We wade along the sandy beaches, peering across the distance of the river in hopes of seeing a glimpse of those who have lost us. I am not the only one here. The other side of the river is a place for all sorts of beings.
Along the shore, though, there are not many creatures. A few humans dot the river's bank, perhaps wishing to swim across the great expanse before them and return whence they came from. Sometimes I find myself wanting to do so, but the yearning is not that strong. It is like a whisper of a siren's song, tempting me along but not nearly powerful enough to leave me in despair. I am content with the fact that Gemma and I walk in one another's dreams. I am content with the fact that she will come to me one day, and that then we can leave these misty shores and meander through whatever is beyond them that I have yet to explore. We shall make our own sort of heaven.
I am aware that I am only here in mind, and yet that is comfort enough. I am not the Tree of All Souls. My destiny, my love, and my spirit cannot be trapped inside a simple plant. For I have these things which Eugenia Spence did not—a certain future, a certain love, and a rather strong spirit. I know that I stand where she once was, but my spirit cannot be tamed.
I feel as if Gemma is always there, waving at me from the opposite shore. "I am waiting," I tell her, for it is all that I can do. There are words that I wish to commune to her, but they shall wait for now. Once she is beside me and in my arms for good, she will hear them. She knows that I love her now, so there is no use in causing her any grief by telling her so in her dreams.
Sometimes, we are granted more than a simple smile and wave from miles away. We've walked in one another's dreams before and it seems that we can still do so now. There are times when I find myself making love to her in the Caves of Sighs, kissing her in front of snickering gypsies and blushing schoolgirls, watching her raise our children. They are dream-children, but they are children nonetheless, and they fill me with such pride and hope for her.
There are never any nightmares. Perhaps Gemma has them, but I do not, and so I am led to believe that if she does have them, I am not a part of them. It bothers me that she is in the real, genuine world, making something of her life that I shall never know of. But at the same time, it fills me with a sense of optimism and satisfaction. Although she cries the first few times I see her speaking to me from across the river, her tears soon subside. Eventually she comes to me with a smile, and I feel that she wants to share some good news with me, but is unable to think of it while dreaming.
But the most wonderful part of all is that her dreams—our dreams—are not dreams at all. They are our means of communicating—of being together even if we are apart in some way. At some point it dawns on me that years have probably gone by since my passing, even if I myself have lost all sense of time. Yet Gemma remains just shy of seventeen in our meetings, and just as beautiful and passionate and intelligent as I remember her. There are slight personality changes that I note from time to time, but I cannot recall where things began and where things ended in this phase of my existence and so it does not change things much.
I know that she will join me some day. I know that eventually she will no longer be across the river, but in my arms and in my bed. And these moments, these meetings, will not be dreams for her anymore. They will be real, and I'll love her all the more for it.
But for now I am content with her being a river away, separated from me by the shield of a dream. Her smile shows that she is happy to see me and happy with the life that she is living. I know from her eyes that she is aging, that she is no longer the young girl that she once was, and that these dreams soothe her in some way, or perhaps make her sad. But whether she's twenty or thirty or seventy, she will always be my love, and I will always wait here, ready for her to row across the great expanse of the river and to fall asleep in my arms.
"I am waiting," I tell her, but there is a moment when my words are drowned out by her statement, or perhaps it is her reply.
"I will be there."
I've never written Kartik before. Have I done him justice?
Please read & review.