up on being angry. It doesn’t lessen the pain. I’ve given up on being sad. It doesn’t bring you back.

I can’t give up on missing you or loving you though. I can’t give up on the memories – they remind me that it was real, that it was more than just a silly dream. I’ll never forget that sweet scent of yours; it lingers in the air even now. I’ll never forget that shy smile yours. I used to purposefully try and embarrass you just so I could see that smile and you always indulged me. I think you knew because you never disappointed me. I’ll never forget your eyes. The first time I met you I lost myself in your eyes and that was all it took. You had me then. For good. You didn’t need to words to convey what you wanted. Your eyes said it all. They couldn’t hide your true feelings. I’ll never forget your touch. The first time you touched me, my skin felt like it had caught fire. It burned. It tingled. Your hand in my hand. Your lips kissing mine. Your body against mine. Perfection. Completion. Everything. You were the missing jigsaw piece. You fitted like a glove. You stood out in the crowd. You were the one. You still are. You will always be.

I used to tell you that I didn’t deserve you. You told me not to be silly. I never asked but always wondered how you just accepted us. You never questioned. Never looked for an explanation. You just cherished. You just loved. Without regrets. Without restrain. You were simple in the most precious way. An uncut diamond brighter than the sun , more colourful than the rainbow, sweeter than honey and more beautiful than all the flowers in the world. You had an endless list of flaws that drove me up the wall. I once spent an entire day listing all your flaws. You listened. Quietly. Intrigued. Your eyes focused on me and only me. Once I’d finished you laughed them all off and when I wanted to tell you off for that too you looked at me with nothing but love shining in your eyes. Pure unadulterated love. I didn’t know what else to say then so I kissed you and you kissed me back and of course things got out of hand and your flaws didn’t matter anymore.

To be quite honest they never did. They made you there person you were, the person I fell in love with. Head over heels. Like a cheesy Hollywood romance only a million times better. We met on a cold and crisp autumn day. In this very park. You were eating Chinese takeaway noodles, I was on the phone, arguing. I don’t remember what I was arguing about or with whom. When we bumped into each other and you spilled the noodles all over me, I wanted to yell at you but then I saw your eyes and I just didn’t. I just stared, mesmerised. You had the most beautiful eyes – I told you right there and then. You laughed, picked a stray noodle off my coat and invited me for food. We ate, your treat, and talked. I got us some coffee and we went for a walk and talked. We sat on a park bench and talked. When it got dark we went for dinner and talked. When I got home, I fell on my bed, called you and we talked – all night, until the sun came up. That’s when I fell asleep, to the sweet sound of your voice lulling me to sleep.

We met again that evening and you presented me with a single yellow rose with red tips. I held on to it the entire night and only let go when you served the dinner. I stood in the doorframe of your kitchen, with my rose, watching you cook. We casually talked while you almost effortlessly cut the vegetables and chicken, cooked rice, made a light soup and prepared a delicious dessert. I watched you open cupboards and drawers, taking out herbs, spices, plates, glasses, cutlery, a measuring cup, a cutting board and whatever else you needed. You moved from one corner of the kitchen to the next, seemingly always right where you needed to be. You handed me a glass of delicious, light, fruity wine which I sipped while I watched you cook. We ate in comfortable silence and cleaned the dishes in comfortable silence. Afterwards we stood outside on the balcony, wrapped into blankets, enjoying the view of the city, randomly making up stories of what was going on in inside the lit apartments and houses all around us. When it got too cold we snuggled up on the couch. You put on some music and turned the lights down. We fell asleep on the couch and woke up with the sunrise. Entangled, stiff and achy.

I didn’t kiss you that night even though I wanted to. Badly. I think you felt it but you said nothing, did nothing. I didn’t blame you for not taking initiative. I didn’t berate myself for not making a move. There were no regrets but I did spend most of my time at work, daydreaming about nothing and everything. I simply couldn’t wipe the smile of my face and didn’t listen to a word anyone was saying to me. I ignored all phone calls except for yours and when you picked me up after work we chatted non-stop on our way to dinner. Just before entering a tiny restaurant – a firm favourite of yours – the back of your hand brushed against mine and I instinctively took your hand and held it throughout dinner. I didn’t kiss you that night either but we fell asleep on top of my bed after talking for hours. We slept late and chatted and laughed over breakfast and coffee in bed. You went home after that but I had lunch at your place and we drove out of the city afterwards. We drove out to a lake, surrounded by a beautiful autumn forest, and went for a walk that ended with a leaf-fight which you won.

We kissed that afternoon. By the lake. We were sat next to each other on a rock, looking out over the water. You hand was on top of mine, my head was on your shoulder. We both turned our heads in the exact same moment and just like on the very first day, I stared into your eyes. The kiss was a mutual decision, it was slow and gentle but it sent sparks flying all over the place. They caught fire and surged through my entire body, making me shiver. That kiss…it’s the best I’ve ever had. It was perfect. Like everything about you, I can remember it like it was yesterday. It’s a treasure no one can take away from me, a cherished memory I’ll never let go.

