The Dream

The man tossed in his sleep, for there in his mind’s eye was that strange non-material thing that the Dream was. The image was there in his subconscious mind, that same image of a place he had never been to nor heard of. Its beauty was all-encompassing and the colors vivid as a painting, and he might just have touched it had he tried.
And he had been here before. Every night his mind traveled to the same place, recreating it again and again. It still pained him every time.
He was, at this moment, looking upon the coolness of a tropical mountain. The prominent black mass punctured the horizon bluntly, but in doing so looked even more majestic. A ring of clouds encircled the peak, nature’s finest crown. It was as if an artist’s skillful brush had caressed the scene with paint—crimsons, aquas, greens, oranges, yellows, and in some spots, silvers and golds. It was a mirage, at the least, a shimmering illusion. He turned and saw the ocean with its hidden greenish tint, murky from the constant lapping of the waves’ tongue on the tickling grains of sand beneath his feet. He heard the ruffled sighing of the wind as it coasted over the sea, the whisper fading into still silence for a moment as mother nature exhaled, and then the sharp intake of breath as the breeze started up again.
And then he saw her. The woman. She walked along the edge of the beach toward him, her slender feet barely making imprints in the sand. Then the waves came, and the footprints disappeared as soon as the water kissed them, leaving no trace of her ever having existed. Her long black hair billowed behind her and her green eyes sparkled behind the dark lashes. She wore a summer dress the same color as the fading sunset behind her.
She smiled, making the man’s heart leap. Here she was—the same woman who had once made him smile that way, the one to whom he had given his heart. But he could see the scars on her face—reminders of that night. In his mind he feared, just as he always did in the Dream, for he knew that his was a false sense of elation and would not last. He had been here many times and knew what came next.
Sure enough, as she neared him, sorrow and hurt masked her beautiful features. His heart plunged as he dreaded the words that came next. When she spoke, it was as if gray clouds had been drawn into mourning strings of words. There was sadness in her tone. It was a simple statement, a soft accusation.
“You didn’t come.”

The dream faded, and she went with it. Though he reached for her he knew she was gone, and he felt his eyes flutter open gently. The pain that always accompanied the Dream overwhelmed him as he lay strewn in his bed, and he remembered. It was the remembering that hurt. He could see that night as if it was still happening—the blazing building, his desperate escape, the realization that she was not with him, then the cries of agony. And then came the sight of her scorched, blackened figure being carried out by the men. He wanted to forget, to get away, but the dream would not let him forget.
And the man turned to his pillow and wept.