“Sometimes I dream of you,” he told me one evening. “I dream of you the way you look right now, in your favourite swimsuit and your deep, golden tan. Only, in my dream, you’re underwater like a beautiful creature of the sea. You can breathe like a mermaid taken from magical tales, and your hair — long and dark and lovely, floats like a gossamer, elegant curtain of silk.”
“Sounds magnificent,” I said. “Do you ever talk to me?”
“No. I mean, I want to but I can’t. Same way I want to reach out to you but I never quite make it, no matter how hard I try. I have no voice, my body is numb and all I can do is look at you and think of the millions of things I want to say but I’m unable to make the slightest sound. And you keep looking at me as if you’re waiting — your presence lures me like a siren’s call. Yet, I’m just there, stuck and frustrated.”
“Do you dream of that often?”
He nodded. “Couple of times a week.”
“That’s terrible,” I said. “Do you actually feel like you can’t reach out to me?”
We fell silent.
“Does it ever get better?” I asked.
“Mmm-huh. Sometimes it ends before I try speaking to you. So I just stay there, marvelling. It doesn’t feel so bad then.”
“Does it ever get worse?”
“Sure. Sometimes it gets much more frustrating. One moment we are underwater and the next we are here, on these rocks, sitting quietly next to each other like now — like always. It’s late evening, the sky is violet, and the sea is so still, it feels like looking into a light blue mirror. You say ‘I love these colours’ and you smile as you submerge in reflection.”
“What’s so frustrating about that?”
“It’s that, usually, you jump into the water and then I suddenly find myself in the boat. You’re looking at me, waiting for me to join you but I’m again stuck, and the boat starts moving forward. I see you fading away until I wake up frustrated and drowning in sweat.”
I reached out for his hand and he held it tightly.
“I don’t understand,” I said. “I’m here. We’re here. Why are you so afraid?”
“I wish I knew. There are times when a strange thought gnaws at my mind, that one day I’ll wake up and you’ll be gone.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I hate thinking that you’re hurt for no reason. I wish that our being here, being together could be enough.”
He regarded me with that look that told me he wished the same. He moved closer and sat behind me, his arms wrapping around my waist as if it was the last time.
And in a way, it was.
Ever since that day, the grey of his eyes deepened like storm clouds ready to break. I watched him slowly retreating into himself, every hour, every day fading away. I watched like I was in that boat unable to move and he was the one waiting for me, waiting for something I failed to give.
I tried telling him everything was going to be okay, but the more I spoke, the silence between us grew deeper and bounced back as my words echoed in the dead of the night.
And while our once joyful dreams were slowly replaced by his dreadful nightmares, I kept trying to reach him, calling out to him but my voice could never be heard, it was swallowed back before even coming out my mouth as if I was really underwater.
Ever since he left, I keep hearing his voice.
Deep and soothing, it merges with the sound of the gentle waves that reach and softly break on this shore’s grey rocks. And somewhere within this bittersweet memory of him, I keep chasing after a dream caused by my deepest and most treasured thoughts that always bring back the man who dreamt of me as a creature of the sea, the man who surrendered to his fear of losing me and left me under the violet sky, staring at the light blue sea, dreaming unreachable dreams.