I remember it all like it was yesterday. We were inseparable. I tried not to ignore friends and family but it was hard. Spending time with you was easy. There was always something to talk about, something to do. When there wasn’t, I was just as happy to enjoy a spell of comfortable silence. We fell asleep next to each other most nights and I don’t recall a night that we didn’t have dinner together. You were generally the one to cook; a different dish every time. Your culinary skills were astonishing. Addicting even. I thought I was clingy. When I told you, you laughed it off and kissed me. I kissed you back and that night we made love for the first time. Even that was perfect. It was all new and thrilling but I knew you, felt comfortable around you, with you. We fell asleep almost immediately after but when we woke up later we talked until the sun came up. We made love again and fell asleep until after noon. After that I really didn’t want to let go and you seemed to share that sentiment.

Out of necessity I introduced you to all my friends and most of my family. You had a way with all of them that blew me away…and them. My family showered you with accolades and when you weren’t listening they implored me to get you to propose to me. My friends were happy for me but I could tell some were jealous. I didn’t care. I was too busy wondering when all of this – you and me – would go pear-shaped. It didn’t. Instead we moved in together. It was early autumn when we signed the final papers for what was to be our apartment. It had a stunning view over the city.

Incidentally the apartment also overlooked the park where we’d first met – this I only discovered after we’d moved in. The day we got the keys we ate takeaway noodles on the floor of our living room. We talked forever, laughed until we cried and play-fought until our sides hurt and we both surrendered. When night fell, you lit a candle and we lay in the dark, talking. We made love in the candlelight and when we woke up in the morning we were so sore I insisted we get full body massages. You laughed but went along with it.

I left you in charge of the kitchen. You picked it and you were there when it was delivered and put in. Two days later you cooked our first dinner and we sat on the floor, eating it. This time we were wise enough not to fall asleep though.

I chose the style for the en-suite bathroom and we celebrated with champagne, fresh strawberries and a bubble bath. We picked the bedroom out together – trying out all the different beds was a blast and much to my utter astonishment you tagged along when I went to buy the bed covers, duvets, pillows and throws. The living room was a different story altogether. We argued and it hurt. We sulked for three days. It was silly. When we realised that we laughed and buried the hatchet. Nevertheless, it took us nearly a whole month to furnish the living room.

You proposed one evening after dinner. We’d only just returned from a three-week holiday and were battling a vicious bout of jetlag. You asked me outside on the balcony. It was autumn. It was cool and there was a chilly breeze but we were wrapped up in blankets so we didn’t care. I didn’t expect it – at all. In fact when you got down on one knee I did a double take. Your proposal was simple – you popped the question. No roses, no champagne, no balloons and no lengthy speech. Just one question and one answer. Despite the surprise I didn’t hesitate when I answered but I while you slept soundly beside me that night I couldn’t sleep. Not because I had doubts but because I was trying to find a reason for deserving you. I raked my brain until I got a headache and then tried to get some sleep. It was a fitful sleep and I woke up tired and cranky that morning. As if you could sense something wasn’t right, you gave me some privacy but pampered me with my favourite coffee and one of your delicious desserts for lunch.

The wedding was simple. Nothing extravagant. It was an autumn wedding and we told friends and family to wear whatever they wanted. We hand-wrote the wedding invitations and you baked the wedding cake the day before the wedding. I left it up to you to instruct the hotel what meals to cook and what wine to serve. In return I decided on the decorations for the reception. We brought our outfits together – it took us one afternoon to sort them out. We each picked a close friend to stand beside us at the altar and left it at that. My friends berated and implored me for ages to make more of an effort. My mum was sure my heart wasn’t in it, that I didn’t really want to get married, that it was all just a show. I didn’t care and despite everyone’s concerns we had the most wonderful day. The ceremony was beautiful. Your vows made me cry and I hardly managed to read out my own, I was so nervous. You held my hand throughout and listened to me stumbling over my vows, making mistake after mistake. I felt mortified but one look into your eyes was all it took to stop me from running down the aisle to hide under a rock.

Apart from my poor performance when reciting my vows, our first dance is the most vivid memory I have of the entire day. It was perfect. You picked the song and when you played it to me I fell in love with it. I had my eyes locked on yours throughout the entire dance and towards the end, when you leaned in and kissed me, my legs gave away and I melted into your touch. We kissed, oblivious to anyone around us, lost in the moment. A million and one images flashed through my mind right then. The first time I met you. The first time we laughed together. The first time you comforted me when I cried. The first time we fought and made up.

We celebrated until the early hours of the morning before saying goodbye to all our guests. You refused to share our honeymoon destination with me and instead of leaving for the airport the morning after our wedding, we went home and fell asleep in each other’s arms and after waking up we just didn’t bother to get out of bed. Instead we spent an entire day in bed, oblivious to anything but the two of us. You did eventually indulge me in the secret of our honeymoon and I couldn’t get to the airport fast enough. You found my enthusiasm amusing and throughout the entire flight I was beyond excited. Not even the humid heat could kill my buzz when we left Hong Kong airport, dutifully following the guide the hotel had send to the airport to meet us. We spent an amazing three and a half weeks travelling China and spared no expense during our trip – a treat we were able to afford due to our low key wedding.

Our first year as a married couple flew by so fast, I only remember bits and pieces of it. I vaguely remember silly arguments, mostly started by me and laughed off by you. I distinctly remember our anniversary though. We dragged about every duvet, blanket and pillow in the entire apartment out onto the balcony and holding hands we watched the stars. You used my finger to trace various star constellations. You pointed them out with such ease, I couldn’t help but admire you for it.

We discussed having a child and possible options but only started to make serious plans around the time of our third wedding anniversary. Before we could put any of those plans into place you lost control over our car – a fresh oil spill. A lorry smashed your car right into the wall of the building on the other side of the road. The fire brigade had to cut you out of the car and the hospital wouldn’t let me see you for fear I wouldn’t be able to stand the sight. I fought like a vicious tiger and eventually they gave in and allowed me to sit with you. I held your hand all night long and my tears soaked your bed. Your heart stopped three times that night and three times they brought you back to life. They told me you were in coma and they didn’t know if you’d ever come to but they told me to talk to you nevertheless. I have no idea if you heard anything of what I said because you never had the chance to tell me – you didn’t survive the fourth time that your heart stopped. The doctor told me later that it was inevitable – you’d sustained so many injuries during the crash that your body didn’t know which part of you to heal first.

I held your lifeless body in mine for hours after they’d removed all the machines. I kissed each of your fingers and your face and repeatedly implored you to open your eyes. I begged you. I pleaded and screamed. My heart broke with every plead that went unheard. I contemplated throwing myself off the hospital roof but my legs weren’t brave enough to carry me up all those stairs. I don’t remember leaving you but I do remember waking up in a hospital bed. My mum was there and she took me in her arms and held me as I cried until I fell into a fitful sleep.

It is strange how easily I remember all the details of the funeral. I remember the scent of my mum’s perfume, the flowers on top of your coffin as well as their colour, the smell of the fresh earth they’d dug up the night before. I remember kneeling beside your grave, begging to wake up from this hellish nightmare until my mum and some friends half-dragged, half-carried me away. I remember the speeches and how I just broke down crying when it was my turn. I remember falling asleep on your side of your bed that night after crying for hours. I remember waking up with a ridiculously high fever after only two hours of sleep and I remember clutching the toilet bowl while vomiting my guts up. I remember watching the paramedic giving me a sedative before carrying me into the ambulance and then I don’t remember anything anymore for two days. I remember telling my friend how life wasn’t worth living without you and I remember sitting opposite a psychiatrist, my hands neatly folded in my lap, blankly responding to his questions to determine whether I was suicidal. He decided I wasn’t and the day after I left for China without telling anyone.

I aimlessly wandered the streets of Hong Kong, looking for visions of you and me shopping on our honeymoon. Visions of you and me eating noodles outside a shabby looking restaurant which proclaimed to serve the best cuisine in all of Hong Kong – it did. Visions of you and me playing with panda cubs. Visions of you and me strolling along a deserted beach, watching the sunset. Visions of you and me trekking through what I considered to be a jungle. Visions of you and me visiting a temple and patiently being taught how to honour the gods properly. Visions of you and me attempting to learn a material art which we miserably failed at. Visions of you and me swimming in a clear lake by a small waterfall in the middle of nowhere.

I got lost somewhere among all these visions and in a small village where no-one spoke a single word of English and I didn’t speak a word of Chinese, I found someone willing to take care of me. She and I didn’t understand each other but nevertheless she understood my pain, saw my broken heart. She invited me to her home for a meal and through looking at pictures I learned that she had two sons – one who lived and worked in California and another who lived in Beijing. She cooked for me and while she did that, she made me feed the chickens in the yard. She talked non-stop while I was eating, I didn’t understand a word of what she was saying to me but it didn’t matter. She graciously offered me a bed in her house and in the morning she made me call my mother to tell her I was safe and sound. Given the fact that we didn’t understand each other, I have no idea how she managed that but she did. She never shut up for longer than five minutes and always found something for me to do. She took me to her husband’s grave once and I understood then why she knew how I felt. She held me every night when I cried myself to sleep and after two weeks in her care I started to feel more human again.

When the time came, I didn’t want to leave. I felt safe with her and everything she’d done for me. But she made me leave and I love her all the more for it. Though I returned to an empty flat that lacked your laughter, your cooking, you scent and your warm body at night, I got through. Four years on every day is still a battle but four years on I also learned that we will always be together even though you’re no longer at my side. No-one can take what we had, no-one can erase my love for you, no-one can make me forget you. You’re with me forever. Nevertheless I wish I could hold your hand as I stroll through the park where we first met so many years ago. It doesn’t take much to imagine you walking towards me on this beautiful, crisp autumn day. It doesn’t take much to picture the first time I looked into your eyes, the eyes of my soulmate, my other half.

It still hurts. My heart still breaks. Four years on my beautiful dream is still only a beautiful dream…

The End